Friday, 1 October 2010

Doping

Pro cycling has again been hit with doping scandals, just as there is still an ongoing investigation against Lance Armstrong.
In this instance Contador may or may not actually be guilty, but the truth is it doesn't matter one way or the other as the damage has been done. It's a bit like police mistakenly breaking down your door before leaving - they may not have arrested you but the door is broken all the same, and all the neighbours will be gossiping for years to come.

I am not a great fan of pro racing and I never have been. The multi-million Pound teams with extremely hi-tech gear have as much in common with my cycling as the space shuttle has. Pro racing is responsible for the perception that you cannot ride a bike unless dressed in lycra, that straight bars or bikes with a sit-up-and-beg position are somehow not "real" bikes, and that cyclists that don't conform to pro-racing fashions are to be looked down upon.

I see it so often: roadies in all their kit looking down their noses at my hybrid with panniers on. I've written about it before - I greet all cyclists when I'm out cycling, and almost all roadies ignore me, while almost all other cyclists will greet me back. That is a massive part of the reason why I enjoy it so much when I occasionally scalp a roadie in full kit, while I'm on my hybrid with platform pedals.

With the doping scandal the media is full of statements like "This may be the death of the sport of cycling". How more inaccurate can you be? The "sport" of cycling is so much more than pro road racing. What about mountain biking? What about downhill racing? Don't they count because they're not dressed like roadies?

Maybe the doping scandal will be the end of pro racing (why is it even called that and not pro ROAD racing?). And if it is, maybe that will be a good thing. Maybe then the world will get to see there is so much more to cycling than pro racing?
Actually I believe pro racing will survive this scandal, and the next, and the next, and so on, even if only because it is driven by corporate greed in the form of the sponsors.

Either way, I don't particularly care WHO wins the next TdF, because there is simply no way of knowing whether or not they were honest about it. Pro cycling has been hit by doping scandal after doping scandal, indicating it must be so rife at the top that it may be impossible to compete without resorting to doping. I don't know whether one, two, half or all pro cyclists are guilty, but what is obvious is that doping DOES take place, and it DOES skew the results.

And that simply means I cannot trust any result at all, and unfortunately will distrust all pro cyclists.

That means all the race results are meaningless as far as I'm concerned.

But guess what? CYCLING will continue, in all its other forms. And maybe, just maybe, cycling overall will be better off through the temporary death of pro road racing.