/ Experiment about trust in Sky and Froome

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brunoschull 02 Jul 2018

Over the past few days a long thread has developed about team Sky, Froome, and cycling. 

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/biking/tdf_badger_baiting-688123?new=8809392#x8809392

There is a great deal of controversy and polarized views in that thread (including my own, see below).  To shed some light on how people form their perceptions and opinions in cycling, I would like to perform a natural experiment.  My hypothesis is that people who have followed cycling for longer have less trust in Sky and Froome.  I don't know if this is true or not, but that is the hypothesis I would like to test.  

To test this hypothesis we can collect data, and perform an analysis.

We can have two lists of numbers, one of people's length of close involvement with cycling, and one of people's subjective rating of their trust of Sky and Froome.

If people provide their age, we can also see if that correlates with trust.

We can then apply a statistical test (Spearman Rank or similar) to tell if there is or is not a correlation between these two sets of numbers.  Whether or not we reach statistical significance will depend on the number of participants, and the magnitude of the trust scores. 

Here is Google link to the Spearman rank test to give math-minded folks an idea.  Other tests are possible as well.

https://www.google.com/search?q=spearman+rank&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab

To help define "close involvement with cycling," I would say that riding a bike on a semi-regular basis,  racing currently or having raced in the past, following the racing season, reading articles about cycling and riders, and so on, are all important--not just watching the Tour de France in the summer. 

To quantify trust in Sky and Froome we could use a subjective scale from 1-10.

1 = Completely believe Sky and Froome

10 = Completely do not believe Sky and Froome.

Here are my data points:

Age: 45

Years following cycling closely: 30

Sky and Froome Trust score: 9

Full disclosure: As you can see from my numerous posts on the thread linked above, I come from the "I don't trust Sky and Froome" side of this argument.  I don't score myself a 10 because I reserve the small possibility that Froome is clean.  I am genuinely interested in how people form their beliefs about cycling in general, and about doping in particular.  Part of this stems from my simple incredulity that people still trust Sky and Froome--I just don't understand how that trust is possible, with everything we know about cycling.  But that is just my opinion, and will not, or can not, influence this simple numerical analysis.

OK, it would be great to get some data.

If you have an opinion on this, it would be wonderful if you participated.

Bruno

Post edited at 20:41
4
ClimberEd 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Why not .

I'm 40 and I've probably been following cycling since I was about 10. But I'm not sure I really had much idea of what's what in my early teenage years, so let's say 25 years of following.

I'm 2.5 on your scale. I pretty much believe in what they are doing, but I wouldn't actually be shocked to find out about nefarious activity. 

brunoschull 02 Jul 2018
In reply to ClimberEd:

Thanks ClimberEd!

SebCa 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

This will be interesting I really want to believe, Lance was also the most tested athlete on the planet and look where he ended up...hope both he and Wiggo did it 'Clean'

 

Here are my data points:

Age: 32

Years following cycling closely: 10

Sky and Froome Trust score: 3

Fredt 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Age - 65

years cycling and following competitive cycling - 55

Credibility Scale - 1

brunoschull 02 Jul 2018
In reply to Fredt:

Thanks Fredt

The New NickB 02 Jul 2018
In reply to SebCa:

Lance told us he was the most tested athlete on the planet, it’s not the same thing!

Age: 43. Years following cycling, around 20.

Trust in Sky and Froome: 3. I think they try and gain every advantage they can within the rules. I would be very surprised if they were doping, but at the end of the day, it is pro cycling, so you can never be 100%.

Post edited at 21:23
steelbru 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Age : 53

Years following cycling : 37

Trust : 3

brunoschull 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

thanks nick and steelbru!

mbh 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

These data are not independent. 

TobyA 02 Jul 2018
In reply to The New NickB:

Same sort of sense here.

Age: 44

Years following cycling 30ish (only vaguely - not much beyond TdF but clearly remember LeMond's 89 win on the final day/time trial).

Trust in Sky/Froome: 4 (sure they push everything as the far as the rules allow them, and all that mystery package stuff makes them look at best embarrassingly disorganised, but doubt they are illegally doping).

