I wasn’t all that pleased with my ability to write down my thoughts on talking to Lance yesterday. I have a ton of opposite and contrary views floating around in my brain and trying to be unbiased on any subject is not something that I’ve ever especially been good at.
I think my views on many subjects are strong. And as strong as my views are, I was really surprised to see how venomous some of the comments on yesterday’s post are. I guess Lance is just one of those subjects that people have a real strong opinion about.
If you’ve read some other of my posts on the doping issue, you’d realize that I don’t have much of a tolerance for the whole thing. And, of course, I’m outraged by the whole polluted mess.
I’m sick of these guys justifying why they did what they did. I can’t believe the audacity of these guys to actually believe that they were the chosen few. All these guys act like they were the best before taking drugs and that they would have been the best anyway, and that it just made for an even playing field. That is completely delusional. I’ve personally witnessed many riders going from being pack filler, at a domestic level, to bringing in 100’s of thousands of dollars in salary. Many of the current pros that doped, then miraculously quit doping all at the same time, were those very people. Young guys that didn’t pay their dues in the sport, and jumped past a ton of guys that were doing it the right way. It is screwed up on a multitude of levels.
Yeah, some of my views are because I’m pissed off personally. These guys screwed up a good part of my career in the sport. I don’t race bicycles for money. I race bicycles because of the lifestyle and life experiences the sport offers. When I can’t get those life experiences because some hack has stolen from me, for sure, I’m angry.
My views have always been that the rules are not strict enough. Lifetime bans for high potency drugs. Lifetime bans for the enablers. Repayment of salaries and prize money for all involved. Draconian punishments for the foreseeable future in the sport. If there is a way to make drug usage in sports a crime in the United States, then I think criminal punishment should be included also, but that is going to take a long while.
But, none of these punishments have been in place. When Lance first started his career, back in the early 90’s, I’m pretty sure that it was less than a month suspension for a doping positive. The Festina guys only got 6 months in 1997. It is only been since around 2000, that USADA, WADA and the rest of the drug enforcement part of sports have even existed.
Lance has got me thinking a lot about what is fair and what is cheating. Breaking the rules by doping is more than cheating, in my book.
It’s not like you know the speed on the interstate is 65 mph and if you drive faster, you know what the penalty is. I usually drive over the posted speed limit on divided highways. In Kansas, the law is that if you drive 10 or less over the posted limited, then it is classified as a non-moving violation on your license. Same as a muffler violation. I drive a lot and feel that the risk of breaking that law is worth the penalty.
But, fairness is another issue. And maybe Lance thought of doping the same way. He weighed the risks and the rewards and deemed the rewards outweighed the risks, by a large margin, so justified the actions. I can understand this. He doesn’t take into account the effect on other people’s lives at this point, he is just thinking about breaking the rules and the ramifications.
So, when Lance feels he is caught doing the exact same thing as these other guys and gets a death sentence, a lifetime ban, and USADA offers many of the guys that testified “against” him zero, yes, absolute nothing as a penalty, then I can understand why he feels the system is unjust and broken. He’s looking at it from a personal perspective, just as I’m looking at it from mine. Lance can’t really address a lot of what he’s done, because he’s in an indefensible position, so he is going to have to latch on the the unfairness of it.
And I agree, it isn’t fair. Many people are so mad at Lance for his lying, manipulation, and all the other things that make us view him as morally unacceptable, they never get past it. We think that he deserves his lifetime ban because of a long list of things he’s done that repulse us so, that we have no sympathy. But, there isn’t a rule in cycling for being an arrogant prick. Absolutely no suspension for it.
We also think that Lance deserves a lifetime ban because of what he attained through doping. He got the most and should fall the hardest. He won 7 Tours and made a gazillion dollars. But again, there isn’t a rule that says you get a harsher penalty because you are better at doping than the other guys.
And he was better at doping than the other guys. He was smarter at it, had more options at his disposal and thought it through a lot more than many others. But again, if you look at the rules, they aren’t any different for Lance than they are for an individual guy like Dewey Dickie.
Lance got the book thrown at him for many reasons. USADA says it is because he failed to come in and testify. But, in the US, when we are charged criminally, we have the right, through the 5th amendment, to not testify against ourselves. Protection against compelled self-incrimination is implicit in the Miranda rights, which protects the “right to remain silent.” I understand that doping in sports, isn’t the same as our criminal system, but I do think that we, as individuals, should have the ability to not incriminate ourselves by keeping our mouths shut.
And the statute of limitations deal is another one of Lance’s sore spots. He wonders how he “lost” all his Tour titles when the majority of them fall outside time frame of the statute of limitations of the sport. Seems like a valid point.
Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think that Lance got a harsh penalty. I think these other guys got gifts. But, I don’t like unfairness any more that the next guy. I can now look at it from Lance’s point of view and think, wow, what a fucked up system?
I, personally, want a fair system. A system that really discourages athletes from doping. An unfair system isn’t going to do that. Unfair systems encourage people to break the rules.
As you can tell, I have been yin-yanging back an forth about a multitude of things concerning his call. He has his points. And I can’t blame him for trying to do what he thinks is best for him, at this point. I don’t really have any idea what is best for Lance.
I told him that I don’t think that throwing rocks at each other will help anybody here. And that is what I thought George was doing with Frankie, throwing rocks for no reason, which I think is what precipitated the call in the first place.
Okay, that is why I got up early this morning. For me, it isn’t worth losing sleep over, and I did. After reading all the harsh comments, my views are more screwed up and it was just bugging me.