Sponsors Rehiring Repentant Dopers ?

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I have trying to avoid the doping deal as much as I can.  It is like beating a dead horse, which, sounds really creepy. ( I wonder who came up with that saying.)  Anyway, it is so old.

But, the Pro Tour team, Trek, hiring Ryder Hesjedal, is something different.  I wrote a post, probably more, about Ryder and my general feeling about him.  I’ve had numerous personal encounters with him in races, where, admittedly, he was doping.   I hated it then and maybe even more now.

But, this isn’t about that.  It is about a road team that is financed mainly by Trek rehiring a rider that doped when they previously employed him.  You see, Ryder started his meteoric rise to his stardom in cycling when he was sponsored, pretty much exclusively, by Gary Fisher, a brand of Trek.

I know this happens all the time over in Europe, with other Pro tour teams, but this is different. Ryder started his career here, in the US, beating up on a bunch of MTB riders.

He,  Roland Green, and a few of their friends from up North, started the destruction of sponsorship for American riders for international mountain bike racing.   And years after this, way after Ryder confessed his sins, and had been, according to Ryder himself, been racing clean, Trek decides that he is a perfect fit for their professional road program.

This just rubs me the wrong way.  But, I’m just me.  I wonder why all these cycling specific media people never ask Trek, the pro tour Trek team, or Ryder himself, what was going through their minds when they came up with this great idea?  I guess they assume that no one really cares.

I could come up with a bunch of old MTB racers that care.  It would be easy.  I personally can come up with many friends that were greatly financially affected, to the negative, by Ryder doping his way to the Pro tour level of road cycling.

You probably don’t remember, but Ryder was in contention to win the Olympic games in 2004, but he flatted out.  I wonder if anyone would care more if he had won the Olympic games, during, according to Ryder, “the dark past of the sport”.  Here is a link to his confession at Cyclingnews.  He does apologize to his sponsors.  Maybe Trek thought this was directed exclusively to them?

I know, some will say, let bygones be bygones.  Ryder paid penalty for “dabbling” in doping, during his MTB time.  But, no, that isn’t true. Other than having to “confess”, nothing happened to Ryder.  He still has all his results, his money, his World Championship jerseys.

I’m wondering if Trek has a little exhibit up in Waterloo WIsconsin with some of Ryder’s old Gary Fisher bikes that he used to, so fairly, win the World Championships?  Maybe an exhibit showing the relationship they’ve had with him for so long, spanning close to 15 years.  It is such a nice story.

This guy, Dave Walker, beat both Ryder and I at the Iceman cometh. That should be really embarrassing for Ryder, since this was during his "dark past". I wrote a post about it.

This guy, Dave Walker, beat both Ryder and I at the Iceman cometh. That should be really embarrassing for Ryder, since this was during his “dark past”. I wrote a post about it.

62 thoughts on “Sponsors Rehiring Repentant Dopers ?

  1. Wildcat

    Well, the deal is that you used the wrong expression. See, the topic of doping is not over and done with. For instance, IF absolutely no doping existed then yes – you writing a blog post about it would be like beating a dead horse.

    The urban dictionary put it best with this analogy:

    Broken Car = dead horse
    Trying to start it = beating it

    However, doping in cycling is still rampant. So, writing a blog post on the subject is not like beating a dead horse. It is actually quite relevant.

    What is like beating a dead horse are the guys on here that continually try and get you to discuss BMC/Och when it’s clear that you’re not going to discuss it no matter what. I wish they would just stop asking. It’s like they’re beating a dead horse! 🙂

    So, even though – like I’ve mentioned before, your posts on doping are not my favorite ones you do – I hope this comment helps you better understand the expression.

  2. Sean YD

    The grammar police (and Trudi) have weighed in:

    – Please use “me” when using the phrase “(person’s name) and me” rather than typing, “This guy, Dave Walker, beat both Ryder and I at the Iceman Cometh.”

