Thursday, October 3, 2013

Grey Rules

Somehow we need to come to terms with the sport of cycling's past. While I'm the first to agree that a black-and-white view to doping in sport is the only way to move forward, we can't deal with the history of the sport with the same severity.

What started (at least in our sport) with athletes looking for ways to make intolerable suffering more tolerable, went unchecked at the crucial early stage, and became unmanageable at a point where the sport was already big money with too much at stake.

Now we have medals, jerseys, races that nobody won. We have some of the most defining moments in the history of our sport captured on video that contributed to no result. We have the best years of the lives of so many riders, team crew, soigneurs, mechanics dedicated to pursuits now made redundant and even embarrassing. Why? Because the sport was allowed to play by rules that embodied a dark secret that eventually had to come out.

From an article called Lance Armstrong's Endgame by author/editor Bill Strickland on

"His ultimate legacy most likely is out of our hands. Fans who may not yet be alive will decide who he was. To us, today, Eddy Merckx is the greatest cyclist who ever lived, not a fraud who tested positive for a stimulant while leading the 1969 Giro d'Italia and had his 1973 Giro di Lombardia win stripped for the same. Joop Zoetemelk is the hardman who started and finished 16 Tours—a record—and won one. He's not a reprobate who was caught doping at the 1979 Tour, received a paltry penalty of a 10-minute time addition, and maintained his second-place podium spot. Jacques Anquetil is the five-time Tour winner who in 1961 took the yellow jersey on Stage 1 and wore it all the way to Paris, not a boastful cheater who said, during a French television interview, "Leave me in peace—everybody takes dope." And Fausto Coppi is il campionissimo, the champion of champions, not an admitted doper who said on Italian television that he only took drugs when necessary—"which is nearly always."."

This is not Hollywood.

.... and I'm still a cycling fan.


  1. Harsh stuff here.

  2. Thanks Jim - that's a nice piece. No surprises. I mean that's the reality: the only ones from that era that you can really believe were clean were the ones who were frothing at the mouth in frustration and anger, and giving up - because you either joined them or were beaten.

    1. Maybe it's getting better. Have a read of the archives on this site. Ex Cat 5 rider venting.