Riders Coming to Personal Terms with Doping

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I have written a bunch about guys doping in our sport.  It just irks me.  The sport is so beautiful and fulfilling already, I’m not sure why everyone decided that you had to win, thus dope, to have a successful career.  To me, as I’ve written a bunch, it is just like cheating your friends out of life experiences and money.   But, maybe, nowadays, theses guys aren’t all friends and they just want to beat each other, I don’t know.

Thomas Dekker sort of wrote an autobiography, My Fight,  where he confesses to some of his doping situations. I haven’t read it, I don’t think it is in English,  but at Cyclingnews, they quoted some of his writing.  He talks about the 2007 Tour de France, where he was riding for Rabobank.   He said that doping was a “way of life” on that team.  He goes into detail about his, and other riders preparation for the race.  Remember, this is the year that his Rabobank team mate, ex-MTB’r, Michael Rasmussen, was most likely going to win the race, but they kicked him out just before the end.  Michael wrote his own book,Yellow Fever, that narc’d on Ryder Hesjedal.  

Anyway, they asked a bunch of riders that were on Thomas’ team about his claims and they all say that he is full of shit.  I find that strange.  Michael Boogert has a few quotes.  He pretty much denies and affirms Dekker’s accounts at the same time.

Again, remember, Michael Boogert has already admitted to serious doping during his career. Even so, he says – “I totally cannot agree with what I’ve read so far.”  He goes on to say it is comes as an “unpleasant surprise”.  No shit.  Who wants someone else writing about stuff that is going to make you look like an ass to most everyone you know.

The author of Thomas autobiography said this today about Boogerd’s claims. – “My publisher didn’t want me to contact the people, but since I’m a journalist I felt obliged to contact them. I spoke with everybody, especially Boogerd. He knew every detail that would appear [in the book] so the fact that he now says he was not contacted is just bullshit. He is living a lie, and he knows it. That is the whole problem with Boogerd and his generation. Lying about these things over and over again is so blatantly stupid.”  Here is a link to his article.  

I know most of the guys that have been “caught” here in the US, doping.  At least most of the professionals.  And really, I like most of them.  Not all, but most.  I doubt too many of them would call me a friend now.  Maybe a few, but not most.  That doesn’t bother me too much. Even Lance sent me a message when I was in the hospital last month.  That was unexpected.

The weirdest part of the coming out process, at least my opinion, is that these guys are always trying to convince me how good they were before they started doping.  It is sort of like David Millar saying that he didn’t need to take EPO to win the World TT Championships in Hamilton because he was naturally good enough to do it anyway.  That is ludicrous.  How would he know?

I talk to these guys and they always tell me that my time frame is off and that they started cheating way after I’m saying they started.  But they don’t realize that I saw their performance first hand.  I’d seen the pre-doping ability and then, almost instantly, the doping ability.  And it isn’t close to the same.  Anyone that has been racing bikes seriously, could easily tell the difference.

Even George Hincapie’s book,The Loyal Lieutenant, which I haven’t read, supposedly doesn’t have much regret written.  Here is a review.  I don’t understand how a guy that raced doped his whole career, doesn’t feel a little remorseful that is the path that he felt he had to take. The guy is a millionaire, still running successful businesses, that only succeed because of his cycling career, where he cheated most of it, and he writes a book that pats himself on the back.  To me that seems kind of crazy.

It is strange that I have to think that Thomas Dekker  is being more “honest” here, exposing his experience, than Michael Boogert, and others, who try to smear his memories.  I’m not sure either is 100% correct, but addressing the epidemic has to been part of the way to fix the problem.

I guess that each rider has their own demons, or not, about what they did.  Most try to justify it in some regard, just because it was so rampant.   Maybe that is what I’d do if I was in their situation, I don’t know.  I do know when your most your peers think what you did was ill moral, then you shouldn’t be writing a book justifying it.  Or criticizing other people’s books that you are mentioned in.  Just go on, be the normal nice guy, that most of them are, and time will cure the issues.  That is my advice.






23 thoughts on “Riders Coming to Personal Terms with Doping

  1. RGTR

    Steve’s back! Doper posts are my least favorite but have to say I don’t mind seeing them now 😛

  2. Timmy

    Seems that Boogerd didn’t appreciate the fact that Dekker revealed they ordered some hookers to their hotel room during the Tour. That was at a time that Boogerd was still married to a former Ms Holland.

  3. Steve Tilford Post author

    Byron – Have I said that Lance hasn’t been treated fairly? I don’t remember saying that. I think he has been treated as the sport as accepted the fact that it has been plagued by doping. It happens that he profited the most from it. But that isn’t the reason he’s been treated as he has. It could have been much different at a different time. Or if Lance was a different person. Neither apply.

