In a weird, sad way, I’ve enjoyed watching the whole doping scandal unfold. It’s been somewhat cathartic, 20 years later, giving me a small, tiny feeling of vindication….but then again, not really.
More emphasis needs to be placed upon the System that facilitated this whole doping scandal, and how it has become so out of control. It really isn’t all about Lance (pun intended).
Lance was just the Golden Child that happened along, falling into the open arms of the United States Cycling Federation, currently USAC. The links that connect the main players, the likes of Eddy Borysewicz, Thom Weisel, Chris Carmichael and Jim Ochowicz have been covered up for years, and are best illustrated by the diagram below.
The Wall Street Journal article written by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell, entitled ‘New Twist In Armstrong Saga’ also, thankfully, has helped put things into perspective and is a must read for anyone trying to figure out exactly how incestuous this whole affair really is.
I don’t even know where to start writing about this insidious system. I am also well aware of the fact that I am not privy to all the information, but what I come away with from all this though is the firm conviction that these men, who have been controlling so much of the world of professional cycling, should be taken out of our sport.
They obviously own the sport. Thom Weisel and Jim Ochowicz managing the funds of the ex-President of the UCI, when he was still in charge? Thom Weisel putting in place the President of the USAC? Eddy B bringing in to US cycling the doping techniques he learned in the East? A famous coach ‘preparing’ young riders before races?
It’s so glaringly obvious that they need to be removed.
After reading the WSJ article, do you STILL think this is just about Lance?
He was just the fortunate golden child of the Big Boys, having fun being Boys.
Let’s dope the young kids coming up, tempt them with fame, money and drugs. Get them into The System, get them working, pull the strings, make money by any means necessary.
Starting to sound a bit like prostitution, isn’t it?
The Big Boys can slap themselves on the back, drunk with the giddiness of their power to control and manipulate ‘The System’ of cycling. They’ve been doing it for years. OUR beautiful sport. The one I desperately love! Just a toy for them. A toy for them to tear apart, to sully. Do you think they are fully aware of the damage they’ve done to our sport?
I wonder if they have that much self-awareness ?
I would welcome the public to help fight back by more emphasis being put on removing the Big Boys of ‘The System’. Not just the ones I’ve mentioned, but everyone implicated in this scam should be Black Listed.
It’s been too easy to point fingers at the riders. We need to be pointing our fingers at the Big Boys. I would like to invite the Bicycling Hall of Fame to take a good hard look at their roster of Inductees. Look at the men that have helped put this System together.
It takes courage to do the right thing, to take them out of the USA Hall of Fame. This would be a nice first step. Jail for these Big Boys would be a nice second step, but they seem to be above the law. I don’t believe that a cyclist that has a positive test in their history should be inducted either.
Only open the door to those who had and still have the courage to make the right choices in the face of adversity, otherwise, we, too, are complicit in the continuation of that line of thinking that goes: ‘It’s okay if you dope, we will forgive you’.
One can get caught with a small amount of marijuana and go to jail, but you can inject yourself with PED’s and just get a 6 month ban from your Federation? What’s wrong with this picture? Why are the coaches and directors pushing these drugs not looking at the same jail time that a drug dealer would face?
They are doping our children! Must we continue to count the number of athletes that have died or have health problems for us to realize just how harmful this is?
I’ve gotten some flack for my stance, people saying I should be more compassionate with those that get caught. Being told I should forgive. But when you put that needle in, it isn’t an accident.
I think the previous penalty of a 6 month ban was already pretty compassionate. It obviously didn’t work. Kinda like when a robber steals, a slap on the wrist probably won’t do much to stop his behavior. Potential jail time helps, doesn’t fix it, but at least there is a harsher consequence than a slap.
BUT, a cheating personality is a cheating personality, no matter what the consequence. Look at Philippe Gaumont, the French former pro who admitted to doping in a book in 2005 and who was recently hospitalized wit ‘unspecified heart problemns.’
http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/14439/Former-pro-Gaumont-in-a-coma-after-heart-attack.aspx I think the last paragraph of this article kinda spells out the mindset of those who choose to dope: “Although he has a wife and three children, Gaumount recently said that he hadn’t left the wild ways behind him completely. “
“I’ll never be on the right path. When I party, I do it completely,” he told 20minutes.fr in mid February. “If I want to kiss a girl, I’ll kiss a girl. The excesses are not finished. Besides, I’ve a big party this weekend for my 40th birthday.”
I believe that had Gaumount had a lifetime ban after his first infraction, he would still be healthy today to be a proper father and a husband. Do you still believe that a 6 month ban is appropriate? I’d like to talk to his wife and children and get their opinion. One could argue that our Cycling Federations are at fault for his current condition, for not enacting stronger penalties.
Think of all the Health Care Professionals that are at fault and called to account in the health care industry for not reporting or properly treating life threatening illnesses. Why shouldn’t our Federations be held to a higher standard too?
When a drug dealer sells drugs to our children, he does time in jail. I just bet they would love to be able to pay the victim and get the records sealed. Would you be okay with drug dealers convicted of shooting up your kid with drugs to pay a penalty fee, get the documents sealed and go back to dealing?
Yet, the men who doped Greg Stroak, without his knowledge, pay a penalty and get the documents sealed. We should be outraged about this! AGAIN, the penalties need to be changed!!!!
It is disturbing to see Spain allowing the destruction of evidence. This is evidence that could help clean up sports. I feel they, too, are complicit. At first, I thought Nicole Cook’s statement that they should be banned from hosting the Olympics was just too much. After thinking about this for a few days, I couldn’t agree more.
