Guide to Doping Categories

Team Milram rider Erik Zabel of Germany leaves the anti-doping control after the eighth stage of the 95th Tour de France cycling race between Figeac and ToulouseAs I was doing research for my latest article on the recent doping admissions I came across the line from Erik Zabel, “I never had a structured doping plan, never had any experts around me, and so never saw myself as a super doper. I only had recommendations.” Super doper?

At first glance I thought he might have meant because of the amount of doping he’d done over the years he was super at doping. But take that phrase in context and he means the opposite. So I asked myself, “What would Zabel consider a super doper?”

Before we determine a super doper there needs to be other categories of doping.


Dopage des Catégories

1. Premature Doper: This is lowest level of doping. The rider was going to dope, they stored the blood or bought the PEDs, but their conscience got a hold of them and they didn’t do it. Instead they SWEAR they threw away the drugs or didn’t re-inject their blood. Also, they feel really bad about it. And they’re sorry. And they hope their family, friends, team, and fans forgive them for this one moment of weakness.

2. Unbeknownst Doper: They returned a positive result for PEDs, but SWEAR they don’t know why they were positive. They trusted their doctors, coaches, teammates, and had no idea what they were being injected with (thought it was B-12 or a hepatitis booster). They state that it doesn’t feel like they did anything illegal. Similar to telling the police officer who pulls you over for speeding, “But officer, it didn’t feel like I was driving a 100 miles per hour.”

3. One Time Doper: They SWEAR they only did it once and by chance, that was the instance they were caught. Also they feel really bad about it. And they’re sorry. And they want to return to racing to prove they can race clean.

4. Pet Doper: The rider SWEARS the drugs found in the refrigerator are not for him but for Fido. The rider insists the dog has a rare medical condition requiring blood thinners and steroids. They are often indignant that they could be accused of doping.

5. Training Plan Doper: They bought a “training plan” for an exorbitant price from a doctor with a sketchy reputation. However, they SWEAR it was only for the super secret interval protocol tailored to their personal watts/kilograms output and high cadence drills. They point to scientific evidence that proves that if someone pedals faster than the competition they will win races and this information is worth thousands of euros.

6. Intermediate Doper: They doped throughout most of their career because it was the only way to be competitive. However, once Lance Armstrong retired in 2006, they terminated their PED program because cycling was now clean (?)! They SWEAR they haven’t doped since 2006.

7. Advanced Doper: They doped since 2006, but they took it upon themselves to concoct their own doping regime and purchase of PEDs without any help from outside sources. This knowledge was gained by “talking to people” and driving across the border to (fill in the blank) by themselves. They SWEAR the team had no idea what was going on.

8. Super Doper: Haven’t raced clean since their junior days, doping throughout their entire career. They laugh at the biological passport and know how to circumvent the testing. Their doping ranged from a team wide program to going “rogue” and getting PEDs for themselves or buddies. They SWEAR they didn’t have a choice as everyone was doing it. They hope to give back to cycling by riding gran fondos for appearance fees.

9. Amazing Doper: They were part of a team wide plan to distribute doping products within the squad. Those who didn’t comply had contracts terminated. Those who spoke out were sued or physically intimidated. Even after retirement the Amazing Doper still threatens those who speak out. While admitting to doping they SWEAR that they are the victims in a corrupt system that was in place before they became a professional cyclist.

I hope this categorization helps define the type of doper as there will be more riders confessing and it can get confusing. Are they just a Premature Doper, Training Plan Doper, or the off the chart “hor category” doper, AKA the Amazing Doper? If you feel like I’ve missed a category let me know in the comment section below.


  1. Paul says:

    The drunk doper. It was the beers and scotches the night before that race winning ride that threw off the test and caused a false positive.

  2. Durishin says:

    Brilliant, Neil. Someone needs to make a graphic to capture this – attention span of the typical, caffeine-addled cyclist being what it is and all.

  3. Bernard Shaw says:

    Neil best effort ever you get the UCI hydroponic lights for organic dope award!

    How about a follow up, types of fans, from romantic to pedantic?

  4. Bernard Shaw says:

    yes there is the Even a 12 step group won’t help him doper. Like the town drunk who all thought was a good guy inside if only they helped him off the sauce. After detox and recovery it turns out he was actually a jerk all along and the drinking was not the problem.

    Ah, duh, Armstrong, jerk supreme, actually a manipulative malevolent depravedly callous pretender to be caring only to make himself feel superior doper.

  5. Matt Jacobson says:

    Great piece.

    It is time. Lifetime ban for anyone who gets caught. There will still be some who cheat, but we just can’t tolerate it anymore from anyone connected to cycling – cooks, coaches, and especially riders.

  6. Journalist Doper: They asked all the hard questions and they SWEAR they investigated the top suspects, but since there were no positive tests they had to accept innocence until proven guilty. Plus their (web site, magazine, newspaper) depended on the ad revenue and they would have been fired and everyone else was doing it and Lance brought so many new people into the sport. Now that everyone has admitted to doping they are highly critical of ex dopers and huge advocates for clean cycling.

  7. Bernard Shaw says:

    yes one more category Of these categories one more is needed, the “beyond category doper” Armstrong and the inevitability of an outlier being attracted to the mix, the malevolent, depraved indifferent manipulative grandiose doper

  8. Pegleg Pete says:

    Don’t ferget de canned heat. You cin drink it den cook a hotdawg wit it. Peeformace? It also weeks as fuel fer me hidden bike motor. Go aisk Shpartkus.

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