Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dopers among us

Dope anyone ?
It has been over two years since the age of enlightenment that started with the publication of Tyler Hamilton’s book “The Secret Race” and reached a crescendo with the “Reasoned Decision.”  In the time since we have all accepted a truth we hoped against all logic wasn’t true.  The facts, circumstances, emotions and explanations remain complex and contradictory. 

It is clear that Lance Armstrong was guilty. It is also clear he was unfairly singled out. We must acknowledge that if they had a jersey for being the biggest narcissist he might have seven of those as well.  Why they stripped him of his titles while Riis and Ulrich kept theirs can’t be logically explained.  
In the so-called Golden Era of cycling the riders took amphetamines like they were breath mints.  They rode fast because they were on "speed" for crying out loud.
Kind of gives new meaning to the term "Hand Ups"
We now have a glimpse of what it was like back then and that pretty much everyone was indeed doing it, but I am so sick of hearing that explanation both from my lips and from everyone else’s that I could scream.  That argument doesn’t justify anyone individually, but it needs to be the context in which the individuals and their actions are viewed.  All of the riders who doped have their own stories, but in the end they did it and they also knew the rules.  It took a long time, but they were caught. 
I recently read an interview with one of the confessed dopers and he related that it seemed like the line between right and wrong kept moving (in one direction).  We all see the sign that says the speed limit is sixty miles an hour but when we find that everyone else is going seventy we join them without a second thought.  We see the doping as black and white but if we get a ticket for going sixty two miles an hour in a sixty mile per hour zone we would be outraged.  If sixty is the speed limit then sixty-two is breaking the law right?  Don’t give me that shades of grey bullshit.
Three. Three vials I would like. Yes?
 As recently as a couple dozen years ago every father spanked his son and that was as common as eating cornflakes for breakfast. Now the star running back for the Minnesota Vikings isn’t allowed to play because he spanked his son. What was perfectly acceptable for hundreds of years is suddenly horrible now. Looking at any behavior from a different time through the glasses of today typically yields very different perceptions than when viewed in real time. We always think we are smarter and more enlightened than we used to be.  We aren’t.

On the other hand I recently finished a workout and took off my Hincapie socks and realized I had only negative feelings toward Hincapie. I tossed the socks in the trash can and I have a hard time explaining why. I feel like George was the ultimate chameleon as he was all in with Lance then turned around and held himself out to be as pure as the virgin snow even wearing a white kit and riding for a team called “High Road.” Then when it suited his needs George dropped his friends and confessed all.  If George has principles he appears happy to change them anytime it suits the situation.  I just don’t want his name on my body. I once looked up to George. Not now.
Levi did it, Danielson, Zabriskie and VDV all confessed to one degree or another.  They all seem to be decent guys who did something really wrong when viewed in the harsh light of 2014.   Aggressive reporters, repentant doctors and guilty consciences have added dozens of European pros to the ranks of known dopers.  Let me know if you can find someone who stood on a grand tour podium between Lemond and Sastra that was clean.

Levi has a Fondo that predates his confession that does a lot of good in the community. DZ has both a commercial company and charity that he is connected with.  Hincapie is also appearing to give to the community while trying to make money from it. Lance is just trying to find a game of pickup basketball that will let him in and USADA won’t be happy until he is under house arrest and washing Tygert’s car on weekends.
Even the "good guys" look like murders with ice water in their veins.
How do you look at these guys and ignore the elephant in the room.  We can be accepting and have great conversations about everything but doping.  We can be swayed by these guys and their charm; but they still did it.
More than anything else I want to pretend it didn’t happen and just move the heck along.  Let’s just forget about it okay ?

No. Not okay.

Just moving on clearly hasn’t worked in cycling.  After the Festina affair all that happened was that doping changed from a HMO to a PPO format.
Just wait, I'll get a bunch more KOM Jerseys.  
Hey look ! Is that Morgan Fairchild over there?
I resent Travis Tygart and his relentless attacking.  I resent that Levi doped.  I resent that Lance broke my mother’s heart.  I resent it all and it made my beautiful sport very ugly. I would be so easy if we just forgave and forgot.  I’m okay to pretend it never happened. The problem is that we have done that and it didn’t work at all. It is what has happened time and again and the dopers kept at it.

This uneasy, unpleasant awkwardness is exactly where we need to be right now.  We need to look at the riders who did it and acknowledge them as human beings who made mistakes in a much different time.  We can’t forget that they broke the rules but we must also realize they have been punished for that.

I guess the lesson is we can’t just forgive and forget or it will never stop.  It does take time but we can forgive. We just can never afford to forget. 

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