Why should a country that helps cover up doping be allowed to make money off the Olympics? Countries should also be held accountable for helping cleaning up the sport. Somehow, allowing them to host the Olympics seems like a stamp of approval for their cover up. Spain should be required to hand over the evidence in the effort to fight doping.
I believe that the U.S. International Olympic Committee should also vote against Madrid’s Olympic Bid.
Pat McQuaid was recently renominated for the UCI Presidentcy. I was left incredulous. Finally, after a bit of blowback, his nomination is being reevaluated.
It’s a start. I’ll take it.
When you put that syringe into the vial, either for yourself or an athlete, you should lose the right to continue to be a part of the sport. Any other profession has a code of ethics that must be followed. Cycling needs to step up to the plate and start writing a code of ethics for coaches, directors, sponsors, etc.
I challenge the pubic to actively call for stiffer penalties for those who dope and enable doping, and demand they lose their current position and any right to a future position in the sport.
Race Directors, please don’t invite them to cycling functions to be honorary guests and lead Gran Fondos.
Bicycling Hall of Fame, remove those that have doped or helped with the System of doping. Cycling bodies need to write a code of ethics not just the athletes but for everyone else involved in the sport too.
Fear will be one of the largest hurdles the public faces in the effort to fix our sport. Fear of taking a stand, fear of the loss of a job, fear of making enemies, fear of the judgments of others – and all in the name of taking the dopers out of our sport.
It seems so obvious that they should be removed from the sport. This is something we have to fight for, to provide a different, better and cleaner vision of the sport to our children., much like our forefathers fought for the changes in society and in law that allow us to live as we do today.
It seems so obvious now to us that black people should have been free men from the beginning, yet think of all the blood that was spilled over this difference of opinion. Women also fought desperately against the common thinking of the time and made many enemies in their quest to get the right to vote. Some even lost their lives.
Yet it seems so obvious, now, that women should have the vote.
I believe that we are at a similar crossroads with our sport today. It seems so obvious that any one, in any position, that has been part of the Doping System needs to be removed, yet we are resisting this move – being told to just forgive them, being told that they have a lot to contribute, that we need them to move forward.
I’ll forgive them once they are out of the sport. Until then, as I see it, they continue to do help facilitate doping even by merely being here, within the framework and fabric of the sport.
There is no one easy fix for what they have done to our sport. It will take many, many big and difficult steps to regain any real measure of dignity. This journey will be fraught with many battles, but the battles will be worth it if we can win the war against drugs and the business men that capitalize our athletes.
I seriously doubt many of those athletes, when they first jumped on the bike thought, ‘Wow, I can’t wait to take drugs.’
And yet look at the reality of their lives now.
GET THESE MEN OUT OF OUR SPORT.
Yes, OUR sport. They lost their privileges to the club a long time ago.
Inga Thompson was a professional cyclist from 1984 to 1993, during which time she rode in 3 Olympics, won National titles on 4 occasions, and finished 2nd in two World Championships. She can, as they say, ride a bit…
‘is there a doctor in the house?!’
‘maybe… how much you got in your wallet?’
‘… what do you mean?’
‘sliding scale. $500 for a Heimlich, $750 for a birth, $999 for a circumcision – which i can do blindfolded for an extra $25 – and $20,000 for a bag of fresh blood. what’s your dog’s name?’
‘it’s the code. what are you, an amateur? and if you are, by the by, i can do a discount.’
‘code for what?’
‘your bag of blood. don’t worry, no one will EVER work out that bit of genius code…’
the description from the estate agent reads:
‘a detached property with all mod cons. in fact, the whole property is a con. well-thatched and with a well stocked refrigerator, the Fuentes residence has several closets that are jam-packed with skeletons of various sizes, one containing a full football team (rhymes with ‘Farcelona’), another a pretty famous tennis player, yet another with several Olympians stacked up. whilst there’s no pool there is a large centrifuge that doubles as a jacuzzi. very ‘rustic’ and a great project for the DIY enthusiast.’
what a thoroughly disagreeable little fellow he seems, doping folk for cash and now offering up his little bag of secrets for the highest bidder. still, the world needs to know.
how about we use the Paul Kimmage fund (which, it appears, has gone missing) to pay the Doc? i can’t find it yet but i am sure there is some way to justify it…
ugh. the world. you know what i mean?
they’ve sponsored the Tour of California since its inception in 2006, and that must be a good thing, right? the sport needs sponsors and here is one willing to provide financial support for an entire race for several years, one that, briefly, looked to be on the edge of challenging the Giro d’Italia as a destination for the world’s top bike road racers.
but exactly what does Amgen do?
well, Amgen is an American-based multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Thousand Oaks, California. located in the Conejo Valley, Amgen is the world’s largest independent biotech firm. Epogen and Neupogen (the company’s first products on the market) were the two most successful biopharmaceutical products at the time of their respective releases.
(gotta love Wikipedia…)
they also hold – and you’re going to think, if you aren’t actually aware of this, that I am making this up – the patent for artificial EPO in the USA.
let’s hear from Kathleen Sharp of the New York Times, who wrote a great article on Amgen and EPO:
“After patenting its artificial EPO [in the late 80s], Amgen formed a partnership with the marketing mavens at Johnson & Johnson and boomed into the world’s largest biotech company.
