Mainly though, the weekend was sheer fun and it reinforced my belief that I am really lucky to have the friends I do.
Me, Waiting for Dinner on Saturday Night
Consider first the possibilities that a rider faces - whether to dope or not; whether to deny or not if accused; whether to deny or not if caught; whether to become an anti-doper, or to continue on quietly (once again doping, or quietly not doping); whether to accuse others of doping.
Second, consider you you weigh these decisions. I weight the decision to race clean the highest; if a rider is willing to stay clean it has in the past been a costly decision - God bless those who hit the upper reaches of the sport and stayed clean. I consider the decision to confess use when not under coercion, and where it has professional and personal costs to be a less immoral course than denying and/or retaliating against accusers. Getting caught - well, that proves the doping; subsequent denial of it is adding lies atop the initial crime, while confession is at least coming clean after having screwed up. Becoming an anti-doper is clearly a bid for moral redemption, while turning state's evidence, while good in an honest sort of way, is often as self-serving as the initial decision to dope, perhaps moreso. Pile a number of bad decisions atop one another - dope, deny, get caught, deny, turn state's evidence - is a long decision of choices to act in an immoral and self-serving manner, whether or not any good comes of it. The decision, for instance, to become an anti-doper after being caught, is morally distinct from the decision to turn state's evidence. One decision *may* carry with it some professional or personal advantage, while the other decision - testifying to avoid incarceration - generally lacks even the appearance of altruisim. So too the difference between merely turning state's evidence, and turning state's evidence plus becoming an anti-doper. The additional act of undertaking anti-doping initiatives is an affirmative act, a thing that was not compelled to avoid prosecution.
Here are some test cases. The lettering tells you how I weigh things. Think about how you weigh them.
A. Never doped, lost professional opportunities because of it, speaks out against doping.
B. Never doped out of fear of getting caught, discusses openly that he views it as a moral neutral.
C. Doped, never caught, confessed, speaks out against doping, lost professional opportunities, post-cycling, because of it.
D. Doped, never caught, didn't exactly confess, speaks out and works against doping, may have gained professional opportunities because of it.
E. Probably doped, never caught, never really admitted it, never denied it either, just wants to get on with his life.
F. Almost certainly doped, vociferously denied it, never caught, filed libel suits or engaged in other attacks against accusers.
G. Doped, caught, confessed, became an anti-doper, has new professional opportunities because of it.
H. Doped, caught, confessed, became an anti-doper, avoided (maybe) prosecution as a result.
I. Doped, caught, denied it, shut up, went back to racing or retired.
J. Doped, caught, denied it, took others down in their defense, hit up fans for defense donations, admitted having doped but *still* insisting their dope tests were wrong or based in corruption, and making allegations against C, D E and F.
A. Danny Pate
B. Mike Creed
C. Frankie Andreu, Udo Boelts, Bjarne Riis
D. Jonathan Vaughters, Rolf Aldag, Jesper Skibby
E. George Hincapie, Sean Kelly**
F. Lance Armstrong, Stephan Roche
G. David Millar
H. Joe Papp
I. Danilo DiLuca, Ivan Basso
J. Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis
Aside from people who manage to avoid making the terrible choice to compromise themselves, everybody else is just a darker or lighter shade of gray. We should understand those shades, ponder the motivations, and figure out whether our current system is set up to drive people to the dark side, or the light.
As I see it now, it is set up as a gambler's choice - dope and maybe get caught and punished, or stay clean and certainly get punished in a practical sense, of having great difficulty reaching the top tiers of the sport. I've talked to some guys who doped; you need to understand it's not a huge choice presented with an opera playing some moody overture from an Italian tragedy in the background. It's a tough choice - you're a young rider, you're very good, you could be great. Do you want to take the bag and be a supported rider or a key domestique? Or would you rather have to fight for your contract every year and hang onto the fringes of the sport? Would you rather be staying as a guest in people's houses, ekeing out a bare living in-season and doing some ski bum job or something out of season, or would you rather be a decently paid domestic pro? It is a hard choice for them, an immoral situation thrust upon them, that offers only one - very difficult - moral path out of it. The choice shouldn't have to be so tough.
Looking at it in this analytical manner suggests to me that we need to think about how we can incentivize highly moral behavior - anti-doping, self-referral (confession) of doping, and turning attempted dopers in. Can we offer immunity to those who stop freely and subject themselves to verification testing? Would it be possible to incentivize behavior like Xavier Tondo's, who turned in the people who were attempting to sell him PEDs?
I think it could be done. It will take a mindset change at the top levels of cycling management, however, and in the grassroots. We need moral clarity, and we need to think analytically about what matters, about what behavior in particular we are trying to encourage, what we are trying to discourage, and how the current system of incentives and disincentives is set up. I would argue now that it favors the dopers who can most successfully evade enforcement, rather than those who would rather stay, or become clean racers.
As for low level racers who dope, well, you guys are just assholes. There is no justification for it.
**Tested positive in 1984 but it was determined he'd used his mechanic's urine for the test. His mechanic was on PED's to cope with the long hours of work...
TOT 51: Birthday Boys
I hope this finds you all doing well.
First of all, sorry for sending this out as a group letter. If there was any way I could come visit each of you individually, I would. I hope we are together soon.
There’s no easy way to say this, so let me just say it plain: on Sunday night you’ll see me on “60 Minutes” making a confession that’s overdue. Long overdue.
