What happened to the pros

I think I’ve watched less pro cycling races this year than in a long time. Actually – I know I have. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. But I do have to admit almost every race I look at, there was some guy that I was suspicious of. And that doesn’t make it any fun to watch. There are a few folks I’ve enjoyed watching race around on bikes a little more than others. It is a short list. As a fan of the sport the names Chris Horner, Jens Voigt and Fabian Cancellara (who just so happened to end up on the same team) always stood out for me somehow. Part of my enjoyment of Horner and Voigt specifically was their age. They showed me that getting older wasn’t an excuse I should even consider.

It would be great to be confident these men – and others like them – have ridden clean. But the pragmatist steps in. They’ve been on teams where other riders and management have been linked to doping. More and more people come out and say they doped. Unfortunately what has happened now is not that specific riders have been identified, but an entire generation of riders are now under suspicion – deserving or not. Every win is subject to a “was he doping” question.

I’m not specifically upset that doping occurred. It is understandable. If you pin paychecks on performance folks will do what they can to improve performance. So what do we do? Chris Horner has been quoted as saying, basically, that if we don’t trust the tests we shouldn’t bother with them. That’s a paraphrase for sure, but it is a valid question. How do we get back to a place where folks can sit down, watch a bike race and not have the specter of doping over every winner. Because I miss enjoying a good bike race.

Maybe I should just stick to my local races and clubs. Or watch women’s racing instead.