“Before long, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson were selling two EPO brands — Epogen and Procrit. (Those who biked the short races called criteriums joked it was for “pro-crit riders.”) By the ’90s, in addition to cyclists, runners, skiers and other endurance athletes were injecting the stuff regularly — and illegally. All they had to do was pay a black-market dealer in Amsterdam or Marseille, France.
“But it wasn’t until 1994 that the marketing of these drugs burst into the mainstream. Amgen and Johnson & Johnson began trying to expand the uses of their energy-boosting drugs to include treatment for fatigue, depression and quality-of-life issues. Commercials depicted old, slow-moving people who, after a shot of Procrit, displayed a zest for life, and a young cancer patient, who after an EPO injection happily returned to work.
“The aggressive marketing worked. Soon, exhausted but otherwise healthy people were begging doctors for a shot of what one Amgen executive called “red juice.”
“And many doctors went along with these off-label promotions, even though regulators hadn’t approved them. Indeed, in March 2007, Congressional hearings revealed that many oncologists were profiting. The drug makers paid doctors to prescribe the blood booster in high doses to unwitting patients. Some earned honorariums for speaking to their peers about the unapproved, off-label uses; others pocketed “education grants,” or joined marketing studies that never quite addressed the safety of high doses even as they recommended them.”
yup, that is right. the drug of choice of Vande Velde, Leipheimer, Hincapie, Hamilton, Vaughters and the great Lance Armstrong, the drug that fueled that particularly twisted, mangled form of the American Dream that ran roughshod over the sport for nigh on 20 years and then some, is licensed by the same drug company that just happens to be the sponsor of America’s biggest and most important bike race.
brilliant, right? like, genius, on a Herculean scale. I mean, really, why the heck shouldn’t a drug company, which by the very definition promotes health by helping the sick get better, promote an event that is full of fit young men riding around on bikes, this being the very definition of ‘health’?
in fact, it makes damn good sense.
or would, if the world we actually inhabit made any actual sense.
but it just so happens that (if you really need it spelt out), a great majority – yes, a great majority – of those guys riding about on those bikes in that race were (and some probably still are) doped up to their fluttering eyelids and bursting hearts on the very product that Amgen produces.
OK, so maybe I’m being too cynical. maybe Amgen is that hitherto unseen leopard that actually did change its spots.
let’s hear from Elliot Smith, Amgen’s scientific director, speaking back in 2008 in response to criticism of Amgen’s sponsorship of the tour.
“It’s such an alien concept – we show up to work every day and try to find these medicines to treat this disease your friends, family and neighbours might have, and you’re so consumed with that that it never occurs to you that somebody is going to go out and abuse this medicine. It’s so disturbing when that happens.”
well, sounds plausible enough. they seem shocked too, and aghast at their products being abused.
but… wait. weren’t they called out by the US government itself on counts of paying “doctors to prescribe the blood booster in high doses to unwitting patients”?
so who exactly was abusing who? but I guess that’s all in the past, right?
erm, well, no.
cos guess what! (are you ready to put on your mock shock! horror! face? yes? good).
they are still at it!
just a few short months ago, news arrived that stated that federal prosecutors had found that Amgen “had marketed its anemia drug Aranesp for unapproved uses even after the Food and Drug Administration explicitly ruled them out.”
they were “pursuing profits at the risk of patient safety,” cited the report.
‘NOOOOOO!’ the crowd shouted back, though in a mocking voice for they were by now too drunk to give a rat’s arse, to be honest, for they had heard it all before.
corporate monster rapes people for cash?
heard it already mate, a thousand times. stuck record, that one…
the report, depressingly, continued:
“In court on Tuesday, prosecutors charged that Amgen had promoted the use of Aranesp to treat anemia in cancer patients who were not undergoing chemotherapy, even though the drug’s approval was only for patients receiving chemotherapy.
“A subsequent study sponsored by Amgen showed that use of Aranesp by those nonchemotherapy cancer patients had actually increased the risk of death, and the off-label use diminished. “
Amgen pleaded guilty.
Amgen had to pay $762 million in criminal penalties.
isn’t Amgen lovely? what sweet, fun-loving people must work there. real good folk. with kids. with mothers and fathers. with friends. with teddies in their cars, puppies in their homes, dreams in their hearts and hopes in their eyes. people just like us really, when all is said and done.
luckily for them, they still have beating hearts. bless. luckily for them, they can say ‘well, i’m just doing my job.’
and they say that all the way up the line…
appropriate sponsor for the Tour of California?
for any bike race?
thanks for taking the time to reply _______, appreciate that.
i do feel that i did walk a bit in their shoes, at least half a mile, as did several other guys and women i know. personally for me, i spent 2 years in those shoes as a junior and aspiring pro when i was younger, and am doing that now too, racing in Asia against professionals. i race regularly with dopers. we know who they are, not all, but several. we hear the rumors, and the facts too. hushed up positives, whole teams disappearing for months, coming back super slow, guys winning by too many minutes over short distances, 5 guys on one team in the first 6 and so on.
but i, like hundreds if not thousands of others, make a choice every day not to dope. we are far from perfect but we will not cheat.
is that too black and white?
what can you do without dope? enough. you can certainly race and enioy the crap out of it, i know that. my 2nd career has been nothing more than a blip in the grand scheme of things, but i’ve had my own ‘successes’ – (none more than the fun i’ve had, btw). now, if i had doped? taking the extra 10-15% they reckon you get from EPO? in the tour i did where i got 2nd by 7 seconds, maybe i’d have won. when i got 5th by 2 minutes in another, maybe i’d have won. the 70km hill climb i lost by 10 seconds? maybe another win. on and on you could go, and i never do (until now, to make this pointless point) as it is pointless.
