Canadian Cyclist


July 23/13 10:39 am - Globe Issues Correction to Wheels of Bloor Team

Posted by Editoress on 07/23/13

In the Focus section of last Saturday's Globe and Mail newspaper, writer Richard Poplak wrote an essay on doping in the amateur Masters road racing peloton, with special emphasis on Ontario (where he races).  In that article, he named Greg Cavanagh as a Masters rider who had been caught doping (for testosterone) in 2012 and, incorrectly, identified him as a member of the 'dominant Wheels of Bloor' team.  In fact, Cavanagh raced for Team SUL (Shut Up Legs).  The corrected article can be seen HERE .

Besides being a factual error, the article unfairly linked Wheels of Bloor with Masters doping; which is somewhat ironic, since the team had been tested by CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport), with no adverse findings.  To its credit, the Globe has printed a correction, however, it is on Page 2, whereas the original article was on Page 1 of the Focus section.  So, we feel it is important to publicize this error, to help Wheels of Bloor retain its good name.

Below, in its entirety, is the letter that Wheels of Bloor riders Bruce Bird and Ian J. Scott sent to the Globe Editor, John Stackhouse, on the error:

Dear Mr. Stackhouse,
We are writing to you concerning the article titled 'Why do some amateur cyclists resort to doping', which was published in this Saturday's issue of the Globe and Mail. Author Richard Poplak states that the problem has reared its head closer to home, giving as an example Oakville cyclist Greg Cavanagh's failing of an in-competition drug test in June 2012. Poplak incorrectly states that Cavanagh is a member of the 'dominant Wheels of Bloor' team. This statement is a factual error. Cavanagh is not a member of Wheels of Bloor as he cannot be on any team due to his sanction. When Greg was tested and sanctioned for illegal use of testosterone Mr. Cavanagh was a member of the SUL team (Shut Up Legs). The factual error aside, we are concerned about the obvious implication of the use the adjective 'dominant' which may be interpreted that the team's results were tainted in the same way as Cavanagh's.

At the same event where Cavanagh was caught, two riders from our team were also tested. In the prior week, several members of the team had also been tested out of competition. Had Poplak had done the research; he could have discovered this on our website at . To our knowledge, targeted and out-of-competition testing is unprecedented in Ontario at Masters level (riders over 35 years of age). Unlike professionals, Masters racers never had any expectation of being tested, and as such the testing would be exceptionally effective at catching cheaters. The fact that no Wheels of Bloor team member, or in fact, any other Ontario Masters rider, has tested positive should be heralded as a an encouraging sign given the team's so-called dominance.

As an organization, we have worked hard to promote clean cycling, and all of our members are required adhere to our strict policy of not using performance-enhancing drugs. We have historically donated prize money towards a bursary to help young local riders. Individuals of Wheels of Bloor have volunteered without compensation to organize races to add challenging and exciting events to the local racing calendar. Wheels of Bloor is not just a cycling team, it is also a great bike shop where many people earn their livelihood. In a few erroneous words in a nationally published article, Mr Poplak has damaged the reputation of our team, a well-respected and independently-owned business and, more importantly, imperiled the livelihoods of people employed by the store. In addition, current and potential sponsors will think twice before associating themselves with cycling in general, and Wheels of Bloor in particular.

In his stated goal of uncovering why some amateur cyclists resort to doping, perhaps Poplak could have asked those who did. Greg Cavanagh is not in hiding, and he could have called any of the other riders outside of Ontario who have tested positive in the recent past.  Instead of writing a unsubstantiated, alarmist editorial and adding to the damaged reputation of the sport of cycling Mr. Poplak would serve the sport he enjoys more by highlighting the positive motivations for participation in amateur racing.

The Wheels of Bloor team objects to the inaccurate statement made in this article and will seek a legal opinion as to whether this constitutes slander [sic]. We request Globe and Mail and Mr. Polak to print a correction notice in a prominent location in the paper without delay.

Bruce Bird
Ian J. Scott
Wheels of Bloor Racing Team


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