Compliance, the Tour de France, and Doping

tour de france

One of the biggest challenges with any compliance program is proving effectiveness. It’s really hard to prove that you prevented a bad thing from happening. You may be able to detect bad things when they occur. But most policies and procedures cannot prove they capture 100% of the bad things. Cycling is a case in point.

The disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong never failed one of this tests for doping. There were hundreds of tests and none of them proved he was cheating. It turns out the tests failed. Armstrong was doping. He was a liar. He cheated.

On Sunday, Chris Froome of Team Sky crossed the Champs Elysees as the winner of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. He dominated his contenders since the first mountain stage, finishing atop Ax-Trois-Domaines well ahead of his rivals.

Was he too dominant? Was he doping?

He passed the tests. Tests which are much more likely to detect illegal substances than years ago.

Froome is stuck in the position of trying to prove he is clean and did not break the rules. How to you prove that you didn’t break a rule?

Cycling fans, like me and Tom Fox, have been heartbroken to learn that some of our favorite riders were breaking the rules. That makes it hard to have 100% faith in Chris Froome.

It’s not a lack of faith in him; it’s a lack of faith in the testing system. Clearly, the testing regime failed to detect nearly a decade of cheaters. Armstrong’s titles did not fall to the next placed riders during those years, because nearly all of those who stood beside him on the podium were found to also be cheaters.

In looking at a compliance program, do you have faith that it is catching all the cheaters and deterring possible cheaters? Do the regulators and leaders of your firm have faith in your systems? Can you prove compliance? Or merely show that you haven’t caught anyone cheating?



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2 Responses to Compliance, the Tour de France, and Doping

  1. Greig Leach July 29, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Well written and reasoned, it does beg the question what to do with the cheaters when everyone is cheating?

    • Doug Cornelius July 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      Greig –

      For me, that is the big question for Lance Armstrong’s record. There is no doubt that he is a tremendous cyclist. His main opponents were all dopers. They were all competing at a medically-induced, higher level.

      But was Mr. Armstrong the best cyclist? Or merely, the best doper? To ask it another way, did he win on the bike or in the medical office?

      On another note, I really like your watercolors from the Tour. I’m looking forward to the one above arriving on my doorstep along with the one of Jens Voigt, going alone. I’m going to miss him in the peloton. (or more likely attacking the peleton.)