Malliot Blanc Column by Toby Miles - I’m distraught about doping scandals but my generation can change perceptions

PUBLISHED: 19:04 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 19:13 05 March 2018

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

Malliot Blanc cycling columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

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Read Toby Miles’ Malliot Blanc Column as the aspriring professional cyclist shares his experiences inside British Cycling and its anti-doping efforts.

Malliot Blanc columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.Malliot Blanc columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

My heart sank on Monday morning when I read the news headlines.

A report about doping in sport alleged that Sir Bradley Wiggins had ‘crossed an ethical line,’ and that Team Sky had used drugs to enhance the performance of riders, not just to treat medical need.

Aside from the frustration at Wiggins and Sky, I’m so disappointed that my sport is being dragged through the mud again, when it deserves so much more.

The public already dismiss cycling as dirty. So dirty that it’s not to be taken seriously. With each scandal or accusation, they see my passion as less of a sport and more of a joke.

Malliot Blanc columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.Malliot Blanc columnist Toby Miles in competitive action on the continent. Credit: Martine Verfaillie.

It’s clear to me that the majority of cyclists are clean in 2018. If you want to ride on bread and water, you won’t have to fight to do so. The dark days of the ‘90’s and ‘00’s are gone, but we’re still feeling the consequences.

My generation of riders, who’ve been educated on the subject, have role-models to learn from like David Millar - who served a ban but came back to share his story and prove it can be done clean.

Part of my education came as an under-16 rider, when I was selected along with 25 other youngsters for quarterly training days with British Cycling called Regional Schools of Racing - RSRs. They were held at facilities like the Lee Valley VeloPark at the Olympic Park in London.

After some on-bike drills, they held classes on things like training advice and an anti-doping workshop. On doping, we were told the responsibility to know what we’re putting into our own bodies. We were given pictures of dopers and asked to identify them, the table with the most identifications wins.

David Millar, an outspoken force against doping who came back to help change the sport after serving a ban earlier in his career ban. Now retired, he co-commentates of the Tour de France for ITV.David Millar, an outspoken force against doping who came back to help change the sport after serving a ban earlier in his career ban. Now retired, he co-commentates of the Tour de France for ITV.

We were told to be cautious of supplements, and given contact details for a department at British Cycling where we could go to for anti-doping advice.

We talked openly as a group what doping means and why it’s wrong, and given the opportunity to ask the experienced coaches questions on the subject.

British Cycling have received constant criticism recently but their commitment to informing the next generation is admirable. Those sessions were enjoyable and a safe environment to learn in.

I’m as distraught as anyone when a high-profile rider gets found out, and I’m angry that it overshadows the beauty of cycling and the achievements of honest riders, but having experienced it first-hand, I think the next generation has the ability to change perceptions.

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