Yesterday was a sad day for ameture cycling with the revelation of two cyclists busted for the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. One held his hands up straight away. The other denied the offence, but was banned due to the findings of the drug testers and the viability of his excuse. And the worse thing is they both race in the SE/London region very close to home. And one was someone who I call a friend and who is an ex team mate. You hear about people failing drug tests all the time. But when it is in your region and when it is someone you know and respect very well, it hits home hard.
We should never judge. People make bad decisions all the time. The two guys in question are going to pay a dear price for their actions. One a very good aspiring junior who has effectively had his potential career taken away from him. Very sad at such a young age. The other, mid to late 30’s racing well at Elite level, won’t have many places to go after his 4 year ban. And both will have big question marks over them with any future performances they produce. I am not saying that is right I am just saying that is how it works. Cycling is a small, loyal community. They never take kindly to this kind of betrayal.
Because that is what it is, a betrayal. People believe. I believed. I believed in my friend who came into cycling late and had a meteoric rise from 4th to elite in a very short space of time. I believed in the young junior who was legendary around Regents Park where we train, for his talent and also being a good guy. This could be a one off moment of weakness, as one protest. The other still says it is a mistake with a very woolly excuss. But how can you believe a cheat? Because they cheated. They took the easy option this time. The admission and excuss only came out because they had too. Lies bread lies. If you lied this time, who says you haven’t lied before? What about all you’re other results? What about the time you tour our legs off? Ect, Ect
This could be the first time, but no one will ever really know. And nobody will ever believe you.
Recently we have had a great campaign around Regents Park. Stop Means Stop! Meaning when you see a red traffic light, stop! We need to stop at red lights because it is the law. And as cyclists, struggling for respect on the roads, it shows that we abide by the same laws and rules as all other road users. There are times, when it is quite and there is no traffic about, that it is tempting to jump the red light and go on our way. In fact, sometimes it seems completely safe to do so. However, we shouldn’t, ever. Because when we do that we lose all credibility, and we just fuel the old boring augment from drivers, that all cyclists are louts who jump lights and do what they want to do!! This is not true of the majority of cyclists, and is unfair!
The same is true for those who take the easy option of taking drugs to enhance their performance. Because of the history of drugs in cycling at a professional level. Many, many people believe that any successful cyclist takes drugs to compete. And as such we struggle for credibility, which is unfair considering the conduct of some other sports, but that is another story. Now, although when it is a past professional rider, and certainly not excusable, you can understand some of the pressures it has taken to get to their decision to take a trip to the dark side.. Professional cycling is very tough and not half as glamorous as it looks on TV. But as an amateur, as an aspiring junior, as a journey man. It is inexcusable, it’s inexcusable! There are enough stories and evedance from the past pro’s and the so called shake up of the UCI to know what is right from wrong?
The thing is, I am not soft. I have been in cycling a long time. I know this has always been about. I was never close to doing anything, however I raced in the 80’s and early 90’s, it was about and talked about. However that was pre internet. Pre EPO. Now all you need to do is log on and put your order in. And EPO is now relatively inexpensive. Relatively inexpensive considering the cost of equipment, coaching and such. And meteoric gains this and other drugs can give you. The drug testing at the amateur level is almost non existent. As a 1,2,3,4 cat or Vet, you will almost never be tested. Mainly down to the cost of getting doping control at a local events So why not do it?
I tell you why not. Because if you take any PED, you are admitting you are shit. You are admitting you are very shit! Your admitting you haven’t got what it takes! You are admitting you have failed! You have failed badly. You see, you can only ever fail when you give up. Taking the easy road is giving up. Taking the easy road is admitting defeat. Taking the easy road is saying you are not good enough. There is no excuse. When you take this option you have published how shit you are and you have lost all credibility as a rider for you whole career. That’s because of the nature and sensitivity of this subject in our normally amazing sport, by taking PED’s you have put yourself into the category of Cheat. The cycling community is a small one, growing but still small. Many believe once a cheat, always a cheat. Never to be believed, Never to be believed again! There is much more to risk than losing a race!
Anyone who has been busted, including these guys, where of course part of teams. Especially at this ameture level it is unfair to point the finger at the teams involved or any clubs that these individuals may train with. As already pointed out, it is easy to take this easy, destructive choice. And until proven otherwise we must assume, as is what probably happened, that these guys acted alone in decision to deceive and rob others of glory.
I could go into detail of the risks and long term damage of these drugs. But I don’t think I need to do that. The risks and long term effects are very evident. Many athletes have died premature deaths or are living in bad health due to their choice to cheat themselves and others.
The bottom line is this, and is my opinion
If you take drugs to increase your performance..
You are shit at what you do
You are cheating yourself
You are cheating others and robbing them of the success they deserve
You are losing any credibility of any past or future performance
You’re living a lie. You’re a liar. And you are making it very hard to be trusted again!
I and my club CC London have an absolute zero tolerance on drugs. It is unnecessary ,un gamely and completely against the grain of this beautiful sport. Which is all about
None of which you will find in any syringe!
What ever it is in life. You have to do th right thing. You have to be the bigger person.
Truth will out!