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« Safe Routes to School | Main | Opinions »

For the love of cycling

I love the bicycle and I love cycling. The reason… Almost my entire life it has given me so much, and to this day continues to do so.

As a child I fell in love with the bicycle, which later lead to some success as a racing cyclist and was instrumental in building my self esteem. This otherwise might not have happened and my life could have taken a totally different course.

My interest in cycling lead to a career in building bicycles, which eventually brought me to the United States, and again affected the course of my life. My bicycle and cycling continue to give me joy and satisfaction to this day, every time I ride.

When something is a passion in someone’s life, it is only natural they want to share it with others, so that they too might find the same joy and passion. I look on it as “Giving Back” in return for something that has given me so much.

For this reason I find the current news stories that are dominating the sport of cycling these days, extremely disturbing; namely the whole issue of doping in professional cycling.

The two main players in this story are Lance Armstrong and Pat McQuaid, who is the President of the UCI, the world governing body of the sport of cycling. (Both are pictured above.) 

If ever there were two people who owe everything they are today to cycling, it is these two.

It can be said that Lance Armstrong has in return done much for cycling, especially in the US; but it is a “Chicken/Egg” situation where the bicycle came first, and cycling made the man.

Pat McQuaid was an average pro racing cyclist who would be for the most part forgotten now if his un-illustrious career as a professional cyclist had not eventually lead to his Presidency of the UCI. Again had it not been for the bicycle and cycling the bold Pat would not be the UCI Pres.

Neither Armstrong or McQuaid would be where they are today, anymore than I would have been a bicycle framebuilder and writing here today, if it were not for cycling.

LA is an extremely wealthy man due to his earnings from cycling. McQuaid draws a substantial salary as President of the UCI. My own financial standing pales by comparison to these two, but I am still grateful for all that cycling has given me and continues to give.  

It irks me to see these two who should be so much more grateful to the sport of cycling, continue to inflict harm with the charade of lies and deceit.

Lance Armstrong has done much to bring awareness to cancer; I just wish he would put the same effort into bringing awareness to doping in sport, so that future generations do not feel they have to do that. I wish he would say, “Okay, I doped, but then so did everyone else.” Then we could move forward.

Pat McQuaid simply says that the doping problem is not his fault or that of the UCI. Well if not the UCI’s problem then whose? It would be like the Federal Government saying the use of illegal drugs is not their problem.

I can only come to the conclusion that Lance Armstrong and Pat McQuaid do not love cycling; or if they do, they love their own importance and their own egos, more than cycling.

Allowed to continue they will do great harm to the sport; the IOC (The Olympic Governing Body.) could bar cycling from the Olympics if the UCI does not get its act together and replace McQuaid soon.


More reading on the subject:

Floyd Landis and the Power of Shuddup

The UCIs failure to silence LeMond

Richard Pound Interview (Former WADA President.)

Lance Armstrong: My Conscience is Clear



Reader Comments (10)

Wow, "Vindicative intimidation" works with most but it looks like LeMond has the better attorneys. The Twisted Spoke comment that "the UCI is petty, clueless and foolish" nailed it.

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I just despair at the UCI.
It always amazed me how they just actually allowed pro cyclists to actually dope. Okay to a certain level but they allowed the doping culture during the nineties to just escalate.
Its time Pat just walked away.
Cycling has changed these last 3 years. The UCI needs a change

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDarren H

It is naive to expect that Lance would say: “Okay, I doped, but then so did everyone else.” Playing victim to the all powerful USADA is working just fine for Lance.

The problem with cycling is that we want confessions and then move forward as fast as possible. In doing so, we continue in the same road that we were before and nothing of substance is ever done.

Doping in cycling is a large problem, but corruption is an even larger problem. Both of these problems need to be resolved before pro cycling becomes a credible sport.

My views about pro cycling have evolved during the years. I see pro cycling at the same level as American wrestling, in the sense that what you see is not real.

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJorge

Lance had cancer. Lance beat cancer. Having watched loved ones slowly and painfully die from the illness, that alone wins my respect. But the fact that he underwent chemotherapy then rebuilt his body and went on to win the tour de france is a miracle. I've seen first hand what chemotherapy does to destroy a person. There is no drug, or doping process that can fix a person that fast and that well, what Lance did was amazing.

