The other evening I was at the Goodwill looking for a Halloween costume and jeans. The place was packed with people doing the same thing I was and all the costumes were way overpriced, so Kim and I ended up slumming from the Salvation Army instead. But the strange thing I noticed at Goodwill was the unusual amount of normal-looking people, and even one attractive girl, who were employed there. Had my standards decreased this rapidly after my time in Belgium? In the past, Goodwills were employed by raggedy people (like myself) who needed a hand, people who required donations from those who had extra to give, hence the name of the store. It was a place for poor people to shop and struggling people to work. Goodwills employed men and women who’d been out on the streets, were alcoholics, drug addicts, or had mental handicaps. Now with the economy in the toilet, it seems that Goodwills hire anyone they choose. It’s an employer’s market, and Goodwill’s now hire psych majors.
While the investment bankers in Wall Street helped to collapse our economy, the chain reaction of their dishonesty and greed caused an entire shift in the job market, forcing everyone below them down a notch. Smart, super qualified workers who’d spent years at high-level careers have taken pay cuts or have moved to lower-end jobs, forcing college-educated kids and motivated young people to take jobs in restaurants, Kinkos, and Goodwill, which has forced the least qualified people back out on the streets. A similar thing is happening in the cycling world.
A large part of the crisis in cycling is due to the bad economy, but the other half comes from the dopers, the liars, the corrupt SOBs that have been infesting the sport for so long. I’m glad USADA grew a pair of balls and rooted some of them out–though don’t kid yourselves, the “victims” (as they would have us believe) of Armstrong and the doping culture of their era who finally came out and told (some of) the truth only did so because they would have otherwise faced jail time. They don’t actually give a shit about honesty or integrity or helping the sport to clean up, otherwise they would have come out a long time ago.
Now that the sport is in ruin and teams are folding left and right, it won’t be the super stars that take a pay cut or lose their job on a pro tour team, it’s everyone below them. Some of the less #winning and possibly cleaner pro tour riders are having to move down to the pro continental level. Some of the unfortunate pro conti guys are stooping back to continental teams, and some of the unfortunate conti guys have retreated back to amateur. Meanwhile, us idiots can’t even find a job pushing shopping carts back from the parking lot.
Just like those rich bastard CEOs who all ended up with bonuses, the cheaters and liars in cycling are still doing fine. Look at Contador. Look at Vino. Look at Valverde and Baso and the majority of every other super star you can name. They’re all just fine. Some are even more popular now that they’ve doped, served their time, have seen the light, been baptized and cleaned of their sins, and are on personal crusades to stomp doping right off the face of the earth…or to sell some books and win the hearts of their overly-optimistic fans. One or the other. (On a side note, in case you’re still unaware, there’s plenty of evidence supporting that doping has life-long lasting effects, so even former dopers still reap the benefits when they’re “clean”).
The problem with giving known dopers a second chance is that there are plenty of honest people who never got their first chance. Cycling isn’t life or death after all. Second chances are fine in real life. It would be irrational to lock someone up in jail for life because of a misdemeanor. Cycling isn’t real life though. It’s sport and anyone who’s fortunate enough to pursue sport as their livelihood should honor that gift and respect the hard work and dedication of their competitors and realize that there are people with REAL problems out there and losing a race is NOT a real problem. The integrity of sport is something that should be held to an even higher standard than real life because the consequences of failure are much less drastic.
Sport needs to be the epitome of honesty, hard work, and perseverance–something that can be held up and admired for the rest of the world to find inspiration in and strive towards, because in a perfect world real life should be what sport is meant to be: an arena where intense but friendly competition drives progress but no one dies or gets thrown out on the streets if they don’t win. Unfortunately sport is not like this, and real life is even further removed.
If dopers really want to help clean up the sport the best thing they can do is to leave. Just go away. You aren’t doing anyone any good by serving some bullshit six-month ban (or two years for that matter) and coming back to the sport and taking away an honest person’s potential job. There are plenty of equally or more-talented, moral people waiting for a chance and you’re in the way. Move. As the saying goes, “Those who got us into this mess won’t be the ones getting us out.” As an even more relevant saying goes, “Eat shit and die.” Haha, just kidding. Don’t eat shit.