Ok, the Armstrong thing now seems to be ancient history, and that’s the problem. The sky has fallen, and it’s just another day. Only it isn’t another day, and pretending it’s just another day in pro bike racing is absurd and becomes part of the problem. What is the metaphor for this condition: emperor has no clothes, Wile E Coyote walking on thin air? It is pretty nuts that the gravity of legitimacy that binds the image of the sport has completely dissolved, yet almost all continue as if nothing has happened. We all know the story: most of top 3 finishers of the Tour of the last 15 years have one way or another been embroiled in doping, the dope testing system has been exposed as completely inadequate, the great hero of all time has been stripped of his titles… the unthinkable has finally happened. And the pro bike world is trying to do business as usual? As far as I know no cyclist other than Gustav Larsson has publicly stated that it was good for the sport that they got Armstrong. Even David ‘Verbal’ Millar has deferred comment. Where is Vaughter’s crew on this, isn’t this their brief: to be the new model army of the clean. There was his mea culpa in the New York Times, and the rumours that half his team gave evidence so they could hang the bastard, so to speak. Now follow it up with some cleansed-hands moral leadership. Isn't that mission? American loves a repentant sinner. Everywhere else it’s this pathetic, fearful silence. I think some of it is waiting for the other shoe to drop—part two is the witnesses, the details and what will happen to them. I think the real ‘second shoe’ is if big sponsorship money moves away. Then you are going to have an army of pissed off riders and DSs ready to spill the beans.
People look down at cycling for all this doping which I don’t think is fair because most other pro sports don’t test like they do in bike racing. Ever look at tennis players in the 1980s and now? Has a hockey player ever been tested? But the crazy part of cycling is the cavalcade of liars. Where else can you find this spectacle: the sincere looks, the sense of injustice, the anger at hearing a doping question… and then a few years later all is revealed. Watch Armstrong go at Kimmage with full righteousness from a few years ago. Man, that Phil Ligget (MBE) video. What gives—he is clearly trying to save his career and reputation. To what extent was he actually sheltered from the real cut-and-thrust action of the pro peloton in order that he could prepare all those boy’s own bedtime stories with a certain amount of natural innocence?
It seems that the proper perspective on the fall of Armstrong can only be found on blogs and some of the great posts on sites like this. VeloNews has particularly missed the plot.
Now that the aggressive few in various anti-doping agencies and laboratories have upped the ante, like it or not, we must face the strange reality of pro cycling: doping has emerged as perhaps the most compelling dimension to the sport—who will win, who's doping, who will get caught?
Ok, more of a rant than an open letter. It's a time for quality rants!
Thanks for reading.