Lying your way to the top

News & Results

11/14/2011| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Lying your way to the top

Sometimes you realize that your sport's hero is just a guy with faults of his own.

Sometimes you realize that your sport's hero is just a guy with faults of his own.

As someone who writes about cycling for a living, I have gotten to know some riders quite well. You're often in the same hotels and restaurants between stages, bumping into each other in the hallways or in line to get breakfast. These same pros are brought out on product junkets by their sponsors and you again rub shoulders with them. The more you run into them, the more you get to know how they are as "normal" people. Some guys you like better than others - it's only natural. Much like you might enjoy going to lunch with a certain co-worker, but not another.

The familiar riders that I've interviewed included Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and Danilo Di Luca. The topic of doping came up each time and they all firmly denied the charges. Of course those riders later admitted to the truth or it became obvious to me that they're guilty. As a journalist it doesn't look good when you don't report the truth. The whole purpose of being a journalist is to discover the truth and I didn't get to the truth in those interviews. However, I don't hold it against any of them. In fact I consider Floyd Landis a friend and communicate with him frequently about normal stuff you might do with any of your friends. I haven't spoken to Hamilton since the Amgen Tour of California in 2009, but he seemed like a good guy.

When I interviewed Joe Papp for the online video show TourChats, I had never spoken to him prior to that interview. I had been in the court room during Floyd Landis' doping hearing in 2007 and heard him talk about his own doping experience. Since that time he has been cooperating with authorities to catch athletes he'd sold performance enhancing drugs to. And to be clear - if he didn't, Papp was facing a long sentence in federal prison - not a place for a skinny cyclist. As I researched Papp I read some hatred that I would only aim at serial killers. Papp also disclosed that he had received e-mails hoping that all types of horrible things would happen to him. While I have been lied to over the years by athletes, I could never imagine wishing that kind of violence on someone. So what makes someone take the time to write an e-mail or blog about his hatred for a person who in his own words was just ‘filling a need that was there'?

Cycling is often described by writers far better than me as a sport driven by passion. Unlike many sports, you don't train with a bunch of teammates. Often training is made up of solo rides during which the only human interaction might be someone yelling from a moving vehicle to get off the road. In contrast to other sports, who even have spectators when they train, it can be a lonely endeavor. For those who have made the long term

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