cycling matters


Chronic Doping Scandal Fatigue

Will Lance's dark past catch up with him?

I have chronic-doping-scandal-fatigue.

We always knew that Lance Armstrong literally had a never-say-die attitude. Perhaps in recent days this fact has become more abundantly clear even than when he was actually on his deathbed.

He’s had a lawsuit chucked out of court within a few hours of submitting it because it was so terrible; it was for a restraining order against the US anti-doping agency. It was 80 pages long and contained “improper argument, rhetoric, [and] irrelevant material”, not my words, the judge’s.

Lance Armstrong just got benchslapped.

It also contained 3 different spellings of the name “Jeff Novitzky” and mentioned Armstrong’s swimming results when aged 12 as part of the evidence, he is allowed to re-file again though, which he’ll probably do on Wednesday.

Even his lawyer has said that he is going to lose. If that is a never say die attitude I don’t know what is.

It gives a real insight into the distraction-free bubble in which professional athletes must necessarily live in in order to thrive, Armstrong may have retired but he never left the damn thing and it’s all going wrong.

Fighting for your life is one thing; it’s unquestionably admirable and always worthwhile. Fighting for your reputation when it appears to be built on lies, well, sometimes it’s best to just lie down, roll over, die gracefully and start again.

I would still forgive him.

Cofidis rider Remy Di Gregorio of France leaves the courthouse of Marseille.

I’m not finished yet - as if by magic this morning there is another doping story, a young rider called Remi di Gregorio.

He was on Astana last year, now with Cofidis, details are fuzzy but the timing is perfect.

The Gendarmes came to arrest him on the first rest day of the tour.

These things work like clockwork. Apparently he tried to buy drugs and he was working alone. Yeah right.

We’ve also just found out that the USADA has banned Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral (cycling team doctor), Dr. Michele Ferrari (cycling team consulting doctor) and Jose “Pepe” Martí (cycling team trainer) and that it turns out that there really was a doping conspiracy at US Postal all those years ago. Who knew?

Coming up on Friday will be the announcement of sentences (or not) for the 32 riders in the Mantova investigation. One of them was my team mate last year.

Bradley has taken some heat for his tone and language.

We’ve all heard about both Wiggin’s outbursts and exploits in recent days, it’s been a significant long weekend for British Cycling. Wiggin’s comments come from within his bubble, his team was compared to USPS and suddenly the outside world interacted with him and he got all angry.

It’s fair enough, I can forgive him for that and I can forgive him for not even answering the question, he needs his bubble intact if he’s going to win this thing. Anyway, I have come to realise that I have become one of the eternally negative people to which he refers in that colourful language of his and I have been for quite some time.

I’m not bone-idle or lazy though, I’m just chronically fatigued with many years of doping stories. The thing is Wiggins is chronically-dope-scandal-fatigued too, that’s why he went nuts at the brave little reporter.

All around the country riders at tea stops are having conversations about Sky, their clean attitude, their marginal gains, Dave Brailsford, British cycling and so on. They are busy convincing themselves that they are clean, I hope they’re right.

I want to do that too but I can’t, I just find myself thinking of all the conversations in 1999 happening in the bike clubs in America, about how Armstrong could never have doped because he had cancer and besides “no one would dope after Festina last year”, compelling stuff, more compelling than marginal gains, anyway.

I know it’s wrong to make this comparison just as it was deliberate bear baiting comparing Sky to US Postal in front of Wiggins. It can’t be helped though, not for me, it's how my brain works now.

It's clear that for a certain type of rider having a very strong team is vital to winning the general classification.

I am unable to believe in miracles and although I want to, I am stuck on the fence, incapable of supporting Wiggins or any other professional cyclist for that matter, this isn’t personal.

The best I can do for them is to try hard not to incriminate them too much either, the fence is the fairest place to be. I wrote about it in 2010 when the Contador positive came out: my view hasn’t changed an awful lot since then, and nor has Contador’s, he will be racing again in less than a month.

I’m quite happy not getting emotionally sucked in to supporting riders these days, it makes you appreciate close racing on a whole different level.

So in conclusion don’t vilify me for not getting behind Brad and Britain, I’m too tired.

I just want to watch the tour as a neutral and pretend everything is OK, same for the Olympics, that way I can’t be hurt (again).



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