I’ve known John for 43 years; we went to school together and although there have been spells when our lives have gone in different directions for a while, it takes us about three minutes to pick up the thread and it’s as if we’ve never been out of touch.
John has lung cancer, one tumour in his lungs and three in his brain; he starts chemo and radio therapy, this week.
When his son asked me what I thought, immediately I said; ‘look at old Lance, he was at death’s door and came back to win seven Tours.’
Then I got to thinking; if the finest legal minds that Tour Down Under and Giro d’Italia start money can buy are unsuccessful and the ‘Federal probe’ nails the Texan, what will that have achieved?
Lance’s hide will be pinned out to dry on the shed wall, Paul Kimmage will be the toast of the blogs and all those people, who, like John, need to believe in Lance will have lost their beacon.
‘So we let the drug cheats go free?’ I hear you say.
There’s a whole generation of riders whose careers are coming to an end — no need to name names; we couldn’t afford the legal bills — and who the sport will be well off rid of.
Maybe Lance’s estranged friend and employee, Mike Anderson – back in the headlines as Sports Illustrated rakes through the embers hoping to spark the flames of Lance’s down fall back to life – sums it up best, ‘a corrupt era.’
At VeloVeritas were not naive; we’ve spoken to enough pros cyclists to know what used to go down.
But times have changed and despite the rantings of Floyd and the others who say ‘it’s easy to beat the tests’ — how?
I think that only the most diehard conspiracy theorists would suggest that the systematic doping of teams still goes on.
And to purchase the substances, use them and then monitor the various metabolic levels required is no simple task for an individual; it would certainly require the regular services of a doctor.
Despite the fact that there are riders on seven figure salaries, most earn less than a tradesman would in the UK.
[pullquote]You can’t do six hours on the bike just for the money — you have to love it.[/pullquote]
Accepting then that ‘kitting up’ is an expensive business, this: means that ‘little’ riders can’t afford it — unless it’s a ‘little’ race that is.
And I agree that sometimes the first question a promoter is asked by a potential rider for their promotion is; ‘will there be a control?’
However, there’s no question that in the big races the controls are tight; but of course, there are always gamblers — ask Ladbrokes.
The point I’m making is that will it really change anything if Lance is found to have been ‘at it?’
I was there in Strasbourg when all the favourites had to scurry off back to Germany, Italy and Spain in the dead of night; leaving Floyd to ‘win.’
Martin and I were in Lourdes – of all places – when ‘The Chicken’ had to fly home — difficult for a flightless bird; and that was after Cofidis had disappeared into the back of Black Marias.
I honestly don’t know; the rumours fly and we do know that clenbuterol is clever stuff.
But the fact is that the Contador situation is happening now and is relevant to what is going on in the sport today — not a decade ago.
If Lance does get nailed, there’ll be no smugness from my end — just sadness, especially for folks like my buddy, John.
To paraphrase Paul Kimmage, ‘Lance sells luck to people‘ – but sometimes that’s no bad thing.
And then there’s Iljo.
Again we’re not naive, we have good contacts in the world of the six days and there are some pretty big rumours doing the rounds, we can assure you.
But the fact is that Iljo Keisse was authorised to ride by his Federation, full stop.
What the UCI seems to be saying is that Federation decisions are fine — as long as they agree with them.
The UCI argue that Iljo didn’t tell them he was going to court to seek a suspension of their ruling — why the hell would he?
They’ve made their position clear — Keisse has to go down.
It might interest you that at our last time of hearing, the Belgian – and Dutch courts who’s upholding of the Belgian court’s decision allowed Iljo to ride at Rotterdam – ruling had not been translated into English and Pat McQuaid had not read it.
And yet, Keisse is being branded a pariah by the UCI.
If the legal system of the European Union finds that it’s not fair or just to suspend a man because of a contaminated food supplement and that the Court of Arbitration for Sport does not have jurisdiction in matters such as these, then it’s fait accompli and the UCI will have to back down — here’s hoping.
And before you say; ‘they’ll all be trying to claim that the positive comes from a contaminated supplement’, Iljo says that he could have bought a very nice house for what his legal bill has come to so far.
And when you think about it, why should you go down for a year — or two, in the case of Tom Zirbel – if you’re blameless?
Cycling is much better with him than without him and if he has the backing of his National Federation and Government, that’s good enough for me.