Aussie cycling to be “cleansed”
Stepping down - GreenEdge boss Matt White has admitted to doping while with US Postal. (Image: AAP)
There’s a photo of the federal Sport Minister Kate Lundy smiling in front of the Olympic rings. She is about to embark on a Tygart-like doping investigation into Australian cycling.
The extreme underlighting gives her expression a malicious gleam and the rings are looking like handcuffs: “I firmly believe the nature of investigations, and testing and so forth, will ultimately expose what’s looking like a very disappointing history, so the sooner it’s cleaned up the better”.
Earlier this week a former UCI expert in doping detection, the Australian Michael Ashenden, denigrated Cycling Australia on its appointment of Matt White as men’s road coordinator and for its general laxity on doping.
He was definitely on to something because the organisation’s Vice-President Stephen Hodge has now also confessed to drug taking during his career.
In hindsight Hodge’s admission is no great surprise considering he was a teammate of Neil Stephens and fellow domestique for for the all conquering ONCE team that was managed by Manolo Saiz. Saiz would later be arrested during Operacion Puerto.
The talk has been about general classification riders doping but the domestiques had good reason to indulge in the practice, being less talented and having to work harder than their leaders. During the nineties, the deaths of several lesser known cyclists, while they slept, have been attributed to blood thickening EPO.
Even before Hodge made his confession Lundy had announced that ASADA and the Australian Crime Commission would begin to work together to investigate allegations of doping.
We’re all hoping that our modern Tour heroes like Brad McGee, Stuart O’Grady, Robbie McEwen and, of course, our only Tour winner Cadel Evans remain pure.
The prospect of an amnesty was raised by CA and ASADA, but has since been shot down by Lundy.
She wants those involved to come out and presumably be punished without leniency for the good of the sport: “If people have something to confess they ought to do it. If it’s not approached in that way then a cloud will forever hang over the sport. “What I’m talking about is a process through which the sport of cycling cleanses itself”.
She is encouraging Orica-GreenEDGE to follow the example of Britain’s Team Sky which is making its entire squad sign declarations that they have never doped.
The question is: will other guilty riders want to cleanse themselves and ruin their careers? I think an amnesty is the best way to get at the truth about the extent of doping in our ranks however by doing that you instantly dilute the seriousness of the practice.
It’s essentially unfair to provide lenient sentences for current dopers but more serious ones for future transgressors.
If the words of young Jack Bobridge are anything to go by, however, the future looks bright: “As the old speak out, the young pay the price. Get rid of them, move on and do what we love, ride bikes!”