Lately I’ve been feeling a little optimistic in regards to professional cycling. We had disgraced Tour de France rider Lance Armstrong decide not to fight USADA’s charges against him, forfeiting his titles. With him capitulating we were spared the months of legal wrangling and public relations bullshit that was bound to happen. We had Tyler Hamilton and Dan Coyle’s book, The Secret Race, hit bookshelves and it was an eye opener for a lot of people. Along the way writers, journalists and anyone with a blog or Twitter account chimed in with their own opinions. God knows I did.
Then Vaughters publicly outed three of his current riders as past dopers and stated on Twitter that current director Johnny Weltz needs to come clean about his doping past.
“Jeezus… Now it seems I need to have a talk with Johnny Weltz about just letting this crap end and to stop BSing people.. #thedaygetslonger”
Followed by another tweet, “As long as Johnny decides to be honest, tomorrow, I will support him.”
Basically it looked like professional cycling was doing its own self-clean like my oven. It just needed a bit of a push and the dominoes have all started to fall. However a couple of people won’t or can’t let go.
While the athletes and management look to be making strides in the right direction others in the media are digging in because they are: too dumb to realize that this is a new era, covering their butts as they can see the coming fallout of their Armstrong sycophantic ways, or just completely out of their minds from drinking the yellow Kool-Aid.
Speaking of out of his mind – not a big surprise to me was Phil Liggett’s Skype interview for a South African radio station. I wrote about it last week at RoadCycling.com and spoke about the subject on the Fred Cast podcast, so I won’t belabor my feelings about Liggett. He needs to retire to his victory garden, putter around the home and if he still feels the need he can commentate at the local pub from a stool.
While some journalists have realized the errors of their ways others haven’t or continue to ingratiate themselves with Armstrong. John Wilcockson is one of those who has enjoyed being in the inner circle of the disgraced cyclist. He wrote a fluffy piece for his column where he calls the doping allegations “rumors” and bemoans that USADA taking away his Tour titles “would do nothing to help clean up the sport—which the USADA claims as its mission.”
Wilcockson is still trying to ride the Armstrong gravy train, but doesn’t realize it pulled out of the station without him. It’s like he’s running down the tracks screaming, “Wait for me! Remember I’m the guy who wouldn’t give David Walsh a ride in the Tour!”
Then today I saw another article, this one by an ex-pro and race promoter/commentator John Eustice. It’s like Eustice took Wilcockson’s article and used it as a template for his own – I’ve known Armstrong since he was a kid, freak of nature, beat cancer, etc, etc. Eustice says Armstrong had a nickname in the peloton, “RoboCop.” What?
Regardless, Eustice blames science saying athletes are “human science experiments” and that a pro’s job is “to find that edge, and that edge comes through science – and often pushing that science to its limits.” It’s not Armstrong’s fault, it’s science’s fault? Eustice paints a picture of evil scientists capturing the riders, performing experiments on them, then releasing them back into the peloton. For Eustice that’s the way sport should be – not the better athlete, but the one with a better doctor.
He continues to say that who knows, maybe Team Sky’s aerodynamics and nutrition might be considered doping in the future. No John they won’t.
Eustice is another guy who was way too close to the subject, and like Wilcockson, he is clinging to Armstrong’s coattails. It’s over Johnny.
One last article I saw was the AP interview with UCI president Pat McQuaid. In it he’s considering amnesty for riders. Typical interview with a question about USADA and the Armstrong case. McQuaid takes a passive-aggressive jab at USADA by wondering why the files haven’t arrived at the UCI headquarters for evaluation. Whatever.
“It does seem slightly unusual (the file hasn’t arrived),” McQuaid tells AP. “Our only thoughts on it would be that maybe they didn’t have a full file or they don’t have a full file … we are assuming they do have a full file because they have already announced a life ban on Lance Armstrong.”
However, at the bottom of the article he takes a shot at Hamilton.
“There is absolutely no remorse in the whole book about what he did and what’s done for the sport in all of that time,” McQuaid said of Hamilton after having read extracts of the book. “That doesn’t impress me.”
Are you kidding me? The cojones on this guy is sometimes unbelievable! Hamilton’s life was torn asunder because the UCI was either so poorly managed or complicit that for about 12 years you have to look at almost any victory and realize it is tainted. While Hamilton was part of the doping problem, the UCI was right there, trying to prevent anyone from looking behind the curtain to see how the sport was really run.
There are others in the media that continue to stick their heads in the sand: Rick Reilly and Sally Jenkins. Both are capable writers, but biased (Jenkins has written two pro-Armstrong books). The other writers should know better. Wilcockson and Eustice continue to hold onto the dirty past.
I applaud Rupert Guiness for be willing to say in The Sydney Morning Herald, “If USADA’s evidence proves doping, I will admit I got it wrong. These are times when everyone in cycling must be ready to acknowledge their errors if they really want the sport to advance. I am ready.”
For this to truly end and usher in a clean era of cycling not only do the athletes need to come clean, but so does the media. Otherwise the omerta will continue.