by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 175
20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Having spent a significant number of years living in Oxford, a town infested with a plague of bicycles, I’ve developed a certain loathing for those two-wheeled machines. Student cyclists are a pain and then some – no helmets or lights, half-pissed, and less road awareness than a squashed hedgehog. So I never intended to pay much attention to the Lance Armstrong doping scandal. As a sports journalist, I’d heard all about the EPO and blood transfusions on an off-the-record basis for years, and wasn’t hugely surprised when the news became official. But thanks to the magic of the internet, I keep reading about the doping by accident. My F1 news aggregator uses certain keywords to pull articles into my feed, and what with the starring role played by one Dr Ferrari I kept finding myself clicking on headlines that read ‘Ferrari admits to role in cheating scandal’ or similar. While I never intended to learn quite so much about the different ways in which professional cyclists cheat death in the pursuit of glory, I’ll readily admit to the fact that I’ve had drugs on the brain over the past few weeks. We’ve all read the stories about Western tourists getting flung into Middle Eastern prisons for drugs offenses both real and imagined, and they put the fear of god in me. In 2007, a British man was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in the UAE when he was caught smuggling cannabis through Dubai airport. I say smuggling – the man in question had 0.004g of marijuana stuck to the sole of his shoe. According to the policemen who charged him, the amount he was charged with possessing was invisible to the naked eye. Ooh, what a smuggler. Then there was the boyfriend of a friend of mine who spent two years incarcerated at his emir’s pleasure when the prescription medicines he had in his hand luggage – for which he had both a prescription and a doctor’s note – were found to contravene UAE definitions of what does and doesn’t constitute a drug. Much as I love spending time in the Middle East, in some regards this place scares the bejeezus out of me. I live in a part of north London that smells more strongly of weed than any Amsterdam coffee shop you could care to mention. I always carry Nurofen and sleeping pills with me on an airplane. Every time I walk through airport security in Dubai I break into a cold sweat, wondering how much contraband I’m unwittingly bringing along for the ride. Turns out I’m not the only paddock person with drugs on the brain. Mark Webber – who was a keen cycling fan until the realities of drug abuse within the sport killed his passion around a decade ago – has been calling for the FIA to introduce more stringent and more frequent drug tests. The Red Bull driver’s comments came after Australian Moto2 rider Anthony West was found to have Methylhexaneamine in his blood stream. Methylhexaneamine was originally marketed as a decongestant, but can be used by athletes to aid weight loss and improve concentration. As a result, it’s ideal for motorsports. At least, it would be if it weren’t on the lengthy banned substance list supplied by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, with whom the FIA cooperate. At first glance, the idea of drivers using performance-enhancing drugs doesn’t seem to gel. What is there on the market that can make you drive faster while keeping you alert enough to keep abreast of everything happening in the pack around you? In the 1950s and ‘60s some drivers used cocaine and amphetamines to improve performance, but the taciturn post- session comments we’re used to seeing rule those out as options in the modern era. Chatty they ain’t. But in a sport where success is measured in milliseconds, there’s always some sort of advantage to be gained. Build extra muscle faster than your rivals and get better at withstanding G-force, or wrestling a car around a twisty track. Lose weight while keeping muscle and gift your team with added ballast options. Increase focus and reaction time and find overtaking opportunities where none exist. Despite the ‘advantages’, however, Formula One has managed to keep itself impressively drug-free. Cheating scandals in our sport tend to involve the machine and not the man. This is partly due to the FIA’s random drug tests and the high cost of failure – the annulment of one’s superlicence (and, consequently, one’s career). But the real reason F1 has managed to keep its nose so clean when other sports struggle with drugs on a regular basis? It’s all about the culture: cheating in this sport is about bending regulations, about outsmarting one’s opponents. Formula One operates in the grey area. Drugs are black and white – there’s no arguing with the results of a blood test. RIGHT: Mark Webber is a strong advocate for drug testing in sport, having l;ost his passion for professional cycling following the recent scandals ... OPINION TAKE ME TO YOUR DEALER OPINION KATE WALKER Asst Editor