Thursday, July 5, 2007
On Doping: My First and Last
I haven't written about doping before. It's the five hundred pound gorilla in the room, yet I refuse to regurgitate all the shit out there. Be it good or bad.
The bottom line is I don't like doping. I don't abide. I think it's a dishonest and belligerent disservice to the cycling community as a whole. I think it's bullshit that the guys I grew up soiling my pants in awe of have destroyed my virgin perceptions of the strength of human will. I feel betrayed and despondent.
I pity the kids that ride their bikes dreaming of one day riding the wheel of their hero. A hero who happens to be doped up on the shit that the terminally ill need to survive for a few more months and usually can't afford. I feel sorry for the honest professionals that have been denied success because of strong morals and resolute decisions. I feel sorry for the sponsors that have given their money and trust to cycling teams only to be given the negative publicity of a group of talented hacks that perpetually cry foul when the piss test police come knocking. And, I feel sorry for the race promoter that has to scramble and plead every year for sponsors that balk at the notion of being linked to a sport that is perpetually affronted by the media with hysterical headlines and ignorant commentary.
I'm tired of it. Tired of it all. I don't even read the print when I see any form of the word "dope" anymore. I've read that shit before. I know it's all more of the same with different names. And I know how it ends. Always with more questions than answers and more accusations paired with incredulous denials.
To the dopers past, present, and future I say "Fuck you". I love you guys, but fuck you all. I don't claim to know the solution nor do I condone the hard-line approaches of some of the governing bodies. I understand the pressure for results. I understand that it's as much a part of professional cycling life as vitamins and energy drinks. I agree that it's a byproduct of competition that is hard not to do, given the shadowy nature and all-or-nothing mentality that the world of professional sport perpetuates. I even understand the twisted logic that says if you don't dope you aren't trying hard enough. I've heard this broken record time and again and I under-fucking-stand.
Still, my perception of a professional, a true professional, is different than what we always see on ESPN and countless other ho-hum sportscasting outlets. A true professional doesn't represent first places, fortune, and obscene displays of conspicuous consumption that the media loves to glorify. The true professional rises above the herd-mentality bullshit of handlers and media dinks. The true professional performs with honesty, dedication, and humility. That isn't to say they don't have faults, but they do the best they damned well can with what they were given.
Doping has been interwoven with the fabric of cycling since Henri Desgrange first began organizing the Tour de France. Right from the very beginning. It will probably continue into the future. Likely forever. I don't hold any fairytale beliefs that it will stop because of the current microscope it's being held under. Cheaters always find a way. They always have. Yet, when they achieve their false wins, stand atop their unearned podiums, and receive their unearned kisses, I hope their hearts are dark with guilt and souls full of regret.