I have no particular interest in the team though, I follow no other sports so don't really have any experience of "supporting a team"/being a fan short of Team GB at the Olympics. No interest in football etc. I find the stereotype MAMIL out on a Saturday ride in full Sky strip a bit odd - you pay to advertise a Murdoch company on your chest?! Personally I'm much more of black shorts and one colour/no writing jersey man myself (although I do have a Finnish flag jersey that I'm quite fond of, but that might be more for sentimental than sartorial reasons),

brunoschull 02 Jul 2018
In reply to mbh:

You are right, but it's the best we can do informally, and from we have so far in even a short time, it's already interesting. 

Thanks for you comment.

brunoschull 02 Jul 2018
In reply to TobyA:

Thanks Toby--I entered your data as age 44, years following cycling 30, trust score 4. 

elsewhere 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Age 53

Following cycling 35 years 

Trust level 4

 

Tyler 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

I don't follow cycling enough for my input to be worth collecting but I have a question (sorry for the diversion). Is it possible to trust Froome but not Sky and vice versa? Is an individual's cheating always tied up with a team or are there examples of teams cheating but clean riders within (as much as that is possible to prove)? 

Post edited at 23:05
LastBoyScout 02 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

44, ~20 years, trust score 5.

I'm sure they're not outright doping, given the inter-mingling and conflict of interests of the SKY team and British Cycling - a situation I was never happy with from the start.

These days, post-Armstrong, I'd be pretty sure that something would have come out by now from a whistle-blower if there was anything downright nefarious going on, but I won't entirely rule it out.

However, I think they are sailing pretty close to the wind within the boundaries of what's legal and seem to have some very questionable ethics in that area*. They seem to have single-handedly destroyed the TUE system, to the point where anyone applying for one seems to now be under suspicion of doping and, for a supposedly "meticulous" team, things like mystery jiffy bags, "conveniently" missing laptops and the catalogue of disasters in record keeping and other contradictions seem to have destroyed much of any of their credibility as a "squeaky clean" team.

The salbutamol case was an absolute disaster whoever's point of view you look at it from.

* - I'm sure all the other teams are also working to squeeze the best performance out of their team and kit, but SKY have one of the biggest budgets to work with and are constantly peddling the "marginal gains" mantra, which surely has to raise questions about what they can afford to look into for any gains.

brunoschull 02 Jul 2018
In reply to Tyler:

That's a good question Tyler--I'll try to get back to you tomorrow.

Bruno

balmybaldwin 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

39 years old, went to see the tour in france when I was 10 (accident whilst on holiday), 11, 12, 13, 14, including trips to paris, so at least 28 years of watching the tdf, and the hell of the north. My dad used to obsess about it and would watch video repeats all through the winter! One fortunate thing about his early death is that he didn't have to see his heros cut down (Armstrong, Riis, Pentani, Super Mario etc.) although he did see the Festina affair.

I'm conflicted as are most long term cycling fans. However I do believe Sky & Froome (& Wiggo) are on the correct side of the Rules.  Whether that constitutes "Clean" 100% trustworthy etc It's not quite there, so I will go 3 on the Trust score.

My reasoning is I believe sky ARE aiming to be within the rules, whilst pushing them to the limit as does every elite sporting team in any sport - be it cheaky wings on Ferrari F1 cars, slippery suits in swimming, "rounder wheels" on the track) So if a reg say you can take a maximum of 20mg of caffeine a day then they will be taking 20.2 on the basis they can only be measured to within 0.5 of a gram and there is a marginal gain available.

 

becauseitsthere 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Anyone know what % of the peleton are asthmatic and using salbutowhatever?

 

elsewhere 03 Jul 2018
In reply to becauseitsthere:

> Anyone know what % of the peleton are asthmatic and using salbutowhatever?

20-40% and using an inhaler with salbutowhatever or the alternatives.

Andy Hardy 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Years following cycling 0, trust level 5.