During my cycling career, I knowingly broke the rules. I used performance-enhancing drugs. I lied about it, over and over. Worst of all, I hurt people I care about. And while there are reasons for what I did — reasons I hope you’ll understand better after watching — it doesn’t excuse the fact that I did it all, and there’s no way on earth to undo it.
The question most people ask is, why now? There are two reasons. The first has to do with the federal investigation into cycling. Last summer, I received a subpoena to testify before a grand jury. Until that moment I walked into the courtroom, I hadn’t told a soul. My testimony went on for six hours. For me, it was like the Hoover dam breaking. I opened up; I told the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And I felt a sense of relief I’d never felt before — all the secrets, all the weight I’d been carrying around for years suddenly lifted. I saw that, for me personally, this was the way forward.
The second reason has to do with the sport I love. In order to truly reform, cycling needs to change, and change drastically, starting from the top. Now that I’m working as a coach, I see young people entering the sport with hopes of making it to the top. I believe that no one coming into the sport should have to face the difficult choices I had to make. And before the sport can move forward, it has to face the truth.
This hasn’t been easy, not by a long shot. But I want to let you know that I’m doing well. The coaching business is more fun and fulfilling than I’d ever imagined, and Tanker and I are loving our Boulder life. I recently turned 40, and my friends threw the best 80’s themed surprise party in the history of the world (hey, most of you were there!). Life is good.
Again, I just want to say I’m sorry, and that I hope you can forgive me. What matters to me most are my family and friends. I’m deeply grateful for all your support and love through the years, and I’m looking forward to spending time with all of you again, hopefully soon. My Mom and Dad always told me that the truth would set me free. I never knew how right they were.
I presume everybody who raced pro in the era you came up in, raced on dope. I suspect that very few avoided it; even anti-doping advocates like Jens Voigt are cagey, and admit they came their current position because they didn't like the other path, or slippery words to that effect. Yeah, Lance probably doped. So did everybody during that period. I'm more or less over it. He's an ex-racer who runs a cancer foundation, as far as I care at this point. I don't exactly follow him, or carry a vendetta for the dirty racers of that time period, I'd rather we expend resources cleaning up cycling now, than hashing over crimes from back when UCI turned a blind eye to the problem.
Many were caught, and many denied doping during your era. Yet few attacked their accusers - including 'accusers' who weren't actually accusing but citing doping convictions, facts - with the vindictiveness that you and those close to you used. Lance, who hasn't been busted, goes around personally attacking people who accuse him of doping, making a good point - you'd better be able to make the accusation stick in a court of law. Yeah, it's bullying, but it isn't the personal attack your buddies and family launched on people, and he doesn't go around telling outlandish lies about his phantom twin being the cause of the test failures. You have been caught at least a couple times that we know about, and a few years back I remember reading in Bicycling how you used your family and friends as attack dogs to personally abuse anybody who so much as raised a whisper about doubting you, including people you had known for years and who considered you a close friend. That makes you a buddy fucker, Tyler. And buddy fuckers are lower than whale shit.
You're like Floyd in that sense; you preyed on credulous others to get them to pay for your legal defense, knowing all the time that you were a damned dirty doper. Lance is probably a damned dirty doper too, but he hasn't made personal appeals to me or my friends to pay for his grand jury defense costs, based on his "innocence."
Doping is bad enough, getting caught is worse, then mounting a 7 year campaign to impugn those who caught you, is even worse than that. Now I guess we're supposed to absolve you because you confessed to make yourself feel better, or some bullshit like that. Like the phantom twin story, it strains credulity. I'm glad you feel better; but none of us feel better about what you did or the way you treated us. Reading your story about watching Lance dope is like watching a felon on the stand implicating somebody else based on a jailhouse conversation. Maybe everybody has to go to jail here for justice to get done, and maybe it's the truth, but it's damn ugly and an honest person looking on can't trust any of the actors involved. It's a train crash. Thanks for causing it, jerk.
I got a newsflash for you Tyler: you may be telling the truth and it may make you feel better, but it doesn't make most of the rest of us feel better. Many of us wish you'd just go away and maybe help Basso with his cancerous dog, or help out Leogrande as he quits cycling to concentrate on tattoos. Maybe if Lance is eventually caught, you guys can buy an island somewhere and spend the rest of your days rationalizing what you did.
Some of us fans are getting dubious about the flunked test => confession =>anti doper metamorphosis that is so common; but please understand, even in those cases where we as cycling fans agree to not despise a confessed doper, the doper didn't just wrap up a 6 year campaign of slander and agit prop. The coverup is almost always as bad as the underlying crime; and the coverup is worse when your mechanism isn't just lying but attacking others in libelous terms.
For many years, Tyler, you were completely sanctimonious in your denials, pointing fingers at others to explain away your doping. Like a preacher who gets caught with a prostitute, or a book keeper caught embezzling, you betrayed a trust. The hypocrisy of what you did is stunning; you didn't just deny, you blamed and lectured.
In the end, I'm sure God will forgive you. Me, I just want you to go away so I can forget you and get back to watching the ATOC and Giro. Your doping was bad enough, your coverup was worse, and all the crap you're now doing to make yourself feel better or sell books or settle scores or whatever you're trying to do, is worse yet. Please, go away while there are still three or four people left in the world that you haven't pissed off.