Ryder Hesjedal
You can’t handle the truth!

We’re talking Michael Rasmussen and Ryder Hesjedal. In the film, ‘A Few Good Men’ Tom Cruise’s military lawyer character is cross examining Jack Nicholson as a high ranking officer; ‘I want the truth!’ says Cruise. Jack’s reply has now entered movie folklore and cliché; ‘You can’t handle the truth!

He got that one right, I can’t handle the truth – whilst I’m well aware that most of the peloton was kitted up for two decades and that it’s indefensible, I can’t see how yet another biopsy is going to change anything.

Charging, kitting up, hitting yourself – that’s how it was and it can’t be changed; I find the never ending picking of long dried out scabs pointless and a distraction from the real problems the sport faces.

The latest revelations courtesy of Michael Rasmussen made me sigh and shake my head.

It’s the same old, same old; I’m no MTB aficionado but it’s logical to assume that if the road men were kitted to the max then so were the off road men.

It would be easy to write Rasmussen off as another ‘evil doper’ but when you meet him and interview him he’s polite, articulate and looks you in the eye.

He is however a man whose main motivation is money; Danish friends of mine told me that whilst he was obviously talented and dedicated, it was his love of Danish Krone which was the driving force, not his love of the sport.

The bike was always a vehicle to make money, the glory was secondary.

Ryder Hesjedal
Rasmussen is aiming to take the Christina Watches team to higher levels, but he’ll need sponsors to be able to do that.

As a man who’s involved with running a team – Christina Watches – one would imagine that the last thing he’d want to do would be to make want potential sponsors run more than a mile from Cycling.

But the big legal battle over his ‘withdrawal’ from the Tour de France didn’t go his way so he has to come up with another money making idea.

The big name he pulls out of the hat is Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal – incidentally, a nicer, more grounded man you’d be hard pushed to meet – who quickly issued a statement to say that he ‘did it’ back in his MTB days but stopped before he became a road rider and it was more than eight years ago so the statute of limitations has elapsed.

Yes, convenient, I know.

But what else can he say; what else would I say; what else would you say?

If he did kit up as a road pro – and I’m not suggesting that he did – would a mea culpa make a blind bit of difference to things?

The answer is an emphatic ‘no’ – it would titillate the Media and forum dwellers for five minutes and then be forgotten as the hunt for fresh blood continues.

Ryder Hesjedal
Ryder sprints for 3rd place at last year’s Liege, taking 9th.

Landis and Hamilton bared their souls but their circumstances were different; they were busted and broke and had reached rock bottom – Hesjedal is in nothing like that situation.

Canada isn’t Spain or Italy where a shrug and a roll of the eyes is the usual reaction to the ‘next doping scandal.’

And neither is even more conservative Denmark – Bjarne Riis is an easy man to target, not given to sound bites or one liners, harboring a deep distrust of the Media and with unarguable ‘previous.’

If you’re thinking that I’m suggesting ‘brushing it all under the carpet’ then to an extent, you’re right.

But bringing him down for being part of a system where just about every DS and manager was ‘at it’ would surely mean the end of Saxo Bank and cast another two dozen professionals – not to mention all the staff – on the dole.

That would be a real result.

If you’re thinking that I’m suggesting ‘brushing it all under the carpet’ then to an extent, you’re right.

But there comes a point where you have to look forward and not back.

Whilst the situation in Northern Ireland isn’t perfect, it’s light years better than it was back in the days of ‘The Troubles’ I remember so vividly from my youth.

Dark deeds had to be left in the shadows to benefit the greater good.

And that’s what I’m saying with cycling – draw that line in the sand and grant an amnesty from a given date and move on.

By all means punish the Riccos and Di Lucas with the biggest sticks available but don’t dwell on what happened two decades ago.

The boil had been lanced, the puss scraped painfully out, leave what little infection is left to heal of it’s own accord.

Ryder Hesjedal
Francois Parisien feels that his career has been compromised by other riders’ cheating. Photo©fqsc.net

It’s not an easy thing to do; I realise that and when you hear Canadian pro Francois Parisien’s impassioned comments about being denied his dream of competing in the Olympic Games by athletes who perhaps weren’t running on energy drinks and who have since made ‘qualified confessions’ then you have to sympathise.

But again, it’s in the past and we can’t change it.

I can’t help but feel that the UCI’s current rush to cooperate with the WADA and dig even more dirt on McQuaid and Verbruggen is misguided; so too is the obsession with Mondialisation and Womens’ teams.

When men like Baden Cooke and Kenny Van Hummel can’t get a ride and there are something like 135 riders from the Pro Continental and World Tour ranks still without contracts then just about all else is irrelevant.

Nailing Pat, imposing a minimum wage upon already shaky sponsors for ladies’ teams and taking the Worlds away from the European Heartland for purely financial reasons will not get Cooke and Van Hummel a contract.

Or perhaps I’ve got it wrong; maybe we should turn over every rock, nail every doper’s pelt to the barn door (except the one who cut ‘sweetheart’ deals of course) and follow every lead to the bitter end.

But let’s not be surprised if there’s not a sponsor in sight after we have.