I think like any professional athletes cyclists will go the limit of the permissible within the rules. What Froome's adverse finding seems to be is the limitations of the metering accuracy of the inhaler and the interaction with kidney function. Basically the test is not able to determine if he exceeded the maximum amount (accidentally or not).

If some other undisclosed supplement (not yet banned or being tested for) was being used by Sky I wouldn't be surprised.

In reply to brunoschull:

I'm 46, I don't follow cycling mainly because I think that cheating has been endemic in the sport since inception due to the nature of its extreme endurance. Nothing I have seen over the last decade has made me think anything has changed since the days of biting on a cork on a wire being pulled by a car.

Re Froome and Sky - 10

 

 

Post edited at 08:45
cb294 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Why not?

49/30/9  

The last number is not that valuable, as there is no GC rider I would score much better. Contador, Valverde? 8 max.

CB

cb294 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Andy Hardy:

The kidney argument, as far as one can tell before the whole thing is disclosed as promised (unless it is a collection of deleted data points like the infamous power meter readings), makes no sense.

I can immediately see how impaired kidney function would lead to increased drug levels in the blood due to reduced filtration rates. This is why this is regularly used to explain away dodgy blood samples.

How you can INCREASE the level of a drug in the concentrated filtrate due to a kidney malfunction escapes me so far. In any case a drug will enter the primary urine roughly at the blood concentration. Any increase in the final urine then occurs by water resorption. If kidney function is reduced at the filtration stage, the total amount secreted should drop (as expected for unspecified "kidney problems"), if resorption is affected, the drug should become diluted.

Keen to see how they explain the increased concentration by kidney physiology...

CB

 

4
Sir Chasm 03 Jul 2018
In reply to cb294:

> Why not?

> 49/30/9  

> The last number is not that valuable, as there is no GC rider I would score much better. Contador, Valverde? 8 max.

> CB

You'd score Contador and Valverde as cleaner than Froome?

brunoschull 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Andy Hardy:

Thanks Andy.  How old are you, if I may ask.  That will help me interpret your numbers. Thanks again.

brunoschull 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Hi Bjartur.  Thanks for the note.  Well, you must have followed cycling to some extent or else you wouldn't be so versed in cycling history!  I guess yesterdays biting on a cork is today's hanging onto a car window. 

Care to put an age on when you became aware that cycling was corrupt?

Andy Hardy 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

53

GrahamD 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

I think you need to be more specific ? you have hidden four questions in your 'question' and you assume that froome speaks for the whole of the Sky set up:

Do I believe that Sky are absolutely clean ? no.  I think the Wiggins fiasco demonstrates that.

Do I believe Froome is absolutely clean ? No.  But I believe he is as clean as anyone else - he will be doing whatever he can within the rules

Do I believe Sky operate (or try to operate ) within the rules ? no.  See above

Do I believe Froome tries to operate within the rules ? yes

Aged 58, interested in TdF since mid 80s but only really followed cycling in general more seriously for about 10 years.

1
steve taylor 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Age: 53

Years following cycling closely: 15

Sky and Froome Trust score: 3

Rampikino 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Ok, so I haven't posted on the other thread, though I did read a lot of it and saw how angry it was.  I'm not one of your data points for many reasons, but I do a lot of hypothesis testing.

One of the key steps you have to take when conducting hypothesis testing is to ensure that you eliminate bias.  You are not able to do that.  Not only that but are potentially influencing the results both with your own score (the tester contributing and publically declaring his own scores to the test???) and also in some of your comments such as: "when you became aware that cycling was corrupt?"

It's a bit like the old "when did you stop beating your wife?" question.

Already glancing over the results it is plain to see that in a correlation test your R-Squared value is going to be low.  Finding a correlation between time following cycling and trust is, to me, far to nuanced, personal, subjective and vaguely scored.  What is the difference between a 3 and a 4?  What is the difference between a 6 and a 7?  And yet you want to put a mathematical approach to this?

Keep in mind also that this is a self-selecting question and that it is more likely to attract people who follow cycling and have done so for longer.  There will be people who could answer but won't even read the thread.  Your data collection is flawed.

