out walking my rabbit the other day i had a sudden thought:
sue the buggers!
i got to thinking about the recent doping scandals and then about Paul Kimmage’s case against the UCI and misters Verbruggen and The Mac Daddy, and about how the vast majority of cycling fans had put so much faith in LA, Hamilton, Vaughters, Vino and Contador and on and on and on, and how their love of the sport drove them to their TVs every summer at sometimes mad hours of the early morning to watch the Giro and the Tour and Flanders and how the viewing figures had turned into hard cash for the TV companies and in turn for the UCI and it’s head honchos, and how some fans even traveled to the iconic avenues, hills and finish lines to cheer on their heroes, and how that’d meant the local economies made money, and the airlines, and the car hire companies, and then i thought about how the fan, after seeing Lance on his Trek, Tyler in his Oakleys and Vino in his Specialized shoes then went out and put their hard earned cash into local bike shops and online stores, and how a nice big chunk goes to the companies that support the riders with kit (despite them being fully aware of the ‘doubts’ regarding some of their athletes’ performances), and how the athletes themselves get nicely minted like little Juleps from all this cash flowing about them.
and how, in the end, in all of these doping scandals, everyone seems to win. the companies like Trek and Nike and the rest, on hearing of a positive, stand back with hands up and surprised looks on their faces but still continue to support others with questionable histories. the UCI always won cos it just brushed everything under the carpet. and the riders – those who doped and got caught – they won cos they had their houses and their cars and their bank accounts and their die hard supporters who believed all the denials, and after 2 years or 7 months or whatever paltry suspension they got, they just came right back in with nothing more than a ‘welcome back’ and a pat on the back for keeping schtum about all the crap they knew about. right back up there at the top of the sport, without so much as a ‘sorry folks, it won’t happen again.’
and how, ultimately, there’s only one single loser in it all – the fan. sure, you might call him or her naive for believing the feats they saw were real, but the whole machine that is pro cycling, from the managers to the riders to the cycling authorities said ‘yep, it’s clean! we’re doing our best!’ when their best meant ‘doing our best to let them dope/help them dope/dope’ (delete as applicable). the fan wanted to believe – had to believe. it’s hardwired in us, to trust, to idolise, to dream.
so, who invested their emotions? their time? their cash? then got dragged into a dark alley and shafted with a rusty crowbar? yep, the fan.
i suggest we should be able to sue them. all of them. perhaps we already can, but if we can, why has no one done it yet? even if it’s only symbolic?
Geneva Court, Case #456776b, Mr Cycling Fan versus Pro X, who is charged with willfully misleading Mr Cycling Fan with repeated statements claiming he did not and would never dope when in fact he was more juiced up than the Xmas tree in Times Square. Mr Cycling Fan seeks recompense for the room full of Team X kit and team bike that he can no longer wear or ride, and for defending Pro X on numerous occasions when down the pub, for which, since Pro X was photographed in a Port-a-Loo on the A45 outside Lyon before Stage 15 of the 20## Tour de France with a belt around his bicep and a mucky srynge in his bulging vein, Mr Cycling Fan has been repeatedly and remorselessly mocked by his cycling friends.
here’s how it’d work: every rider that joins a Pro Continental or World Tour (and women’s equivalent) team signs a pledge that he/she will not be dope for the duration of their careers. if they do, an independent agency run by fans, for fans, will be allowed to sue any rider that is caught doping for a maximum of $500,000. if successful, the independent agency will take out enough cash to c0ver its costs and put the remaining $450,000 or whatever back into anti-doping research, or a massive party on a yacht, whichever is deemed more of a necessity.
yeah i know, wishful thinking. but it’d sure feel good…