Giro d’Italia comes to town – can increased drug testing help restore cycling’s image?

The world of cycling was dealt a heavy blow when the revelations of Lance Armstrong’s doping case became public in 2013. A man with seven Tour de France titles to his name managed to fool the cycling industry’s various drug testing bodies for years, earning millions of dollars whilst doing so. For any sport this type of scandal would be hard to recover from but the world of cycling has made some great strides in a relatively short space of time to help restore its global image. The 2014 Giro d’Italia event, beginning in Northern Ireland, will put cycling under the global spotlight once again and the sport will want to showcase the improvements that have been made.

The event is considered one of the most prestigious multiple stage cycling races in the world and this year’s will attract a potential audience of 800 million people across 165 countries. This will provide the perfect platform to show the world how things have changed with associated bodies hoping for a pulsating, clean race. With effective drug testing in place to identify cheating, cycling will go a long way in restoring its global image and integrity.

One of the highest drug testing rates in sport

The rate of drug testing in cycling is said to be one of the highest in all of sport, with riders being made to take drug tests frequently and UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) registered cyclists also having to carry an Athlete Biological Passport, otherwise known as an ABP.

In 2013, Tour de France winner Chris Froome said, “People don’t realise the amount of testing we actually go through. I am confident to say that cycling really must be one of the cleanest sports, if not the cleanest, just because of the way it’s policed and controlled.”

Froome’s opinion would appear to be supported when cycling is compared with other sports. Tennis, for example, analysed 2,600 samples in 2012 whereas cycling analysed 12,521 samples in the same year. This number may increase with the World Anti-Doping Agency investigating the possibility of introducing hair strand drug testing, known for its effective detection of longer term drug use and misuse.

Steering the changes

The man leading the change to cycling’s image is UCI president Brian Cookson who has set a goal of removing the doping culture from cycling.  Cookson aims to have corruption removed from cycling at every level and a scandal free Giro d’Italia will certainly help his cause.

Randox Testing Services are proud to have the Giro d’Italia’s Grande Partenza  in Northern Ireland where we have one of three UK offices situated. For more information on our drug testing services please click here