Hypocrisy is something that drives me particularly nuts. I am especially sensitive to situations where I find myself acting or thinking in this way, and strive to stamp it out. Thanks to Alberto Contador I’ve actually found myself in one of these situations, and I’m still trying to figure out where my thinking may have gone wrong. Specifically, I’m realizing that I’ve not been judging Lance Armstrong and Contodor by the same standards. Even more so I’ve found myself holding the exact same opinion of Contador that I previously criticized others for having regarding Armstrong.
It was not too long ago when Lance was dominating the Tour de France that many a Frenchmen (and others, for that matter) were sure that he had to be doping. “There is no way that an athlete can perform that far above all of his contemporaries without cheating” was a common belief.
While I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m not a “Texas flag waving Armstrong supporter“, I felt at the time that the “Lance is doping” mantra was just nonsense. I liked the idea of Lance clean, and found it inspiring that a person could actually dominate a sport in the way he did.
But then a funny thing happened. This spindly Spaniard started climbing hills like nobody’s business. I was watching the 2011 Giro d’Italia as he seemed to ride past all the competition as if he were out on a casual Sunday morning group ride. The guy blew by folks on the climbs and didn’t even seem to really be breaking a sweat. With the background of the entire clenbuterol nonsense still in my mind I had a thought that seemed a very logical conclusion. “Obviously the guy is doping. There is no way he could keep dropping those guys like that over and over.”
The critical thinkers among you will realize that I was now thinking in exactly the same way as all the Armstrong doubters had been. Yup – I just became a hypocrite. Now the question I need to answer is, which of my two opinions is wrong? Was I overly optimistic in my previous belief in Armstrong’s clean racing? Or am I being overly critical of Contador? Perhaps Lance was riding dirty, and Contador simply did get some bad beef. Unfortunately there is a growing body of evidence that seems to be pointing to the fact that neither of these men may be able to adorn their bikes with the blue spacers that signify a rider dedicated to keeping the sport fair and clean.