Inga with 7-Eleven   (Photo by Gary Harty)

Don’t Make Me More Cross

Don’t Make Me More Cross

by / / 38 posts

Brett’s recent post about Jensie brings up the dilemma of professional cycling for me. I admire many of cycling’s famous riders yet I don’t admire cheaters. Luckily for me I can fervently embrace opposable ideas within my consciousness and sleep well at night. Which also means I would have been one of those cheaters. I also see the tangled, messy, complicated history of professional cycling and embrace it but not too tightly. 

Edwig Van Hooydonk and Inga Thompson were two hugely talented racers who retired in their prime rather than dope. I wish I had the moral fortitude of either of them. Inga was the best American female road cyclist in her time and until recently, an important part of her story went untold.

Warning: If you are American this is guaranteed to piss you off. The upper level of the United States Cycling Federation was as compromised and immoral as the UCI of Hein Verbruggen’s day. The point of this rambling rant is to introduce people to this interview, so ignore the rest of this post, if you must and read it. 

When the experienced adults and coaches in the room are pushing youth toward doping, what chance does a young ambitious racer have? Inga rode for 7-Eleven seemingly as a one woman team. I remember watching the women’s races before the 7-Eleven dominated men’s races and there she was, beautiful, powerful, a long braid safely pinned to her jersey. Inga slayed all. She did have this to say about her experience with the men’s squad.

“My friend [name withdrawn], who was on those 7-Eleven men’s teams when I was on their women’s program -he has tons of doping stories from that time. I’m still surprised that no one has written a book specifically about the doping on that team – way before the whole U.S. Postal mess.”  

Yes please, I would read the hell out of that book. 

Let us not forget, every war that has ever been waged has been fought on the backs of eighteen year old young men. They will do anything. Doing up some crank to make sure your team wins that day’s criterium, that is not a problem. 

I have to always remind myself, the real cycling is each of us, riding for our own reasons: joy rides, deposits at the pain bank, Cogals, Keepers Tours or the occasional amateur race. I never had to make that ethical doping decision, thankfully.

Recent musing from the V-bunker were about a little espresso as good quality legal doping. In 2014 the pros are still enjoying a little legal pot belge of crushed up pain killers and caffeine to get them to the finish. This is legal?

It is a common practice to use a mix of water, caffeine and pain killers. This can make you quite crazy, which is why I have never used it. I don’t want to, and it seems quite dangerous. -Mini Phinney.

Do I want to draw a line between these two stories? There are a few actually, the obvious one is between Davis Phinney, a long standing member of the 7-Eleven cycling team and his son Taylor Phinney, now racing for BMC. I’m fans of both of them and maybe I do need drugs to sleep well. Taylor is outspoken on his ambition to make cycling a cleaner sport. The second is Jim Ochowicz, the original 7-Eleven team manager and presently manager at BMC. Who is mixing up those bidons of caffeine and pain killers, Jim? 

A forthright book about 7-Eleven’s powerhouse days would shed some light on a lot of things. Bob Roll, get busy.

 

 

 

// Awesome American Women // Rantings from the V-Bunker

  1. Well put. I for example really (really) enjoy watching videos of the fellas in the late 90s/early 2000s fly up hills, even though I know in hindsight that they were as juiced as they come. Doesn’t mean I necessarily approve of doping. In fact, I tend to think that people caught cheating ought to be given a shot at reformation, then if they cheat again toss them out. Re: dirty managers remaining in the sport, it seems like the same principle should apply. Get popped for providing dopage to your riders? You don’t get to come back and manage another team.

    Did I miss the point at which Mini Phinney got upgraded from Minnie Phinney? Was that when he won the TT and subsequently got some cool scars? Has the hippie cut his hair yet?




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  2. From the interview…

    I didn’t need or want the recognition from the press or the public, now that I think about it. I had done it. I rode them off my wheel.

    When next I go into a dark place… I think I will remember this.




