Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Audacity of Dope

I've probably followed this whole USADA case closer than most, mainly because it involved my generation of american cyclists. As more info comes out, the more I feel cheated.

There was a time when I use to admire these guys. I thought, good for them, sticking with it long after I'd decided to take a different path. They put in the hard miles, made the sacrifices, and were now climbing podiums thousands of miles away.

I liked these guys, and I'm sure they're still likable to this day. As a junior at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs I played poker with George and Bobby to pass the time in the evenings. We all lived together for weeks, training, eating, goofing around, just being teenagers. We were the Lemond generation. Fueled by the thought that racing in Europe as an American was no longer out of reach.

Ten years later, Bobby was climbing the podium at the Tour de France while I was tuning suspension on the World Cup DH circuit. The following year it was Lances turn. I couldn't help but think, wow, no wonder I couldn't cut it, these guys are talented.

But they weren't. They just had access to a side of the sport that allowed them to excel beyond the rest of us. Would I take a do over? No. Guys were dropping like flies as the doctors turned their blood into gelatin, so thick they died from cardiac arrest.

The mountain bike was my escape pod I guess. I still got to travel the world, and work with the most talented athletes around. Would it have been fun to have been the athlete instead of the mechanic? Sure, but I still lived the dream, clear conscience, no regrets.


MG said...

Well said Mod.

badger dave said...

Nice post. Friend who's a former olympic swimmer seems to have a similar sentiment. I guess it's better to lose clean than win dirty.

mh said...

I respect the post but sorry... George, Bobby and Lance (and most of the other guys that have been caught) were all talented. All the EPO's, Actovegen and what ever else they used would not have gotten them to that point where they eventually had access to those teams, doctors and resources that got them there. They got there through talent and hard work, THEN held or excelled their positions via the dope (which can be debated). PS i know this is a super old post but just wanted to give my .02