Friday, May 21, 2010

Addicts on Bikes

Floyd Landis finally admits he WAS doping. I had a conversation with a friend about this just last week; I thought it likely that Landis was doping, but still had some doubts based on Landis' exhaustive defense. My friend said the lab screwed up, and he had a whole list of rationalizations and conspiracy theories to explain the positive drug test. Finally, the truth is out: Landis is worse than just a failed doper, he's a long-term lying doper. The guy extracted almost a half million dollars to defend his "innocence," but it was all lies. I wonder how Landis feels about that? I wonder how the people who gave him money based on his and his mennonite family's "ethics" feel about it all? Is there a lynching in the works?

I could almost have some respect if Landis had of simply said, "I doped, everybody is doping and I went along with it, and I got caught." OK, we all know pro cycling is full of doping, fair enough. But this circus that Landis put on has done massive damage to pro cycling, and bike racing at all levels. Who wants to be associated with a sport defined by lying drug uses? Landis of course accused everyone of doping, and that's believable to me. The mountains of circumstantial evidence around Armstrong's doping are just that, same for all the other riders. Whether they are or not, the Landis saga has now painted 'em all as doping liars. It's basic psychology 101 to never believe what an addict says; why do we treat these riders any differently? They're a bunch of addicts on bikes, no difference.

Why do I care? I guess it's because I want the best for all athletes. I want to believe in the power of the human mind and body to overcome obstacles. I want to believe in the Landis staging a dramatic comeback from a horrible stage. When somebody dopes it knocks my belief in the magic feats of athletes down a peg, and that pisses me off. It's childish maybe, I should be more cynical, but I'm not. One of the reasons I love outdoor sports is that doping, as far as I can tell, just isn't much of an issue. Some fool might be on the juice to climb harder, but I've hung out enough with the best sport climbers, alpinists, back country skiers and so on to feel confident they aren't doping (well, maybe smoking green stuff and pounding Red Bull!). When Steck climbs the Eigre in an incredible time I feel confident his ascent was "clean" from a performance perspective (insane from my risk standard, but not his).

Anyhow, I wrote about Floyd Landis back here, boy was I a sucker. My message to Landis, for what it's worth, is this: Fuck you Floyd, not because you doped, but because you lied about it for four years. You're Madoff on a bike, suckering money, support, even dreams from people, all the while knowing you were a liar. You're an addict; you can clean your life up and move on, but it's gonna take a long time of living well to get over this mess.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said. I have never been fond of performance drugs at any level. Red Bull and or Green Bowl, well who's to say wether they enhance or enchant. In 1953, Herman Buhl used amphetamiens during the successful first, solo, ascent of Nanga Parbat. An amazing feat at anytime. His own admission, in his book, "Pilgrimage." A sign of the times. If they're needed for health or life. Use um! Otherwise, use your head.

Anonymous said...

Aye, well said. The years of lying and sqeeling innocence is way more offensive and damaging than the actual doping. Landis you can rot.

Kim Graves said...

The problem with catching someone in a lie is that everything they say becomes suspect. Everything. Even if they tell the truth 99% of the time you never know which statement is the other 1%. My grandmother once said she considered lying to be the greatest sin.

Clyde said...

Don't forget the dirty little secret of a lot of climbers on 8000 meter peaks...dexamethasone. Pretty common for them to shoot up before the summit bid. Chad Kellogg is using it for his Everest speed climb. Dex is easier to hide than using oxygen but it's not any better.

Will Gadd said...

Anon 1, thanks for that info, maybe climbing isn't as "pure" as I'd like it to be. I'll have to read his book. And yes on the rest, no Seventh-day adventists here.

Kim, you're grandmother was right automatically.

Clyde, I didn't know that using dexamethasone was common except in cases of edema--is that innuendo or do you have first-person knowledge of people using routinely? And congrats on the revised book, looking forward to seeing it!

Come to think of it, I did take a few Diamox pills on a trip to the Andes, but then forgot to take the rest. I also chewed a whack of green leaves and baking soda, the green leaves seemed to work better.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever used performance-enhancing drugs, Will?

