Inga Thompson: Challenge The System

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.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 上午11.29.12
too complex to understand? not at all, just follow the lines…

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?

Tom Weisel

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?

Jim Ochowicz with LA
Jim Ochowicz with LA

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.’  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. “

'a prisoner of doping,' the ex pro Gaumont is now in an induced  coma
‘a prisoner of doping,’ the ex pro Gaumont is now in an induced coma

“I’ll never be on the right path. When I party, I do it completely,” he told 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.

Nicole Cooke
Nicole Cooke

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.

the dopers, it seems, are still smiling
the dopers, it seems, are still smiling

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.

women? vote? pish posh!
women? vote? pish posh!

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.


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…

Author: Lee Rodgers

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

11 thoughts

  1. We get the sport we want (collectively). Its one big ecosystem and if the fans didnt accept the doping and cheating as part of the course the system would not be set up to slap their wrists and forgive without repentance.
    The powers that be are in place to steer the sport in the direction of most profitability whilst meeting the expectations of fans.
    Lance and Co. were not a cause they were a symptom, if it wasnt them it would have been someone else.
    Doping is also a symptom of our expectations and the motivations of the parties involved in the sport.
    To call for better testing etc etc and kick Pat out is like picking the scab off of a festering sore.

    1. you could exchange ‘sport’ for ‘society’ in your first sentence there Paul, and dopers with indulgent bankers and brokers, fans with ordinary people. i agree with you, yet that doesn’t mean we shut up and carry on as ever. the UCI needs disbanding. it can’t just be, surely, more of the same – and yet, as far as i can see in 2013, that is exactly what we are being fed.

      1. I dont think we should be quiet or accept it at all, in fact I think we should stamp our feet and spit the dummy. I just dont think getting rid of Pat or a single person solves anything. From the IOC to the UCI to FIFA to the companies sponsoring sport. It all has to change, Nike dont care if Lance doped, he made them a heap of money, they just managed the impact of his being caught. It was treated as a faulty product recall.
        But as we live in a democracy (sic) the first question that has to be answered is what do we really want from our sport. Not what we say we want but what we actually want.

  2. The Pat McQuaid saga gets worse; he’s skipping the Cycling Ireland route for renomination and has been unanimously nominated for presidency by the equivalent. He’s basically abandoned his home federation. I hope to hell he gets his comeuppance at the Giro next year in Ireland.

  3. We can all start by not renewing our USAC licenses. Whey you pay the exorbitant fee, you’re financing doping Juniors.

  4. Bravo, Inga! Reserve your admiration for the non-pros who do things like Paris-Brest-Paris or—-replacing their car with a bike!

  5. Inga,
    Being someone who raced with you back in 1990 when you were doing men’s races I have a healthy respect for you as a rider and a person. Thanks for writing this as it is something that needs to be said by someone like you.
    Andrew Nevitt Team Kiwi

  6. Howdy, You have done a fantastic job. I will absolutely digg the item in addition to in person advise in order to my local freinds. I know they will be taken advantage of this web site.

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