Zajicek – Banished

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My phone was ringing off the hook after Velonews reported that Phil Zajicek had accepted a lifetime suspension for doping a few days ago.

I think Velonews did a just okay job this time reporting the story. For some reason, in the past, Velonews has tended to avoid any stories on Phil. The rumors on Zajicek’s situation with Joe Papp was rampant throughout the racing community, but for some reason, Velonews was not willing to give it any space.

The weirdest part of the story is the quote that Phil sent to Velonews to “announce his retirement”.

“Today, I have accepted a lifetime ban from the sport of cycling,” Zajicek said in an email sent to VeloNews. “I have had an enjoyable and successful career which has taken me to all corners of the of the globe and I’m grateful for everything cycling has given me. It’s time to walk away from the sport and begin the next chapter of my life with the tremendous support of my wife, family and friends behind me.”

Unless I missed something, I’m positive that the phrase, “walk away from the sport” would not be appropriate here. Booted out of the sport, forever, but not before using every avenue available to avoid the sanction would be a better description. Pretty strange. I think that if I were Velonews, I would be hesitant to print something, so ludicrous, without some other contact and a follow up.

Maybe we should throw a little retirement party for Phil? Or better yet, have a final Phil Zajicek Memorial Race, his final race, and all the guys he beat up on all these years could come back and pay tribute to his illustrious career. But, Phil would have to watch, since he already accepted his suspension. Shoot.

Well, I think the facts speak for themselves. It is a sad situation when such a nice guy, like Phil, uses the “system” to such an extent to try to avoid the penalty of his infractions. That is what is bothersome in this whole denial situation.

Presently, everyone knows the rules of the game. Doping is frowned upon now. Pretty much across the board. And the sanctions are known too. So, if you’re taking the moral issues out of the equation, then it is a risk/reward deal. The riders readily except the rewards, but don’t ever want to except the sanctions.

I wonder where this whole thing started. It seems pretty strange to me how many guys that used to ride for the Navigators have turned up positive over the years. It was pretty apparent during the time the team was together, but it is amazing how long it has been going on, but on the the other hand it is amazing how many are getting caught. And this isn’t mainly through testing, mind you. Like David Millar said in his video posted earlier, there is not a risk of getting caught. Obviously, he was wrong in that assumption.

So, ex-Navigator riders, Kirk Obee, Nathan O’Neill, Adam Sbeih, Vassili Davidenko, and Phil Zajicek have all been “caught”. I might of missed a couple. Marty Nothstein was named in the Obee case, but no one seemed to be too interested in that since he is retired. That is a lot of guys from one program to be caught, since it is so hard to be caught. Makes me wonder what the other guys from the Navigator program were/are doing? Sorry, but that is how it works. You associate with a majority of guys that take drugs to race, you throw your name in the hat to be included with them.

I don’t know when it will all end. It was so apparent over the years when the “racing” was going on. The difference here was that most of this occurred during domestic racing. It never ceases to amaze me how much tolerance this sport has to absorb all this stupidness. It will probably surprise me when it fails to happen too.

Those were the days back on the Navigator Team.

20 thoughts on “Zajicek – Banished

  1. moralcompass

    PZ’s statement was awful. I guess he did not think he did anything wrong. I guess he was just playing by the same rules as everyone else.

    Being a nice guy has nothing to do with cheating. There are plenty of nice guys on the circuit who are cheating. I guess we just take more pleasure in the douchebags getting caught. We all want to punch them in the face but have to wait for USADA to finally do it. We are not sad when they get caught. But we are sad when the nice guys get caught.

    It takes a great force of personality and courage not to dope when all around you others are.

    Kippling was on to something…..
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

  2. Jeff

    Will there be a big “retirement party?” That’s an “enjoyable and successful” career? I’m telling you. These guys are laughing at the non-doping riders. It shouldn’t take 3 strikes and 2 years of appeals to get kicked out of the sport. It’s all on the governing bodies. Part of getting a license should be an airtight agreement to abide by any and all decisions to suspend or ban a rider at the governing bodies discretion.

