Confessed dopers Tyler Hamilton, Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie are rumoured to be planning a surprise party for Stuart O’Grady, welcoming him to the club.
It’s a very select club, one that refused entry to the likes of Jan Ulrich, Floyd Landis and Riccardo Ricco.
In Ulrich’s case it seems he crossed the line by taking recreational drugs (ecstasy) and having a drinking problem – so he wasn’t ‘just’ a doper, he was also not quite presentable.
Ricco? He made the mistake of getting busted too early in his career (and not just once), and by not being ‘contrite’ enough when he was busted.
Not that it matters if the contrition is real or not.
And Landis? Well, he was just a mess from the off, got too big for his boots, got on Armstrong’s wrong side (many now see that the wrong side is in fact his only side) and got busted at a time when is just wasn’t fashionable to do so.
The Great White American Hopes in Floyd’s days were not supposed to be dirty – he was, as Ricco was once described by Mark Cavendish with a naivety that strayed well into stupidity, one bad apple in an otherwise healthy basket of bright, shiny and very clean apples.
A crock? Yep, obviously, but the majority of the cycling public smelt that load back then and declared it to be smelling of roses.
How times have changed.
Such are the levels of envy among former pros who did in fact dope, but never got caught, at the post-confessional financial successes of riders like Hincapie and possibly now O’Grady (if enough people buy his book), that many are thinking of making a comeback.
Of loading up on EPO, getting caught, then getting busted before they take a six-month career-ending ban to go off and write a book.
It’s interesting that O’Grady has titled his book Battle Scars. I can’t help think that the choice of title has been heavily influenced by the news of his doping.
Had he finished his career on the bike and not been exposed, how different it all could have been.
From hero to zero, so very quickly.
He says he’s just enjoying “being normal”, but I don’t know many ‘normal’ people that profited from doping (he says just once), got busted, wrote a book, made profits from that book and then headed out on a national book tour.
That’s not normal, not in my book (and no need to excuse that terrible pun).
In an interview with CyclingNews, O’Grady said, “We had pretty much wrapped up the book when my personal situation came out so obviously we had to rewrite it a bit and add a few chapters.
“It will be interesting to see how people take it on board. I just hope people can put into context and try to understand what it was like back then.”
So, the “extra chapters” – ie, the truth would about him doping and cheating – may never have been included had he not been busted.
Instead, his devoted fans would have read the ‘clean’ version, but now it is in there with ‘yes I did dope but please try to take it all in context’.
But wait – that was then, this is now. There is zero excuse for the fact that until the news of his positive came out he was quite prepared to bury it. That wasn’t ‘then’, it’s very much now.
So he was still willing to connive and perpetrate fraud by hoisting a blood, guts and glory but no mention of doping cos ‘I never did it’ tale onto a fawning public.
He also says he never had any idea that Armstrong was doping. Well, to counter that, anyone who has ever raced a bike kinda wondered, even if they were really into the Texan’s feats, if the big guy was maybe, just maybe, digging into Dr Ferrari’s bag of tricks to aid his superhuman performances.
Do we need any more wool foisted over our eyes? Do we need anymore ‘confessional’ books that make money for the confessors?
What ever happened to the ‘Son of Sam’ law that was enacted in the USA and Australia, to prevent criminals from profiting from their illegal activity?
Is it time that doping in professional sport be made a criminal activity on every country with an Olympic body?
I’m sick of these guys rolling out the books and the films and the Gran Fondos and the double toaster sets.
Vote with your wallets. Don’t buy this book.