    And yes, the jeans-and-sneakers photo is awesome.

  3. Larry T.

    C’mon, this is TREK you’re writing about. I’m still waiting for their public apology to Greg LeMond for what they did to him in the BigTex vs LeMond years. Not holding my breath, just waiting.

  4. James

    I disagree with you about “rampant.” I think the professionalism and caliber of the athletes is extraordinarily high. It is hard to fathom what many of the top dudes do but I do not think but a very small % are doing it illegally. Just my $0.02. I would never want to be a pro-cyclist! lol

  5. James

    Lol I agree with you. Who cares and why would Trek? This a capitalist company interested in MONEY. Nuthin’ else. Most of us don’t usually see anything wrong with that… except when it comes to cycling!
    Just get out and vote I guess.

  6. Kathy

    Trek, in my opinion, does not care about doping or sponsoring dopers.
    They still have a Trek dealership in France run by the USPS drug runner, “Motoman” . I agree, they need to be asked more questions.

  7. Bri

    How about sponsors who are repentant dopers? Hincapie was one of the “repentant” dopers that confessed after facing perjury in the Federal Court system. Tons of young talent race for him. BMC had no problems with him to my knowledge but they also must have known about his past fake endeavors (i.e. win an Alpine stage at the TdF). How do you feel in his current situation of sponsoring the next generation? It would be niave to believe he didn’t get most of his money from years of being LA’s right hand man.

  8. GJD

    I remember that kid showing up to a race wearing jorts and just riding away from everyone. Crushed the field. Maybe Devils Den early 2000’s?

  9. bob

    Oh, hey, look at that poser wearing a masters MTB WC jersey in a non-masters race.

    Sorry for beating a dead horse about rule breaking, but you went first.

  10. Spice

    What do you think of HIlton Clarke’s contract not being renewed by United Healthcare? There’s proof out there he bought EPO from Joe Papp.

  11. Roberto

    Steve, just how long and to what extent, should we freeze former dopers out. To punish someone with a death sentence, for something that was so prevalent, seems a bit extreme. And to be fair, you have to do it to everyone. I haven’t seen that happening. So far, it’s been awfully selective. To permanently destroy someone’s life in this sport, the rule has to be in place, with no other options given. And not only was that not the case in the past, but nobody seems willing to put that rule in place. Until someone puts that rule in place, guys like Ryder, should be allowed to make a living. All moral outrage aside, it really is that simple.

  12. Mark

    Steve already told the story. A guy wearing jeans named Dave Walker beat him and Ryder in a MTB race called The Iceman Cometh.

  13. Jim B.

    This is just another reason for me to continue NOT buying any Trek products.

    And, yes, we are all interested in the story of the jeans guy!

  14. channel_zero

    If this is true, Bouchard-Hall should get right on that. Tough guy with the tough talk, now has an opportunity to be tough about doping.

  15. Mike the Bike

    On a related note I see Valverde has been awarded his country’s gold medal for sporting achievement – just four years after returning from a 2 year drugs ban. Yep little downside to doping.

  16. Steve Tilford Post author

    bob – i “went first”? I would have just disregarded this, but you got personal, once again, and called me a “poser”.

    First, I was current (5x) World Master’s MTB Champion at the time. 2nd, Iceman wasn’t a USAC sanctioned rac (Do you think jeans are USAC legal?). And 3rd…..as you say., “sorry”, but fuck off.

  17. Bolas Azules

    Trek is no clean organization when it comes to doping over the past 30+ years. Be it in the early days of the US attempting to compete internationally or assisting in the financing of the long running Lance doping program by turning their backs to the fact that team bikes were being sold in Europe for cash to fund the almost seven figure Discovery Channel / US Postal / Radio Shack doping program, Trek has had their finger prints all over the problem for years. FOR decades.

