I tell myself to quit becoming frustrated about this. I have already posted on this subject numerous times, and here is the reality: It will NOT change. Most of the people who would be enticed enough to open this post have already heard the news of two riders getting popped on drug tests 12 hours before the starting gun of the Giro. I told myself no, yesterday . . . not another post about that! I need clarity. I have talked with a well-known and highly controversial former TdF winner on the subject. I have discussed it with my cycling friends. I have researched the topic. In all of that, it is very simple: cheaters have been around for centuries . . . yes, centuries. People have always sought a way to gain the advantage on their opponent, from herbs to today’s pharmaceutical dabblings, even Hitler’s scientists invented what we now know as meth to help his soldiers go harder for longer. So allow me to ask another question, instead of repeating the same one. Why is there so much attention to this in the world of cycling? To add to this, allow me to shelve a rhetorical question: In the past year, were there any drug failures in any other world-wide professional sport? Hear about them as much?
As many of you know, I started racing this year. Even in my low-level Category 5 ranks, I catch myself doubting people’s natural ability. It is ridiculous I know, but I look at a guy who is at the line with me and his legs look like a professional body builder’s with a road map of Kentucky in veins popping out everywhere. Not only is the guy too heavy to climb very well (I would guess close to 90 kg and not that tall), he does it and does it with ease and tremendous power . . . do not forget that this is only Cat 5, not the professionals or Cat 1. Yes, I am caught in the web of doubt. But let me be perfectly clear: This is NOT sour grapes. I train extremely hard, very strict with my diet, hydrate all of the time, and sleep like I am suppose to. I believe in my ability, but I have very hard time trusting my eyes. I try very hard to focus on me when I am in a road race or a criterium, but I am in the web of doubt. The same doubt that runs through the general public, when it comes to cycling. So now one can see why this has become a personal issue to me.
I have mentioned before that bodybuilding use to be a legitimate sport that was broadcasted globally and brought men like Arnold Swartzenegger and Lou Ferrigno to fame. Steroids utterly destroyed the sport. Now the “sport” is a dark-room, freak show where NO ONE can compete without dope. Go into any gym in world, and if you know just a little bit, a user can be spotted easily. No, I am not pointing to a professional who makes a living competing. I am pointing to the UPS truck driver that works a normal workweek, but he feels that he must use in order to meet some end goal . . . a goal that will never be satisfied. Bodybuilding magazines (with the exception of Ironman [they are very honest about drug use]) that advertise a new and improved protein powder as the “key” to getting huge . . . insert picture of the recent Mr. Olympia and a quote from him to substantiate the claim. Garbage. Hints of this are in cycling magazines that claim buying the new and lighter bike, shoes, helmet, and/or wheels will help you be the fast guy or climber whom you so desperately want to be . . . insert picture of Vincenzo Nibali.
If you have made it this far in the post, maybe I have done a good enough job to ask for your help in understanding this mess. I am still in awe of the professional ranks. They ARE incredible athletes with incredible gifts. Many are forced to use to compete, in a sense that they are caught in the web of doubt with other racers and think that it is the only option. This is NOT an excuse for cheating. I despise cheaters. I just see no end to the stigma being attached more and more to the sport I love. When talking to a novice cyclist or a non-cyclist about something like the brutality of the Giro or the TdF, it usually circles around to the person saying, “Yeah, but most of ’em are on drugs.” It is such a broad and nasty statement. I have starting just ignoring it. Yesterday’s article does not help much. In the end, like I said, cheaters have been around since the dawn of human existence. Someone will always be trying to get away with a hidden advantage. I just need to clear my own head of this web of doubt that I have when I see something great on the bike, because I need to continue to be in awe.