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?


  1. Jarrett says:

    Totally! IMO it’s racism against Vino. From an anglophile perspective he’s no different than Basso. Neither speak english particularly well, yet Vino gets all the boos. He’s been an amazing rider since his comeback but has gotten little fanfare. Go Vino!

  2. Maybe the problem is exactly what you’re pointing out about Zajicek; when he was busted he gave what people consider to be a douche bag answer. He accepted the penalty without a fight. He said he was innoncent but that it wasn’t worth fighting and that was it in a society that caters to squeeky wheels.

    Nothing like the drawn out theatrics of Miller, Landis, Hamilton, or Basso. No vanishing twin, attempted doping, sipping Jack Daniels or crying–those, at least to me, are douche bag answers. He just quietly accepted his penalty and came back when it was over, about as effectly as ever considering his age (unlike, say, Ricco) so, from a logical perspective he could actually be innocent. Unfortunately for him, just isn’t the kind of theatrics our reality TV culture admires and he’s getting crucified for it.

  3. Brian says:

    I think Phil’s response was genuine. I think the douche bag answer is to feign remorse or repentance, when 100% of those busted for doping would, if given the chance to start over, do it all over again. Especially in the current environment, I find it refreshing that Phil is honest; if you aren’t sorry (and in my opinion, those who say they are sorry are are only sorry they were caught, not sorry they doped) don’t pretend that you are.

  4. Slowdad says:

    The main difference is that Vino never admitted to dopingeven though it was obvious. 2nd, he acted like a brat about getting back on Astana, and finally, did you see that jersey he wore with his own face on it?

    Basso only had his blood bagged and never got caught doping so people are more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  5. bsjustice says:

    “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.” Broshat, that is exactly why he is such a superlative commodity on the turgid bike racer persona market. Could it get any better? Farging icehole just comes storming over the top all the time, like “ha! screw all you doushe baggy euros! I am from Kazakstan and my sister is number 1 prostitute in all of Kazakstahn!” while he just wrecks all the prescripted storylines WWF style dude. How can you not love this guy?

Comments are closed.