my beef with ex-dopers (and with Mike’s Bikes), part 2

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.


secondly, Tyler.

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*

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

21 thoughts

  1. I could give you plenty of stories on clean racing and how to win clean. People seem to be fascinated with criminals. Just look at all the crime shows on tv. Find a person who cares that the NFL is chocked full of drugs. People don’t even care what they are doing as long as it does not effect their team.
    I would like to write a book called ” the clean race”
    Not sure who could pen the book for me but the story is real.

    1. Do it Greg. Too many us became discouraged and left the sport. I am glad for all who hung in there and raced clean and now and then triumphed.

  2. It’s human nature apparently. Every industry seems to let people get away with cheating. Banking, real estate, politics, any big business, tax avoidance. It is so prevalent that it becomes the norm. Are we the dumb ones for not getting with the programme? Hopefully not…

  3. ” 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.” —- If people want to pay money to hear Tyler speak, more power to them. If he was influencing policy for cycling through an official position w/ an NGB or some other similar capacity, I think one could reasonably question that, but it’s actually not an issue since his suspension keeps him from doing just that. Once it’s up though, according to WADA itself, Hamilton would be free to reintegrate with sport “officially,” (assuming he can offer something of value and marshal support). If you object to that, which is certainly you’re right, it would seem that in essence you’re advocating for de facto life bans for any doping violation, regardless of whether or not they’re a first time offender. Is that the case?

    ” go get healed somewhere else. you are done here, brother.” — and yet, as I just noted, after his ban expires, he’s free to return to cycling in an official capacity, and join guys like Vaughters and Riis if they’re still around. But it sounds like you’re objecting way before then, and that you would seek to deny (or at least strongly object to, in very explicit terms) Hamilton’s ability to address a private audience of paying ticket-holders now or at any point in the future, ostensibly because he’ll be talking about his experiences as a cyclist and not as a skier, for example. Is that correct?

    1. i object to former dopers being involved in coaching and managing current professionals, yes.

      suspended jail sentences for fraud for first time offenders plus large fines to both rider and team, as well as a 3 year ban from all competition, be it MTB, BMX or unicycle, followed by a further one year ban from pro-conti and up, then a ten year ban for a second offense plus jail time for fraud and a ban from ever being a pro again.

      (off the top of my head but a starting point)

      i ride Continental level and often roll up to see a start list containing the names of guys busted at ProTour level who have just come down to dominate my races for a while til the heat cools.

      people won’t stop doping alone, we won;t suddenly find a way to appeal to their sense of fairness overnight – heck, you’d have to be by their side from birth to do that, or alternatively go back in time and restructure the entire history of civilisation – but heavy financial punishment, real financial penalties and possible jail time might just do that.

      what would have put you off doping, Joe? that is a serious question.

      Hamilton is not a one time offender, so the ‘i was wrong once’ spiel is impossible. he was involved in systematic and continuous doping throughout the majority of his career. do i want to turn up and stop him from speaking to riders about cycling and doping and the future of the sport? no.

      do i want people in the position to have him come speak decide that he is not suitable to be talking to cyclists about this, and have them choose positive role models, people who raced clean and raced well and who avoided doping, have them come speak?


      and i think it would be great if Tyler Hamilton, yourself and other ex-dopers said ‘hey guys, we’ll be at home, or wherever, here’s our contact details, if ever you wanna talk about what we did sure, send us a mail, but for now we are going to go away form the sport and allow you all time to heal.’

      then i wouldn’t be writing about this daily. it is the self-promotional aspect to it all that bothers people.

      it really has come to a point where either we let it all fly, let it all in and watch them perform like juiced-up WWE ‘entertainers’ or – and i do think this is what most fans want, and riders – we bring in rules that ban a guy for a good chunk of time for a first offense, and for good – or maybe ten years but bar them from management – for a 2nd.

      this is what it has come to. we had a governing body that wanted a star system, riders that were very ambitious, a growing TV audience and then bam, a wonder-potion that made it all go round at ridiculous, hitherto unfathomable speeds.

      everyone lost their sense of perspective and the sport moved so very far away from what it once was in all of us – riding a bike around for fun. and to 99.9999% of the world that rides bikes, it still is that. it’s just that minute fraction of bike riders that cheat. it is not a case of ‘well everyone was doing it’ – because we weren’t.