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  3. @DeKerr

    From the interview…

    I didn’t need or want the recognition from the press or the public, now that I think about it. I had done it. I rode them off my wheel.

    When next I go into a dark place… I think I will remember this.

    I’m thrilled to know that people like Jeannie Longo have been cheaters for decades and Inga was still able to put the hurt on them when they were in their prime. With the right coaching and team she arguably would have been the women’s version of Greg LeMond.




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  4. @Owen

    Well put. I for example really (really) enjoy watching videos of the fellas in the late 90s/early 2000s fly up hills, even though I know in hindsight that they were as juiced as they come. Doesn’t mean I necessarily approve of doping. In fact, I tend to think that people caught cheating ought to be given a shot at reformation, then if they cheat again toss them out. Re: dirty managers remaining in the sport, it seems like the same principle should apply. Get popped for providing dopage to your riders? You don’t get to come back and manage another team.

    +1

    Did I miss the point at which Mini Phinney got upgraded from Minnie Phinney? Was that when he won the TT and subsequently got some cool scars? Has the hippie cut his hair yet?




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  5. How about we stop the public writing in the pain of forced confessions and tell all expose’s?

    The damage is done and yet we keep flogging the past violators in our sport. And in so doing we continue to hold the sport hostage.

    No one can return those who were violated to their times of youth. Their victory is in their integrity. That needs to be enough. Sport is not the only venue where the ethical are disadvantaged. Those of us who survive the indignities of perceived failure at the hands of cheaters have our stories, but also our true dignities intact. That should be enough. It must be enough. The continued wailing of the cheated invites the questions of whether their ethical behavior, and persistence to principle, was enough. For me, and hopefully for the rest, the answer is that knowing we did things the right way is my solace. That must be enough. I never expected an arbiter of right and wrong to tilt the scales of justice toward me because of ‘fairness’. Those of us who did the right things did them because they were the right things, not because we ever thought we could whine in a tell all or seek retribution down the road.

    We we almost marginalize the integrity of those who do things properly with these please for sympathy.

    If you did things the right way, that needs to be enough. If you want more, perhaps you need to ask yourself why.

    To have lived your value system in ite of the consequences is the litmus test of character. Rest comfortably with that knowledge and move on….




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  6. @Dino If you haven’t read Inga’s full interview linked in this article, it’s worth doing. It was not a forced confession and not quite a tell-all. Discretion was taken where needed, as noted by the editor. What I took from it was a real description of a win-at-all-cost culture that permeates much more than competitive cycling.

    She does not seem bitter, but does not pull any punches either. You said rightly, “To have lived your value system in spite of the consequences is the litmus test of character. Rest comfortably with that knowledge and move on…” She did, and moved on for nearly 2 decades. That changed when her son was old enough to potentially compete. She could not and would not subject him to a system which has continued unabated since here involvement.

    This is the kind of story that needs to be told.




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  7. Well that’s depressing.

    Props to Inga for her integrity.




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  8. @Dino

    How about we stop the public writing in the pain of forced confessions and tell all expose’s?

    The damage is done and yet we keep flogging the past violators in our sport. And in so doing we continue to hold the sport hostage.

    She is not asking for sympathy, she is just telling her truth. And as @optimiste says, it is not forced, it’s not a tell all expose.

    I’ve held a USCF license and I’ve been following this sport since 1975. And I was shocked to hear how Inga was treated as an athlete by the USCF, and I’m a jaded bastard. I don’t think these stories ultimately hurt cycling. Is cycling better off knowing Lance was a hoax? Absolutely.

    @Optimiste +1, well said.




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  9. @Gianni

    @Dino

    How about we stop the public writing in the pain of forced confessions and tell all expose’s?

    The damage is done and yet we keep flogging the past violators in our sport. And in so doing we continue to hold the sport hostage.

    She is not asking for sympathy, she is just telling her truth. And as @optimiste says, it is not forced, it’s not a tell all expose.

