Mountain Bike Australia's President speaks out against doping

Russ Baker, president of Mountain Bike Australia

Russ Baker, president of Mountain Bike Australia (Image credit: MTB Australia)

The President of Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA), Russell Baker, sent a strong anti-doping message recently to the organization's members. Baker spoke out adamantly against doping generally and proposed that key personnel associated with MTBA take an anti-doping pledge.

"I wish to make my position on the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport abundantly clear," wrote Baker in a statement to MTBA members on October 24. "I abhor them and they represent a tarnishing blight on sport, creating an environment in which drug cheats damage the reputation of the whole sport and deny rightful team placings and professional careers to clean athletes. In short, I would rather our riders come 50th clean, than win dirty. Cheating is not the Australian way.

Noting that mountain biking is a way many future road pros come into the sport of cycling, Baker said, "While mountain biking is an international sport in its own right, it is also an introductory and pathway sport to road cycling for many riders. We have an obligation to young riders entering our sport, and to their parents, to provide them with a safe and drug-free environment in which to begin their sporting careers and develop their personal sporting values. We must never forget that we are the first exposure to competitive cycling for many young Australians. We also have obligations to those who support our sport, from Governments through Sponsors to the countless volunteers without whom mountain biking would not happen in Australia.

"I will be proposing to the MTBA Management Committee for their approval, that the MTBA Management Committee, Staff, Selectors, Coaches, Managers and Contractors sign statements reflecting their noninvolvement in performance enhancing drugs. We will also look to those who act as role models and mentors for our riders as they enter the top-level competitive ranks, and seek the same commitment from them. We already require similar commitment from our riders when they are selected to national teams and development squads. We should have no issue in asking for the same commitment from those who influence them, manage them and manage their sport."

"In advance of this, I take pride in making my declaration that; I have never taken performance enhancing drugs, I have not been involved in their supply or distribution, nor have I promoted their use. Should the subsequent legal advice from ASADA or the ASC require a different or stronger statement, I will sign that."

In a related action, Baker also called for the removal of the name of Stephen Hodge from a criterium circuit at Stromlo Forest Park. Hodge is the former vice president of Cycling Australia who resigned after admitting doping during his racing career.

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