do i go home and punch the dog because of it? no. first of all my dog is dogdamn awesome and he lives for love, strolls, food and vigorous rubs from attractive woman (though not in that order). secondly, and this may sound odd from a competitive racer, winning is awesome but it is not what drives me. i love to crush souls and leave dreams mangled in the gutter, but i do this because it keeps me alive. and because i need the pain. i, like all my lycra brothers and sisters, am weird like that.
a win, if it comes, is a great bonus on top of what already feels like a success, just being able to line up on the start line.
i am not saying though that the guys who beat me in these instances doped (though in others, guys i stood and congratulated later were busted for EPO, an Aussie, an American, a South African and two Iranians, so far that i know), far from it, but if i had been doping, there is a high probability i’d have got back the time needed to win. and with it the prize money that went with it. and maybe a better contract this year…
but really, is that a ‘win,’ to win on juice? of course not. it’s defunct. moribund. kaput.
and those guys who did dope by the truckload in the 90s and early 2000s, you would be amazed to know how many are sick. strokes, heart attacks, all kinds of complaints.
the clean guys from that era that i know? nothing. very healthy middle aged men, and happy with that. most of them still ride many many miles a year and some still race, whereas some ex-dopers they knew then can barely leave the house now.
they hear and recount stories about their old peloton mates that would make your hair stand on end. failed kidneys, damaged livers, busted hearts. and the stories about what they saw then too, it was a proper cowboy operation at the beginning. these guys were the guinea pigs and now they are suffering the results. we may well see many current pros in the same boat in 20 years.
they are not winning anymore. that much is certain. there is a whole story to all this that no one hears. we just get Fignon and his cancer which he mused might be from dope. the Italian with cancer that went public and definitely blamed his C on the dope.
maybe an idea to talk to ex pros if you get chance. i know good, solid clean guys who carved careers out of hostile granite with nothing more than dessert spoons. they chipped and they persevered for almost no reward. think they feel cheated? you bet.
think they complain? generally no, because they knew the odds and resigned themselves to it. made the decision not to dope every day, whether consciously or sub-consciously, saw vials, saw needles, rubber hoses everywhere. tinkling mini-refrigerators being carried up hotel stairways. blood thinning agents stuffed next to bike kits. heck, it would have been easier to dope than not.
but they didn’t.
these are brave men and women who knew the big paycheck would never come but did it anyway, and for what?
for the love of it all. sounds stupid? naive? no way, never. they did it because they loved it, like a surfer loves the wave, a mountaineer the summit. that and for the sake of their health. it’s a simple question, but why would a human take something that has to be extracted (as HGH did then) from dead humans? why would a human take something designed for cattle and horses? I mean, really, what the f*ck?
the cheaters thought they were chumps for not cheating, but who is losing now?
persecution? get the lot of them out into the sun and let’s take a look at them. if this is winning then it is majorly f*cked up. i want 50 Tygarts, not just one.
personal agenda? don’t give a crap. LA had his for long enough, and man was it an agenda. he was a stone cold killer, and if you don’t see that he needed the same against him for all of us who gave a crap about the sport to get even close to breaking even, you’re fooling yourself.
that is worth repeating – we needed someone with the same single-minded determination, the same disregard for social niceties and reputation as Armstrong to bring him down. so when i hear people attacking the character of Tygart, i could not care less. he nailed the biggest cheat of all and it was beautiful, in the ugliest way. depressing, sad and demoralising in an uplifting, joyous and reinvigorating manner.
now, who’s going to do the same to LA’s partners-in-crime? we may be waiting forever, for that one. Anthony Moran stood up and felt he had to resign after the rest of the board let him down, let us down…
back to LA, it’s not about crucifying, what happened to him was not the result of a bunch of goodie-two-shoes whingeing and whining and gleefully getting their way in the end, not at all. it’s about penalising those who break the rules and – and this is so critical to the future of racing – about stopping young riders from following them. (damn, i’m so cranked i went into bold!).
where right now is the guiding light in the peloton? in the UCI? in the management? it’s all still full of ex-dopers, current dopers and a governing body that is more concerned with sticking around for a pension and milking the golden teet than anything else.
‘but hey,’ people say, ‘let it go.’ why? so they can win? so the sport becomes their plaything? who is going to push for the real changes we need implemented to rescue the sport? sadly, it seems to be laying right now, that responsibility, on a poorly organised and rather muddled bunch of normal cyclists, journalists and bloggers (and yes, i am calling myself muddled too, because i do not have all the answers as to what happens next, i just know that something must. and yet nothing is).
yes, the shortened bans for those who gave evidence against LA was wrong. they had to compromise to bring him down. is that wrong? yes. but look at what he and his cohorts did to the sport every single minute that they were active professionals, and especially Armstrong.
then that compromise doesn’t seem such a terrible price to pay.
so yes, it was right also to go after the biggest of them all – although the biggest, in reality, is up for re-election soon. and yet the sport stands by and twiddles its thumbs, because so many say ‘let it go.’ ‘stop whining.’ ‘shut up.’
and the riders? ‘well, the pressures of being a pro are terrible.’
give me a break.