    I’ve held a USCF license and I’ve been following this sport since 1975. And I was shocked to hear how Inga was treated as an athlete by the USCF, and I’m a jaded bastard. I don’t think these stories ultimately hurt cycling. Is cycling better off knowing Lance was a hoax? Absolutely.

    @Optimiste +1, well said.

    I agree. I do tire of reading the comments after every race report on CN being about how “they’re all doping”. Give it a rest already. That said, I followed Inga for most of her career, and always admired her pluck and honesty.

    Then there’s this (from the article): “I out-sprinted Longo for the win, and right there in the middle of the street, the soigneurs and race volunteers stripped me down out of my wet clothes and wrapped me in blankets to warm me up. I was too cold to care, and hey, it’s France, I don’t think anyone noticed! But I remember Longo screaming at the organizers, “It’s not fair, it’s too cold to race!” I think that’s what made the win so much better, because I didn’t have any warm clothes or the support and still toughed it out.” That’s fucking V to the nth right there.




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  10. @Dino

    If you did things the right way, that needs to be enough. If you want more, perhaps you need to ask yourself why.

    The Why? is fairly clear I think.

    Competitive athletes have to have some level of external motivation – otherwise they would just go and do their thing quietly on their own and not tell anyone.

    To them the recognition, reward and ability to do better than someone else is an important part of what gets them up for training and gets them to the line in a race.

    I’m not saying it’s the only thing – the best ones also have a balance with internal motivations and success criteria – but it is significant.

    So if those things are taken away from you by people who are perceived to have done so unfairly it isn’t surprising that some of the ‘victims’ would seek to correct the external record or at least the perception.




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  11. So the lesson learned is we do need to hear these stories now and until things change. There are still riders being caught for doing shite so obviously the problem has not been solved. Really though it is not just a cycling problem and until all sports take the same approach it will be in our society.

    Inga, Connie, Beth Heiden – these were the goddesses of my ill spent youth in the amature peloton of east coast cycling. It always was a thrill to line up with them when they rode some minor mens race as training. It’s nice to know Ingas story, sad that she was treated like that. I never trusted Eddie B from all the stories I heard and sorry to find out what a d-bag Gorski was.

    Thanks, Gianni for that, I think?




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  12. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Cycling, like all sports, has a murky past. Cycling gets a bad rap these days because (many) of our sport’s transgressors have been caught and publicly shamed. Why? Because cycling has probably the most comprehensive dope testing protocols out there. Why does cycling get this rap? Because most other sports have weak to non-existent anti-doping programs and their governing bodies are shit scared as to what they might find. To wit: Operation Puerto. Cyclings carry the bag, soccer stars walk away scot free. Tennis? Golf? Basketball? Football? I’ll believe they take doping seriously when at the end of the game, several players are nabbed by doping chaperones and led off to be tested before they hit the locker room. Will that ever happen? No.




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  13. Bit of a digression (though, as the video is from the David Millar film project, it does have a doping connection) but have you seen the footage said film project got of Mini Phinney at the 2013 Tirreno Adriatico? The tale he told of the day is here. The video is the final time up the climb. He was cooked. Utterly. Probably knew by this point he wasn’t going to make the cut:




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  14. @Al__S

    Bit of a digression (though, as the video is from the David Millar film project, it does have a doping connection) but have you seen the footage said film project got of Mini Phinney at the 2013 Tirreno Adriatico? The tale he told of the day is here. The video is the final time up the climb. He was cooked. Utterly. Probably knew by this point he wasn’t going to make the cut:

    Thanks fpr posting and the link. Great stuff!




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  15. @Gianni – thanks for posting this. For me, it is no longer about dragging the sport down or flogging the cheaters; it is about celebrating the V in those who toughed it out. Inga’s is a cautionary tale for any parent who has children with other role models and authority figures. Best to learn right from wrong ealry and without equivocation, have the strength of your convictions and stay true to the path. I think this is the message from a story like Inga’s – good for her – the V indeed!




