Who, what, why?
I wrote about the purpose and motivations behind Dopeology at length when I first released it in October 2011, so I won't repeat myself here.
Strictly speaking, Dopeology is not really my own work. It's a collection of references to an enormous volume of work done by others over the last three decades and offers just a hint of the extraordinary creative, legal, administrative and financial resources consumed by doping in European professional road cycling.
A lot of other people have inspired, shaped and amended bits of the project. I've singled out a few in the Thanks section below but there are many others out there. As for myself, I'm not some sort of anonymous eminence grise with an inside track on the dirt! I'm a fan of the sport and an active cyclist and if you contact me via the Contact page, you'll almost certainly get a reply. Otherwise I can often be found in cycling discussions (doping and non-doping) at Velorooms.com.
Finally, a word of thanks for all the support received from users, colleagues and friends in the development, testing and maintenance of Dopeology.
J - for enthusiasm, infinite patience and the third natural form; Catalin - for services rendered to SQL, Oncle Luc for kind comments; Velorooms.com: Dim, AG, JSG and members; Andy Smith for scientific contributions; Cyclingnews.com Clinic users: Fearless Greg Lemond / Steven Farmer, Dr Maserati, Mrs John Murphy, Stingray34 and others (needless to say, this website is not affiliated with Cyclingnews.com ;-))
Just a few picks from a big list of journos, publications and sources: Paul Kimmage for being the first and the last man standing, David Walsh, Susan Westermeyer and Daniel Benson at Cyclingnews.com, Cyclisme-dopage.com, Procycling.no for asking the blunt questions, VeloNation and Proper Righteous Shane Stokes, Hans Vandeweghe of De Standaard and De Vlaamse Wielerbond, Le Monde's Stéphane Mandard and JP de Mondenard, L'Equipe, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Het Nieuwsblad, Gazet van Antwerpen, Le Soir, El Mundo Deportivo, El País, Record, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, NOS, NRC, Guardian, Telegraph, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, ESPN, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine and many others … if I overlooked anyone, let me know!
Anti-thanks to: Doctors Conconi, Ferrari, Fuentes, Cecchini and assistants for odious vanity and professionalising the eighth deadly sin; Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen for maintaining the machine at the expense of the workers; Lance Armstrong for everything in between.
The integrity of the data, which is the most important aspect of any archival project, is maintained according to three doctrines: economy, equality and equanimity.
It could be argued that any sort of narrative in a dataset runs a certain risk of editorialising or bias. Every attempt has been made to achieve economy by minimising prose to no more than a few words per incident and, given the importance of sources in Dopeology, allowing these other sources to provide a broader range of narratives.
Dopeology is intended neither to be judgemental nor punitive in its presentation of data. Acquittals and negative B tests are recorded with the same fidelity and factual interest as any positive test or arrest.
The neat thing is that publications take care of what is or should be verifiable fact. The media have a responsibility to publish fact. If they do not, then the individual(s) harmed can take appropriate action. If the individual(s) do not, and there are other sources to the same effect, then the publication must stand as fact. This is how the world works.
Dopeology attempts to reflect events without recourse to the emotions of the moment, in which facts are sometimes distorted or misrepresented.
Dopeology is a web application, so its data is live. Data can and do change when new information emerges and, while for press and public new events may bring a tonal change, Dopeology seeks only to record them.
- Version 1.6, 18 March 2013
This section discusses the business rules used to log incidents on Dopeology, by reference to each of the types of incident currently in use. These business rules may change over time in order to better maintain data integrity or reflect the global situation on doping.
It is important that users draw as few as possible inferences from the categorisation of data since this tends to distract from the data itself. In other words, the filing cabinet should be less important than the file contained within.
An individual or group publicly describes their passive or active involvement in doping-related incidents. Admission statements are typically made in press interviews, biographies or court or arbitration proceedings, sometimes years after the events described.
Where a statement of this character is made as part of evidence given in court or arbitration proceedings, the incident is logged as an admission statement rather than hearing evidence, this latter being concerned instead with testimony given that does not directly inculpate the witness.
An admission statement is valid only in respect of the individual or group that makes it. Others mentioned as part of an admission statement will not be logged unless there is sufficient information from available from other sources to constitute a distinct incident record.
Appeal against sanction
An appeal against sanction is a legal or quasilegal procedural appeal made by a group or individual against a criminal, civil or disciplinary sanction.
Note that it is the appeal per se rather than the outcome that we record, which means that any possible outcome - an acquittal or an upholding, diminution or extension of an earlier decision - is equally valid under this type.
Whilst this focus on events rather than outcomes does entail some risk of loss of statistical precision, the obligation to maintain equanimity and equality in the data is nonetheless fulfilled.
An arrest is logged for an individual or group of individuals arrested on suspicion or express evidence of a criminal act involving doping.
The incident will be recorded whether or not the subject of the arrest is subsequently released without charge since the issue of guilt is not relevant to the incident itself.
The conviction of an individual or group of individuals convicted of a criminal offence by a court of law.
An exclusion describes the in situ expulsion or subsequent disqualification of an individual or group of individuals from a professional cycle race with the reason or reasons given expressly including their involvement or suspected involvement in a doping-related incident.
In practice, this incident type tends to be overlooked where events typically evolve into another type of incident and it is only used when no events of greater import occurred immediately before or after.
Evidence concerning doping given by an individual or individuals during a legal or quasilegal procedure.
An investigation is a criminal or quasi-legal investigation into doping-related practices or activities involving doping-related practices whose results have been concluded temporarily or permanently and reported as such by appropriate sources.
A medical emergency typically involves the hospitalisation of an individual for reasons of injury or death occurring as a result of doping-related activities. If this type of incident evolves into another then the latter will be recorded rather than this one.
A permanent ban is similar to a temporary suspension except where the length of the prohibition from involvement in professional cycling is permanent. A permanent ban may be fixed during the course of legal or quasi-legal proceedings.
A positive test is a verifiable positive blood or urine test conducted in or out of competition during the contiguous career of an individual in the domain of European professional road cycling.
A dope test typically results in two samples, the latter of which (the B-sample) will be opened and tested if the former (A-sample) returns a positive result for a particular substance. A-positives followed subsequently by B-negatives are still recorded. Technical information on dope control procedures can be found at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) website.
A temporary suspension is a temporary prohibition from involvement in professional cycling. A temporary suspension may be fixed during the course of contractual disciplinary, legal or quasi-legal proceedings.
Termination of contract
An individual's contract with an organisation involved in cycling may be terminated as a result of alleged or actual involvement in doping-related incidents.
The specific circumstances behind the termination of contract need not necessarily be made public - and this "without prejudice" situation is common - but the incident is recorded if doping-related activities are cited and the assumption seems reasonable that the organisation is not acting capriciously.
A violation is a doping-related infraction, often procedural in character, for which the offending party incurs a relatively minor penalty. Examples of violations are failures to report in the whereabouts programme and elevated haematocrit results.
As has been suggested above, the sensitivity of the information contained within Dopeology - and the fact that it involves real people and organisations and the interests of both - means that statistical precision must be secondary to data integrity.
Events are assessed qualitatively when logging incidents. Therefore one already embarks on the possibility of a margin of (human) error. However, this qualitative assessment also means that occasionally an incident must represent a "best-fit" solution where the complexities of the situation or the relative paucity of information require it.
The Statistics pages on Dopeology should be browsed with these issues in mind.
- 18 March 2013 / Version 1.6
- Published the Podium
- 30 October 2011 / Version 1.5
- Release with search functionality
- 08 October 2011 / Version 1.0
- First public release, with incident methodology version 1.0