Saturday, January 17, 2009

On Doping / Millar's Story

Everybody knows that there's doping in cycling. There always was, and while there may not always be, it's not just some modern evil. After all, Tom Simpson died on the road up Mt Ventoux (partially) because of amphetamines and alcohol.

Via VeloGoGo I stumbled on this short video bit on David Millar. As contemplative music strums in the background, he tells the story of his entry into professional cycling as a 19-year-old, of rapidly fulfilling his dream of not only riding in the Tour de France, but winning a 16k time trial - beating Lance Armstrong by 2 seconds and getting to don the yellow jersey.

He then tells of burnout, being underconditioned (perhaps overtrained, I wonder?), and having his team take his hand and lead him toward doping. He is regretful.

It's obviously a marketing piece for Slipstream, but I really enjoyed it. It personalizes doping in the context of an extremely demanding sport. One of the things that bothers me most about doping is the witch-hunt element of it. I could barely stand the Tours de France of the past two years - I wondered if, by the time the race got to Paris, there would be any riders left after the organizers' purges. Doping may not be right but it seemed that the cure was worst than the disease. Even worse are those in the peanut gallery who take the opportunity to scream "Doper!" at the slightest provocation. I watched with dismay as a talented local racer was given a 2-year suspension last year - an ingredient in a supplement he took had just been added to the list of banned substances. Regretable, and then came the jerks sitting at their computers, firing off invectives, and generally acting as if taking supplements is worse for the spirit of the sport than being an out-and-out asshole.

"Millar's Story" is a bit of humanity in the circus. Watch it for yourself - Part 1 and Part 2 - and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. NOL, I appreciate your take. It's very similar to mine, which you can find here. I don't like taking a gray-area stance on doping; I'd rather we could rid the sporting world of it completely. Until that impossible time, gray is the only place that holds attainable truth for me.

    I look forward to those vids. Thanks!