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.