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  16. @HMBSteve

    @Rob

    Exactly, this shit does need to see the light of day or people won’t understand mistakes were made.

    I don’t want to be the dick on Velominati who keeps bringing this up but I really do think it’s important and interesting. It’s important mostly because people like Inga and Edwig are not well known to people under…ahem…cough, cough…a certain age because they actually said, No, I’m not going along with this program, cycling means too much to me to do that. These people deserve some recognition and respect too. The arguments about level playing field ignore the people who actually said it’s wrong and did something about it.

    Rob, do you remember Cindy (Sidney?) Chastain? Hubba Hubba, damn she was beautiful and raced like a fiend. Somewhere in my photo slide collection, I took some good photos of her; hairnet and blond pony tail. They will end up on this site, someday.




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  17. @Al__S

    Thanks for that link, it is a great story.

    I’m about to highjack my own article, why not?

    Mini Phinney legs. All thanks to a USCF moto. Ouch


    .




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  18. @Gianni

    @Al__S

    Thanks for that link, it is a great story.

    I’m about to highjack my own article, why not?

    Mini Phinney legs. All thanks to a USCF moto. Ouch

    .

    “Ouch” would be the understatement of the year! Holy shit that’s some crazy scarring.

    I’m going to make an early nomination for V Moment of the year: Lucas Euser getting up after his own crash then going over to his buddy Taylor to see if he was ok (which he really wasn’t) then staying with him until the ambulance arrived.




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  19. @wiscot + fucking 1 to that. I seem to remember his comments when asked about it were along the lines of “Who cares? It’s only a bike race. There was a fellow human suffering nearby, I was making sure I did whatever I could to help minimise that.”




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  20. Also for those of you that haven’t, read the other 2 “Perspectives on Doping” pieces on there. Theo de Rooij’s makes for particularly interesting reading around how things went down at Rabo during the Chicken’s time.




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  21. @Mikael Liddy

    Also for those of you that haven’t, read the other 2 “Perspectives on Doping” pieces on there. Theo de Rooij’s makes for particularly interesting reading around how things went down at Rabo during the Chicken’s time.

    Thats a whole other barrel of monkeys eh !




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  22. @ChrisO

    @Dino

    If you did things the right way, that needs to be enough. If you want more, perhaps you need to ask yourself why.

    The Why? is fairly clear I think.

    Competitive athletes have to have some level of external motivation – otherwise they would just go and do their thing quietly on their own and not tell anyone.

    To them the recognition, reward and ability to do better than someone else is an important part of what gets them up for training and gets them to the line in a race.

    I’m not saying it’s the only thing – the best ones also have a balance with internal motivations and success criteria – but it is significant.

    So if those things are taken away from you by people who are perceived to have done so unfairly it isn’t surprising that some of the ‘victims’ would seek to correct the external record or at least the perception.

    I agree, that’s why winning the big tours and classics count for more in their eyes than what are regarded as minor races.




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  23. A Clean Break by Christophe Bassons is well worth a read if heroic non-doping is your thing. It’s not exactly an exhilarating read, because he wins absolutely *nothing*, but his stubbornness is rather inspiring.




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  24. While we’re discussing the era/the Phinneys, Rapha have just put this out.

    http://pages.rapha.cc/stories/davis-and-connie-a-film-by-ben-ingham




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  25. @wiscot

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Cycling, like all sports, has a murky past. Cycling gets a bad rap these days because (many) of our sport’s transgressors have been caught and publicly shamed. Why? Because cycling has probably the most comprehensive dope testing protocols out there. Why does cycling get this rap? Because most other sports have weak to non-existent anti-doping programs and their governing bodies are shit scared as to what they might find. To wit: Operation Puerto. Cyclings carry the bag, soccer stars walk away scot free. Tennis? Golf? Basketball? Football? I’ll believe they take doping seriously when at the end of the game, several players are nabbed by doping chaperones and led off to be tested before they hit the locker room. Will that ever happen? No.

