Why we be hating
At this year’s Dauphine, Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov has been an active participant. He’s had a couple of top-10 results and even wore the yellow jersey of leadership. Vino’s name has popped up in the Tour of Romandie and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. In the past he was admired as a rider who raced spontaneously and attacked with abandon. However, that was before he was popped for blood doping and suspended for two years. He returned to professional cycling but his appearance still rankles people. Why is that when there are other riders who fall into the same category?
One such rider who shares a similar past to Vinokourov regarding doping is Ivan Basso. He returned to glory, winning the his country’s national tour without a single cat-call. And let’s not forget the very photogenic David Millar. While he admitted to doping, it wasn’t until he was locked in a jail cell that he had his “come to Jesus” moment. Now he’s the poster child for the anti-doping movement.
I threw the question out to Twitter and got, as expected, a range of answers. @BuckshotJustice said, “No hate here. Always loved his attacking style. The anti Lance in that regard.” The always philosophical JeffVolkmer tweeted, “As great an enigma of who gets reviled is who gets blind support.”
I feel the distrust comes from a combination of Vino being part of the old Soviet guard, a country that most of us couldn’t find on a map, combined with the personality of a James Bond villain. Admittedly, I fall into the same prejudices. There’s something about him that doesn’t allow me trust him. In the past I did enjoy his ridiculously timed attacks as it seemed to throw the peloton into a tizzy. While on paper his attacks (pre-suspension) were about as tactically astute as the French army, no one could gamble that it wouldn’t stick. As a result many a team’s plan was thrown into the garbage.
I don’t have a direct answer for this contradiction other than to say it’s human nature. Unless you’re Mother Teresa, we have reactions to certain things that defy logic. We hate some people, but love others who share almost the same qualities. Psychologists say that we hate some qualities in other people that we actually hate about ourselves. Does Vino tap into our self-loathing?
On A Side Note
As I write this Phil Zajicek received a lifetime ban for repeated doping offenses which include the purchase and use of EPO, as well as trying trying to cover it up. Again the gut reaction is to hate Phil Z’s actions. He lied to us all and it wasn’t until he was shown irrefutable evidence by USADA that he copped to it receiving the lifetime ban as well as a $5000 fine. Fortunately his deserved punishment means we won’t have the option of booing him at any races.
Zajicek issued this press release. “Today, I have accepted a lifetime ban from the sport of cycling. I have had an enjoyable and successful career which has taken me to all corners of the of the globe and I’m grateful for everything cycling has given me. It’s time to walk away from the sport and begin the next chapter of my life with the tremendous support of my wife, family and friends behind me.”
His statement doesn’t read as a repentant person, but someone who got caught and is moving on with their life. Truly a douchebag answer.
What’s his next chapter I don’t know, but I hope it brings him some happiness. But Phil, stay away from cycling.
I was just informed from a source that after Zajicek signed the papers agreeing to a lifetime ban on June 5th, USADA visited his house last night for in season testing! Wow…does the right hand know what the left is doing?