Tapering, Fitness Plateaus, Doping, and More – Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast 474

Great to have Hannah on this week to discuss the principles she uses to guide tapering, breaking through fitness plateaus and why that verbiage is often misleading, her thoughts on what the next big innovation wave will be in cycling, and if doping is a thing of the past or not.

Really grateful Hannah was willing to talk about the doping side of the sport. That’s a tough thing to discuss as an athlete because it puts her in a vulnerable position of being misunderstood, but also facing a topic that can really impact a positive headspace in a negative manner.

I’d be really curious to get the forum’s thoughts on why reported doping positives are significantly less prevalent these days. In the podcast description I linked to two web pages that can provide some context on this reduction over time.


Maybe they are all genuinely clean and its the benefits of modern nutrition, training etc but I’m in the camp that some of the recent pro performances are too good to be true. I can understand when an athlete is really good in one aspect, climbing, sprinting, TT’ing etc but when an athlete is excellent in all of them :thinking: I think they’ve just developed a new way to dope that the authorities dont know about and can’t test for.


I’m in this camp. It might be short-sighted or naïve but its a lovely little bubble to be in :slight_smile:


People cheat. They cheat on tests, on their taxes, on the people they love. They cut courses to get finisher medals. MLB pitchers get caught with “foreign substances” in their glove. Heck even back in the day when my brother raced go-karts, people would tamper with their engine and tires (against the rules) to get an advantage. So it is not surprising in the least that people cheat at the highest level of the sport, especially where true fame and lots of money are at stake.

Why are their less positives? It is evolution. The test get better, so do the cheaters.

Is the sport “more clean” than what it was in the 90’s? I really hope so. Are there still cheaters out there? Absolutely.


I’ve heard some stuff about “designer drugs” that are just specially designed steroids and peds to pass tests. But are very expensive so only the tip top of each sport can afford them

I thought it was interesting that the question asker said about American riders not doing drugs because of Lance and then the biggest triathlon doping scandal in years was an American athlete

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Your perception of doping positive incidents is directly related to your ability to detect/know incidents are occuring.

Detection rates, false positives, false negatives, this is a world I work within (cybersecurity and risk) along with controls of greater and lesser strength and reliability.

I don’t think the antidoping industry is mature enough or well funded enough to know what’s going on in sport. Like my industry a decade or so back. And maybe it never will/should be.

Making it a crime in the US will help overall figures, but you won’t know how much it helps nor will it deter the most heinous/rewarding cheating.

I see a lot of familiar control activity set up, which all makes sense and is good in the absence of objective controls, but until they can move to that next level - perhaps mandatory wearables? - I don’t see how we can talk about doping with any reasonable level of confidence.

Another unpopular but effective control is to compete between nations of a similar level of controls, crime and justice. Depending on which nation you are it could be quite exclusive.

Cycling needs more doping. If it can be done clandestinely without detection, all the better. It makes the sport more exciting. People love to hate it, but they’ll tune in. Lance proved this.

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This might be best over in the unpopular opinions thread. :rofl:


Im weighing up flagging it. Offensive, possibly. Illegal, well promoting illegality.


lol ya that may be true. I’m fine with a mod moving it there.

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I’m sorry you feel that way. Seems every opinion outside the “normal” range is deemed offensive.


But it’s not illegal, except in parts of Europe (e.g. France), I think? Prohibited under the terms of your licence/membership? Sure. But not illegal. (Again, I think.) Not that I agree with @Bulldog1 but I see his point. Isn’t that the whole purpose of the proposed Enhanced Games.

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On the general issue of doping, the Cycling Podcast has just released an episode featuring former pro Lizzy Banks. She recounts the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to clear her name. Lizzy speaks with eloquence and honesty about the devastating personal, financial and professional effects the case had on her life. Utterly absorbing and very insightful. Well worth a listen.

Spoiler alert: WADA don’t come out of it too well.



People are getting faster and stronger (there is also a big population of people getting fatter, slower and weaker but that’s not the conversation for today). Training is getting more scientific and incredibly razor-sharp for age groupers, and the stiffer competition is allowing people with greater potential to rise faster. There’s probably more cheating going on in age group athletes because there’s less scrutiny… but that also probably pushes people with legitimately good genes to work harder and win anyways.

My default belief when I see an extraordinary performance is not “they’re doped up to their gills.” Call me naive but I have a fair amount of trust in the random-ness and frequency of testing in the pro ranks. I am sure some people get away with it, or periodize drugs in such a way their training benefits and are clean by race day, or are able to use masking agents. But that’s a terrible way to live. I’ll trust people are doing the right thing until it’s found that they’re not, then well… kick 'em out.

The obvious answer is, they are using TrainerRoad and just keep getting faster.

Ahhh, it’s the mechanical doping!



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