Postal Doping

Les Earnest (les at cs.cycling.edu)

2014.07.02


Growth of Cycling Independence. I am pleased to see that an increasing number of races are being run without permits from USA Cycling (USAC) ["Velonotes: The rise of the un-race" by Chris Chase, Velo magazine, July 2014] but note that USAC is continuing to dance around the issue of enforcing their alleged monopoly power granted by UCI. They claim to have the right to suspend any licensee who participates in a race that does not have a permit from them but they continue to postpone enforcement of that rule, now until 2015. Meanwhile USAC continues to operate under the control of the person who organized the most successful doping program in the history of cycling.


Avoiding a blood bath. Inga Thompson, who was an outstanding competitor from the 1980s to 1993, is continuing to speak out about the corrupt practices of the U.S. Cycling Federation (USCF) and its successor, USAC -- see "Perspectives on doping in pro cycling -- 2: Inga Thompson". Her account of the attempt to coerce her into blood doping at the 1984 Olympics is consistent with what I learned from an investigation later that year. Blood doping had been going on in various sports for years while the International Olympic Committee and others tried to ignore it. In early 1985 we introduced a rule prohibiting that practice, which was subsequently adopted by other cycling organizations around the world and then by other sports. However it was not enforced much, partly because of technical difficulties. However it did recently snag Lance Armstrong and some of his colleagues after the enforcement of that rule was moved outside of the UCI and its corrupt national racing components.

In 1993, the year that Inga chose to leave racing because of ongoing attempts to force her participation in doping by corrupt coaches and administrators, I initiated an attempt to start reorganizing the sport under a more democratic and inclusive organization called USA Cycling. However a group led by Mike Plant managed to coerce or bribe the USCF staff into doing a number of crooked things that put the new organization into a grossly undemocratic form in which a majority of the board of directors represent commercial interests who make up less than 2% of the participants in the sport. The U.S. Olympic Committee did not object because they were already under the control of commercial interests. For more on this early scrimmaging see "Doping is just part of the problem".

In 1999 Mike Plant struck a deal with San Francisco investment banker Thomas Weisel, who had earlier bought his way into control of the Olympic sport of downhill skiing and put it under the control of his assistant, Steve Johnson. Plant called a meeting of the USAC Board of Directors with a secret agenda calling for an immediate handover of control to Weisel. I then sued them and got that negated but they immediately went at it again in an illegal manner. I sued again but realized that this game could be repeated indefinitely and would continue to cost the participants in the sport, so I eventually settled out of court. Weisel subsequently installed Steve Johnson as head of USAC and he is still running it under the supervision of Weisel.

Meanwhile, Weisel oversaw the creation of the U.S. Postal Service racing team with its lead rider, Lance Armstrong, which became the most successful doping program in the history of cycling while Steve Johnson did his best to prevent investigation of that program. Weisel now claims that he knew nothing about the doping, which is remarkable given that a lot of people knew. Strangely, even though this crooked operation was largely funded by the U.S. Postal Service, which is supposedly in financial trouble, they have so far not brought a legal action against the Weisel gang.