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Bad Flashbacks

If you didn't know otherwise, you might wonder from reading today's CN notes why cycling is so obsessed with the past. The stories include Bob Stapleton investigating pre-2007 doping practices at T-Mob, Dr. Santuccione's history of facilitating doping prior to 2004, and Germany's reexamination of the 2000 World Championships. Meanwhile, Patrik Sinkewitz is regularly spilling the beans about his own history with EPO dating back to 2000. All that seems missing these days is a re-evaluation of Lance Armstrong's 1999 Tour blood values.

Here's the thing: before Operacion Puerto, a lot of guys used PEDs! Those Mapei teams? Johan Museeuw? Mr. 60 Percent? Dopers. At some point (about two years ago) it became obvious that the years 1992-2004 or so were pretty much drenched in EPO. So why do we keep going back to examine individual performances from that era? I guess the larger question is, what are we supposed to do about the past?

Other than the old saw about learning history so you don't repeat it, I don't see the point of continually going backward to catch the cheats. There's little left to learn about the substances, the practices, the distribution networks, etc. that we don't already know. Prosecutors may need all the details they can get for future reference, but I don't. Worse, as we've discussed from time to time, the goal of anointing a "true winner" is illusory... eliminate one cheater and you're probably just rewarding another guy who was juiced. The only sure thing is that you can't be sure, about anyone. So why bother?

At best, looking back at the 2000 Worlds seems like tilting at windmills. My darker suspicion, however, is that untangling the past is a way of not dealing with the more difficult but critical matter of the present. Or maybe just guilt: the German Federation is growing more and more obsessed with past events, perhaps as a way of covering for their own complicity during the Ullrich era. As Rudolf Scharping, the BDR's president, lets slip amidst a promise to uncover every detail from a seven-year-old race, "[w]hen there were rumours at the time, then those responsible should really have looked into it in 2000 or 2001." On that, at least, we can agree. But they didn't, and neither did their counterparts in Belgium, Italy, Spain, the US, and pretty much every other country besides maybe France. Everyone was willing to let the EPO Show go on, and there's nothing much we can do now but focus on making life (and Cycling) better in 2007.