Just as I barely finished reading the gazillion page Landis interview, we get hit with another gem from another disgraced cyclist, Tyler Hamilton. And what do all the disgraced cyclists do when they out themselves as former dopers? That’s right, drag everyone else under the bus with them, or at least try.
I’ll briefly restate my position on doping for those who missed the longer explanation the last time. It’s the cheating I have a problem with, not doing things to your body to perform better. Everyone should be able to do whatever they want to their body and it shouldn’t be any of our business. But when it’s done to cheat, that’s when it becomes a problem. Of course, there is the issue of the free-rider effect and evening the playing field, but I’ve already talked about that before.
First about Hamilton. Tyler Hamilton doped, got busted and received a lifetime ban. Now he wants to tell it all and claims that the truth will set him free. What pisses me off about all of these statements is that he’s absolutely full of crap. He made lots of money riding, won an Olympic gold medal, became famous and lived the life he always wanted. I don’t believe for a split second that he regrets doping because without doping, we probably wouldn’t even know who Tyler Hamilton is.
The most egregious of these statements is always (and everyone says this): “I’m sorry to have hurt my family and loved ones.” Really?! Are we supposed to believe that? You injected yourself with EPO, rubbed on testosterone, had blood transfusions and you wife, parent, significant other, close friends never noticed any changes, needle holes, mood swings, etc.? Yeah, I’ll believe that right after the Rapture happens tomorrow.
You did all those things, Tyler Hamilton (and others like you), for fame, money, personal gratification and a full barrel of other reasons. You’re not sorry that you doped, Tyler Hamilton, you’re sorry that this whole thing ended up blowing up in your face and now everything you “worked” for is marred for the rest of your life and every achievement you ever had on a bike will have an asterisk next to it. Had you never been caught, you wouldn’t have been sorry for a single damned minute.
But while Tyler Hamilton might be done doing blood transfusions, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t stand to profit from it. What does every caught doper do once he’s out? That’s right, go on TV to talk about other alleged dopers and promote an upcoming book. So which is it, Tyler Hamilton? Are you sorry for doping and hurting your loved ones, or are you still trying to make money from the wrongs you’ve committed? If the former, every penny you make of whatever crap someone ghost writes for you should go to charity. If the latter, please stop trying to stuff your BS down our throats about how sorry you are.
Now about Lance and the rest of them. Cheating has been going on in the pro tours since their inception. I don’t know what methods Anquetil, Merckx, Indurain or Hinault used to boost their performance, but I’m loath to believe that they all rode clean. In fact, the only world renowned former pro that I do believe rode completely clean is Greg Lemond, and only because while the Discovery Channel was busy studying Lance Armstrong, it was a well known fact that genetically, Lemond was far more gifted than Armstrong and had enough to win clean in a field of dopers.
I don’t hold any grudges against Lance, and I don’t have any animosity toward him. In fact, I have a lot of admiration for Lance and I’m a big fan. I love watching him compete and maybe one day I’ll get a chance to chat with him about a thing or two (but not this). It doesn’t really bother me that he doped because everyone did it, which doesn’t make it right, but it also means that he wasn’t exactly pulling bread off anyone’s table. The whole professional cycling scene set a high barrier to entry for those who wanted to ride clean, not just Lance. If there’s anyone/thing to despise, it’s the system, not the individual athletes.
What really bothers me is the amount of doping that was undoubtedly covered up by the UCI in order to save face and to keep the sport popular. It is very probable that at some point in the 2000s, the UCI realized that it could only keep the lid on this for so long and that they would have to either come clean and face disgrace, or start systematically throwing riders under the bus, banning athletes for doping and completely change how business is done. I’m glad the change came because I do feel that more and more riders are now riding clean – something that undoubtedly boosted the sport’s popularity. I am, however, somewhat sorry for those who were collateral damage in the cleanup process. I say “somewhat” only because they were after all cheaters.
To all other famous pros who will probably never read this: If you want to come clean, do so, but not because you want to drag someone else under the bus, and don’t tell us you’re sorry, we know you really aren’t.