It’s all the talk, it’s all the craze and it’s all for the World to see… and it’s all a damn shame for the sport of cycling. Finally wrapped up into one neat, spandex laden package of truth which is: our heroes were cheaters and there were a lot more of them riding around out there than we like to think. Most of us watching the sport closely going forward will question and hope no more; we will now suspect.
The latest and greatest of the United States based rider doping allegations are starting to bear fruit for USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and some ugly truths about the sport. Ultimately this investigation is set to land onto the desks of the World cycling governing body, the UCI. More blood will be shed.
Now, teammates of the Seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong are purported to be “fessing up” to USADA. A tell-all, confession based exodus to USADA if you will. At least that’s how it’s been told by USADA, however most insiders agree that these cyclists, the team mates of Lance Armstrong during the highly doped up peloton of the 90’s and early 2000’s era of cycling, were more or less pressured to speak out and uncover the doping tactics of the US Postal Team and ultimately USADA’s #1 Bogey: Lance Armstrong.
OK, so there it is, but just a brief bit of background on what is happening today. But I feel it’s more important to ask about tomorrow! No one is really doing that, so I have some questions and thoughts of my own. Might I “Weigh In”?
- What good will all of this “outting” of the Dopers do for the sport of cycling? I’ve heard it will help clean up our sport. How? Begin now to define a plan of action that will tell a story of turning the wheels of the sport towards the right direction. Diverting the disaster into something productive, something positive might help narrow the chasm between good and evil in our sport.
- What future harm to the sport, if any, will all of this bring? Are USADA, USA Cycling, and the UCI ready to devise an action plan to create controls, programs, stricter rules and punishment, and so on that will restore some confidence in our bruised and battered sport?
- Does the punishment of these riders fit the crime? A ban from competition of 6 months?! In some cases allowing time served during the off-season? Is this setting a good example while sending a positive message about the implications of cheating?
- How, where, and to whom will any restitution money be paid? It’s my opinion that the teams and riders that profited by cheating should pay back to the new blood of the sport. The blood that is clean, the kids of today that are the future of the sport, the US domestic pro’s trying to earn a living and fulfill a dream. These are the guys busting their asses day in and day out, year after year racing in small corners of the US, sleeping in team vans or shitty motels, earning an income that is, on average, below the national poverty level. Yes they made the sacrifice and chose this profession, but the guys that chose to cheat and dope passed the others with ease and took away what the others fought cleanly for . Now to the Postal boys, you can pay it back in my “Help the Clean Blood Fund”. Support the teams and athletes that test clean and ride clean and send a message to our future cyclists that their winning at all cost attitude ended up costing much, much more!
- Conspiracy alert: Why were doping controls not enforced? If in fact the allegations of a conspiracy at the highest levels of the sport are indeed true, where were the team managers/directors, cycling officials, doping control personnel, and other sanctioning bodies when they were needed?
- Have any of these riders publicly apologized to riders they competed against that chose not to cheat? Or has the tribal council spoken that they were all cheats? I’m confused on this point and call me an optimist but I have to think there were some clean guys out there scrapping for results. Don’t those guys deserve more of a nod than the flood of press covering the guys who took drugs? Maybe it’s time to re-list those results or use the famous * next to their names.
Lot’s to think about and more to do and I can only hope the powers that be will make the right call to move in the right direction. Focus the talk and all the craze towards tomorrow and the meantime, I’ll be pedaling my bike and enjoying the sport I love so much.