I often wonder how I would have responded, if I had ever become a professional cyclist in an era of doping. I think my response would have been a mixture of despair, anger and defiance. To be honest, I’m glad I never had a career when the majority of the competitors were trying to find the best way to dope.
Paul Kimmage was one young aspiring cyclist who chronicles the nature of doping in cycling. If your interested in understanding the doping culture of procycling I do recommend Paul Kimmage’s book – A rough ride
There is an interesting interview with Paul Kimmage here at Cycling Weekly.
There is an undoubted bitterness about the way he has been treated by the cycling authorities. Yet, I feel this bitterness is borne out of an unjust treatment. In a way I admire, Kimmage a lot because he was willing to swim against the tide and speak out against the culture of doping. He is of the impression that he failed to change cycling.
I was naive and idealistic: I thought it would change the world, I really did. It really hurt that nothing came of it. And now I think the sport is really paying for that.
Although that is true in some regard. It is often necessary for someone to speak out and make the first efforts to raise awareness of the issue. Even though Kimmage and others were largely ignored, they did break the wall of silence. I believe this was an important first step for changing the culture of cycling.
We’re Fed up With Doping
Any cycling fan, must get pretty fed up with the constant stories of doping. A cycling fan (and also non cyclists) may say something like
- What’s the problem if everyone is doing it?
- It’s not just cycling, there are other sports as well.
- Who cares if they are doping, I just want to enjoy the cycling and appreciate the winners
But, from a personal perspective, if a sport is mired in doping I wouldn’t want to enter it. Why should I risk my health mental and physical because the sport has no interest in being clean and fair?
The interesting thing is how much Kimmage has, in a way, been vindicated by recent events. When Kimmage first came out and talked of the culture of doping, it was common to ignore him. But, now so many doping admissions and negative dope tests have shown that a culture of doping was prevalent in cycling. As Kimmage said himself, it is interesting that the current UCI president said, 8 year ago ‘Kimmage was bad for cycling’ and now, of course, Pat McQuaid is committed to an anti doping programme.