Saturday, January 30th, during this year’s cyclocross world championships, in Zolder, Belgium, a rider was investigated for technological fraud. Article It was discovered that 19-year-old Belgian Femke Van den Driessche did have a hidden motor in the frame of a bike that she claims was not her bike but a friend of hers. You know, just a friend’s bike that made it into a professional’s race-day line up of bikes. This is first official “mechanical doping” case at this level of cycling.
So, where are we now? I say we because this reflects on every rider from clubs to the UCI. How? Doping is doping. It’s bad enough that every time I discuss cycling with a non-rider I still get Lance Armstrong thrown into the conversation and how nobody can do what they do on a bike without drugs. Now this. UCI President Brian Cookson came out against cheating in every form and promised to make sure that the right rider wins races. Even bike manufacturer Wilier Triestina plans to sue the rider and anyone else involved in the scandal for damaging the reputation of the company. Okay, that’s great, but it is my belief that this goes much, much deeper than cheating. It is here and always will be here, like eradicating illegal drugs from every country on the planet. It’s not going to happen.
Now, I must address a different we. We, as human populace of the earth, have lost our shame. What do I mean? For example, over the past twenty years just look at the evolution of television and Internet. Personal conviction over doing things that should be considered an embarrassment are no longer: dating sites for married people to find extramarital affairs, women throwing themselves at a bachelor, cyclists who hold onto cars in a race and think nothing of it, open vulgarity in reality shows, talk shows that promote promiscuous behavior, and on and on. Character use to be something that meant something in society. Most of us have heard that TRUE character is what you do when no one else is watching. The scary part about that now is the fact that no one cares if someone else is watching! And if you are caught, blame someone else or go into complete denial. To add insult to injury, when someone is caught, Vincenzo Nibali in the 2015 Vuelta a España, it’s a joking matter to him and others make excuses for the action. See article. When does the scarlet letter apply anymore?
We are, and have been for some time, in a degenerate state. Parents cussing out teachers for their child failing, police officers sued for shooting someone who was shooting at them, referees who are given death threats for making a call in a ballgame, female teachers having sex with students and given a pass on it because of emotional difficulties, and on and on. Many times, I feel like I have fallen into a DC comic book of Bizarro World, where right is wrong and wrong is right. Have we gone to far? I am aware that since the beginning of time there has been dishonesty, but the covering of nakedness from shame is no more. The question is . . . how is integrity and honor rebuilt in a society?
Bon Vélo . . . malheureusement