Life's Not Fair

News & Results

07/29/2013| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
To clean up cycling do we need to completely “clean house” and show zero leniency to those who have a dirty past? Fotoreporter Sirotti

Life's Not Fair

Stuart O'Grady and Erik Zabel discovered a harsh life lesson.

So how is the doping “zero tolerance” policy working out? This is a rhetorical question as we’ve seen recently that this type of enforcement is a failure.

Last week the French Senate released a list naming the riders whose 1998 Tour de France test samples came up positive for EPO. Some of you may be wondering why it took 15 years to test these samples from a select group of racers during the 1998 Tour. In ’98 there was no test for EPO and they have been stored in a French lab collecting dust on a shelf like a fine wine in a French wine cellar.

The samples were uncorked and before the results could be published Stuart O’Grady stepped forward and retired saying he doped before the ‘98 Tour started. However, according to the published list O’Grady’s glow-time was during stage 14 of the 1998 Tour – whoops ...

If he was telling the truth about taking EPO two weeks prior to the start of the Tour he would have come up hot before stage 14. Instead O’Grady has joined “The Group of Still Dishonest Riders.”

His excuse is right up there with “I only did it once” and “that just happened to be the time you caught me.” It doesn’t fool your parents and it doesn’t fool us.

In the couple of days following his sudden retirement, O’Grady has had to face some serious backlash.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) spokesman Mike Tancred said, “He won’t be remembered as a fantastic competitor that we all thought he was. Instead he’ll be remembered as an athlete who succumbed to the temptation of drugs in sport just to get an edge on his fellow riders.”

The AOC told O’Grady to quit or he would be fired from the Athlete’s Commission. There’s also the possibility he might lose his Olympic medals from the 1992, 1996, and 2004 games. People are also questioning O’Grady’s Paris-Roubaix victory in 2007.

Of course the Australian sprinter wasn’t the only name on the list. Another sprinter, Erik Zabel of Germany, also made the list and like O’Grady he lied about his past doping history.

Zabel admitted to doping prior to the list’s publication - however he says he doped, only once, back in 1996. At the time of this confession he said that he stopped after that one time because he didn’t like the side effects. Those side effects must also include the loss of memory because the French senate list showed he was still doping two years later in 1998.

Therefore, Zabel has had to come out and re-tell his doping story. Yes he had doped throughout much of his career and he deeply regrets doing so.

Like O’Grady, Zabel has lost some key positions, including his seat at the Professional Cycling Council (CCP) and his job as technical advisor for the Cyclassics WorldTour race in Hamburg. Presently he is still pulling a paycheck from Russian Team Katusha as their sprint coach.

The problem is once you lie, then get caught in the lie, and then tell another

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