Forgive and Forget

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This isn’t a post on drug usage in the sport. This is me wondering why people sometimes/a lot of times forgive their heroes and at other times turn their backs on them completely. And why people give them the benefit of the doubt that they could have/would have, had similar results without the aid of drugs. And why people sometimes think that the lying is a worse “crime” than the actual drug usage.

A couple times this week, conversations about this very thing has come up. On a ride the other day, the discussion was about why Francisco Mancebo was even racing in the US domestically. Here’s a guy that has finished 8 times in the top 10 of Grand Tours and stood on the podium twice at the Tour of Spain. And now he’s cherry picking stage races and leading the NRC in the US. He retired immediately when the Operation Puerto list was released, only to return to racing in the US with Rock Racing. And we all know that story.

You’d think that no one, and not a team, in their right minds, would hire the guy, but that isn’t the case. What amazed me about the conversation was the statement that he doesn’t have to be using drugs racing over here because he is that much better than everyone already, so he doesn’t need to. I asked, “how would you have any idea how good Mancebo rides with drugs”, or without drugs, for that matter. I’m not sure there is a rider in the US that rode with Francisco before he was beating up the European Pros. It was the general consensus that he already is a great athlete and is still good without drugs. I don’t get it.

Then there is the Mantova doping investigation. A couple guys from BMC are caught up in the situation. This is from before they were riding for BMC. Anyway, Allessandro Ballan is the “big fish” named. Probably because he is a former World Road Champion. Anyway, the pharmacist that was supplying, administering the drugs stated, “Without chemicals Ballan would never have made it.” I don’t know exactly what he meant by that, but it is obvious, at least to me, that drugs make riders tons better, not just a smidgen.

So, Ballan will serve a couple year time out and return because he is young. He is a nice guy, I’ve met him. I’m sure he’ll be accepted back like Ivan Basso, David Millar and others that don’t seem to have much negative fallout from their suspensions.

Compare this to Milli Vanilli, the lip-synching musicians. When musicians are “caught cheating”, they virtually never get a get out of jail card when they try to resurface. They are shunned forever. People assume since they had to have someone else record their songs, that they never had the ability to do it in the first place. Milli Vanilli tried to record again using their own voices with no luck.

I don’t see that much difference between the cyclists and Milli Vanilli. When a guy tests positive for a drug test, I have no idea when he started using drugs to race. But to assume that he is a great athlete already is stupid and wrong. I assume he is a mediocre athlete that became a great athlete by using drugs. I understand that isn’t the norm.

Anyway, I doubt I’m ever going to think main stream. I just hate it when the main stream thought process isn’t something that I’m aware of.

15 thoughts on “Forgive and Forget

  1. rostafarian

    Anyone else think Cadel Evans win at Tour of Romandie is a little fishy? He hurts himself while on a mountain bike ride in the forrest with no one else around. Doesn’t race for a month, and one would assume hurt enough to have effected his training, then shows up at Romandie and beats everybody. I want to see the bruise.

  2. kansasboy

    Musicians are supposed to do something. Nobody cares how they get it done as long as they get “it” done.

    Athletes too. Nobody cares how they get it done as long as they are under contract or in your “stable” when the victory occurs…

    To use sex because it is the mainstream standard… Not too many people will pay someone else to do it for them. But lots of people will use prosthetics in the act of sex or let someone use them on their body.

    As long as you get off. OR the act is completed.

    Victory- is it ever hollow?

    Stevo do you really want to think like the other sheep?

  3. Jeff

    Contador has been going on about how this Giro will be his hardest tour ever. He has been saying that for weeks it seems. I’ve got to wonder if he doesn’t mean, ‘it will be hard to win since I won’t have any help, having been laying low for a while now” or even if he’s setting himself up to not win for the same reason.

  4. Larry T.

    You got your wish Steve, as UCI files suit against Landis. BUT not in the US of course! Here they might have to go under oath and perhaps perjure themselves or at least face statements they’ve made in the past. What can the Swiss courts do except maybe cut off Floyd’s Toblerone supply? The stories about Ballan are sad but how do you think Damiano Cunego feels right now? He would have likely been World Champ (assuming he’s clean of course) if what they’re saying about Ballan is true. I think the BMC folks are doing the right thing keeping those guys out of the Giro. Only wish “Mr. 60%” might have similar sporting ethics…but that’s just a dream!

  5. dirty_juheesus


    People forgive and forget athletes because humans like winners. Alot! This is a well known phenomena.

    As for your Milli Vanilli reference, the music industry has moved on. Syncing is quite common now and just part of the show. Mostly because entertainers are better seen as ‘packages’ with actual vocal skill and some lucky genetics as something that can be worked around if lacking. See Autotune.

    It can be easily argued that some doping methods have lasting effects that lead to a lifetime of performance enhancement. There is some good research in this area.

  6. chad

    Tons of musicians are using things like drum machines to record and even perform with. I personally view this as cheating but many people don’t.

  7. bob

    Steve. You are absolutely right none of us really know “how good”someone is/was without cheating.Some drugs help you in day to day recovery and training, helping you reach a higher plateau. These guys when they get caught all pretend like they just got their hand caught in the cookie jar with only one cookie. It’s disgusting to me. However since our legal system is based on people telling the truth under oath in some ways the lying IS often the worse offense. People complain about Bonds and Clemens “only” doping. But their real offense that threatens everyone outside of their sport is blatantly lying under oath and thumbing their nose at the legal system.

  8. Tommasini53

    I’ll never buy from REALCYCLIST.COM or its sister sites since they are willing to sponsor riders like Mancebo

  9. TC

    I like to think that this is why many of the guys that could potentially ‘go pro’, still race pro domestically. They do not want to get caught up in having to use drugs to succeed. Maybe that is a bit naive of me.

  10. Hudson Luce

    “Rock” Racing – the person who made up that name must have been smoking crack…

  11. Ted Lewandowski

    Steve, If you’re going to discuss the current pros using ped’s – then you should also discuss former pros from the 1980’s and 1990’s as well – this is not something that happened overnight.

    Even Pantini – who died from a cocaine overdose seems like he transitioned from one to another high?

    Let’s not forget.

  12. Triple Crankset

    Did anyone else pick up the latest issue of ROAD magazine?

    It’s a “DOPERS SPECIAL” – full-page stories on Mancebo, Baldwin, Zajicek and Escuela. Only there’s no mention of their ties to past (or present) doping cases and investigations.

    I am no longer buying ROAD.

  13. tilford97 Post author

    Ted-I don’t really have a ton of knowledge about the Pros of the 80’s and 90’s using drugs. Of course they were, but the drugs are so much better now.

    I raced a lot on the road in Europe during the 80’s, up until the mid 90’s. I could get by. It wasn’t systematic enough to make it impossible for a guy like me to compete.

    Sometime right around then it became that way. So complete that if you didn’t participate in the culture, you couldn’t participate in the sport.

    It happened in MTB racing too. Just a few years later.


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