Don’t buy Stuart O’Grady’s book

Lee Rodgers Columnist

By Lee Rodgers, Lee Rodgers is a Roar Expert

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    Australia's GreenEdge Cycling Teams' Luke Durbridge, Stuart O'Grady and Robbie McEwen (AAP Image/Benjamin Macmahon)

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    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.

    Lee Rodgers
    Lee Rodgers

    Lee Rodgers is a former professional rider on the UCI Asia circuit. He is now a freelance journalist, cycling coach and runs the website www.crankpunk.com.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • February 28th 2014 @ 10:58am
      Lroy said | February 28th 2014 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      Very sad to hear even O’Grady was a doper.

      Is it naive to believe that any of them are clean?

      Do we just give Armstrong back his medals?

      • March 1st 2014 @ 11:18am
        Malcolm said | March 1st 2014 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Do not drink your coffee this morning because you too will be starting the day with a drug in your system.

    • February 28th 2014 @ 11:44am
      BoneXV said | February 28th 2014 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      Hi Lee

      Good article – certainly a moral dilemma in deciding to buy these books – even though I found the extract of his book in the Herald Sun iteresting, I will not buy the book – especailly after readiong your extract from O’Grady’s interview with CyclingNews

      Australia does have a “Son of Sam” law, but O’Grady would need to be convicted of an offence: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/poca2002160/ – this is the law which will most likely prevent Schapelle from accepting a million dollar payday to tell her story (and why the AFP raided Channel 7) – but without a conviction, there is very little scope for the Aust Government to freeze O’Grady’s assets etc.

      I agree that doping should be elevated into the realms of criminal law – it’s basically fraud in that athletes profit of cheating and prevent clean athletes from accessing those profits

    • February 28th 2014 @ 12:12pm
      deanp said | February 28th 2014 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

      oh get off that high horse. Absolute pompous drivel. He is not profiting. Probably less people are going to buy his book. His reputation is diminished. Sure, he may have not revealed his little secret in the book. But perhaps he may have revealed it at a latter date. Who knows? Indeed, who can be sure who is and who isn’t guilty of cheating, at some stage in their career, or throughout their careers. O’Grady claims his cheating was very limited. You are perfectly free to believe that or not to believe it. You are also perfectly free to believe O’Grady is an evil little man. But take heed, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

      • February 28th 2014 @ 4:54pm
        fadida said | February 28th 2014 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

        Weren’t you in support of Essendon throughout their whole doping saga deanp? Naive by nature?

        Anyone who knows anything about cycling history knows that doping has run a parallel with the sport. Any rider who has been remotely successful in the last 2 decades has done so by doping. Those that haven’t been caught are under heavy suspicion.

        You think O’Grady doped just the one time he was caught? You really think he was otherwise clean? The reality is he confessed to the one time he tested positive (LA’s famous response was always that he tested clean – how did that turn out?). O’Grady wasn’t even going to mention his cheating in his book until it was becoming public. He’s admitting what become public, but no more, to save his reputation.

        Reality is that like the vastly majority of the peloton he was regularly doping. It was accepted. Everyone knows it. Few had a problem with it, including the governing body who accepted money to not disclose test results.

        A tainted and dirty sport

        • February 28th 2014 @ 7:31pm
          deanp said | February 28th 2014 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

          You are perfectly entitled to think what you want. You are perfectly entitled to think you understand the workings of the human mind, and O’Grady’s in particular. If you are so arrogant. As I said you can believe what you want. You can pompously claim everyone to be a cheat. The freedom is yours to do so. But it doesn’t mean you are correct. No matter how loud you pompously shout.

          • February 28th 2014 @ 8:33pm
            fadida said | February 28th 2014 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

            Whose shouting? Pompous? Arrogant?I know who’s uninformed and naive.

            The sport through the O’Grady era was dirty. Tainted. The peloton was a pack of drug cheats, complicit in their deceit. The UCI were aware of the heavy doping culture. They chose to ignore it or were happy to be bribed. A number of riders died, essentially of cardiac events as a result of EPO overdoses.

            The few clean riders were bullied, threatened and ostracised. Journalists questioning the cheating were ostracised. I could direct you toward half a dozen books that would actually inform you. They may even be in comic form if you’d prefer 😉

      • February 28th 2014 @ 10:09pm
        damo said | February 28th 2014 @ 10:09pm | ! Report

        Have I missed it, is O’Grady donating his share of sales to a charity or similar ?
        I only ask because it doesn’t seem to mention it in the article & I thought it would be pertinent if that was the case.

    • February 28th 2014 @ 12:27pm
      Stevo@Lennox said | February 28th 2014 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

      Hi Lee,
      Interesting article and I understand the moral dilemma you pose, however, after reading Tyler Hamilton’s book a while ago I disagree. It was perhaps one of the most interesting sports books I’ve ever read. Certainly opened my naïve eyes to what is/was truly happening in cycling. The reason these books are successful is because the majority of cycling journalists failed to pursue Armstrong and co. (except for a few notable exceptions) while he/they were riding and doping. They wanted to be included in the list of journalists who got exclusives and stories from the exalted ones. Of course, it was also a failure of authorities. I believe books like Hamilton’s (I haven’t read O’Grady’s but will do although he does seem disingenuous) should be must reads for all upcoming cyclists and sportspeople. It sure as hell educated me more than any newspaper article.

    • February 28th 2014 @ 3:55pm
      calum said | February 28th 2014 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

      HI Lee,

      thanks for the great article.

      While I totally accept your argument (and am pretty despondent that Stuart O’Grady has come out as a doper), I’m inclined to agree with Stevo@Lennox. Hamiltons book was an excellent read, but much more importantly, if it hadn’t been written arguably Armstrong would never had admitted to doping in his Oprah interview, which in turn was probably what tipped the balance to McQuaid eventually getting ousted, Verbruggen dropping his lawsuit against Paul Kimmage etc etc.

      God, its all such a mess, and you are right that basically O’Grady clearly wasn’t at all originally going to admit to doping, there was clearly a quick re-draft done! And I totally agree that there is something tawdry about people benefitting from what is essentially fraud. However, overall there has definately been benefits to people coming out and being truthful.

      In a while, once we have had the truth and reconcilation committee and a longer time on thjis process, I think we will have reached saturation point where there is no benefit except to the cyclists conscience, but I think we are short of that point at the moment.

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2014 @ 4:27pm
      Bones506 said | February 28th 2014 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

      I have read Breaking the Chain about 98 Festina affair and Secret Race. More than enough on doping and the lies in the sport.

      Layer that over just having watched the Armstrong Lie whilst in the USA and I am done with doping.

      • February 28th 2014 @ 6:21pm
        Calum said | February 28th 2014 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

        Yep, there was only a few books previously, now there’s more. It’s unseemly but clearly there needed to be more otherwise books like breaking the chain and rough ride would have stopped doping.

        ‘The Armstrong lie’ is perfect example, only got made/ released in its current format due to Armstrong admitting on Oprah Winfrey, which is unlikely to have happened if Hamilton didn’t write his books etc etc…

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