The genteel backwater of timetrialling has been rocked by a spate of doping positives of late. Well, three cases, and a fourth a little while back. Two of them were on the same road racing team back in 2012 and had been subjected to targeted testing. One of them was a junior who travelled to France and bought EPO, and the most recent was a veteran and 12 hour national champion. I feel a minor vested interest in the last one because on Saturday night I presented him with his award at the CTT dinner, along with his team-mates for various prizes in prestigious events like the BBAR. I feel conflicted in that the rider in question must have been aware of his impending four year ban and yet turned up to collect his trophy. I’m not implying anything beyond that there seems to be a lack of integrity, regardless of at what point the sanction kicked in, and in this case it was after the National title win. It’s the cloud of suspicion and the lack of personal responsibility that irks.
Of the four cases, the junior has been the only one to accept fully responsibility – or guilt, perhaps more importantly – for their predicament. The others have sought to blame others. I can’t comment on truth here, all I know is that a recent theme of an assembly I gave to children is that whilst you can attempt to pull the wool over a lot of other people’s eyes, you can’t lie to yourself. I find it interesting comparing the rationality of doping to the mindset of a 14 year old, because there are clear parallels, insofar as one of the key definitions of maturity is the willingness to see and accept the link between cause and effect, and thus avoid certain situations in the first place.
Of the other three, the reasons given have ranged quite widely, but they all sit very neatly within the curious sub-genre that is ‘doping excuses’.
- Andy Hastings: I used someone else’s (who I didn’t know but also attended Monster Gym) syringe because it didn’t look like it had blood in it so should have been fine but happened to be contaminated.
- Rob Townsend: Someone with a longstanding personal vendetta switched my bottle whilst I left it unattended before a race
- Gilberto Simeoni: My aunt gave me cough sweets from Argentina but she hadn’t checked the ingredients and they had cocaine in them
- Tyler Hamilton: I happen to be a chimera, therefore the autologous blood is actually mine because I have got two sets of genetic material including one from a twin that I absorbed when in my mother’s uterus
- Floyd Landis: I drank too much whiskey, hence my Tour-winning 11 minute breakaway
- Alberto Contador: I ate steak which a friend bought specially for me from Spain to France, but it was full of steroids
- Mauro Santambroglio: I took testosterone for my erectile dysfunction
- Franck Vandembroucke: The EPO and clenbuterol was for my ill dog
As someone pointed out somewhere else on the internet, it has the unexpected side-effect of making time trials seem quite a lot more interesting and subversive than they actually are.