I've started to crack about all the doping stuff right now, for two reasons. First is obvious: that people are doing it. But what's cracking me more is hearing everyone's expert commentary on the matter.
To be clear: not all professional cyclists do drugs. Period. Not even the majority. Maybe some guy has an incredible ride, or a breakthrough season, or does something on a bike you couldn't do; that still doesn't give you a window into his soul or the right to point a finger and scream cheat.
My most recent way of analogizing doping is that it's like date rape. You pull together a bunch of guys, put them in a little pool, and hold up what they perceive to be limited number of available opportunities. The truly competitive ones would never cheat because they realize it defeats the whole purpose of the game, also known as life. Those guys still get the girl, maybe only one, but they live happily ever after because that was the whole point, they were intrinsically motivated.
But then there's the selfish, insecure d-bag whose only source of self worth is through the eyes of others--winning race trophies or getting trophy girls. He misses the point so much that he's willing to do the ultimate dishonor of cheating the only person who really even cares--himself. He'd rather drug himself or drug the girl just to be able to wave a prize above his head and get pats on the back. Then he goes off to live miserably in spite of it all, die unhappy, and screw over a whole community in the process.
So as much as it pains me to see the sport that I spend so much time and energy working at disgraced when one of these assholes turns up positive, it's almost as painful to read a litany of "expert" accusations on effing Facebook after every race. I'm not saying put your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't happen; just have a little respect for the sport, the people who do it, the people who've effed up and are taking a second crack at it, and maybe even do positive things to see your community change. Or just turn off the TV and tweet about the neighborhood t-ball match if you can't take the doubt.
The analogy extends into the process of punishment, as the current system lacks pretty much every kind of due process guaranteed in other areas of life. Take Ballan for instance, who was benched in early April because a newspaper linked him to a corrupt doctor without any further proof. BMC suspended him to put on a show and he missed two months of racing. I'm not saying he's innocent, or that it shouldn't be investigated, because I DON'T KNOW, just like you. Throw the book at him if he did it, suspend him for life for all I care, but do it because he actually did it, and that's what the rules say, and that's what we all agreed on before we started playing the game.
Doctors and Lawyers continue working through malpractice suits, drunk drivers get their licenses back, felons are paroled and, in a perfect world, "rehabilitated." Everyone is entitled to the rewards and suffers punishments of our rules, including the shitheads coming back from a suspension. We don't have lifetime bans for first time offenses. Whether or not that's right is another discussion. But however painful it is to see totally unrepentant cheats coming back to the sport after sitting on the bench for two years, we can't have this process of continuing to drag them and the sport through the mud by questioning whatever they accomplish for the rest of their lives. If we can't do them that respect, if we can't operate under a presumption of innocence and recognize the humanity even in those who break our rules, then let's just discard this whole legal facade, take a hint from horse racing, and march the dopers out behind the barn with a .22 to put them out of their misery, rather than begrudgingly letting them back in the game without ever letting them get the ball.
Okay, rant done, gratuitous nephew picture just to brighten spirits. Group hug! Go on, hug someone, DO IT, it will make you feel better. Okay.