Nicole Cooke had bigger balls than 90% of the male peloton. Inga Thompson too. on the male side, Graeme Obree, Bassons, and erm… wait, all those names… escape me… then all the Cat 1 and other ‘mediocre’ pro guys who were seriously good but refused to cheat to get up a level. all the kids who walked away. balls like KingflippingKong, cos they left the sport they loved or had to opt for a career without the payment their talent warranted. they still rode because they loved it, but the dopers attempted to humiliate them because they didn’t cheat.
they were derided and forced out.
i don’t like Armstrong the cyclist, Armstrong the public figure, because he cheated, because he destroyed other riders’ careers and those of anyone who challenged him, and because he is the sporting Nixon.
lying, cheating and screwing over anyone in his way is so ingrained in him that he saw nothing wrong in it. his truth was The Truth. any means whatsoever was justified by the end. watch Nixon’s resignation (‘I never cheated’) and then LA’s speech on the Champs, and it’s just a mask the Texan needs and Dick is resurrected.
did he warrant ‘destroying’, as many have put it?
let’s phrase the question differently – did he warrant having his public persona being exposed for what it was, a charade? did he warrant being stripped of his 7 Tour and other titles? did he warrant a ten year ban from WADA/IOC sanctioned sports? did he warrant having the fortune amassed through committing fraud taken back?
if that’s want you meant by destroying, then yes. without a pause, yes.
it would be great if LA went away and sorted himself out, repaired whatever damage has been done to his loved ones, especially his kids, and if he reached out genuinely to those he attacked so vociferously or donated half his millions to an independent drug test research facility, or something that would just do some good for the sport. but no, he’s knocking on the door again, glibly saying on Oprah that he didn’t call Betsy fat and that he doesn’t deserve a life sentence. hmm.
go, be good, get healthy, move on, best of luck to him. i wish him as a human no ill will, but his time here is over. along with The Others.
has to be.
i don’t always write about dopers, honest. it’s just so much fun i can’t help it. i mean, who wouldn’t rather be writing about actual races? or clean riders doing well? nah, boring.
anyway, a friend of mine sent me a link to the NorCal Cycling News facebook page, on which there was a notice promoting an event set up by a local team called Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase. (which is on tonight, April 17th, by the way, so if you’re going, you better get going!)
the event? an ‘intimate and candid evening’ at the Ian Ross Gallery in San Francisco with – wait for it – Tyler Hamilton.
100 guests at $100 a pop, so that’s $10,000 smackeroonies, all of which, Mike’s Bikes tells us, will go “to support the road racing efforts of Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase.”
Mike’s Bikes tell us a little more about exactly what will transpire over the evening:
“We all love the sport but wonder what’s next for the future of amateur and professional racers, especially considering the trials our sport has gone through in recent years. Tyler will discuss all of this and more on April 17th.”
isn’t that nice? so, to reiterate, just for the dumb amongst us (me included, cos i still don’t get this) – one of the guys who is a rather famous part of the very large problem that is kind of buggering our sport every which way is going to give up some of his time to go to talk about what’s next for the future for amateur and professional racers.
the same guy who has a book out and who got caught once for doping then went away then came back and caught again, is going to give a talk about the future of our sport. an intimate, candid talk.
where do i start on this? seriously, i’m sat here watching La Fleche and wondering how to start saying how wrong this is, because it is wrong in so many ways.
ok, first of all, the problem with ex-dopers telling people how terrible it all was and what a huge mistake they made.
it might seem, on first thoughts, like ‘ok, let him talk to the young kids and tell them about how it ruined his live etc.‘
but the fact is that by them standing up there, with their notoriety and still enduring fame, it doesn’t seem so ruined. i mean yeah, most right-thinking people think of them as cheats but at the end of the day they still had a pretty awesome time, these guys rode the greatest races on earth and were for a good chunk of time real, serious heroes to millions – millions – and most still live in nice houses and drive good cars and have their books out and their supporters still (see Leipheimer’s local newspaper around the time his doping past came out, and you’ll see what i mean. oh yeah, and that movie!)
so how bad was it all really? they took others’ jobs, they shunned those who didn’t dope, they influenced other riders to dope – in fact, they demonstrated to anyone in the peloton that if they wanted to be up with them they had to dope.
sure, the sport let itself down too, thanks to putting its faith in the UCI, and the managers, the coaches, even the race organisers, but these guys have to – no, had to – take responsibility, just as several other, equally good (or almost as good) clean cyclists did.
i’m not buying it, the regret thing. sure you feel bad, but man what a ride you had. and you know what? for all the supposed ‘good’ they do talking about how doping ‘ruined’ their lives, it would be far more productive if they went away and stayed away, if they extricated themselves from the entire cycling world. sure, they love the sport still, or the fame, the spotlight, but their very presence is poisonous.
they should be shunned if they do try to nose back in, but if they have any respect left for the sport they proclaim to love, they would be best to choose to stay away. that would be a better lesson for young riders, to see them completely cast out. i know that may sound hard to some, but if it’s forgiveness they need, go get it from family and close friends, not from young, impressionable athletes who still are in awe of what you did.
go away, heal yourselves, come back and have a beer sometime, but do not feel like you have a right to be in anyway involved with the sport you let down so very badly. maybe if one of these guys had come clean before they got busted, maybe then it would be worth listening to them.
can anyone tell me why you have to have decided to dope, got on a good team, got rich, bought a big house or two, ridden in the Tour and the Giro and Paris-Roubaix, then got busted for doping to be qualified to tell others about the dangers of doping?