    WSJ – “The Case of the Missing Bikes” – http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703964104575334812419976690

    “Robert Burns, Trek’s general counsel, said in an interview that the company was aware that bikes meant for U.S. Postal riders were being sold, but said it didn’t know what the money was used for. “Occasionally, you’d see a bike on the Internet somewhere where it would surprise us,” he said. “We didn’t want to see that stuff getting sold on the market. It should be going to a better use than that.” He declined to comment about whether Trek had been contacted by investigators.”

    And why single-out Ryder? I personally can come up with many friends that were “greatly financially affected, to the negative,” by some of the early US trade teams doping their way into the pro peloton…and Trek was there too!

  18. Steve Tilford Post author

    Roberto – “Death sentence”? It is sport. He just shouldn’t get to play anymore. My question to you is do you think that Ryder would have won the Giro without doping in MTB racing? It’s that simple. He did it to beat a bunch of clean riders and put them on the unemployment line. He didn’t do it go just even the playing field. Then he switched over to the road and rode for Postal Service, which was sponsored by Trek.

    Then, according to him, sometime during this he saw the light and decided to not dope and race clean. He miraculously won the Giro clean.

    It is more than moral outrage we should all be feeling. He never served a timeout. He never was disqualified from a race he cheated in. The beat just keeps going on.

    Sponsors especially, industry sponsors, can’t be accepting of this. By rehiring Ryder, they are in fact, condoning his behavior throughout his career.

    This is a unique situation, where one company paid a rider when he doped, then rehires him a decade later to represent them once again. It is shameful.

  19. Steve Tilford Post author

    Bolas – I single out rider because this is an unique situation where Trek benefited from his results when he was doping off-road, then over a decade later, rehires him to represent them again on the Pro tour level. I can’t think of another example of this. They, are condoning his history with them by paying his salary now. Like I wrote above, shameful.

  20. bob

    Yes, you went first. You even said it yourself. “I have trying to avoid the doping deal as much as I can. It is like beating a dead horse.”

    To break it down for you, your article today was by your own admission, “beating a dead horse” on UCI rulebreakers (dopers).

    I find it ironic that this very same article contains a picture of you, breaking the UCI rules by wearing a masters MTB jersey in a pro (non-masters) category. As you know, but refuse to acknowledge, this is against the rules, against the UCI’s copyright, and a big middle finger to Roel Paulissen.

    You keep making the same dopey excuses that these events aren’t USAC sanctioned, when you know that you are still breaking UCI rules. That jersey is their property, not yours…you only had the right to wear it in competition per their rules. Which you don’t give a crap about.

    Which makes you a UCI WC stripes ‘doper.’ At least Hesjedal admitted his rulebreaking and repented. You have not. REPENT SINNER! CUT OFF YONDER SLEEVES!

    P.S. Jeans certainly are USAC legal, you dummy. It’s Rule 1J. Lots of specificity regarding helmets and jerseys. Nothing about shorts. Nothing about lycra. In fact, Rule 1J5(b) states “No additional equipment, whether worn over or under a rider’s uniform, which has the effect of reducing wind resistance is permitted, except in the case of inclement weather, additional covering designed solely to protect against precipitation or cold may be worn.” I don’t know about you Steve, but I’m pretty sure bluejeans don’t reduce wind resistance. And I’m pretty sure they protect against the cold.

    Of course, you wouldn’t know that blue jeans are USAC legal because you refuse to look at Rule 1J, because it also contains 1J5(i): (i) “No rider shall wear a World Championship jersey or colors (blue-red-black-yellow-green stripes in any order) in a
    race unless entitled to do so under international rules. ”

    Please don’t use profanity, Steve. It is the tool of the desperate.

  21. The Real Klein

    I don’t know, it’s hard to get too worked up over a race that appears to have 7 participants and the guy spanking the “pack” is in full street clothes.

    I like racing as much as the next guy (gal), but this appears to be on the level of “a few guys and their bikes decided to ride around in the snow until someone was declared the “winner”.

    Jeans?? I mean…JEANS for Christ Sake!

