I was just on Velonews interactive and saw the results of a poll asking if Alejandro Valverde’s Italian 2 year suspension should be extended worldwide. The current vote total is 60% no, 40% yes. And my own Tom Boonen poll vote total is pretty much the same.
I see a huge difference in the infractions. Personally, I don’t think that the results of Tom Boonen’s out of competition test should have been released. He wasn’t positive according to any rules of the sport. And wasn’t positive in the out of competition test. Valverde is much different. They matched the DNA from a blood bag found in a lab in Spain during Operation Puerto to his blood taken in the Tour de France. That is enough for me. Why should Alejandro get by with a slap on the hand. My view is that 2 years is a slap on the hand.
I know in the US you are innocent until proven guilty. But matching blood isn’t rocket science. It’s simple science. And let me tell you, as an athlete, I want every single drop of my blood in my body. I can’t think of a reason that I’d have some extra laying around somewhere, other than for cheating/doping purposes. Basso served a suspension for his blood being there. Even if Valverde never got around to using it, he needs to sit out for awhile.
What kind of bothers me about all these polls is that everyone seems to think it’s okay to use drugs. At least it is reflected that way. The last couple weekend at the NRC races, Floyd has been there. He is super popular. The crowd is super supportive. I haven no personal views on Floyd Landis’s guilt. I love him. I’ve known him from way back in MTB racing. He is a super nice guy. But, he’s also the only rider in history to have a Tour title stripped. He tested positive and spent two years out. That was enough for me. But the popularity kind of baffles me. Here’s a link to a website that wrote about his opinion of Floyd. It is too generous to me, but I like getting different people’s views.
Here’s my take on drug usage. It’s immoral. If you take drugs in sport, you’re stealing results from your friends. Not to mention money. I might as well be breaking into their cars and stealing their shit. And more importantly, you’re stealing life experiences. For me, the reason that athletics is so cool, and athletes so envied, is that people sometimes do things that on the surface seem inhumanly possible. I’ve personally experienced it 1000’s of times myself. And when you take drugs to do these inhuman things, it diminishes everyone’s accomplishments. Everyone’s.
I’ve been the recipient or at least associated closely with both money and results disappearing. I was “fired” or replaced on the Specialized MTB Team the same year Filip Meirhaeghe was hired. It was obvious to me that he was taking drugs at the time. After he signed, but before he wore a Specialized jersey, he was removed from the World MTB Championships for having a hematocrit over 50 and had to sit out the race. Then he rode for Specialized the next 6 years. Finally they caught up with him at the Montreal Airport with an out of competition test. EPO. No shit. It was so obvious. To everyone.
I don’t have any problem with Filip. He’s a nice guy too. But, morally, he stole a ton of life experiences from a ton of different people. Every single World Cup, Olympics, World Championship, or any race for that matter, that he was on the top step of the podium, the guy in 2nd missed that experience. And he did it over and over. But, the baffling thing is that he is so, so popular. He was on something like the Belgium Survivor and had his own TV show. It is so weird. Something that one should be ashamed of gives him more notoriety that he had before. I don’t get it.
Cyclists earn their popularity. They earn their results. And their results are partially a result of years of training. Years of suffering. And to bypass that process through drug usage, destroys the foundation of our sport. Enough said.