      so yes, why don’t you tell us what would have stopped you from taking and selling banned products, then maybe we can get some ideas going…

      [btw, and this is just for fun – here are my friend’s ideas:
      *First offense; sent down Alpe d’huez, with no break calipers.
      Second offense; sent down Alpe d’ huez, no calipers, and Vaughters duct-taped to your back.
      Third offense; hunted by Japanese whaling ship, 10 minutes head start, EPO allowed.*
      brilliant. ]

      1. Joe would have never sold dope if there were no cheats. No cheats equals no buyers. What’s interesting to me is most of his buyers were not pros or cat 1 riders. They were mostly just average Joes trying to take a short cut to the next level.
        The whole system is criminal when you think about it. How do all the pharmaceutical companies and doctors get away with it. This is where the heavy fines should be handed down. Doctors should also have thier license revoked. I agree with you that riders need longer bans. Why should Lance get life and his ex-teammates 6 mo. What does a 6 month winter ban really do? It’s just a nice vacation for most riders. Guilty means guilty as in you cheated you were a doped. Further proof is the lack of results this season from all of these riders.

    2. Joe Papp, have I heard that name before? I just wish that all of the dopers and dealers would go and stay away.

      1. yes Greg, agreed, criminal from the top down. it goes way back too, Conti and other doctors were getting money from the UCI and federations to research epo and help create tests yet using the cash to buy the stuff. now we have older riders having strokes and heart attacks and all kind of health problems.

        interesting re the lack of results for certain riders, also possibly another sign is that the races are harder to predict.

        maybe that amnesty wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all, but with McQuaid looking to come back for Number 3, i can;t see it coming. looks like business as usual.

  4. crankpunk. firstly let me say i love your posts. always on the money. i look forward to reading them.

    im with you on these ex-dopers. let them tell their story. then let them move on.

    allowing them to ride back onto the peleton and mix it with the guys just starts blurring the key messages required here. compete fairly and be prepared to accept the consequences if you dont. give a voice only to the clean.

    1. Someone said somewhere that it was Merckx who introduced Armstrong to Ferrari. Anyone know if this is true?

  5. ok it’s wiki and it ain’t the bible, but it’s here:

    if anyone else has any info would like to know.

    good old Ferrari eh? what a lovely chap… “EPO is not dangerous, it’s the abuse that is. It’s also dangerous to drink 10 liters of orange juice”. never heard of anyone drinking 10 liters of OJ nor of anyone dying in their sleep from it. but if Ferrari said it, it must be true…

  6. I love that Joe Papp didn’t respond to your reply. My problems with Tyler Hamilton speaking is two-fold. First, he didn’t come clean (so to speak) until he had nothing left and he needed money. He lost his career, lost his family, likely was not working and had nothing. Then, “hey, I think I’ll write a book!” I’m sure the fat $50,000 advance from the publisher was very theraputic. Basically, he comes to the table as still profiting from doping, only now it’s with the white shield of truth and honor. Speaking of which, how exactly do we know that all he’s writting or talking about is true. I mean he made a living out of lying, so who’s to say he really is honest about it all now? And it’s naive to think he wasn’t given an appearance fee for showing up and speaking. Plus, publicity is publicity.

    Second, how is he even remotely qualified to talk about the problems in a sport that he has not been a part of for several years? Does he even understand the biological passport? Does he have any clue what is is like to ride or race clean in the shadow of people like himself? Is he winning races now or working on teams with zero tolerence polcies? Is he fighting with the UCI over race radios, break away leagues or world tour license issues? No. All he is good for is telling it “like it was”. The question is not “what do ex-convicted and caught dopers think we should do to move forward in cycling” the question is “what will this generation of professionals do and focus on to move past the era of Tyler Hamilton and the rest of his teammates”

    1. yes not sure what happened to Joe pn that one, i also await 😉 thanks for the comment Dylan, much appreciated, as ever! Tyler, man, what a ride he is on.I wonder how much he really regrets it all, some of his interviews leave me befiddled, to say the least. he sounds contrite then he says something weird. i do wish him all the best though, in sorting it out.

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