Will Gadd said...

Anon, yes and no. Here's the specifics, you decide:

I have never taken any sort of anabolic steroid or anything illegal or that was legal at the time but is now illegal (EPO or something like that was reportedly legal way back in the day) with the goal of enhancing my athletic performance. I did take some steroid eye drops for an eye infection once.

I've tried and at times regularly abused caffeine, nicotine (orally, patch, inhaled, etc., free from that for over a year now!), Advil, Red Bull etc. I took less than six Diamox pills once to see if that would help. I'll occasionally take a Benadryl when my allergies kick in really hard, but I try not to, and most years I make it through without taking anything at all.

Back in the early nineties or so I tried many common supplements available at the local "health" shop, mostly various kinds of amino acids. Decided none of them helped me climb harder, and spending $50 on BCAA was silly, just eat a good steak occasionally.

I have likely broken the WADA rules by taking an over-the-counter cold remedy or something, but never for the purpose of athletic performance. At any time I swilled Thera-Flu or similar I was definitely NOT doing anything athletic.

I think the line on drugs is probably more about intent than substance in some ways. Landis had to know he was trying to beat his competitors by doing drugs. Ross Ribagliati was not trying to beat his competitors by smoking dope. Yeah, beta blockers, etc., not really about that in his case as far as I could tell.

Clyde said...

Will, using dex before summit bids is more common than many people realize. I've heard this from multiple sources, most of whom are guides, that I trust and are in a position to know what's going on up there.

Butch said...

I hope they get Armstrong, who is, without a doubrt, the biggest asshole in sports. Anyone who is interested in this topic MUST read From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/034549962X/sukii-20/

Armstrong has systematically lied, bullied and cheated his way to the top, and uses the cancer stuff as a kind of public armor.

olddude said...

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fitness-matters/
I thought this was well written from a slightly different perspective.Worth reading if you haven't read it already.

Will Gadd said...

Old Dude, thanks for that read, I like Mark's Daily Apple blog and read it semi-regularly. Don't always agree with him on paleo stuff, but he's way out in front of most nutrition stuff I've read. Really worth reading, and I'm starting to come around to a sort of "open class" racing.. As Mark writes, "Professional sport has become theater. All the public wants is a good show and an occasional world record." Yep.

Clyde, I wonder if the Dex prevents problems or increases summit rates or both? Interesting to me, thanks.

Butch, yep.

Scott said...

You amaze me in your naïvetivity.
18 years ago when I was in highshool at least 5 players on my team so 30% of the team was juicing this was with hopes they could get scouted... could not imagine what it would be like in pro sports when it involved keeping your job. recommend watching http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1151309/

Does Lance dope now? Probably not the tests are much harder and he has nothing to gain really. Back then I 100% guarantee he did.

Will Gadd said...

Scott, I figured the vast majority of top cyclists were doping, but Landis gave a pretty darn compelling "not me!" defense for four years, I started to buy into it. Maybe I am naive about drugs in pro sports, or maybe the sports I do, even at the pro level, aren't as laden with drugs. I'll do my best to be a more cynical bastard in the future, and read BSF, looks good.

Anonymous said...

i don't know if landis is any different than armstrong or anyone else in that game. it's a game pitting athlete against dope testing, and i do believe it will continue. after having had long conversations with someone who was a pro rider over in euroland for 5 years, it seems pretty evident that everyone, i mean everyone, dopes at some point. landis was desperate, shot testosterone, and had the ride of his life (the stuff works!). won the tour, and had a hell of a lot riding on the outcome.

if any one of you had been raised in that culture, knowing that every one of your competitors dopes, including the ones that won previous tours, i imagine your response might have been predictably similar to landis's.

it's pretty naive (but i suppose understandable) to hold the view that somehow landis should have done what his fellow competitors haven't done, which is to admit to drug use.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we'll see each other again? If so, we'll have a good discussion about this.

EG

Will Gadd said...

EG, I'd be truly stoked to see ya somewhere, and Kim says Hi too, keep it rolling!!!

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Will Gadd said...

Dan, I'll post your comments again if you sign your name to them.