James Stewart was the first rider to feel the wrath of WADA. We can only hope Broc Tickle will be the last. Photo by: Hoppenworld
“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.
This past week Broc Tickle’s career was possibly terminated. In all reality he was going to have a hard time finding a team in 2019 without a suspension, but now that he’s facing a potential 1-2+ year ban, it’s hard to imagine he will ever race at this level again. James Stewart faced a similar predicament after failing to file the proper paperwork for a prescribed medication [Adderall, which is a performance enhancing drug or PED, except when properly diagnosed]. The FIM later approved his use exemption, so in their eyes, the medication is not considered a PED for James. As we all know now, Stewart was never able to regain the form he had before the suspension. A guy like Broc, who is hanging onto his factory bike by a thread, may never again have this opportunity.
First, here’s what I know about PEDs and the benefits they offer. I chuckle every time a lean body type athlete is caught using testosterone and everybody acts shocked. They say, “He doesn’t look like a bodybuilder. How could he be using steroids?” My answer: take a look at cyclists’ body types. They are skinny and frail-looking, but they are often caught using testosterone. The next myth is that PEDs are ridiculously expensive, and unless you are a multimillionaire, you can’t afford to cheat. Well, I have news for you; there is an anti-aging clinic in almost every strip mall in America. These “doctors” prescribe whatever people want, be it HGH, testosterone or pain pills. While they are by no means cheap, for under $500 athletes, can go on a low level PED plan. The high end, designer steroids that are virtually undetectable by WADA tests cost quite a bit more.
Any drugs or supplements that help an athlete recover quicker are a huge benefit to Supercross racers. Imagine how sore you feel after a hard workout. Now imagine having half the recovery time. A rider using PEDs could make two week’s gains in one week and heal injuries much faster. PEDs don’t help riders who don’t work hard; there are no magic pills. I know a former Supercross racer who had the work ethic of Garfield the cat. He decided he needed EPO to be competitive, but without putting in hard work, he didn’t get any results and almost give himself a heart attack.
This brings me to the defense Jason Anderson used for Broc Tickle: “He would never do anything on purpose. He works his butt off.” Jason said he himself uses a vitamin-infused nootropic called Mind FX [developed by his trainer Aldon Baker]. Using supplements is frightening for an athlete subject to USADA or WADA testing. The supplement industry is not well regulated, and it’s not uncommon for a company to mix supplements in the same vats without thoroughly cleaning residue from other potentially illegal substances. This has become so common that this is one of the best defenses cheaters use to defend themselves. The “tainted supplement” defense is not always a fraud. Quite often supplements are tainted, and I believe this is what we will hear from Broc Tickle. True or not, we may never know.
The other misconception about PEDs is that a drug test will catch the cheaters. Need I remind you that Lance Armstrong never failed a USADA or WADA test [with the exception of one Cortisone positive that was fudged]. Armstrong was basically a human science experiment and tested clean hundreds of times. He was later brought down by witness testimony and not a positive test. I live in Las Vegas and know quite a few UFC fighters, and two in particular are 100% cheating the USADA system. They both pay $1000 – $5000 monthly for their PED programs. They are under strict USADA regulations and must give their whereabouts at all times and be available for a truly random test; neither have been caught. I say this because I want to emphasize the ineffectiveness of testing. Testing is more of a public relations move than PED prevention.
Sports like football and fighting need strict testing for liability reasons. Cheaters could potentially inflict life changing damage to their opponents. In a sport like Supercross, this isn’t a concern, and using a system with punishments designed for Olympic Athletes severely over-punishes small violations. Example, James Stewart and Cade Clason were both caught for substances they openly admit to taking. They both have doctors prescribing them and simply made paperwork mistakes which resulted in career changing punishments.
I am not advocating for no testing whatsoever, but until the series can afford to pay a purse money similar to football, baseball or basketball, it’s completely unfair to hold Supercross racers to the same testing standards as sports that are more fiscally rewarding. According to Transworld, Supercross winners in the 450 class make $12,000 and last place in the main gets $1,614.
Broc Tickle may or may not have been trying to beat the test and I am not naïve enough to think racers aren’t cheating, but the current system over punishes what I consider to be minor infractions [TUE paperwork or a tainted supplement]. Bottom line, there are so many PED’s available these days, why do we care what athletes put in their bodies? As fans we always complain when guys are out from an injury, so why not approve more substances used to keep them healthy. Also they need to minimize punishments for minor infractions, and if they do nothing else, PLEASE GET RID OF WADA!!!