Monday, October 22, 2012
How do we rid cycling of the cheats?
It's been a tough few weeks for us cycling fans. For a start, you have to explain to non-cycling-fans that not every cyclist takes performance-enhancing drugs, and yes, believe it or not, there are clean cyclists in the sport. Recent weeks have seen the Lance Armstrong legend destroyed under the weight of investigation and scandal, that he was involved in years of very sophisticated doping and cover-ups, along with his US Postal Cycling team colleagues. How do you convince people about the greatness of cycling, when they only read about the dark side?
Confession time: I'm not jumping on an already packed bandwagon, but I never liked Lance Armstrong. At first, we were all taken in, we were all inspired that someone had not only made this fantastic recovery from cancer, but had gone on to win the world's greatest bike race. We cheered his heroics, and viewed him as an inspiration. But as time progressed, his arrogance began to annoy me. He wasn't just the multiple winner of the Tour, he was above the Tour, above criticism, powerful and untouchable. The arrogance grew, and he became more and more unbearable. He was just too good.
Today the UCI - the sport's worldwide governing body - accepted the recommendations of the investigation carried out into Armstrong and his colleagues, which has given us some eye-popping revelations in recent weeks, and which has confirmed our worst suspicions. Armstrong's been stripped of his seven titles and erased from the Tour de France's recent roll of honour. Many more cyclists have joined him in the hall of shame, in the past and present and unfortunately they won't be the last. So how do we rid cycling of the cheats? That's a tough one. My own view is that life bans from the sport for cyclists and officials involved in doping would be a good start and would restore trust and credibility. Laugh if you must, but I believe there are still clean riders in this great sport: but it's up to those running the sport to take real, meaningful action against the cheats, rather than just meaningless words, lip service and limited bans. But will they?