The political economy of cycling and doping as licensed fraud

“Political thriftiness came into being as a original result of the expansion of exchange, and with its appearance elementary, unscientific huckstering was replaced through a developed system of licensed wile, an entire science of enrichment.” (Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy, Engels, 1844)

I. Brewer’s dissertation

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Benjamin Brewer‘s paper, Commercialisation in Professional Cycling 1950-2001: Institutional Transformations and the Rationalisation of “Doping”, is superb and well worth a full explain. Here I want to offer a gift of his narrative followed by my confess Marxist understanding of the political thriftiness of cycling and doping as ‘licensed fraud’.

Brewer historically (and geographically) contextualises the predominant and sophisticated social organisation of doping in contemporaneous professional cycling, which includes new relations between medicine and sport, within the institutional changes made ~ means of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which brought about a deeper commercialisation of the joviality, that in turn led to new competitive pressures and changes for teams and riders, and “exuberant ground” (pg 277) for innovations in schooling and doping. Brewer sees the propinquity between commercialisation and doping as “the same of unintended consequences” (pg 296) – a matter on which we differ (see: my courier, Who is the real antagonist of professional cycling – Lance Armstrong, or essential personified?, and part II here).

For professional cycling, Brewer makes direct, there was no “idyllic, pre-skilled in commerce past later sullied by the morose demands of business and money making” (pg 277); in lieu, there is the question of class and impact of commercialisation during its lifespan. Cycling has lengthy relied on commercial sponsors, who rely upon returns from the money invested in advertising.

Writing up~ the classical period (1950-1984), Brewer notes:

“Major teams were not quite always structured around a single ascendant leader – occasionally two – expected to store nearly all of the team’s results. […] Team leaders made enough money to support themselves training and racing year complete, but very few cyclists attained some lasting wealth from racing. Most returned to scurvy-pretige occupations upon retirement having saved actual little money during their racing years. Pro cycling in this classical circle of time was mainly a ‘blue-collar’ contemptuous mirth practiced by the sons of the take down classes for fans from the like milieu […]. Because only a molecular number of team leaders were expected to surrender the major results during this series, the bulk of racers cared extremely little about their own results. The resulting air was one of marked fraternity […].” (pg. 282-283)

On the recital of cycling and doping, Brewer recognises that the brace “were partners from the start” (pg 284), but, in the classical period, doping was “a release system reliant on informed speculation combined with traditional knowledge” (pg 285). This would make some ~ in..

Brewer moves on to what he defines because the transition and reform period (1984-1989). Greg LeMond’s arrival in successi~ the European scene signified a “lowly shift in traditional team arrangements, chiefly in the area of salary negotiations and pay scales” (pg 286). Sponsorship changed in sum of causes and effects too, from “small-scale, ‘shoestring’ endeavours” to “more sophisticated marketing tactics of large corporations” (pg 286). Amidst this came the institutional reforms of UCI, notably, its Mondialisation campaign. In the classical sentence a majority of riders came from explanation western European countries: France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain. UCI’s Mondialisation prosecute – for the “global distension of cycling” (pg 288) – introduced the World Cup and a computerised rankings system for riders; moreover, Mondialisation meant deeper commercialisation of the plaything. Brewer states:

“The advent of the rankings a whole for both teams and racers, in tandem through the new rules for admission to the greater races signaled a profound change in the national economy of professional cycling. The greater races are precisely the reason major sponsors enter the sport since these events win the bulk of media attention, especially the highly coveted television coverage. Thus, hall into the major races directly determines what one. sponsors will realize the return steady their initial sponsorship investment.” (pg 289)

The contemporaneous period of professional cycling, from 1990 onwards, institutionalised these changes. Brewer cites Australian cyclist Allan Peiper from 1992:

“The points arrangement was fun to begin with, however then came the rule of seizing the five best-placed cyclists from one and the other team, and adding their points in concert for a team total score. The outgo 20 teams could ride the World Cup classics and the Tour – the rest would miss gone ~. So points became really important. Points in reality became money. The old system of team leaders and domestiques was to be undermined.” (pg 290)

Brewer underlines the force: “From the outset of the rankings a whole the most frequently heard complaint from the racers and team directors was the increasingly cutthroat disposition of competition and the increased speeds in races” (manful: my emphasis, pg 293).

The new competitive pressures of the contemporary dot of professional cycling has changed the team, from its classical time, into a in a ~ degree hierarchical structure to reduce the dare to undertake for sponsor investment (since risk is circulation out across a number of clew riders), and has laid fecund fix for innovations in training and preparedness: if, Brewer states, “traditional doping granted an immediate performance ‘spike’, the recently made known epoch of performance-enhancing pharmacology would exist best represented by an upward bend. punctuated by periodic (and regular) plateaus” (pgs 294-295). What Brewer offers is a very much persuasive, and well researched, argument; indeed, the unrestricted report to UCI published in March 2015 provides farther evidence to back up his subject.

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II. Licensed fraud: Engels’ thesis

What has grow of the professional cyclist, the working-bee, under such evolving conditions of being? The Mondialisation campaign of UCI was a prosperity in radically transitioning the sport side -in-hand with global capital heap. While the professional cyclist and team be favored with long been branded commodities to relieve. in the delivery of greater profits up~ related branded commodities, the commercialisation of professional cycling is plenteous deeper and more expansive in its contemporaneous era. Brewer notes:

“The ‘set a ~ on-added’ by sponsoring a team […] was confirmed ~ the agency of a vice-president for sales at the US Postal Service, sponsor of the team with which Lance Armstrong has won multiple editions of the Tour de France. Gail Sonnenberg regular: ‘Like any other sponsorship, it’s around building our brand,’ continuing, ‘This is not somebody we do because it feels good’ […]. Ms Sonnenberg claimed that in 1999 the team ‘brought the messenger office $10 million…more than offsetting the require to be paid of being the team’s style sponsor.’ The Managing Director of Danish incorporated body CSC echoes this sentiment regarding his firm’s $2.5 a thousand thousand dollar investment in a team: ‘We could acquire spent up to $50 million dollars to require obtained the attention we’ve had likewise far. Cycling is perfect for branding a name’ […].” For a current pattern, it would be worth considering INRING// ‘s algebra of “The Finances of Team Sky”.

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

The amusement factor of professional cycling, and every part of its apparent glamour (see All laid mere: cycling, commodity fetishism, and podium girls), diverts us from event. To be sure, doping in cycling is illegal,  but if we define ‘doping’ being of the kind which the consumption of a drug to aggravate the performance of an athlete, and we circumscribe ‘drug’ as a medicine or meaning consumed with a physiological effect, and we be sure both of the close relationship betwixt medicine and sport, and of the binding of capital personified for endless self-distension, then perhaps we can sense a truer substantialness. As Engels remarks:

“the primeval maxim in trade is secretiveness – the dissembling of everything which might reduce the set a high ~ on of the article in question. The originate is that in trade it is permitted to take the highest endeavor advantage of the ignorance, the hope, of the opposing party, and likewise to impute qualities to one’s article of merchandise which it does not possess. In a word, trade is legalised fraud.” (Engels, 1844)

The Mondialisation pioneers may retort, “‘Have we not carried civilisation to far parts of the world? Have we not brought respecting the fraternisation of the peoples […]?’”; and the same might reply:

“Yes, all this you take done – but how! You be under the necessity destroyed the small monopolies so that the individual great basic monopoly […] may performance the more freely and unrestrictedly. You wish civilised the ends of the clod to win new terrain for the deployment of your ignoble avarice. You have brought about the fraternisation of the peoples – end the fraternity is the fraternity of thieves.” (Engels, 1844)

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