The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

The juice is worth the squeeze. That is a line I heard on NPR last week in a story about bike thieves in San Francisco. The story was about how common it was to have a bike stolen, even though you can buy a bike on the street for between 10 and 20 dollars. The guy talking, who I think was a cop, said they set up a sting operation and busted a complete ring of bicycle thieves, but not one served a day of jail time.

By juice, he meant the reward. And by squeeze he meant the penalty, or potential penalty.

That is exactly the situation with using drugs in the sport of cycling or maybe using drugs in most sports, I don’t know.

What is the worse penalty presently that can be levied upon a rider. Life suspension. So the worst penalty if you get caught, if you happen to get caught, is that you don’t get the privilege to race bicycles anymore. Actually, you have to be usually caught twice for that to occur. Usually, the worst case scenario when you get caught the first time is a maximum of a two year time out.

And the rewards are pretty great, compared to working a 9 to 5 normal everyday job. Even for the lowly rider. But if you excel, like you should, if you’re abusing drugs while racing, then the rewards are life changing. Cycling is baseball or basketball, but a good rider who has raced professionally from his early 20’s to mid 30’s should be able to accumulate enough money to retire on. Some times much more. Look at Lance for example. He’s made 10’s of millions, if not more. And other than the 2.95 million Euros prize money he’s supposed to pay back, I’m pretty sure he gets to keep the rest. Not bad considering.

This obviously is known to just about everyone in the game. It is just one of the reasons that the doping escalated so rapidly to begin with. When the sanctions are virtually non existent, it encourages young riders to take the step. Currently, the juice is much, much better than the squeeze, The sport needs to invert that if they ever think they are going to get a handle on the situation. If not, we’re going to keep getting our bikes stolen on the streets and keep seeing $20 bike racing on TV.

11 thoughts on “The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

  1. Tony


    Most of what you write is good. However, I would love for you to show me how a prof. racer has enough to retire n at 35. No way. I manage money for a living and this is not prudent in any way. Granted there are a lot of variables but come on. Unless you live out of a box, I don’t see it.

  2. Jack Watts

    It depends on how much your making, obviously, but safe to say that Leipheimer, Hincapie, David Millar and Zabriskie and Vande Velde have all earned/will have earned much more by the time they retire from cycling than the average person will earn during their lifetimes. So, Steve’s comment really doesn’t seem off-base to me.

  3. Zach

    Doesnt mean you have to retire. Vaughters no longer rides but makes money from the sport, Johan, etc…all have parlayed it into lifelong money. Adverts, clothing companies, tv, writing, etc…
    It doesnt mean they will be responsible with their assets (unlikely to change based on pay anyway), but they certainly dont have to work a reg job.

    Steve, you need to read this Hamilton book, if youre racing, pull out now and dive in. It is that big, huge, monumental. Not to mention fascinating, and well written. Then, it needs to be shouted from the rooftops and everyone needs to see it to the end. Just because you dont like the message or the messenger make it any less true or important.

  4. Jpete

    zach, you are right. shows the man behind the curtain, so to speak. if you haven’t, read From Lance to Landis too. It is all beginning to ring more and more true.

  5. Brent Cohrs


    Spot on!

    I cross-referenced your post in response to a commenter on my Easy As Riding A Bike blog on Chicago Now. (

    IMHO, it’s not just the testing and results management process that is flawed, it’s the whole revenue sharing of the sport that is out of whack.

    Maybe in the early 1900’s a “winner take all” cash prize was the kind of incentive required to get racers to show up and compete, but we’re far from that point now.

    There is no other professional sport (besides NASCAR/Indy) where the venue gets all the revenue and the participating teams – the professional athletes that spectators pay to see – rely on sponsors to fund their operations.

    Imagine if Wrigley Field got all the TV revenue, concession sales, and merchandising royalties and paid a prize to the winner of each of the 90+ games played there. If the Cubs didn’t own their stadium, they wouldn’t have a penny in prize money to field a team!

    The NASCAR model doesn’t apply to bike racing because the advertising benefit to the sponsor is minimal. TV and merchandising revenue needs to be shared. Teams need to be franchised. UCI needs to be more like MLB, NBA, or NFL.

    Winner take all is the incentive to cheat.

    Slap on the wrist sanctions and forfeitures make the reward far greater than the risk. A zero tolerance policy – test positive and you’re immediately tossed out – for both the rider and the franchise holder would raise the stakes for getting caught cheating.

    A more certain revenue model would level the playing field and ensure that only ethical teams would remain in competition and no team could outspend / outmaneuver another off the course.

    Just my two cents…

  6. Just Crusty


    There’s only one problem with your logic. Lance didn’t do drugs once or twice & make 10 million. He did the PEDs for 20 years, built up a ring of co-conspirators, leveraged his image via LiveStrong and sponsors. Although he managed to win 7 tours by staying 1-2 years ahead of everyone else’s doping program, his competitors were narrowing the gap. So far, he’s won the game and kept the money. But the people he bilked out of money are coming after him.
    IMHO he’s always been a scam artist and he’s going down like another Bernie Madoff.

  7. Zach

    I would agree it seems that something bigger is building here, possibly just an intolerance of the average fan and other cyclists to the prevalence and bs associated with doping.
    I think im more disturbed by the relative absolute silence associated with this whole thing. Just reeks of Omerta.
    Also, Talansky’s rant in Velonews just made him sound like a naive arrogant prick, or worse, complicit in the coverup or a doper himself. We dont owe any riders any explanation for suspicion, they should be happy there are still fans left.

  8. Jimmy James

    I’m not convinced prize money is the only motivator. We don’t get much money in the amateur ranks but somehow a few people are still doping. I’d say it’s ego first.

  9. Greg

    Speaking of stolen bikes. I was a Ricks Bike shop in Lawrence back in 86 or 87 when a couple of guys brought your bikes in to sell to Rick.
    I think that you had called Rick to keep an eye out for your bike. These guys had turned the handle bars upside down. It looked kind of obvious that they had stollen these bike.
    We all knew that they were your bikes. Rick called the cops and we just sat back and waited for the cops to show up. While Tom Howe took the guys in the back to talk about money to disctract them.
    I think that they were asking about 100 dollars for each bike. That would have been a great deal.

    P.S I think that the governing body should try to get the money back from Lance or send him to jail. Hit him where it hurts.


Comments are closed.