  22. The Real Klein

    Also, Unless your name rhymes with Vance Darmstrong, there is no penalty for a career of doping. Most of these dopers are either still racing and are still firmly ensconced in the record books for their career “victories”, are running pro teams (cough**VAUGHTERS**cough), or have retired to nice cushy lifestyles.

    Ryder should never be allowed to throw a leg over a bike at a pro race again, period. But when your entire sport is rife with dopers, enablers and past dopers running things at the highest levels, then you get what you get.


    What of Specialized’s continued association with Vino and Astana. That is a dirty and dark team that needs to be buying their own equipment off a Kazakh Craigslist add.

    Another Ryder moment etched in my memory: The Vuelta crash and the gyroscopic rear wheel on his Cervelo.

  24. mike crum

    steve, why do u signal out ryder? cause you raced against him? what about merckx kelly zulle etc.. list is 100000000 riders strong, those caught on drugs..all those dopers took money out of the mouths of the guys they were beating…

  25. Jake

    Bob-Why don’t you just quit coming to this site.

    Does anyone care what this asshole has to say?

  26. Levi


    Tilford spewing on about how he hates doping/dopers while a week or two ago he was all smiles posing with Eddy fucking B. How about TJ in the tour this year. Riding in the top 3 and looking great and strong. Then suddenly the day after the rest day he can’t even pedal his bike and drops out. Am I the only one that suspects a bad blood transfusion on the rest day? But no mention of that here. If it’s any other team I think we would have seen a post about that here…..

    The entire sport is a huge, disgraceful joke. Read this article and get an idea of what it’s really like. http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/philippe-gaumont-the-life-and-times-of-an-enfant-terrible/ It’ll never change, it’s woven into the fabric and history of the sport. The reason I’m so pissed is because I never thought it was this bad until the mid 2000s. I feel like I got duped into believing all the lies for all those years. I could be wrong, but I feel like the entire sport, every pro racer is filthy. If the dope works so good, then how on earth could anyone even be in the peleton without it?

    Bob, as far as the world champion stripes go. Who cares? Breaking the rules only gets our back up when it equates to cheating. If Old Tilly wants to wear his world champ jersies, let it go. It’s a mountain bike race and he’s a master’s age dude. That’s good enough for me. Pick your battles. This one is pointless. It’s like screaming at drivers on the highway going over the speed limit. No one cares man….

  27. paul

    dude in jeans winning makes me wonder who is considered to be the best “off the couch” pro of all times?

    too bad about ryder, saw him smoke the field up close in Arizona in 2003 at McDowell and then thought it was great to see him in the pro road ranks, had no idea mtbing was so doped up back then as that was the first year i started riding

  28. Levi

    “Ryder should never be allowed to throw a leg over a bike at a pro race again, period. But when your entire sport is rife with dopers, enablers and past dopers running things at the highest levels, then you get what you get.”

    That is one of the best points I’ve ever heard made. If you take all the present and past dopers out of the sport by suspension or firing squad, then there simply is no sport left.

  29. Mike Rodose

    I didn’t notice Hilton not riding for UHC.

    We, the public, and registered UCI and USAC racers need to see the Joe Papp list!

    This is a significant thing. Over 180 athletes, including a huge amount of cyclists are on this list. UCI, USAC, USADA, WADA not exposing the list, as it would ruin their paying members’ false hopes. Pros, Masters and more on the list.

    Joe Papp. Are you out there? How much were you paid to shut the fuck up?

