No cheating, please!

by Raymond Parker on July 2, 2012

in Cycling, Politics, Racing

Sometimes it seems as though the cloud of deceit hangs over everything, not the least in politics and sport.

Canada Day celebrations yesterday were often overshadowed by the still unsolved mystery of “Pierre Poutine” and the Robocall scandal. Was the sitting government legitimately elected, or did they misdirect voters to capture closely-contested ridings?

As the highest profile cycling event in the world begins, its most famous recent competitor—7-time winner, now retired, Lance Armstrong—faces charges of doping and the real possibility, should he be found guilty, of losing his Tour de France titles.

Indeed, Armstrong and the whole medical/coaching staff behind his unprecedented winning streak are implicated in a sophisticated doping conspiracy. Armstrong has strongly denied the charges brought by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

If Armstrong did cheat, he would, of course, not be the first internationally renowned cycling champion to have done so (From the earliest days, when the Tour de France was launched in response to the financially successful Paris-Brest-Paris, the temptation to skew results has intruded). Most notably Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his Tour title in 2006 for doping, and Tyler Hamilton, who last year admitted doping on the United States Postal Service team, accuse their one-time team-mate of not only using performance-enhancing drugs, but encouraging others on the team to cheat as well.

At this moment, I’m watching Stage 2 of this Grande Tour. The Prologue and Stage 1 have seen superb racing. On top of that, our hometown hero, Ryder Hesjedal is doing well, in tenth place so far, after an amazing win at the Giro d’Italia.

It would be wonderful to imagine that the oversight of anti-doping agencies and the threat of sanctions is cleaning up the great sport of cycle racing (as fervently as one would hope that the rule of law might apply to corrupt politicians!).

We are inspired by the triumphs and the sacrifices of our sporting heroes. Above all, we expect them (perhaps unfairly) to embody without fail the virtues of fair play and honesty.

In a world of ruthless competition, marked by scams and avarice, we look to sport for performance and reward based on talent and excellence. Cheating is nothing to be proud of.

Conor Ahern July 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Ullrich, Basso, Hamilton and a few more have all been caught for doping and they couldn’t do a thing to beat Armstrong, so it is not beyond the bounds of probability that Armstrong was up to something too.

In my old rowing club we had a double world champion and we had some eye opening discussions on the subject of doping. The best dopers are never caught because they can stay one step ahead of the system, they use drugs which are not trialed for humans, things that tests don’t look for. They are willing to take any chance, no matter what the cost to life and limb, to win. Remember EPO was rampant for many years before they could find it, but saddest of all was that the guy charged with coming up with a test for EPO was the guy giving it to cyclists.

The goal of every up and coming cyclist, these days, is to be the next Armstrong. This brings me back to an interview with Martin Earley, a former pro cyclist from Ireland who was asked if he wanted to be the next Sean Kelly. His reply was one that should be passed on to all young cyclists: No I don’t, I want to be the first Martin Earley.

As a former racing cyclist I was tempted to improve my performance by chemical means, but a very wise man talked me out of it. It was hard trying to beat guys who had help, but I did on a few occasions. I eventually realised that I too didn’t want to be the next Sean Kelly and was quiet happy being the first Conor Ahern.

In my opinion, the last “clean” Tour de France was in 1990, Greg Lemond’s third win. In early 1990 reports were coming out of young Dutch cyclists dying of heart attacks in their sleep, the most publicised of all was the death of Bert Osterbosch (an ex-pro). Nobody could figure out what was causing this, but was eventually it was figured out that their blood was so thick with red blood cells that the heart couldn’t pump it anymore.

Is it really worth doping if the end product is your ultimate untimely death? I don’t think so.

Vik July 4, 2012 at 7:35 am

I mentioned LA’s doping charge on my blog and one person commented that they were a little sad when Ryder won the Giro as it most certainly meant he was in the doping world now.

safe riding,

Vik

Raymond Parker July 5, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I admit I took “Vitamin i” at Paris-Brest-Paris.

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