I did a short race yesterday and although I messed up the finish my power stats were probably the best I’ve had BUT I got popped with a ZADA request for the first time.
Before I can explain what ZADA is I need to explain what Zwiftpower is. If you pay to use Zwift, you can do what you want. Ride, race or workout with a choice of virtual worlds to ride in. Races are simple first over the line activities. The problem is there are no controls to root or filter out anomalies out like blatant cheating or equipment malfunctions such as poor calibration which can make a rider appear to race far faster and fitter than they are. Zwiftpower is a 3rd party website that takes Zwift data and enforces category limits and race rules not available in Zwift directly to try and make racing fairer and more real. Most of the time its ok. Its not perfect but its the same for everyone.
What is ZADA?
ZADA – Zwift Anti-Doping Agency. It exists and is a thing.
Its a group of volunteers of experienced riders and coaches who analyse your real-life ride data and ultimately approve you if it checks out and proves what you do in Zwift is comparable to your outdoor rides. If its not they can also advise on how to get it right.
ZADA approved riders are tagged with a ZADA approved logo on zwiftpower.com
When you reach A category like I am, you can’t be upgraded any further. If you exceed a race category limit, a ZADA request is made to you. On the 4th, ALL of your results on Zwiftpower are suspended until you can provide real life evidence you can do the numbers. You can ignore it and just ride in Zwift but if you are part of a team like me, the last thing I want is to be DQ’d or my results ignored. My request was because I maintained 6 watts per kilo for 5 mins. Right on the limit.
I’ve been commuting 4 days a week and Zwift racing on top quite a lot the last few weeks. My weight has also dropped a kilo so I’m not surprised my power and power-to-weight ratio have increased.
I have a dilemma now as its likely I will be get more ZADA requests in shorter races. I don’t have a powermeter to record real-life rides to send to ZADA. I don’t particularly want one either due to the cost and need. I don’t want to be DQ’d either so do I handicap my weight in Zwift?
Its left me feeling a bit annoyed. I know people cheat and ZADA is a ‘Joe Public’ attempt to try and do something to about it in a community of riders where some do take it very seriously. But the effort I’ve got to go to now because I’ve worked and raced hard to maintain my status quo just seems a tad unfair. I’m not a pro, I’m not a cheat and I’m miles off the ‘top’ riders on Zwift too. All my equipment and weight are setup and calibrated before every ride but I guess for now until I can either borrow or rent a powermeter to get some real-life data, I will have to avoid short races and/or pop my weight up to stay within category limits so I don’t get anymore ZADA requests. It a pain but I do get it.
Some will think its a nice problem to have. Trust me, its not if you don’t have a powermeter.