Dopers suck. Everyone agrees with that. But as a pro athlete, dopers suck even more. In fact, in the wise words of Beavis and Butthead, I’d go so far as to say; “dopers suck more than anything that has ever sucked before”.
I was once told that you need to ask “why” five times before you get to the root of any problem. With the whole Lance Armstrong affair coming out recently (and everything else that goes with it), I was recently reminded of a time by another ex-pro athlete of why dopers suck once again.
He reminded me to look back in time to the 2004 / 2005 pro MTB scene. For the previous five years it had been our lives as pro racers- and all of a sudden, it started to die…
Why? Because a whole bunch of sponsors of the series and teams were pulling their money from MTB to road.
Why? Because road racing had all of a sudden become really popular in the US and everyone was going out and buying road bikes.
Why? Because some guy named Lance Armstrong was winning everything and had an incredible story to go with it.
Why? Because he was a cheat and a dirty cheat at that.
Why? I don’t know why. That’s what pisses me off.
I will never understand why someone could cheat and feel that they deserve the rewards that come with it. Every time someone who cheats beats anyone else in the field, that person is denying the rightful winner or those who finish behind them that ever so slightly better result- and everything that goes with it.
And it’s not just about winning and glory. When you are racing for a living it is costing people money. In my mind you might as well be stealing from your fellow competitor’s wallet.
What’s the difference between first place and second place prize money? What’s the difference between 5th and 6th place incentives from your team? What’s the long term financial difference of not having a huge title attached to your name for the rest of your career? Add that up over 7 years. It could be, and was, a lot.
Imagine looking back on your career and realizing that your best ever finish, a 4th place should have been a podium finish or your second place finish should have been a win. Imagine being denied the once in a lifetime opportunity of standing at the top of a podium – or on a podium.
The truth is that the effects of cheating go well beyond what most of us could imagine and for everyone who gets caught, I’m sure there are three other guys who get away with it too.
Hopefully, the future of cycling is cleaner and brighter. Given what’s gone down over the past six months, I can only hope that something good comes out of all this. However, given the widespread and long reaching effects of doping, don’t expect me, or any other current or ex pro athlete to show too much sympathy for these guys. Dopers suck.