For the UCI, and the USADA to be attacking (and singling out, as if he was on some kind of miracle doping process that no one else was on) Lance Armstrong for his past victories (He was subject to all forms of drug testing during those victories) is truly disgusting.

Like all professional sports, Cycling has become too much of an industry. How about abolishing the UCI? How about a new organization based on the love of cycling, and passionate people who do it for the love of the sport? Wile we are at it why not spec a low dollar steel framed standard bike, and ban two way radio's, heart monitors, and electronic wizardry. Even the whole team concept could be abolished as far as I'm concerned. Just the men (and women for that matter) competing one on one,with no regard to equipment or sponsorship money.

I know I am just dreaming, but it seams once the business men take over something, they suck the life, and the fun right out of it, turning phenomenal athletes like Armstrong into high paid employees, and turning away truly passionate people because they do not fit the corporate culture of the sport.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersdilecce

I’m sorry but in my book, overcoming cancer gives a person a limited “Get out of being an asshole card.” Not one that lasts forever.

October 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

How ironic you mention government and unregulated drugs in the same sentence. The drugs athletes use are regulated by government, produced by legitimate pharmaceutical companies, listed on the stock markets of the world. They generate tremendous profits, benefitting investors as well as governments, through taxes and fees. Think Amgen Tour of California (Amgen makes EPO).
Drugs, both legal and illegal will not go away. Governments know this, and so also every professional sports federation.
Professional sports generate huge profits, benefiting investors and governments. Wait, haven’t we heard this before?
The “War on Drugs” is a façade: whether in recreational life or professional sports. People want illegal drugs and athletes need drugs to compete. Can’t go up multiple Hors Categorie climbs in one day and do it the next day without blood boosting and a cocktail of drugs.
If we ever won the War on Drugs the Economy would collapse. And people would revolt.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStevenFarner

I think StevenFarmer has summed this up pretty well. That last para may have overstated the idea a bit... but there are competing interests and incentives here, and he outlines those well.

In my imagination I see these governing bodies - and the riders - caught between a rock and a hard place. Their fans - coupled with the governments under which they live/operate - approve, promote, support the "war on drugs" and "clean sport." The riders and their governing bodies, together with the pharmas - and the manufacturers! - have a somewhat a different agenda. You can call it corruption, but I see it as an elaborate charade. We have enjoyed (?) an idealistic and superficial view, and the curtain is being drawn back.

I have no sense of, nor feeling for, McQuaid one way or the other. Other than I imagine him madly working to maintain the image of something people want to be "pure and good" that is anything but, and can't be. There's always a last man to die in any war, and perhaps McQuaid will be that last man. Or, the sport can simply shoot that particular horse, and get a new one, but nothing will change. It's just more Look Forward and Not Back. It's a ritual sacrifice to preserve an ideal, not an altogether unworthy goal, but underneath things will remain the same. The principal stakeholders have a different goal that competes with "pure and good." The incentives are winning -> money.

I've written before, and maintain, a more sensible goal would be to pull these performance enhancers into the "legal" and make the effects of their use known, so that individual riders can make choices. And, if there is an intimidation factor operating on that rider by an entity to use a performance enhancer that is "bad news," that can become public, too.

More on topic, your points about the sport offering something to individuals that those individuals would be willing to give back is a powerful one. I see most of the individuals involved as victims. Some of it is a self-victimization, and some of it has been imposed by the structure and context in which they find themselves. Some of them are assholes, too. Because they are the former doesn't exclude them from the latter. Standing way outside the race-world part of cycling, I can wonder if a certain degree of assholeness isn't a prereq for an elite position in 2012 cycling.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

Well said, Dave.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

How do we compare drugs in sports to drugs in the music business?
How do we compare a cyclist to a rock-n-roller?

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony C.

Dave, when looking at the UCI and who to blame you should also look at Hein Verbruggen, not only current chairman Pat McQuaid. It was during Heins' reign that Armstrong did his deeds.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdri H
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