Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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The VV View: Are you still a Believer?

"Cynicism has crept into my thinking about pro cycling."


I’m a Believer,’ a great song, the Monkees had the hit back in 1968.

I used to be a ‘Believer’ and can remember the sense of relief when we discovered that Lance’s Tour ‘positive’ back in 1999 was all a big mistake; those tricky corticosteroids had been in a cream he used to treat a saddle sore and he had a TUE to cover it.

What a relief.

Of course, we’d learn later that the TUE was post-dated and that he’d actually tested positive four times during that Tour.

a Believer
Emma O’Reilly was Armstrong’s soigneur for a while, and wrote in her book of the fabricated TUE.

And going further back to 1998, Festina, TVM, the Spanish teams going home and me sitting in my living room on the brink of tears as I watched Bjarne Riis and Luc Leblanc slag each other live on Eurosport as the peloton sat in the road.

What we’re they doing to MY Tour de France?

I remember agreeing with Bobby Jullich when he protested that those nasty French police were being heavy handed in their treatment of ‘suspected’ – later translated to ‘CONFIRMED’ – dopers and if it was the USA then law suits would be flying.

Damn right, Bobby.

The Bobster was of course one of the dopers.

a Believer
Julich confessed to using EPO “a couple of times” across a few seasons.

Then there was Floyd – he even wrote a book about how he’d been ‘stitched up,’ it was called ‘Positively False’ and is the only cycling book I ever bought then gave away. 

It was patently piffle.

Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero, David Miller, Danilo Di Luca, Davie Zee, Tom Danielson all followed and when Lance appeared on Oprah many a ‘Believer’ had their bubble well and truly popped.

The trickle of circumstantial evidence oozing out of the Lance myth already had the likes of me in no doubt that he had been hard ‘at it.’

But if he could nail the Sunday Times in court none of us were going to say what we really thought, in print, at least.

I provide this background to justify the fact that cynicism has crept into my thinking about pro cycling.

Here’s a question for you;

Name one instance where the rumour-mill on doping has been proved wrong and Federations and/or the Media have had to issue a grovelling apology about the claims made to the rider concerned?’

I can’t think of one either.

a Believer
Are Froome and Sky ‘playing for time’ so he can ride the Tour? Photo©Getty

The Frome situation was for me summed up most eloquently in a recent piece Philippa York penned recently for another, ‘well known website.

I had the temerity to share her words on social media and was immediately subject to a barrage of criticism from ‘Believers.’

And that’s what this piece is about, my comment on the ‘Believers’ arguments in a rational fashion rather than ‘the forum for personal insult’ which much of social media has become. 

Why shouldn’t Chris Froome be riding the Giro?

The feeling of many, Bernard Hinault (and me) included, is that he should not have been there; not with the salbutamol sword of Damocles suspended by a single thread above his head.

And if Team Sky – that epitome of a clean team – were members of the MPCC then he wouldn’t be.

Lampre ‘pulled’ Ulissi when his test results were revealed and we now have the spectre of a ‘Contador’ retrospective loss of results looming – remember what a farce that was?

And if the UCi let the result stand after the Ulissi, Petacchi and Pliuschin cases, what does that say about the credibility of cycling’s world governing body?

And another question to ponder;

‘If Froome was from Italy, Spain or an East European country, would the ‘Believers’ be so supportive?’

We all know the answer to that one, he’d be ‘another dodgy Latino/ex-commie doper.’