is this a Kafka novel? or is the entire world of cycling on a collective and very nasty acid flashback? i mean, seriously, what the f**k?
how about we try this, ‘An Evening with Nicole Cook’? or Cedric Bassons? or Inga Thompson?
why do the ex-dopers get to talk about the perils of dope, whereas those who are clean can’t, because it’s as though people feel like they’re pointing a finger, as though they are saying ‘hey i’m clean, he’s dirty.’ even though that is the exact damned case? how about an evening with the pros i know, guys who rode for very good teams, had decent careers but never won anything big, but rode hard through the EPO years and stayed clean?
surely it would be better for youngsters to hear from clean pros, who can say ‘yes there is doping, but you can do it cleam, and here is how i did it.’
not too sexy though, huh, an evening with ‘The Guy You Never Heard Of But Who Did It Right, But… Never Got Rich.. & Has No Book Out. ‘
tickets, $1.00. or, wait – we’ll pay you to come…
(we’re still lacking a coherent voice from the clean guys in the pro peloton now. we need that. the kids need that.)
and so, here is Mike’s Bikes, profiting from an ex-doper. if i was on a rival team and saw them this year at a race – well, how would you feel? they’re picking up $10,000 from Hamilton showing up and doing his ‘it was terrible’ speech, and he gets the KarmaCleanse out of it.
you know what this society of ours rewards? hard work and dedication? if you’re lucky, maybe. intelligence? hell no. what it seems to reward, in spades, is cheating. not low-level criminal stuff, heck, that gets you three strikes and a life in prison.
the thing with cheating is that the bigger you cheat, the more you are rewarded. we saw that with the banks. too big to burn. same with Wall Street. and we see that with the sports cheats too.
LA was the prime example, the guy went big and got rich, huge rich. he may lose it all but maybe not, but anyway, with a book deal and a movie, bada-bing, he’s back up to $40 million easy.
Hamilton? cheated once, got canned but made a legend of himself at the Tour. then got a contract with that ‘sexy’ team, Rock Racing, hired there because he was a doper. they didn’t hire guys who could prove they were clean – just the ones who proved they were dirty…
then the tears, the confession, and i truly do sympathise with his mental illness, but here’s the thing – go get healed somewhere else. you are done here, brother. you cashed your chips, lost a little, won a little, but this is not the horse you should be getting back up on.
thirdly, Nor Cal Cycling News. they publish this as just news, no comments, no thoughts, no nothing. great journalism. really.
man. to be an ex-doper who won stuff. not such a bad gig…
*apologies, for some reason cannot add photos, will try later*
yes, i thought it was time that i came clean.
i feel it is time to get this off my chest.
many will call me foolish, misguided, and even plain old stupid, but it is true:
i have never doped and i never will. let the lions rip me apart as they desire. i can’t go on like this any longer, i have nothing left to hide.
if you too have never doped and never will, no matter what level you ride at or even if you’ve never raced, and even if you take part in another sport, please comment on this post or mail me, and i will add your name to the list.
maybe if there’s enough of us, we too will one day become heroes and get book deals!
The I Have Never Doped Confessional, signed by:
1. Lee Rodgers
2. Chuck Hutcheson
3. Paul Roberts
4. Peter O’Connell
5. Greg Grobler
6. Graham Roeber
7. Inigo Gisbert
8. David Huntsman
9. James Machin
10. Tom Simonson
11. Raphael Grinbaum
12. Tony Chu
13. Jose de Magalhaes
14. Darin Dunstan
15. Fatmarc Vanderbacon
16. Inga Thompson
17. Matty Giedt
18. Manuel Samaniego
19. Scott Mercier
a couple of months ago i got a message on basefook from an American guy saying that he would be in Taiwan in a while and did i have a bike or did i know where he could rent one.
as someone who actually ‘knows’ about only 10% of their ‘friends’ on FB but who is quite visible/vocal on there, i do, on just about a weekly basis, get people asking for stuff, be it advice or equipment, naked photos of the crank or other enticing requests, and very often, you’d be surprised not really to know, the requests come in a pretty rude fashion.
but this guy seemed polite enough and a quick look at his page showed me he looked like a triathlete or something and looked quite fit. though i didn’t actually do much to help him out, when i did receive a message last weekend from him saying he was in town and would i like to ride, i said ‘sure.’ it might mean a diversion from my training schedule (i can be a punk like that sometimes) but, i figured i’d be appreciative of the same if i was in someplace foreign and looking to ride.
so, up we meet, and off we go, and as i’ve never met the guy before it feels a little first datey, i’m wondering already how many bases i’ll get to – oh wait, that came out wrong – i mean, i’m wondering how we’ll get along, and then i say:
‘so are you a triathlete or a road racer?’
and then he says:
‘well, i’m on a suspension. i’m one of those guys.’
and he pats me on the back, as if to say ‘aha! you didn’t know!’
and i go:
and then we ride on, and he tells me the whole story, the hows and the whys, the ins and the outs, and the whole 9 yards plus an extra 3, just for good measure.
and he said to me ‘i wondered if you knew me and if you’d even turn up.’
and i thought ‘yeah, i wonder if i would have too,’ but i am glad i did.
and i am still kinda taking it in. i abhor doping, as i am sure you know, but i liked the guy. i’ve had this before too, with former teammates, and it sits weirdly.
anyhow, what awesome timing – there i am going on about ex-dopers and smooth as you like, one pops into my life and in 3D and all.
i won’t divulge names, as he agreed to do an interview which i’ll then write up into an article.