  4. John Rezell

    I’ve covered countless athletes over the years including all the American cycling dopers in the class of the ’90s and what all successful athletes have in common is the ability create their own reality in their minds. As Chris Carmichael told me years ago about Lance Armstrong (which you can read in my book), you don’t become that successful unless there is something in your makeup that would keep people away from you in the average population. These are not average Joes who think like you and I do. They can act and say however they want in public, but just as they refused to show weakness on the field of competition, each morning when they look in the mirror they face their truth.

  5. The Cyclist

    A little quote from the Hincapie website. Enjoy!

    “Domestique, a common term in cycling, is a rider who attends to every need of his team and his captain. George Hincapie is known as one of the greatest domestiques of all time, assisting in 9 Tour de France wins along with countless other victories during his career. “

  6. Eric Miller

    I have to say when I was racing I never doped. Now my kidneys no longer work due to a genetic disorder and “dope” just to stay alive. EPO, Testosterone, Deca, you name it I’m on it. My hemoglobin drops to below 7 when I forget to take them. I still don’t have the energy to ride anymore. All the doping in the world can’t fix that. I would kill to be able to ride again but just live day to day. Someday soon I will move on to the next phase of non existence, perhaps I’ll be able to ride again there.

  7. Bolas Azules

    Spot on. I too got tried of hearing the same old B.S. Of some slightly better than average junior or good young senior all of a sudden leap to the front of the sport and hear the tried old, “….it was the 17th stage of my third TdF when I first crossed the line and doped just a little bit…” From Levi to Horner and dozens of Americans in between the story they tell themselves is so tired. Let’s be crystal clear here, a) these are flawed characters, b) these are druggie / junkie / abusers that happen to have a sport to blame it on and c) it has been seeping into sport over generations to the point where it is now the norm more than the exception.

    Get well Tilly, we need you more now than ever.

  8. RGT

    Just another way of making some cash. It’s hard to name a former doped rider who hasn’t profited post-career in one way or another: books, grand fondos, TV commentators, or positions within the sport.

  9. Byron Haugh

    A quote:

    “I told him outright that I thought that all the guys that “confessed” were not treated right. That they deserved to be suspended forever. But they weren’t. And he was. Seem fair? No, it doesn’t, to me either.”

  10. Steve Tilford Post author

    Bryon – Admittedly, I’m a little fuzzy on memory recently. But, in that quote you sent, I said that the other guys weren’t treated fairly. That they deserved to be suspended forever, just like Lance. Now that Lance can compete is some other sports, I might say that he wasn’t suspended appropriately, but back when I wrote the “quote”, and now too, I think when you are suspended in sports for taking the drugs these guys were taking, most of the careers, they don’t get to compete anymore in anything. They abused their chance and now have to just watch, if they want.

  11. Byron Haugh

    No. you said all who were caught doping should be banned forever. Others were caught and not suspended forever, but he was. He thought that he was, therefore, treated unfairly and you agreed.

  12. Steve Tilford Post author

    Byron – I have to believe that you are quoting me, because I still think that. And, even if I might be a little more on the fence now, I think that when Lance “got caught” doping, he should have been penalized per the rules. There wasn’t a rule that stated a lifetime ban for your first offense.

    All the guys that admitted doping and narc’d on him served a 6 month suspension, over the winter, and he got a lifetime ban. We all know the reason for the difference, but I can’t agree that you should serve a penalty that is so much more severe because you are a dick to others.

    I’ll make an analogy. Speeding on the highway. I usually drive a straight 9 mph faster than the posted speed limit. I do that because in Kansas it isn’t a moving violation for 10 or less on a interstate. I’ve never gotten a ticket for driving 9 over. I don’t even look for police, so it is relatively easy driving. I wouldn’t really think it is fair if everyone is driving 9 over and don’t get stopped and then I get pulled over and they ticket me something like $500 and suspend my license forever. That isn’t the law, thus, the rule for speeding in Kansas.

    If Lance applies the same analogy to his suspension, it doesn’t take too much intelligence to understand his point of view. It’s really the only real complaint he might have to how he has been treated, even though if you talked to him, he’d come up with a ton more.

    But like I stated originally, I think the rules are wrong and doping violations should be lifetime bans from the sport.

  13. Matt Smith

    As I was reading this post, and I agree with you all the way, my mind was mostly saying “Steve is feeling better”. And I’m so glad for that! Please take care of yourself and write your own book. I may be wrong but I don’t think anybody, anywhere, has ever been at the pointy end longer than you. The world needs your stories. What say ye?

  14. euro

    You are spot on about Hincapie. I live in his city (Greenville SC) and he is still worshipped by the local wannabe pro’s. Pathetic fools…His millions were “earned” while he was doped up his entire career, and the only reason he admitted to being a cheat was because the FEDs were after him and had him in a corner. Slimeballs like him deserve to be fined millions and deserve to work in a burger joint or something the rest of their lives. That is about all he would have accomplished in his life if not for his cheating ways.

  15. Byron Haugh

    I originally asked if you still think he was treated unfairly as you stated in a post after you spoke to him on the phone.
    I, personally, think he deserved everything he has gotten.


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