I’ve been writing a fair amount on this blog about drug usage recently. I’d really like to be writing about life and observations that I’ve experienced through the sport of cycling. But, there again seems to be a rash of positives happening. Internationally and domestically. It is getting more and more prevalent. It hits closer to home when some of “my friends” are the ones being caught. I believe we’re getting close to a tipping point in the sport. Either self implode or flourish.
This next year is going to be hard on the sport for sure. I’m not looking forward to it. This federal investigation is going to be ugly for us. If they are wiring Floyd to gather information, it is going to be pretty crazy. Maybe this is what the sport really needs. I just don’t know anymore.
I got an email from Ned and started thinking about my “career” all the way back to the beginning. This sport has been polluted with drugs for a much longer time than I’ve been racing. But, it has been getting progressively worse as the drugs get progressively better. I am not naive. I don’t think I worried much about the drug usage earlier because the drugs weren’t nearly as effective and it wasn’t on my radar. I enjoyed racing my bicycle and that was enough. It still is. But watching the sport, since it has been covered on television in the USA, is watching fantasy bicycle racing.
Gazzetta reported that all the investigations into the sport has forced some riders to change mobile telephone numbers and change the location of their training camps.
Monte Teide on Tenerife was the place of choice for early season training, but now it is out because it is strictly controlled. It’s reported that Namibia and South Africa, which were used in the early nineties, is back in stile because of no controls. I had often wondered why anyone would want to fly a gazillion hours to South Africa to “train” over the winter. I’ve been racing for over 35 years and have never had an offer to go to that country.
Now there are domestic PRO’s and other riders getting caught. Let me tell you, it is pretty hard to get caught. I’d guess probably less than a 1% chance if you’re smart. So you really need to screw up to do so. I admit, it is getting harder, but it’s still easy.
I heard that Howard Jacobs, the “athletes lawyer”, can get anyone caught up in the Joe Papp affair off for 15-20K. Something to do with a domestic violence issue. That is bullshit. It is obvious that everyone that bought EPO and other drugs from him bought EPO and other drugs from him. I’m thinking that we’re not going to be seeing many more names appear anytime soon. That is just wrong. Hopefully I’m incorrect on this.
I was in Steamboat for a few days. Two stages of the new Tour of Colorado are going through there. It got me thinking about the Coor’s Classic and how the mountain stages destroyed the fields. You’d think that adding drugs to the sport would make it that much more exciting. But in cycling, it makes it so much less exciting.
I’ve often said, if you went back to the Tour de France in 1986, when Andy was 4th behind Lemond and Hinault, if you took the top 9 guys in GC and said they had to tempo the whole 3 weeks, they couldn’t have done it. It was physically impossible for a rider to be at the front for that long. Now, forget the superstar riders, the domestics sit at the front day after day and pull the whole race. That is so unnatural.
I want to watch bike racing where the sport is human. Not a sport where there is an all out field sprint to the base of the climbs and then they stand up and climb out of their saddles for the next 15 minutes. I want to see the pain. The drugs make the sport seem too easy. They even the playing field, which seems counter intuitive. It makes the sport just plain dull.
I don’t know how to “fix” the problem. There are always going to be people that cheat the system. I think there really needs to be a whole house cleaning of all the people in charge of the sport. It amazes me how quickly the riders that serve their 2 years get rehired. It is because everyone involved knows what was going on in the first place and it is just unlucky that any specific rider got caught.
I used to think that the sponsors would control some of this. I think that is the case somewhat. The big money is much harder to attain. But it amazes me how much money and equipment that the US bike companies send over to the European road teams. A decade ago, that wouldn’t have happened. But, it is business and it must be working.
Lifetime bans would be a start. Right from square one. Civil litigation by the governing bodies to recover all monies earned throughout the careers of the riders caught would also help. You have to make the penalties so severe that it isn’t worth it.
Okay. I’m going to go and take the drug of the day for me, Bactrim (an antibiotic), go out for a ride, and try to forget about all this stupidness. It is supposed to be close to 50 again today in Topeka. Not bad, when tomorrow is the first day of winter.