watch this space.
the world has never been anything other than what it is. mean, lean, brutal, angry and vicious and yet paradoxically beautiful, serene, peaceful and a plain old wonder. it is the breathing, heaving definition of contradiction. nothing is mutually exclusive when it comes to this planet. even amidst war and death there is a burning and vivid beauty, a living, dying parable of exhaustion and renewal, of the coming and going, of the fleeting and the eternal.
as a kid though our elders strive to keep all this from us. we’re instead offered myths like the Easter Bunny, Santa, gods, in some cases, and (not all that much different from be-sneakered saints) sporting heroes. the real realities of life are hidden under carpets, stuck in the back of kitchen drawers and muffled into whispers when the little ones appear.
if we are lucky that is. some of us had raging parents and other relatives to deal with, adults who were no more equipped to deal with life themselves than they were to shield us from it.
but for many of us, looking back on our childhood brings a warm sigh and a wistful smile, for its warmth still emanates like some auburn light from a promised land, long gone but still visible with a glance over our shoulder. as often with remembrances, the truth may in fact have been a little different, but that doesn’t make the memories any less tangible.
we can, most of us, mark certain dates and events along the line of our lives as moments in time when the edifice of that safe and relatively trouble-free world began to crumble. a bully, perhaps, or stress from school reports, or the emergence of a confusing awareness of the sexual.
in a sporting sense, i had two that live large in my mind. one was when i was 11 years old. i was playing for the Sydney Firefighters in the semi-finals of the regional soccer championships. we were one goal down with a minute remaining on the clock. we got a penalty after a hand ball, and as the usual taker, i stepped forward. as i hit the ball my studs caught the turf and i mis-hit the ball terribly, watching it scud and dribble hopelessly wide of the post.
cried all the way home, a two hour drive. it was 8 years before i took another spot kick. i laugh about that one now. it seems sweet, that it all meant so much to that little boy.
the other memory is not sweet at all, never even got close. it was an absolute and definitive moment in time that smashed a hole clean through my vision of what sport was, and, more specifically, destroyed the Olympics for me for evermore.
the moment came when Des Lynam, the BBC sports commentator, appeared on television one day in the summer of 1988 and announced that the Canadian Ben Johnson had tested positive for steroids.
‘i’ve just been handed a piece of paper here,’ said Lynam,’ that if it is right, it will be the most dramatic story out of this Olympics, or perhaps any others.’
i’d grown up with sports my whole life, swimming, soccer, running, hockey, cricket, baseball, rugby – you name it, i tried it. my dad had been close to a pro soccer contract before damaging his knee days after a trial with Blackburn Rovers, and a champion swimmer in his youth. it was in my blood. there was nothing more fun to me than to be playing a game and trying to win, but,then as now, it was how you played that mattered most. winning by cheating never even entered my mind.
what would be the point? cheating wasn’t in the rules of any game i played – maybe if it had been, i would have been ok with it.
soccer and the World Cup was my first love but the Olympics came a close second. the history blew me away, all the way back to the Greeks, incredible. the Olympic flame seemed to symbolise all that was good and eternal about sport, and though it may have been a fairytale, it was one i could actually see, right there on the tv screen. it united people, brought them out onto the streets to cheers its passing, to congratulate the carrier.
and then Johnson came and destroyed it all. it was that brutal. i’d never liked Carl Lewis and his arrogance, he was way too smooth and disparaging of his rivals. in Johnson i saw the perfect underdog, this stuttering, shy individual who used to get beat by Lewis hands down, who suddenly turned into a superhero and ran like the wind.
but then, on that day, with the news delivered by Lynam, it was all over. the Olympics died for me that day. athletics ever since has failed to capture my imagination. i was 16.
i’d been cycling for a year, a day or two after Roche and Delgado battled on La Plagne at the ’87 Tour de France. i was pretty decent too, winning my first race, then the next, all the while getting deeper and deeper into the amazing history of the sport, becoming infatuated with reading about the great races and the legendary riders.
but just about the time that Johnson’s positive became known, i read about Eddy Merckx testing positive way back in ’68, ’74 and ’77. then i read about Tommy Simpson dying on Ventoux, a mix of alcohol and amphetamines discovered in his blood at the autopsy. then i read about Anquetil saying basically ‘yes of course we dope.’ learned about Marshall Taylor taking nitroglycrine, about the early Tour riders on cocaine, about the rider caught with a balloon of someone else’s piss under his arm at a testing procedure.
and on and on it went. it was quite obvious to me at that time, aged 16 and three months, that if i ever wanted to become anything but a mediocre professional rider i would have to take these kind of substances. it also dawned on me that, if so many cyclists were on the dope, and that if, as some said or at least alluded, you had to take drugs to compete, then there must have been others on that start line with Johnson that were taking steroids.
then came the news, hitherto unknown to me, that the East Germans and Russians were rumored to have a comprehensive doping system.
i had, i could see, been naive, but then if i was guilty of that then so too were millions of others before that fateful 1988 100m final. where so many of those who were shocked at the news of Johnson’s positive failed themselves though was by believing for so long that only Johnson was dirty. that same head-in-the-sand mentality allowed Armstrong to get away with it for so long also, even after the death of all those young Dutch riders thanks to EPO in the early 90′s, after Festina, Puerto, and on and on.
so there i was, 16 and a half, in love with the actual act of cycling and racing and wanting to dedicate my life to it, dreaming of one day riding in the Tour, yet increasingly aware that the whole thing was filthy. proper dodgy, riven with doping, decimated by cheating.
