i promised i wouldn’t start with anything related to Monsieur Armstrong, the dude who famously lost 7 Tour de France, but my neck hair is bristling and, like puss in a zit, it just has to come out…
Levi, Zabriskie, Barry, it goes on and on. i remember once noting to a friend how the English-speaking press were blatantly biased towards English-speaking riders. the assumption was that is was the Euros and the Easterners who were getting loaded, but not Our Boys! impossible!
yet here we are, standing with our toes hanging off the edge of a smoking hole in the ground the size of a Texan – or Texas, I forget which it is…
and now we have this stream of guys holding their hands up. i have a problem with these guys who doped, then stopped, then talked about building a ‘clean future’ on Garmin or HTC or whatever, without ever publicly admitting their past (until now, though many are retiring or have retired and let’s face it, it took LA getting ripped to pieces to bring it all out). they continued to deny, to make money from cycling, and to fool millions of people into thinking they were ever-clean.
i left the sport at 18, in 1990, disillusioned by the rampant doping and seeing no way ahead. these guys, the guys of my generation, they made hundreds of thousands (LA – millions) of $ by doping, then pop along and say ‘well yeah i did kindamaybedope – but just til 2006’, or ‘i crossed the line and though i have a nice full bank account as a result i know it was wrong and please forgive me.’
it just sucks. it really, really sucks. there’s no nobility in ‘admitting’ it all now, no sense of being cleansed, no miraculous renewal of purity. i’d very much like them all to get out and stay out. yes, they were victims in the sense that the UCI and the teams accepted what was happening and in many cases pressured these young men into it, but only two or three guys in the peloton (Simeoni, Bassons, Kimmage off the top of my head) had the nuts to stand up? it’s all so so irrevocably dirty, a universe cubed away from the facade of the Olympian ideal and thank whoever that when i ride now i do it for me and the simple love of moving on two wheels, or i’d have to walk away again.
i’ve lost races to guys who doped – i know they doped cos they got caught soon after – and the sense of two races in one event lingers on all too heavily, like the stench of a barely concealed sewer close by, hanging in the air, seeping into every fibre and tissue. now i ride on the UCI Asia Tour and see many of the same mistakes being made on this circuit, corners cut, eyes averted, as the powers that be seek to increase the popularity of the sport here.
one more thing keeps me in the game – i know that it can be done without dope – not as fast, not as thrilling maybe, but just as hard, if not harder – and it has to be. or else all is nothing, as is being proven at this very moment.
over and out.