Could this be a new beginning for cycling?
The USADA has released it’s reasoned decision on Lance Armstrong and doping, and it makes depressing reading. But could it also, finally, mark a new era of completely clean and honest cycling?
We have been here before. Cycling was supposed to clean itself up after the Festina scandal of 1998. The man that was supposed to be the hero of this new pure cycling era was, of course, Lance Armstrong. The cancer survivor who, against the odds, came back to professional bike racing and won the 1999 Tour de France. And then six more straight.
Many of us loved this ‘Hollywood’ story. We read his books, we bought his wristbands, we started riding road bikes, we believed in him. Not everyone believed though – Sunday Times journalist David Walsh for one. Former pro, and author of the seminal Rough Ride Paul Kimmage for another. They questioned Armstrong’s methods, accused him of wrongdoing. Thanks to the work of Walsh and Kimmage, though, many of us started to feel that the Armstrong fairytale story was starting to look just that – a fairytale. The USADA report means that it now resembles something from the Brothers Grimm.
Before yesterday’s report former team-mates Frankie Andreu, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton were the biggest names to admit their own doping and implicate Armstrong. Now we can add to that list Jonathan Vaughters, David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson, as well as Michael Barry. And then of course there’s Levi Leipheimer and the man often referred to as Lance’s ‘most trusted lieutenant’ George Hincapie. These aren’t also-rans, or bit part players – they’re cycling royalty. Armstrong has, apart from one Tweet, said nothing about yesterday’s news. His lawyers have, as ever, been punchy. We, of course, want a response from Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel, his long time and similarly implicated DS.
As is the way I’ve been following reaction on social media networks. I’d say that the overwhelming response has been one of resigned acceptance that USADA have a very good case. Some, though, still hang on to the fact that Armstrong never – officially at least – failed a drug test. (Overlooking the fact that Hincapie et al can say the same thing.) And, of course, there’s Livestrong, Armstrong’s cancer awareness charity, and the – undeniable – inspiration he has been to cancer survivors and sufferers…
Basically, it stinks. The hope – and the overarching feeling – is that cycling has already made massive strides to fumigating itself. Of course, the sport’s governing body the UCI, still has to comment and clear up some very serious questions but this is an opportunity for the sport of cycling to once and for all show that it has completely cleaned up it’s act. Wouldn’t be fantastic for other riders who’ve cheated and gotten away with it – and there must be a few more with some dosed up skeletons next to the hidden fridges in their closets – to open up. To confess. And then, basically, b***** off and do something else. Yes, that is a cartoon bluebird sitting on my shoulder but I can dream can’t I?
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012 at 4:52 pm and is filed under Blog, Cycling Plus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.