But the real question for me is this - having read through the other post and seen how angry it got, what is it that you are REALLY trying to achieve?

As someone who was not engaged in the angry debate I ask without malice.  It comes across as someone who got very angry and didn't get what they wanted from the post and so has started another post to try to win back some ground in the argument.  Your hypothesis could, (and I stress "could") read as actually being:

"Those who have know cycling for less time know jack shit about it."

I will happily go through and run your data for you once you have got 20 data points, but not only is your data collection method flawed but there is a mass of bias involved, your own interference in the results and the ambiguity of the scoring.  Any inference you can draw from it will be of pretty much no value.

All of that being said, I am aware that this is just a little experiment you have started on a UKC thread...

1
drolex 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Interesting experiment.

Age: 37

Years following cycling: 20? (how serious can it be when you are not a MAMIL?)

Trust level: 8

Note that I am French, it may also have an impact. Perfidious Albion and all that. I think generally speaking, observers from "classical" cycling nations (in terms of grand tour wins/perceived historicity - note the "perceived", I don't claim this is based on facts) such as Italy, France, Spain or Belgium might have a grudge against cyclists from the US, UK, etc.

Post edited at 10:16
Marek 03 Jul 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

> Do I believe that Sky are absolutely clean ? no.  I think the Wiggins fiasco demonstrates that.

> Do I believe Froome is absolutely clean ? No.  But I believe he is as clean as anyone else - he will be doing whatever he can within the rules.

This begs the question: What do you mean by 'clean'? My own definition is 'doesn't break doping rules' (although I'm not sure if I should include 'knowingly' in there), but I guess yours is different? Is 'clean' something to do with the 'rules of the game' (as set by WADA/UCI) or is it a moral stance? I suspect for Froome/Sky it is the former, but for some commentators it's the latter (or likely even started as an anti-Murdoch, anti-too-dominant, anti-English stance, take your pick).

 

GravitySucks 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

Nail, head, hit!

1
GrahamD 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Marek:

> This begs the question: What do you mean by 'clean'?

That was the question I was trying to highlight: does it mean pushing to the limits of the rules but staying within them ? or does it mean a much higher moral stance than that ? its not clear which one Bruno means in his 'survey' so the answers people will give may be different depending on their own interpretation.

In reply to brunoschull:

"Care to put an age on when you became aware that cycling was corrupt?"

As a child I was only aware of my Dads scepticism of the sport so was probably influenced by him (cork biting for example) . I took no interest in the sport other than riding my Raleigh Sirroco every weekend and reading headlines when famous cyclists dropped dead from heart attacks and the rise of EPO.

 I did get some interest when Lance Armstrong became famous with the great story of beating cancer to become multiple tour winner. Then that went sour and I felt that I had stupidly let my guard down (i even bought and read his f*cking book of lies) to be duped by the sport when more cynical heads knew he was cheating. Since then I have made a decision that the sensible approach to professional cycling is to assume that they are cheating because I will almost certainly be correct whether they are caught or not. I don't think I am alone in this.

I am also of the opinion that keen cyclists who are addicted to following these riders must develop a myopic blind spot to what they must really know in their hearts is  going on. The excuses and opinions given by arm chair punters/ weekend warriors on liver function, asthma drugs, dodgy packages , thigh injections, etc gives me comfort that I am probably holding the correct stance on this ;-) 

 

So, in short..since I was a kid I have been aware of cheating in the sport.

 

Post edited at 10:57
cb294 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Sir Chasm:

No of course not, that was with my troll hat on...

CB

67hours 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

I thought I'd give you a different data point:

Age: 29

Years following cycling closely: 0 (I cycle 20-25km a day on a roadbike to work. That's the limit of my interest)

Sky and Froome Trust score: 3

My score comes from the fact that I don't follow any cycling news very closely, but I had heard he was suspected on a drug related cheating incident recently but then found to be cleared. 

It isn't zero, because almost everyone in cycling seems to be found guilty of drug use in the end anyway, so probably something else will come up eventually.

brunoschull 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

Thanks for your post.  You are correct on nearly all counts, of course.   This is obviously not a professional study, just a game, really. 

