So Bahrain Victorious’ big secret is … Tizanidine?

50 police, hair sample testing and all they come up with is a perfectly legal non-banned muscle relaxant that helps riders sleep. I guess it’s good news for our sport, but what a storm in a tea cup. Half that number of police was used in the Festina raid in 98 and they had already found the full pharmacy in Willy Vogt’s car.

Yes, Tizanidine is not currently banned.

But you are downplaying the ethical issues of them using the drug in an off-label manner in order to improve their riders’ performances.

They weren’t using Tizanidine to help treat ailments as the drug was intended. Legal to use? Yes (for now). Ethical? No.

I guess treading that fine line of ethics, which is necessarily subjective, is so fraught in elite sport that we adhere to the objective standard of banned or not. Tramadol (eventually banned), Ketones, implantable glucose monitors, ribbing on skinsuit, sock length etc. Btw, the intended use of Tizanidine is to relax muscles to deal with pain, which seems to be the use case here. It’s a very strong treatment but it’s not banned and, anecdotally, has been used in pro cycling for some time with perfect legality.

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Yeah, ribbing in skinsuits and sock height are clearly in the same category as off-label use of a drug in a sport rife with doping history.

I clearly noted that the use of the drug was legal. If you think “ legal” also equates to “ethical”, there is no need to continue the conversation.

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No, not that at all. The ethics piece is very important, my examples were to illustrate that subjectivity brings with it a range of value judgements. But the point of my post was, and remains, that BV has been under a serious cloud of suspicion of illegality since the July raid, which was a policing and therefore rules issue, and this is the result. Ps I do agree with you that the ethics of this are not good, just as I think the use of ketones is not good, although perfectly legal. But that’s a seperate issue from using police.

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if it’s unethical it should be banned. riders shouldn’t have to make a second stage decision about what they take. that’s up to WADA.

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Teams and riders are not required to act ethically because ethics are subjective. Is taking electrolytes unethical because they artificially improve an athletes performance? What about water??? This is why sport is governed by rules rather than ‘ethics’.

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on the one hand, you’re an elite athlete, leaving no stone unturned to steal every (rule abiding) advantage you can find.

on the other hand, people are saying “hey man, that is sailing pretty close to the edge. it’s allowed, but why don’t you relax and just take it a bit easier, you don’t need to be that extreme, it’s only to gain a few seconds”

pretty confusing

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Is there any way in which Tizanidine could be a masking agent?

Not that has been reported. Typically masking agents are diuretics etc.

We really need to move past silly, extreme examples……there is no comparisons between ingesting electrolytes, which you body naturally depleted during competition and need to be replenished, and taking a drug for off-label purposes to boost performance.

And I did not say teams are required to act ethically….as you note, ethics are subjective and I have never said that Bahrain Victorious did anything wrong in a legal sense. But that doesn’t mean that fans who support cycling, can’t voice our disgust at the continued use of drugs in the sport that we follow.

And ethics are the whole reason we have rules regarding anything in the first place….so to say that the sport is just governed by “rules” is a bit disingenuous.

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This whole thing does smell a bit fishy, to me.

But another question is why was it being tested for? It seems a very bizarre choice of drug not only to take, but also for which to screen; why test for a drug that isn’t banned? There must be a bigger picture here.

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This doesn’t sound great. Tizanidine can only be acquired with the help of a doctor, in France there seem to be additional regulations that limit availability and therapeutic use. It’s also not free of risks and it’s most probably been used for off-label purposes. I would argue that it borders on breach of professional ethics on the side of the medical staff involved- and if we’re talking about the team doctors here this is significant, even if WADA rules weren’t broken.

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Thanks for sharing, @Henri_Desgrange
So it’s just as bad as I feared. Rogue doctors breed rogue cyclists.

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There was a huge police raid looking for banned substances, hair samples were taken, dozens of boxes of the legal substance Tiz were found in the doctor’s room, a test for Tiz was developed in hair samples by three French scientists, Tiz traces were found in three riders’ hair.

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I suspect if doctor’s are prescribing stuff for medical reasons that are not genuine, then it’s a breach of WADA rules. That’s my understanding of the whole TUE debate, where doctors can prescribe a TUE - but it’s got to be for a genuine reason. If they are fabricating the reason, then the TUE isn’t valid and the rider is just doping. That’s near impossible to prove, as doctors won’t admit that and we saw how the whole Richard Freeman case played out. He lost his licence in the end (from memory) but the riders weren’t punished.

And ethics are the whole reason we have rules regarding anything in the first place….so to say that the sport is just governed by “rules” is a bit disingenuous.

My point was that the rules should reflect the ethics. If it’s unethical, the rules should prohibit it. If the rules allow it, it should be ethical. Where we have a circumstance where the rules allow something that is unethical, then there is a problem with the rules. Easier and more logical to fix the rules than urge riders to make a judgment of their own.

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Rules always lag behind behavior (and ethics)……mostly because it is hard to envision some ways that the unethical amongst us will try and cheat.

Saying something is allowed by the rules is therefore ethical ignores his rules are eventually established.

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What I meant to say was “even if the substance is not on a list of substances prohibited by WADA”. I didn’t look into possible obligations to obtain a TUE for medication that doesn’t include banned drugs. Interesting point.
Regarding ethics in sports medicine, I think the WMA’s point of view should be taken into consideration - as I understand it, administration of medication that masks pain in otherwise healthy athletes with the aim to improve performance in competition would be unethical regardless of the substance being banned or not. Note that Bahrain is not a member.
Reference:
https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-declaration-on-principles-of-health-care-for-sports-medicine/