Digital EPO or E-Doping
“What the heck is that?” you ask? I’m seeing if Mr. T and Nancy Reagan are available to be the spokespeople for this great cause.
The definition could be as follows: cheating on a fitness app to gain King of the Mountain (KOMs) or other digital prizes and imaginary awards.
Neither is in the Urban Dictionary but they should be. I mean, “Post Fartum Depression” is.
A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my Zwift avatar wearing the Orange leader’s jersey and crushing out 500+ watts. (See previous post)
Perspective…I have no clue how many watts I can produce or should produce. I just got a heart rate monitor last year. I do not own a power meter for my road bike or smart stationary trainer with one.
That said I rode around for lap after lap on Zwift Island hammering away. Sweating my butt off. Then someone chatted that I should “check my set-up” and “my numbers seemed way off’’. The telltale was when some one sarcastically said, “seems legit” while waving the Red Flag of sarcasm.
So, I exited the island amid tensions that would rival an expelled dictator and looked up what my numbers should be. Well, its more like half of that 500+ if I’m realistic. I looked up past rides on my Garmin site and Strava for real, race-time efforts. I maxed out at 445 on a final sprint of a recent race. I remember that I held that for like ten seconds then probably blacked out. Pro cyclist Jens Voigt who recently took the hour record hummed along at 400 watts for an hour. Me I’m more of a 250-300 watt creature.
To take my problem global I started a comment section on the Zwft website. Ten seconds later I was trapped under an avalanche of criticism and vitriol. But, as clueless as I was, there must be people out there doing this for real. And to what end?
There is a website called Digital EPO.com that claims to be able to juice your numbers by messing with your Garmin data in a way that is not so blatant as my faux paux. Reviewers of this website post critiques with titles like: “How to be a scumbag on Strava with digital epo” or, “How to spot digital EPO cheats on Strava”. Ah, the digital democracy.
Why do people cheat like this? Vanity. Plain and simple.
A well-known cycling magazine published a story a few years ago about guys doping at local masters races. DOPING! Just to win a pair of socks or bragging rights. I race those kinds of races here in Pittsburgh (we jokingly refer to them as the “Weekly World Championships”). The competition is fierce among guys who race for fun and the prize money for first place is usually around $15. These dopers are out there spending thousands of dollars and putting their health at risk for what? Pride and vanity.
E-doping is safer I guess than injecting yourself with hormones or steroids but who wants to cheat themselves? The use of Strava is mainly as a barometer or measuring stick for your personal development. They’re a perfect way to track your progress and improvement. The KOMs and other awards are incentives for you to strive to be your best. E-doping is just buzz kill pure and simple.
I am truly sorry to all my Zwift Island companions and I will see you tomorrow and kick your butt the right way, with my legs and not my mouse.