Tell me doping isn’t happening on a pretty broad basis among age group athletes, and I’ll be more surprised than if you told me it is.
No sour grapes here, mind you. I’m an MOP age-grouper, and I’m only racing myself. So it doesn’t matter to me if age groupers are doping or not. It just seems very likely that it’s happening.
Let’s look at my age group as a ferinstance. If you check out the bikes at a big event, the nicest bikes seem to be in the 40-50 yo age group. It seems like there’s a higher density of high-end bikes there than there is even in the pro group. Based on nothing other than the bikes I see, I’d guess (have no stats on this) that the median income of my age group is well above the median income for triathlon pros, and my observation is that lots of guys in my age group don’t have a problem dropping cash on gadgets and equipment.
In other words, they are more than happy to pay for speed.
In addition, I’d imagine it’s not very tough for a guy in this age group to obtain prescriptions for a wide-range of pharmaceuticals that can help their performance. The question is, how many would actually do it?
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation many of us may be able to relate to. Let’s say an athlete starts off in triathlon in his 30s and works up to the 140.6 distance. Over the next few years he completes multiple iron-distance races, reads a gazillion books, buys a top-of-the-line bike, hires a coach, gets his diet in order, and trains like a madman with hopes of one day qualifying for Kona. We’re talking about years of preparation for a single goal.
He wakes up one day and he’s 39 (turning 40 in the calendar year). He’s moved up an age group, and does a little research to find that he’s on pace to be about 10 minutes away from winning a Kona slot at his A race which is scheduled later in the year. Ten minutes doesn’t sound like much, but then again, 10 minutes is a lot of time to cut off of the time he’s worked so hard to get over so many years. Can you imagine the level of temptation he’d be facing to employ every tactic available to get that 10 minutes and get that Kona slot?
Think very few triathletes would do that just because it’s against the rules?
Remind yourself of that next time a peloton blows by you on the bike during a race.
Now, if all those people in all those pelotons in all those races are willing to let people see them break a rule to go faster on race day, why would they care about breaking a rule in the privacy of their own homes during training to go faster on race day?