You are also largely correct about my motivation, and the implicit belief behind the whole endeavor.  I found the first thread very interesting--how could two groups of people, the Sky/Froome supporters and detractors--have such binary and mutually incompatible interpretations of reality?  I wondered why, and I thought to myself, "How can people not see this, is it because they only recently started cycling, and don't know much about the history of the sport?"  What other explanations could there be?  First, and most obviously, there is the possibility that I am a completely irrational and ignorant yahoo (hysterical, I was called by one poster) who has no idea about cycling, or reality.  I'm sure many people reading this thread believe that.  But, of course, I am not the only person who does not believe Sky and Froome--not by a long shot.  There are many people, far more experienced and knowledgeable than myself, who believe that Sky and Froome are dirty through and through.  Then there is the possibility that the majority of the people posting on these threads seem to generally trust Sky and Froome, because it's a British web site, and there is a bias of nationalism of Anglo-pride.  Now, before folks start jumping down my throat about that, sports obviously have a nationalistic component, so why would it not apply to cycling?  Another explanation, and, again, this is controversial and subjective, is how deeply one is involved in cycling.  I believe there is a big difference between following the sport, being a fan, and so on, and racing, competing, for as long as one can, at whatever level one can manage.  I have never met an experienced bicycle racer who believes in Sky and Froome.  People may understandably protest this point of view, but it's not my intention to put myself on a pedestal (I was and am a mediocre cyclist).  Nonetheless, I do believe that the trust many people have in Sky and Froome simply stems from the fact that they do not know the sport well enough, they have not raced and lived it for long enough, and they are blinded by their own biases and prejudices, as I most certainly am, as we all are. 

So, to return to my little study, my basic plan is to let it run for a few days, collect all the data, include or retain what is reasonable, eliminate the outliers and the subjects with incomplete information and so forth, and just perform a simple test for correlation.  I also spread the word among my old racing buddies, so they will naturally functions data points as well--now if that's not selection bias of some kind--contacting your friends to ask for data--I don't know what is, but they are honest, decent people, they will enter what they believe to be true, and their numbers will count for as much or as little as anybody elses.

So, in this limited, limited, select, select group, we'll see what we get. 

 

Marek 03 Jul 2018
In reply to 67hours:

 

> It isn't zero, because almost everyone in cycling seems to be found guilty of drug use in the end anyway...

Really? That statement says more about you than cycling.

1
subtle 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

Does Lance still ride with Sky?

nniff 03 Jul 2018
In reply to brunoschull:

57/10/2

brunoschull 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Tyler and GrahamD,

I don't believe that you can separate Sky and Froome.  The team appears to be run with a very highly regulated top-down approach.  This is debatable, of course.  That's my position.

 

Post edited at 15:11
1
Ghastlyrabbitfat 03 Jul 2018

Age: 54 

Years Following: 40 (on/off)

Trust Score: 2

There does seem to be some confusion over what persons deem "clean", so I would clarify that my own view is that performances are clean if there are no rules infringed during competition (relating to bike set up, mechanical doping etc.) and proscribed substances are not used at any time.  As to the matter of ethics concerning TUE's and, say, a team like Sky throwing wadfuls of money at clothing development (which might be out of reach for other teams) , I feel this only pollutes the image of the sport and results in unbalanced racing.  But those advantages are essentially clean as they are allowed within the rules at the time and similar has been happening for years.  Arguably the most exciting Tour climax was seeing Lemond stomp on "The Professor" in '89, though would he have ridden at 34mph on a "normal" bike and gained the time for the win?  Unlikely.  But it made for exciting racing despite arguably being unethical.

Having faith in those at the top, including Sir Dave, saying they are racing clean is entirely that.  Having read Kimmage "spitting in the soup" and the widespread doping within the peleton was a bit startling at the time.  Having bought both Lying Lance's books, believed in his strength, but then gradually disbelieved as the performances were too incredible, maybe I'm gullible.  So I'll give Froome and Sky the benefit but retain the 1 as insurance.