i rode for another year, still getting good results, then, halfway through the 1989 season, just before i turned 18, i quit. i never regretted that decision, and the fact that i was able to restart my racing career at 37 was just amazing, but what has never left me is the anger i feel for those who dope. i’ve had teammates since i returned to racing that have told me they used EPO when they were younger, and on hearing about their heart tremors and their fear of latent illnesses, i had zero sympathy.
i don’t live my life in black and white, and i try, hard as it is sometimes, to not judge others because life can be damn hard, but when it comes to cheating i do not see any excuse for crossing the line. once it’s done you never come back. those that cheat and dope destroy everything that is to be cherished in sport and in competition. perhaps they accept reality better than me, but if that is real i want no part of it.
i’ve met enough ex-dopers (and, though i didn’t know it at the time, current dopers) to know that something dies in you when you dope. you can see it in Vinokourov’s dead smile, sense it in Armstrong’s cold eyes. once caught they mew and bleat like pathetic lambs, but the truth is no one wants to hear from them. they come back like reborn sinners to tell us that they want to help rebuild the sport, but what they have to grasp is that they have reneged on the agreement implicit within the core of all sport – that is, that you do not cheat.
all a little holier than thou? i don’t think so. i am full of inconsistencies and have made, and still do make, hundreds of mistakes in my life. but i, like millions of others, won’t cheat to win. and i look at it this way: if i had broken the rules in some other area of life and been kicked out, i wouldn’t have the nerve to think that i deserved to be accepted back.
you reap what you sow, brother. never a truer word.
you may love the sport too, but you lost your seat on the bus, son, when you broke the cover on the vial.
yes this is a cruel world at times, and yes our parents may be misguided in the way they attempt to shield us from the realities of existence, but there is a reason why the rules of sports, of these games we play, are so hallowed and should be respected: because they offer us a glimpse of what we can become. they offer a vision, and even a reality, of greatness within the human spirit, in and amongst us.
that’s why it matters. and that is why it has to be clean.
wait, or does he get blown? or was that Bill? and who had the stain, in the end? was it Monica? or Hilary? or… what? Lance’s kids? ah dammit, crankpunk’s all confused.
still, no need to worry because in just about a decade the world’s favorite reptile-human hybrid will be Our President (and when i say Our i mean America’s, by which i mean The World’s, by which I mean, as i wrote in the first place, Our). or at least, i think that’s what he’s on about.
yesterday’s version of VeloNation had the report about LA comparing himself to Bill Clinton, spinning a slippery, silvery, deep throat thread between his decade plus of serious PED abuse and attacks on just about everyone’s character with Ol’ Bill’s ‘misdemeanour’ – as delivered by the lips of one Monica Lewinsky.
never in the history of man has a blowjob been quite so good and yet so ultimately harmful, one suspects, even though, again, ultimately, Ol’ Bill ‘Check Out My Election Pole’ Clinton managed to wiggle out of it, much as about 3.68 million of his sperm also did, over and down Monica’s dress.
‘i love the Oral Office,’ said America’s sax-loving Prez at the time, which was all the time, with a wink and a nudge…
“Ultimately, people forgive and forget and remember the good stuff you did,” Armstrong said in an interview with Texas Monthly recently. “Is it hard to do? Yeah. But Clinton did it – he loves to work, he loves people, he loves to hustle.
“He’s a hero of mine. He’s a tough guy, he’s smart, surrounded himself with good people,” he said. “Like Johan, Pat, that doctor with the Ferrari, Hein and the Yes Crew,” he didn’t say but really should of.
In a moment that left me wondering just what planet LA actually lives on, he had the temerity to say: “It’s ‘Act 3.’ It’s all these things that people think about in Shakespearean terms.”
whuuuuuuuut? what was that Marx said? ‘Jesus my eyebrows are getting out of hand…’
no, the other Marx… ‘history repeats itself, first as tragedy, secondly as farce,’ that was it. LA’s story is that, more Marxian than Shakespearean. there are no redeeming features in LA’s story. it’s just a tragical farce, or maybe a farcical tragedy. but he doesn’t get to have an ‘Act 3′, right? well, he does if he has anything to do with it.
not content with taking up even more than his allocated oxygen supply for a lifetime, he soldiered on, hoisting more and more soil over his shoulder as an 8-man legal team mopped his sweaty brow.
“The stain’s not going away – my girls will grow into it. My two little ones will grow into it. This stain will live forever. I’ll never get rid of it,” he bleated. “I’ll just try and do the best for my family, my community, my constituency – whatever that may be…’
my CONSTITUENCY! i called this ages ago, LA for Governor. coming soon to a state full of loons near you.
“There are days,” he said, “I think, ‘I shouldn’t have done the interview (with Oprah)’. But then I see my kids, see the way they’re acting, the way they’re interacting. I see the way my son plays basketball, the way he hustles, the way he’s focused. I see a different kid.”
[cue images of apple pie, puppies, Liberty, the 4th of July, Mother Theresa french kissing an orphan back to life, a hamburger and fireworks that write 'U.S.L.A!' in the sky]
America, you cannot let this man back. you just can’t. please, whatever you do, just say no to crack – i mean, Lance… and crack, say no to crack too, but say no to Lance first…
my friend and fellow journo Shane Stokes has a very interesting and thought-provoking article on the website The Roar.
if you have ten minutes to spare, it’s worth a read.
check it out here.