‘Cheats will not prosper in the world of cycling,’ says former Warwick resident
THE genesis of Bike Pure was the drugs scandal which dogged the Tour de France in 2008 and a feeling in cycling of the need to combat the “win at all costs” mentality pervading many sports and its corrosive impact on young minds.
It has more than 120,000 members in 93 countries, said Andy Layhe, the former Warwickshire cyclist who runs it.
And many riders, including women’s world number one and Olympic champion Marianne Vos, wear the distinctive blue Bike Pure wristband to show their support.
Sickened by the stench of drug taking tarnishing cycling’s image, former Myton School pupil Andy helped found Bike Pure while living in Northern Ireland and when he emigrated to Australia with his young family two years ago carried on the work.
Andy, aged 41, said: “Not all riders were doping so we contacted a handful of professional riders we knew in the UK and they thought it was a great idea. Professional cyclists and coaches become part of our organisation, standing up as ethical role models and setting an example to cyclists worldwide that you don’t have to take drugs to succeed, giving clean athletes a voice. We now see a ‘win at all costs’ mentality in all sports across all ages, even at grass roots level.
“It’s a great honour to be successful in sport but not by breaking rules and cheating.
“We feel that by educating young athletes about the importance of honesty and integrity in sport, this provides them with a great foundation should they choose sport as a career.”
Bike Pure distributes anti-doping literature at events, gets coaches and clubs to spread its message and has also put forward suggestions and ideas that have been implemented by cycling’s world governing body, including the ban on cyclists using syringes to inject vitamins and minerals to aid recovery.
“Also, we are pushing for a ban on any team staff implicated in doping from working with young athletes, unless they can help repair some of the damage they may have instilled on the sport,” said Andy.
“An organisation can influence the future. You can’t change in the past, but you can certainly learn from it.”
He said the controversy surrounding Armstrong dates back to when the blood-boosting drug EPO and blood transfusions to boost performance were undetectable.
Last month the United States Anti-Doping Agency said it would strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles won between 1999 and 2005.
Armstrong said he was weary of fighting accusations and declined to take part in an arbitration process, pointing to the hundreds of drug tests he passed as proof of his innocence.
Andy said: “Over the last two to three seasons we have seen the climbing speeds of riders in the Tour de France decrease to levels seen almost 20 years ago.
“With more out-of-competition testing and effective means of testing, notably for human growth hormone, cycling is at the forefront of anti-doping.
“Yes, riders are still occasionally caught doping but with so many riders being tested, the more you test, the more you are going to catch. It’s simple maths.
“Other sports such as tennis and football fall well behind the amount of testing carried out compared to cyclists, with many tennis players rarely tested out of competition.
“Cycling was also the first sport to implement a bio-passport system, when results of blood tests are stored over a number of times each season throughout careers.
“A profile is built up over time, making it easier for anti-doping experts to distinguish spikes in the results that could point towards blood manipulation.
“The system isn’t fool proof but simply another weapon in the arsenal of anti-doping agencies to combat doping.
“The bio passport has been such a success that it has been introduced into athletics.”
Andy, who grew up in Leamington and later lived in Bridge Street, Warwick, still has friends in the area, including Lance Ravenhill.
He introduced Andy to cycling, coached him, is a world masters champion on the track, rides for Kenilworth Wheelers and now lives near Hatton.
Andy runs Bike Pure in his own time while holding down a job in Sydney as a graphic designer and continues to race.
He said Bike Pure also has social media to thank for it’s rise, with its Facebook and Twitter pages having more than 20,000 followers.
“It’s tough at times trying to fit everything in but we are committed to the future of the sport and making it a better place for younger riders.
“We get emails from people all over the world, some as young as 14, congratulating us on the educational work we do and their aspirations toward the professional riders who form part of Bike Pure, it makes it all worthwhile.
“We owe it to all the athletes who compete clean and honestly. If we give up, then the cheats win, simple.”
Bike Pure survives on donations and the sale of items on its online store www.bikepure.org/store
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