  30. Chris Froome

    Hey Cycling Fans and Mr. Tilford, Chris Froome, Tour de France False Patron here, only it’s not Chris Froome at all- my real name is actually Kevin Spenser, I’m 44 years old and I’m from New Bedford, Ohio. I’ve been compelled to post this apology to Mr. Froome, and also to his Team on the Tilford Blog (and my Facebook page too) by way of a cease and desist letter from general counsel of her Majesty of the Queen and her Searjeant of the Solicitor General of England representing Sir David Brailsford, Sky Cycling and British Cycling. I hereby retract all my previous posts about Chris Froome’s jealous rages at Richie Porte over bunk dibs on Team Sky’s Kustom RV; I retract all my vicious insinuations that Froome’s micro dosing performance enhancing drugs is nothing compared to his anally retentive training methodologies. I am specifically compelled to repeal my allegations that Team Sky in any way masterminded a new strategy to admit to using doping as a way to be ANTI DOPING because, “it makes no sense,” and “(my) writing isn’t good enough to be considered satire.” So, to wrap up my final post as Chris Froome on this blog, I officially retract my all my previous posts and ask that they be digitally destroyed, or at least make the font very small. As a final condition to avoid litigation I’m to let you know that I’m only Cat. 4.

  31. channel_zero


    Clean guys and girls who chose to race clean will be left.

    Festina was supposed to be “the end.” Every other year since then it’s been one doping story after another, each one “the end.” There’s no end when there’s a worldwide monopoly on a sport.

  32. Craig

    If it was a very small percentage then random controls would almost NEVER catch a doper. We are still seeing weekly positives which implies … not a small percentage.

  33. Michael

    Where to begin about jeans boy….

    Scary fast. Incredibly talented, even now. And grew up in the wrong state. That’s Dave Walker.

    I was working for a bike shop just before I had my own and met him. We were out riding and met him on a trail. we rolled along for a bit and then he noticed a deer in some deep woods-NO TRAILS!!! And just took off and was keeping up with the deer. With no trails. Huge, 3ft tall felled trees. The kid was 15 and faster than anyone else.

    He would race the Mickey’s MTN Bike Challenge in Ohio, where some pros showed up to, Gunnar, Susan and others. And he was beating them as a junior by 5 to 15 minutes!!! As a junior. Wearing jeans or jean shorts!

    He would train with a backpack filled with 40 pounds of weights. He was a 140 pounds at most. And he would fly over trees without touching them. Super skilled. But grew up in Ohio. If he had grown up in Colorado, who knows what could have happened for him.

    I sponsored him-his first sponsor, gave him a bike, two complete component kits, wheels, clothes, shoes, custom moded fork and let him loose.
    He won everything. We need up parting ways cause i found out another person gave him a bike and he was using it, not mine. HIs dad was a stage dad and thought he should should have everything. And he deserved a lot. But you can’t mess with sponsors. You know?

    We are still friends. Sponsored him again with another bike. many years later. I still have the dead fork uppers and rear shock parts he killed. Funny thing was he tried to kill stuff. Never did on my builds. That’s what he loved about them. First one was a Kestrel CSX. He tried to kill it and couldn’t. Tried hard too. Won a State Expert title on it. Twice. Won a State Expert title on a Moots YBB Air too.

    Still lives and rides in NE Ohio. Still a very skilled, very talented rider. Still a good guy.

    And yeah, he kicked ass in jeans!

  34. JR


    You don’t think Trek cares about making quality products that cyclists want to use? About making cutting edge designs? etc, etc

    I think you’re quite short-sighted with your comments about money.

  35. bob

    I have a bad habit where I cannot let hypocrites go unchallenged.

    Steve doesn’t like doping, we get it. Steve feels that if it weren’t for dopers, he’d rise to the top, we get it.

    Fine. But you don’t get to rail on dopers and remain silent and complicit about Och and BMC. Och was instrumental in Armstrong’s and Landis’ successes.

    Steve needs to shut up about doping until he’s honest and fair about his blindspots.

  36. bob

    I’m sure you feel the same way about industry sponsors supporting Jim Ochowicz, don’t you Steve.

  37. bob

    Levi – I agree that it’s not a big deal in the scheme of things. But it irks me that Steve runs his mouth about the dopers he doesn’t like, but he’ll never say word one against BMC, run by Ochewicz, who was involved with Steve’s favorite doper LA.

