As a cyclist and long time fan of the sport it’s a fascinating morning. The Lance Armstrong saga finally played out yesterday when 11 of his former teammates came clean about their doping practices and the USADA traced more than a million dollars of payments from Armstrong to doping expert Dr. Michele Ferrari. The jig, as they say, is up.
I don’t say shocked because most of us who’ve been around the sport for a long time knew what was going on. Tyler Hamilton’s recently released book, which was supposed to blow the lid off the Armstrong era, only confirmed what many of us already knew to be true (though it had some outstanding anecdotes and is an excellent read). It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure something to be amiss when today’s generation of cyclists, despite improved equipment and training protocols, is across the board 10% slower than they were a decade ago, especially when some of them are the same people.
I say fascinating because of the way it happened and to see the public react, as well as watching Armstrong and Bruyneel continue to play innocent when everyone around them is losing their head and blaming it on them. Can money really buy you out of everything? That part is still to be played out.
But as a cyclist it’s nice to have a clean slate, and today we do. Long term it will help the sport, even if racing is a bit more boring (it was fun to watch Armstrong, Pantani et al charge up mountain passes like they were on motorcycles). Sure, there are still dopers, but racing is decidedly believable now and with the knowledge of physiologic human potential much better understood it’s likely to stay that way, at least for a little while. The pressure on young cyclists to dope has been diminished.
I’ll leave it at that, as further commentary starts to become off topic for most of my readers. Those of you looking for more should have a look at this. It’s the full USADA v. Lance Armstrong report. 200-plus pages, which I have not had time to read but will someday. Apparently there are a thousand pages floating around somewhere but, looking at the ToC, this will satisfy even the most rabid fan’s curiosity.
foto: the bygone days of another era crédits: panoramic