Background is mainly social riding but I did dabble in road racing for a few events at the age of 18 though found breathing a bit of a struggle when maxed out on climbs.  Checked by doctor and he thought there was a good possibility exercise induced asthma might be the problem. Ha! Ride steel framed machines like in the good old "golden age" of Lemond, Hinault, Roche etc.  It's an age thing.     

captain paranoia 03 Jul 2018
In reply to Rampikino:

> It's a bit like the old "when did you stop beating your wife?" question

That's exactly what I thought when I saw that 'corrupt' comment.

The only purpose of this 'survey' seems to be an attempt to prove those who don't think Sky/Froome are out and out cheats are naive neophytes.

2
brunoschull 03 Jul 2018

OK, so the calculations are done. 

To my great surprise, results support a very strong conclusion:

“We are all a bunch of middle ages duffers with too much time on our hands.”

Jokes aside, what did the numbers say?

Well, as most people expected, and most people predicted, these data were absolutely inconclusive. 

Based on these data, we cannot say that the longer people have followed cycling closely, the less they trust Sky and Froome, within this small group of respondents, and taking into account the significant limitations of this exercise (see below).

At the same time, neither can we say that the longer people have followed cycling closely, the more they trust Sky and Froome.  As I said, these data were inconclusive.  

So, for all the people out there who were sure this would be meaningless, you were right, and you can congratulate yourself. 

Nonetheless, I find many aspects interesting.

Basic information

Number of respondents = 24

Minimum age = 29

Maximum age = 65

Average age = 46 (see what I mean about middle age duffers?)

 

Minimum years following cycling = 10

Maximum years following cycling = 55

Average years following cycling = 27

 

Minimum Sky/Froome trust score = 1

Maximum Sky/Froome trust score = 10

Average Sky/Froome trust score = 4.8

The most common Sky/Froome trust score = 3

 

Number of people who almost completely do not trust Sky/Foome (9 or 10 on scale) = 4

Number of people who almost completely do trust Sky/Froome (1 or 2 on scale) = 4

 

Pearson correlation

This is a statistical test that produces a number between -1 and 1.  -1 indicates a perfect negative correlation, and 1 indicates a perfect positive correlation.  This test generated a score of 0.043.  Essentially, that means these data show no correlation, neither negative nor positive.  We can’t conclude anything one way or another.  I usually perform this calculation by hand, but in this case I used Excel—I hope I did it right!  I also sometimes perform a Spearman rank test (a similar metric) but I’m pretty certain that it won’t be any different, so I did not do this.  You can see the relationship on a graph.  I made a quick graph of these data, again with Excel, and the trendline is essentially flat.  There is a very slight positive correlation (which would support my hypothesis!) but it’s not statistically significant and therefore meaningless.

 

Thoughts

So, apart from the numbers, what do I find interesting?

First, a shout out goes to Fredt, who is 65, has been following the sport closely for 55 years, since he was 10 years old, and reported a trust score of 1—he completely believes in team Sky and Froome, God bless his soul.  Fred, if I ever run into you, I’ll buy you a beer.  You must be the most earnest Sky/Froome fans in the world.  Considering your feelings, I was reminded of something an old Italian coach once said to me in the Veneto, after I placed fourth in a race, and was speaking passionately about the beauty of cycling.  “Bruno,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder, “You have very naïve views about cycling.”

I was impressed by the many interesting questions raised as people tried to define their trust scores.  This shows the limitation of the trust score (again, see below) but it also shows how many people have nuanced views.  They don’t entirely trust Sky, but they trust Froome.  Or they think Sky and Froome are pushing the limits of what is legally possible, but not enough to be considered doping.  Or they raise black-and-white issues about the regulations and tests. The rules say X, Y, and Z, and there are/are not positives, so we should/should not consider a rider guilty.  As we discussed much earlier in this thread, before it got contentious, there are a great number of very interesting points about legal processes, guilt and innocence, trust in institutions, the importance of believing in laws, and so on, buried in this debate.  And you can see this in people’s comments about the trust scores.   

