ZADA (Zwift Anti-Doping Agency) began in late 2016. Its unofficially-stated purpose was
to have an objective, impartial review of whether someone’s performance is plausible rather than have long Facebook threads of uninformed opinions on whether not a performance is real.
Essentially, ZADA verified that top racers were actually able to put out the power they were showing in-game. This was necessary since it’s not hard to “tweak” power numbers, to e-dope, if one were so inclined. We ran a post about ZADA over two years ago which gives a good rundown of how it all worked in its early days.
ZADA changed its name to CEVA Z (Cycling Equipment Verification Administration for Zwift) in late 2018.
It was announced last week that CEVA Z is ceasing its efforts. Here is the full announcement from CEVA Z volunteer Greg Leo:
ZADA / CEVA Z was started when eSports cycling was still very young. It was developed to celebrate and recognize extraordinary performance. Over time, the project slowly evolved to become a governing body for Zwift racing.
With the growth of eSports, and the recent acceleration due to Zwift HQ’s injection of energy into our discipline, the volunteers at CEVA Z have decided it is time to shut down. The project simply could not keep up with the growth and was not properly organized to act as a governing body.
We hope the end of this era of performance verification on Zwift will open doors to new, better, and more efficient methods of regulating eSports cycling. For now, performance verification and the duty of keeping our discipline clean will fall on the teams, race organizers, and the community.
Thank you to the numerous volunteers who put many hours into CEVA Z and congratulations to all of the athletes who earned their badges over the years.
First, a Thanks
All those volunteers who worked to pore through Strava files and power numbers deserve a big thank-you for their efforts. It was a thankless job, really, but they put their time into it anyway for the love of the game. So thank you, ZADA/CEVA Z volunteers!
If CEVA Z was performing a needed service for Zwift racing (and I believe it was), the obvious question is, “What happens now?” With ZwiftHQ turning more attention to racing on the platform (including its first-ever pro race series starting in just two days), what can be done to encourage or ensure fair play?
Lots of smart minds have attempted to figure out ways to verify Zwift performance, but no one has arrived at a better solution than CEVA Z. In the end, there’s just no easy way to ensure that the people you race against are truly capable of performing at the level they are on Zwift. This is why the big cash prize race finals (CVR, Zwift) have been held in one physical location, where trainer calibration has been tested and verified and riders weighed in the day of the race.
I think the “holy grail” here would be an automated solution which looks at a rider’s outdoor Strava history, comparing speeds and/or power numbers to Zwift stats to verify performance. But this is no small thing to develop.
As a B category racer, those who I compete against were never CEVA Z certified anyway (they only worked to certify top A racers). So long ago I had to come to terms with the fact that, on any given race day, I may be up against riders with inaccurate power. And you know what? I don’t think about it anymore and haven’t for years. The competition is always good, I feel like I have a podium shot (at least on flatter races) and riders who perform outside of the B category limits get automatically DQ’d or upgraded to an A. It works for me.
What about you? Do you think Zwift racing needs a governing/verification body? How should it function?