Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

You can’t buy something you aren’t. 
On fixing results in cycling

Ask Vest Christiansen, Martin Wang Hjørngard


Wind resistance is the primary external factor teams organise themselves around in cycling. In order to share this burden, members of opposing teams often cooperate, e.g. to secure the existence of a breakaway. To avoid free-riders the riders in question form a tacit social contract on sharing the work-load. Taking its point of departure in qualitative interviews with Danish elite cyclists, this study demonstrates how the social contract sometimes becomes explicit, and riders form an agreement of the podium placing in the final breakaway before they arrive at the finish line. This study examines riders' explanations of and attitudes to such agreements and discusses to what extent they should be regarded as match-fixing. While the available evidence suggests that the agreements are best understood as an integrated element of cycling culture with a purpose of upholding a certain social order, this study also demonstrates how the social contract and the accompanying agreements imply corruption in the sport of cycling, if only in germ form. On this basis, the study concludes that it is only the sport's culture and individual riders' self-discipline that can protect cycling from real corruption.

Text complet: PDF (English)