Thursday, 1 November 2012


A small event that eventually becomes a hurricane. Surely not.
But it does. Actually, several smaller events (Andreu, Landis, Hamilton) eventually conflagrated in Hurricane Lance. Myths crumbled, feats were re-dimensioned, dopers fell and still falling.

The use/abuse of charity in the form of Livestrong, the lies, the deceits, the threats. The systemic use of dope. The ugliness of a sport supported for its grit and  heroic exploits.

Some riders claim it was all in the past and cycling has changed.
No it hasn't. What it has though is subsided.
There are dopers even now. It's not behind us.

The truth is riders are not punished enough. They are given two years. Then they come back and start from where they left, with major contracts to the detriment of clean and upcoming young athletes.

They say everyone should be given a second chance. Really? No.
If you run a business and someone steals from you, you don't hire him back in the same business.
If word goes around that he has been stealing, other businesses don't hire him either.
But in cycling all is forgiven, why? Because of the points system. These riders are good with or without dope, they are mostly a safe bet. So why risk with an unknown name?

I'd say suspend them for two years and as Pinotti suggested on his Gazzetta interview, don't hire them back in the top flight for a further two years like it was supposed to be until Basso was hired back from Liquigas (Vaughters told me it went against Wada rules, so let's change the rules!!).
I'd go even further, life ban. They can find a job stacking shelves like any other unemployed person. These people have the best job in the world, we all envy them, worship them even, and they cheat us and the sport.

So, some feel they had to, they have to, they're bullied into it...Boo hoo! Tough. The world is full of more difficult choices. Not all are blessed with talent, health, wealth. You make a choice for whatever reason, it's still a choice.

Millar makes money writing a book about why he doped. Are the royalties going to Wada? to kids cycling clubs? Is he going around schools telling kids what not to do? Didn't think so. Did he say in the book how he got the drugs? Who gave them to him? So why is he seen as an example. All he did was stop doping. That's no biggie, he was caught, didn't have a choice if he wanted to come back.

The tide is changing, the ripple effect started from small flutterings has turned into a sweeping hurricane. Lance is forgotten from cycling records, riders are suspended, sacked. The cleaning has began and still goes on. But dopers are still lurking, former dopers win races. Not all is well.
Butterflies have a short life span...

There's the Garmin way and the Sky way. One of redemption, one of punishment. Both right, both wrong. I don't believe in hiring back people who have admitted doping but I can see why Vaughters is doing it, it would be hypocritical not to as he doped himself.
Sky is being ridiculed on twitter about the manner in which it's dealing with the clean up. What are they to do? If they kept them they'd be damned, if they sack them they're too harsh. Ok, some of the staff should not have been hired in the first place, but once it's out there how can they keep them in this climate? A PR stunt? You bet! And why not. It is a business not a social security company. They have sponsors to worry about, the money to pay the clean staff, to stay in the sport. I say good on them taking a stance against any form of doping, past or present. Other teams have plenty of dodgy riders, some totally unrepentant, the worst kind. I'd rather support a team with good ethics than one based on riders who made their name while doping.

McQuaid is not the cause of all this but he is at the pinnacle of the organisation which has allowed this to happen, whether some believe he has done well for the sport or not, he has to take responsibility for an organisation ripe with corruption and incompetence. The Armstrong affair should have been investigated, rumours should have been investigated, Wada should have been helped more, riders should have felt more protected by the UCI.

We're at the crossroads of change. Instead of criticising the various teams and how they deal with it, let's embrace the fact that something is happening. Don't like Sky? Fair enough, plenty other teams out there to support. Let's not turn cycling into football, where opponents are booed and jeered, where swearing and anger are the norm.

We're cyclists.

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