Karl Marx once said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” except sadly, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) never got to a farce; instead they are stuck in the tragedy that has slowly become a farce.
During the reign of Lance Armstrong, the disgraced professional cyclist, many different banned performance enhancing substances were being used, a short list would include: Erythropoietin (EPO), Blood transfusions, Testosterone, Corticosteroids, and Saline and Plasma infusions.
Ten years later and not much has changed; other than cyclists finding new ways to get around the tests, again. A report from the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (Circ) for the president of the UCI outlined everything about cycling from past to present regarding doping: the action of taking performance enhancing drugs.
In the report, it is noted that modern cyclists could be taking any drugs on this list and possibly more: EPO, Blood Transfusions, 5-Aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide, GW-501516, Growth Hormone, Steroids, Corticoids, and Tramadol.
The only drug on this short list that is allowed is Tramadol, a narcotic-like pain killer that is thought to impair the judgement of the rider. The other drugs on the list are banned for good reason; for example, GW-501516 was stopped during clinical trials because it was, and still is, believed to cause cancer.
The reports from riders in the Circ report also solidify the remark that cycling is not any cleaner than before. Instead, professional cycling has just adapted, once again.
“One respected cycling professional felt that even today, 90% of the peloton was doping… Another put it at around 20%. Many people simply stated they ‘didn’t know’ who was clean and who was not,” as noted in the Circ report.
Another part of the Circ report said, “One rider, for example, told the Commission that he had used at least 12 different types of substances throughout his professional career, some of which were highly experimental and which were even designed only for horses.”
In addition the Circ report also had a statement from an anonymous rider who said, “…team riders also took tranquilisers [sic] at night and antidepressants [sic] in the morning. He believed some of his crashes were due to the effects of these drugs. He also stated that there was a drink given to a rider who may be able to win, which made the heart beat faster and which caused the body to burn sugars immediately.”
What the UCI needs is a role model or advocate that wants a clean sport. The best advocate would have to be Lance Armstrong.
Let it sink in for a minute.
Yes, Armstrong bullied people, did terrible things to people, and most of all is one of the most notorious cyclists who doped in history.
Since coming out to the public about his use of performance enhancing drugs, Armstrong has been making apologizes to all the people he has personally wronged. Armstrong also recognizes the fact that he will probably never stop apologizing for his actions.
Another thing that Armstrong has been doing, is actively cooperating with Circ and answering any questions that they might have. Armstrong’s reasoning behind this change in behavior is, “In this point in my life, I’m not out to protect anybody. I’m out protect seven people, and they all have the last name Armstrong.”
Armstrong might not have any issues with his doping past. He makes it well known during interviews, but Armstrong has also showed more hope for the future of cycling and desire for it to be clean, than most other riders.
The response that Armstrong has in response to the Circ report is great. According to the The Week Magazine Armstrong says , “‘I am grateful to Circ for seeking the truth and allowing me to assist in that search. I am deeply sorry for many things I have done. However, it is my hope that revealing the truth will lead to a bright, dope-free future for the sport I love, and will allow all young riders emerging from small towns throughout the world in years to come to chase their dreams without having to face the lose-lose choices that so many of my friends, teammates and opponents faced.’”
This might be a ploy for his life suspension to be reduced, but during an interview with the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) Armstrong also made his stance on doping in the past and present known: “If I was racing in 2015, no. I wouldn’t do it again, cause I don’t think you have to do it again. If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive. Then, I would probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that.”
Other riders will still listen to Armstrong because his story still holds weight today. A cyclist who survived cancer, rebuilt himself, and went on to win seven Tour de France titles against other guys that were on the same banned substances as he was.
People Recognize Armstrong, which is the main reason the UCI should try to get the US Anti-doping Agency to lift his suspension because, right now, the UCI is in deep trouble. The UCI’s only hope to clean up their doping riddled sport might just be Armstrong himself.