  3. Neil Kopitsky

    moral, I think another Kipling quote might provide an answer to Steve’s question about fighting the charges: “He who rides the tiger finds it difficult to dismount.”

  4. dirty_juheesus!

    Phil’s statement is equivalent to “You can’t fire me because I quit!!!!”

    Meanwhile, back at USAC Steve Johnson just started his workday with another farmville marathon. Those governance changes won’t get forced through any other way!

  5. tilford97 Post author

    Tom-Has Chris Baldwin ever served a suspension for doping? I don’t remember it and don’t have the time to look it up. I added Adam though. Thanks.

  6. tom

    Yes, along with Chris Fisher. Tour of Guatamala ’99 i think it was. 1 year for nandrolone.

  7. DavidR

    It is somewhat strange to me that it would be necessary to read a blog like Steve’s in order to obtain a perspective that one should realistically expect to get from journalistic sources. Especially on a topic which has dominated the sport since 1998 (the Festina affair). And certainly perspective is everything, but seriously – where has VeloNews been all this time? They would seem to be in a position to discover and reveal relevant findings regarding doping in the domestic peleton, but they never seem to be out front. What exactly in their editorial and reporting policies is preventing them from fully reporting on the issue of domestic doping? From their content, it seems that they are very satisfied with waiting for pronouncements from USAC, USADA et al. Where’s the investigative journalism from VeloNews? I realize that they’re not 60 Minutes, but Steve’s right – these guys keep missing the boat and you’ve go to wonder why.

  8. CB

    Velosnooze = no perspective, just old facts about 48 hours after something/anything occurs. What ever happened to O’Grady’s rants?

  9. Chris

    It’s because all the “journalists” at Velonews are friends with these guys in the Boulder Bubble. They don’t have the journalistic integrity to sever these friendships to publish the real story. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you…

  10. Mark Studnicki

    The deterrent just isn’t there for US pro’s. For the most part, guys get busted and just leave the sport for a while or for good, and move on to other things without much more than a bad reputation. Phil’s trouble is he lied at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) panel hearing. Just like Barry Bonds: He isn’t going to jail because he doped, he’s going to jail for lying under oath. Doping in Sport just isn’t really illegal here in the States. Ironically, Italy seems to have more doped riders than any other nation, yet they pioneered sporting fraud statutes, which gets the Government involved. That’s a bit more serious than having Steve Johnson rip your license up and give you a 2-year ban. Until “Sporting Fraud” is made a criminal offense here in the US…………

  11. WTF

    O’Neill does not seem to be suffering from his doping suspension. He’s involved with the realcyclist team and was invited by Towle to be an announcer during the women’s race at Tulsa.

    And Davidenko is a director with Team Type 1.

  12. Hudson Luce

    Suspension and banning should be from all activity connected with racing – no team involvement, no announcing or working at races, no nothing. Suspension should be such a shameful thing that the suspended or banned rider shouldn’t want to be recognized at a race, much less take any direct or even indirect role.

  13. Hudson Luce

    Cycling needs something like this:

    The Honor Code of, by, and for the Corps of Cadets.

    The code states that a cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do. The code is the heart of the honor system, and its purpose is to maintain honor and integrity within the Corps. (Citadel Cadet Honor Manual)

  14. Daniel Burkert

    I’m sure the deal with VN is largely financial. They seem like a pretty small concern. One decent lawsuit defense expense would probably bankrupt them. Fluff is better than nothing.

  15. RW

    You have to go where the money is, VN will not report it because the racers are sponsored by whomever, the same sponsors who provide print advertising inside VN print and VN online versions…. VN does not want to bite the hands that feeeds them…. Also, the Boulder Bubble network fo friends comes into play as well.


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