    Spot on. I’ve never understood why Doping in cycling is such a big deal and receives so much discussion. In the NFL Wes Welker violates the leagues policies on some grounds and only gets suspended 1/4 of the season. There are numerous examples like this. I think I saw recently that Tiger Woods was accused of taking something not on the approved list. But, there is never an outcry or demand for justice from the fans of those sports. Baseball doesn’t really care if their record books are stacked with steroid injecting sluggers as long as the TV deals keep coming in and the seats stay full.

    As I write this I think much of the fault can be placed on the Fans- Us. We demand exciting, faster, and more aggressive racing. We demand winners. Then we demand absolute adherence to Clean cycling and aggressively demonize anyone who violates that policy (save one glorified Pirate). If Baseball or NFL fans (or if ESPN) started demanding (ie not attending or watching the events) clean players then something may change. @wiscot you are right the governing bodies are scared about what they will find. I can only imagine the kind of crazy concoctions NFL players take to keep themselves so fast, so strong, and so able to “play through the pain.” But, until the fans stop shrugging their shoulders and wondering how the latest quarter season suspension will affect their fantasy team nothing will happen.

    So again, I ask myself, why do I, as a fan, care so much more about doping in cycling.




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  26. @Al__S

    Bit of a digression (though, as the video is from the David Millar film project, it does have a doping connection) but have you seen the footage said film project got of Mini Phinney at the 2013 Tirreno Adriatico? The tale he told of the day is here. The video is the final time up the climb. He was cooked. Utterly. Probably knew by this point he wasn’t going to make the cut:

    The final 6 seconds… just looking at the wall… and the angle.




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  27. @Gianni I sure hope to see Taylor putting the hammer down again soon ! He is one cool cat.




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  28. If everyone is cheating then they are all playing on an even field. I don’t endorse it, but I don’t think it can be stopped as long as drugs remain untraceable, million dollar contracts are at stake and races demand superhuman efforts.

    I also don’t understand the double standard frequently mentioned here, where Lance is a douche because he cheated , but others are revered (Prophet) when doping was also part of their history. Again, I don’t endorse it and I’m not defending Lance, but if your going to “keep the cog,” then stop being so comfortable with “embracing opposable ideas.”




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  29. @TheFish

    If everyone is cheating then they are all playing on an even field. […]

    Nonsense, on multiple levels, as has been covered elsewhere several times.

    I also don’t understand the double standard frequently mentioned here, where Lance is a douche because he cheated , but others are revered (Prophet) when doping was also part of their history. Again, I don’t endorse it and I’m not defending Lance, but if your going to “keep the cog,” then stop being so comfortable with “embracing opposable ideas.”

    Lance isn’t a douche because he doped. He is a Cunt of the Highest Order based on the way he bullied and abused those around him, to the point of destroying careers and reputations. Even in his recent interviews, he has said he would be happier if the truth had never come out. So there has been no easing of the conscience, no lifting of a burden of guilt, no relief in being able to restore relationships and look old friends in the eye again. Just sociopathic selfishness.




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  30. @TheFish how many fucking times does it have to be said?

    2 people taking EPO with a hematocrit limit of 50 will see massive differences because of their natural make up. If you have a HC of 41 & can keep up in the peloton with a guy who is naturally at 47, you’re obviously going to benefit much more by lifting your HC up to 50 compared to him because you can increase the ratio of RBCs in your system by 3 times as much.

    In what world is that a level field? Let alone discussing the different levels of advantage available to those teams with massive budgets (e.g. US Postal) compared to the financial minnows.

    and when it comes to COTHO? What @andrew said.




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  31. @therealpeel

    I think if you asked fans they would prefer the sport to be clean. Barry Bonds isn’t exactly a hero is he.

