I have been reading a lot of blogs, listening to a lot of friends, and hearing many opinions on the Operación Puerto scandal that is currently tearing up the cycling world as the Tour de France kicked off this morning.
At first I wasn’t going to blog about it. I figured by the time I put my opinion into words and typed it all out the few people who actually read this blog and care about cycling would have heard enough. By this time I would have nothing new to add. Maybe I still don’t, but I do feel that maybe I have a different perspective than a lot of the people I know, and maybe this perspective is important enough for me to put in my two cents.
1) I am a new fan of professional cycling
2) I am not a bicycle racer
Why does this matter? Because the group of men who were just busted are the group of men that turned me onto cycling and racing (albeit not racing myself). It is also important because I was turned on to cycling after 1998 Festina scandal and in the middle of the Tyler Hamilton controversy. I became a fan believing that doping was a part of the game, as much as I hoped that wasn't so.
It wasn't until last summer that I really started to follow the racers, the teams, and the drama that is pro-racing. However, I first began watch racing in December 2003.
For our first Christmas together, I bought Tim the 2003 12 hour DVD set of the Tour de France (I know, I am the best girlfriend ever). After he opened the gift, I presented him with a contract that he had to sign if he wanted to keep the gift. The contract stated that he would not make me watch more than 2 hours of the tour at a time with him. It turned out it was me who wanted to keep watching. I quickly learned about team tactics, strategy, and the drama that is cycling. The one racer who really turned me on to all of this was Jan Ullrich.
I loved watching Jan Ullrich race. Do I even have to mention his attack on Lance? His racing face is awesome, his form is awesome, his tactics are awesome, his legs are huge. He is the stereotype of a German machine. And maybe this current scandal will prove that he really is a machine. Who knows.
Like I said, I got into racing with the idea that the top racers were all dopers. It’s negative thinking, but I was trying to be realistic. I think Greg LeMond has some of the best commentary on doping in pro-racing. My dislike of Lance didn’t even revolve around him being a doper, but for many other reasons. However, one of those reasons is how he got away with it for all of those years. Ok, now I know nothing has been “proven,” and many will argue with me that he didn’t dope, but let’s not get into that now.
The truth is, is that money is king. That’s what kills me. Not that athletes are actually poisoning their bodies to win a race, but that they do it for the money. The way racing is set up, they have to dope to win. They have to win for their sponsors, they need sponsors to make money, they need money for drugs. Let’s face it, that shit ain’t cheap, and either are those personal doctors and bribing agencies and everyone close to you. It’s a vicious cycle that hopefully Operación Puerto will help to break. Do I think it really will? I don’t know yet.
This whole thing makes me sad, but I also think it has been a long time coming. I’m just disappointed it didn’t get Lance along the way. Think about it, he kicked everyone’s butts last year by like 6 minutes, including those implicated in the last few days in the doping scandal. I think it’s reasonable to put two and two together here.
So I’m sad that Jan Ulrich’s, the man who turned me on to cycling, career is now over, even if he does deserve it.
I’m sad that many racers, including Vino will not be able to race because their teams had to pull out.
I’m sad that shit had to go down, even if it was a long time coming.
I’m sad that cycling, like everything else, revolves around money.
I’m sad that my lineup in smithersmpls.com Tour de France pool has been hurt, but so has everyone else’s. Just look at sickboy.
I’m also hopeful that this will put a serious dent in doping in cycling.
I am hopeful that this will make for a much more interesting Tour instead of Ullrich vs. Basso. Just look at this morning’s time-trial.
I am hopeful that this will break up Jan and Sara’s engagement and I can be a rebound.
Stay tuned for the hottest new fashion of the season: hotpinkevil’s Save Jan tee-shirts.