Perhaps of greatest interest to me, I am left searching for an explanation as to why, or how, two groups of people, Sky/Froome supporters, and Sky/Froome detractors, can have such binary and mutually exclusive interpretations of reality.  My first thought was that people trusted Sky and Froome because they only recently started following cycling, and didn’t  know much about the history of the sport.”  However, obviously, these data do not support that hypothesis, at least in this group of respondents.   

What other explanations could there be? 

First, and most obviously, there is the possibility that I am completely irrational and ignorant (hysterical, I was called by one poster) and have absolutely no idea about cycling or reality.  From the various comments I have received, it would appear that many people reading this forum believe that.  But, of course, I am not the only person who does not trust Sky and Froome.  There are many people, far more experienced and knowledgeable than myself, indeed, far more experienced and knowledgeable than anybody on this forum, from what I can tell, who believe that Sky and Froome are dirty through and through. 

Then there is the possibility that the majority of the people posting on this forum generally trust Sky and Froome because it’s a British web site, and there is some bias of nationalism or Anglo-pride.  Now, before folks start jumping down my throat about this, sports obviously have a nationalistic component, so why would this not apply to cycling? 

Another explanation, and again, this is controversial, is how deeply one is involved in cycling.  I believe there is a big difference between following the sport, being a fan, and so on, and racing, competing, for as long as one can, at whatever level one can manage, as I did, and as perhaps some people on this forum have.  There is a great danger here, of interrogating people’s cycling accomplishments, and judging them on such, and I don’t want to go down that road.  I am happy to share my experience if anybody is interested (hardly!) but I’m not going to ask anybody else about their commitment to the sport.  Nonetheless, I do believe that the trust many people have in Sky and Froome, not just on this forum but in general, stems from the fact that they do not know the sport well enough, and they have not raced and lived it for long enough, as competitive cyclists, and not simply as recreational cyclists, and fans.  I know very few committed racers who trust Sky and Froome.  So that is one possible explanation that I considered, which is sure to draw withering fire on this forum.  So be it.  It would be interesting to repeat this exercise with elite racers.

So, ultimately, I’m left with no real explanation for why people have such polarized views, and, completely apart from cycling, how people can look at the world, and arrive at such completely different conclusions.  Humans are strange creatures.

Data processing

I performed several steps to process the data. 

I adjusted all the respondents’ years of following cycling to begin at 15 years of age, a point at which I judge an individual is mature enough to form their own opinions on complex issues like doping, without being too influenced by their family, friends, and so on.  That’s an arbitrary number, but I think it is reasonable.  I have been a high school teacher for 20 years, so I believe I have a good sense of how 15 year old process the world.  Moreover, I also ran the test with the unprocessed numbers, and it was essentially identical.

When there was any ambiguity about how long a respondent has been following cycling, I choose an longer time period.  For example, if somebody said, I have been following cycling since to 90’s, I entered 1990. 

Several people reported that they had been following cycling for “0” years, but then wrote comments demonstrating that they had a developed sense of the sport.  Based on these comments, I used their age to back-calculate their engagement with cycling since they were 15 years old, as above.

When there was any ambiguity about a respondent’s trust score (2 to 3) I choose an average (2.5)

Limitations

The principal limitation, I would say, is the very selective and non-random sampling.  However, as long as we restrict any conclusions we reach to this limited sample of people, middle aged duffers, posting on UKC, who choose to respond, we can mitigate this samping bias.

The second major limitation is the interpretation of the trust score.  Survey questions are always tricky.  It’s highly subjective, and reading over the responses, as I mentioned above, one can see that people obviously interpret the scores differently. However, allowing for this uncertainty, I think it basically confirms the majority of the posts on this subject; most of the people on this forum generally trust Sky and Froome, with some reservations, a few, like me, do not.  So I have some confidence in this score. 

A third limitation is the definition of what constitutes “Following cycling closely.”  As above, surveys are notoriously tricky, and it would be interesting, and useful, to specific this further.

A fourth limitation is...oh, I don't know.  I've spent enough time on this.  I'm done!

All the best, and enjoy the Tour!

 


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