    But NFL and Baseball are more businesses than sports so it isn’t surprising that they persuade the fans they are getting what they really want.

    And people are usually quite happy to ignore the nasty background and concentrate on the immediate gratification – otherwise chicken nuggets wouldn’t exist.

    I read a very interesting article last week about the decline in the ratings and attendance of baseball games since the steroid ban, which on the surface appears to have caused fewer home runs and generally less excitement.

    But it also noted that camera technology was brought in at the same time and there’s been a huge effect on strike calls – it has effectively extended the bottom of the strike area by 10-15% and pitchers are more likely to throw low breaking pitches which previously would often have been called as Balls. Then you have the effect of batters being behind the count and playing more conservatively.Fascinating analysis, both for the unintended consequences of merely enforcing something which was supposed to happen anyway, and also for the danger of confusing correlation and causation.




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  32. @andrew I think you missed the part about my not endorsing doping or defending Lance. My issue is with double standards, where some dopers are held in high esteem on this site and others are vilified.

    My other point was that, in my opinion, doping will continue as long as their is financial gain and a lack of effective analytical methods.




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  33. @Mikael Liddy It needs to be said every time someone misunderstands. Again, I don’t endorse doping, but in the example you gave, the playing field wasn’t level because you compared a doper to a non-doper. I do, however, understand and very much appreciate your point.




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  34. @TheFish

    it seems in fact that you missed his point. @Mikael Liddy is not comparing a non doper to a doper, he is comparing two humans with different physiological characteristics, where one has a natural hematocrit level of 41 and we can assume is able to keep up with another with a natural level of 47, given that they are both racing the same race at the world tour level. by raising his crit level to 50, mr. 41 sees a 21.9% increase to his crit level, whereas mr. 47 only sees a 6.4% increase. obviously one of them is better off, and its not mr.47

    also, @andrew in fact explained to you why some dopers are held in lesser esteem than others. Lance is considered an asshole not because he doped (which certainly doesnt help his case) but because of the manner in which he acted while he doped.




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  35. @mpalazzi92 “in fact” you misunderstood




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  36. @Mikael Liddy I understood your argument and agree. My question is: Given that some people will always cheat, would it be more fair if everyone had the same ‘crit level through doping, than to let some of the people cheat while the honest ones get screwed.

    Mountain climbers can use an altitude tent http://www.hypoxico.com/about-altitude/ to adjust blood composition. Do you think this would be cheating if used in a bike race? This is likely impractical, but it’s interesting to think about what constitutes cheating and what is simply “training.”




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  37. @ChrisO Nicely said, after more reflection I would agree that it is more multi-faceted than just what the fans “want.” I guess I just get tired of the time spent on doping and want to find a culprit.




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  38. @TheFish

    @andrew I think you missed the part about my not endorsing doping or defending Lance. My issue is with double standards, where some dopers are held in high esteem on this site and others are vilified.

    My other point was that, in my opinion, doping will continue as long as their is financial gain and a lack of effective analytical methods.

    I didn’t say anything about you endorsing doping or defending anything. If you — just for a minute — accept that most of the peloton doped for a while some years ago, and if — stay with me — you assume at least some of them weren’t arseholes, then there is no double standard. You just don’t have to judge douchery or esteem purely by doping history. Easy, see?

    You seem to have argued (I use the word loosely) a couple of different ways in your posts above regarding hematocrit levels, but ignored the financial and health aspects. There is no ‘level playing field’ in sport; different athletes have different access to training quality, technology, team-mates, etc. Doping is no different, apart from being, well, illegal and counter to the spirit of the sport. (I’ll get arguments about the final point, but if it had ever been in the spirit, why the history of dissembling and outrage?) I also get slightly shirty when people talk about the idea of ‘if everyone is cheating’ when there were those who didn’t, and also those who died because they were betrayed by those the trusted and respected.

    Most of the great stories are great because there was no level playing field; it’s the performance against the odds that makes them compelling.




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