    So no. Until Steve starts criticizing everyone, I’m not giving him a break.

  38. gregg

    So “bob”, guess you should come clean about your blind spots and other shortcomings so some random internet stranger can police you? Good luck!

  39. Steve Tilford Post author

    bob – “not giving him a break”. I just went back and searched all your comments here, which are 43, and there isn’t one comment that isn’t critical and most are off topic. So, if you disagree with nearly everything I write I can’t understand why you even read the posts?

    Plus, you only get one anonymous user name. Considering you demeanor, it is chickenshit, but understandable, why you sign in as bob. But using other user names to back up your own comments is devious and just plain wrong, so quit doing it.

    I don’t mind people disagreeing with my views and thoughts. That is the cool thing about human interaction. But you’re not really interacting, you’re stuck on some theme, which I don’t understand. Maybe try to stay a little more on topic in the future.

  40. james

    Bob, I know some anger management counselors if you’d like a recommendation. Just let me know what part of the country you’re in. Peace.

  41. bob

    Steve – I certainly don’t disagree with everything you write, I just don’t post specifically to agree. I would just use the thumbs up for that.

    I honestly don’t recall ever signing in with different names to back up my own comments, but I’m sure you have the IP info so you’d know. It’s certainly not something I make a point to do.

    And I do have to give you credit for being thick-skinned. But I think there is a difference between that and being open to criticism, which you aren’t. You refuse to comment on BMC or the hypocrisy with the stripes. And that’s fine.

    I’ve made my points, and that will have to be enough. I won’t be beating the dead horse anymore.

  42. Roberto

    Steve, I do think he should have served a timeout. But I don’t get to make that decision. I also think, that he should lose his results, from when he admitted to cheating. But once again, I don’t get to make that decision. As for your assumption on the Giro, i’m not sure I agree. There is no proof he cheated during the Giro, so the only argument would be, did his previous doping give him an advantage. I do have a different opinion on that. I have said many times, I doped while in Europe. And I have absolutely no residual effect from it. So I have to disagree with the so-called experts, that say it helps you for life. Now I had almost 10 years off the bike, from when I doped, until I started riding again. Maybe if you continue to train, it does benefit you. I’m not positive, but I tend to doubt that the benefits last very long. No matter what anyone else thinks. One thing I am certain of. If the sanctioning bodies, don’t choose to give him a timeout, and if they don’t choose to take away his results, there is nothing I can personally do about it. If the sanctioning bodies say he’s free to race, then any sponsor can sign him. And it’s not fair to hold the sponsor responsible. Sponsors care about results, and that is their bottom line. If the rules were changed tomorrow, and all former dopers were banned for life. I would be fine with that. I would gladly give up my license. But until all people are punished equally, I will continue to say Lance got a raw deal, and Ryder and Levi and many others, are ok to go about their lives as they see fit. If it’s not fair for everyone, moral outrage serves no purpose.

  43. Roberto

    Bob, wearing the stripes in a non sanctioned race, is not a rules violation. It would be like wearing the stripes in a Gran Fondo. It’s perfectly legal. UCI has no say, in non sanctioned races and rides. I wear Italian Champion stripes, and if I ride a Gran Fondo, they’re on my sleeves and collar. I earned them, so I wear them. Steve earned his, many times over. So he can wear them proudly, if he wants. And all your arguments about BMC and Och., I personally can’t agree with. Steve isn’t doing anything to condone their history. I personally think he’s keeping his mouth shut, out of respect for Trudi. And if you told me you would do anything differently, being in the same situation, i’d call you a damn liar.

  44. amos

    I agree! The Papp list needs to come to light! Too many people getting away with doping! I suspect a few masters in SoCal that got off scott free, but everyone knows who they are. Some were tested at home from USADA in the off season. But for some reason the “The List” was swept under the rug! Why???

    Steve, it would be awesome if you could do a story or get Papp to release “The List”!


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