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.
It’s not over. Nothing has changed. UCI remained, Pat was endorsed again (and thus the entire UCI legacy was endorsed) and as you wrote; dopers, facilitators of doping and former dopers are still in charge. The only change is that there is now that new red blood cell boosting drug out by one and soon to be another 2-3 pharmaceutical companies. This time it is small, and it is a simple tablet. No fridges, no IVs, no injections, no fear anymore…
yep, and yet so many folk are doing the old ‘oh this is boring now, let it go’ routine.
never mind Livestrong, i’m gonna start Team Apathy. the bands won;t be rubber but barbed wire – they won’t notice the pain anyway…
we need a complete overall of the UCI! we need dope testing to be free from any external influence (like the judiciary in a true democracy). we need legislation in every country to criminalize doping in cycling, or any sport for that matter. never mind suspensions… jail time!!! it’s all good and well to do it for the love of the bike (like me, why else would i still ride mine at 58?) but it would be nice to be able to make a living as a racer without some doper pulling the rug from under your tires. that’s fraud. keep up the good posts
agreed Jose, i’d like to see Michael Ashenden back heading that, he’s one of the very few with the experience, vigor and integrity to do it. and yes to criminal prosecutions too. time to get serious. and thanks, will do my best 😉
BAN ALL DRUG CHEATS FOR LIFE …. Then see the incidents of drug cheating all but disappear.
Enjoy the fact that while Pat is still in power we have every right to moan and moan until they bloody do the right thing and not just clean up the sport but give it a proper polish.
i do think, Rupert, that a life time ban for a first offence is too much, as there may be the odd rider who genuinely eats the wrong beef, gets spiked, etc. that would suck, to lose it all through someone elses actions. (btw, watch that 30 for 30 thing on Ben Johnson, he got spiked! ok he was doping too, but he was spiked also). i do think 3-4 years out for a first offence, with a further 1 year ban from Pro Conti and Pro Tour, and a one year salary fine for the rider is somewhere in the right direction, with the team losing half its UCI points for the first doped rider in a calendar year, then a further 75% for another, and having to pay the rider’s salary equivalent to a charity is resonable too. have to hit them financially, and make the management responsible too…
also, should find a way to make hiring ex-dopers less appealing, like, their UCI points gained for the forst two seasons back count only half, or something.
but, dope twice? out for life.
Great blog, and a good article – thank you. I don’t understand why there aren’t more people calling for the team managers and the doctors to be the ones who get the really severe sanctions. Sure, riders should be punished, but sadly not everyone has the integrity of people like you and Nicole Cooke. A doctor or DS who ‘doesn’t know’ that one of their riders is doping is either incompetent, complacent, or, more likely complicit if one of their charges is juiced. Either way, these crooks (bent doctors and Directeur Sportifs) have no place in sport – they’re the ones who perpetuate the doping culture and put the riders under pressure to dope. First offence = big fine, team or rider(s) banned from x number of events; second offence, a scaled up version of these same penalties; third offence (ie. when you’ve had 3 riders that you manage / care for test positive), then you should be barred from the sport for life and, if a medic, referred to the GMC or your national equivalent so that you never practice medicine, in sport or anywhere else. Is that unreasonable? I don’t think so…
i’m with you, Extralight. everyone’s doing a ‘it wasn’t me’, hands up, innocent eyes special – but THAT IS YOUR JOB! to make sure the guys are clean. ‘oh he must have taken it when i wasn’t looking, the sneaky so-and-so! ooh he’s a cheeky one, that lad!’ right, and you missed the 10% jump in performance when training, the sudden wins coming from nowhere, the spike in blood levels and the bulging money pot.
i too am tired by the lack of accountability. most of us are, i’d say. maybe we could start messaging the team FB accounts, asking them politely to sort it out? hmm that might be an idea.
as for guys like Riis and the like, who admitted doping, and Andersen (7 times busted I believe), Bruyneel, and of course JV… well, their records speak for themselves, and it’s all dirty talk, my mother would scrub their mouths out with soap. but then there are the soigneurs, the medics etc. yeah, it’s in a right old state…
oh and thanks for the comment 😉
Dude! Those of us DO complain are the ones who just quit figuring we were not good enough to cut it and never even knew about the secret race. I was the strongest and fastest guy when we won 1979 team pursuit natz at Northbrook and won points race natz the next year in San Diego going away solo twice. But once Steve Hegg came on the scene not only was my spot gone but the others all of a sudden got faster there there was no point in waiting till 84 when they were all blood doing.