Dopers Suck? – Rant

Sep 13 2005

Bike racing draws in stupidity like a vacuum. And, even though Laurent Fignon became le professeur simply because he had spent some time in college and wore funny glasses, I’m not talking about the intellectual quality of the riders, here. I’m talking about things like BioPace and performance-enhancing coffee . Or Cyclo-Zen, which suggested that your inability to climb might not be due your poor watts/mass ratio at lactate threshold, but instead to your lack of mental toughness. And though each of these things is pretty silly in its own way, by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever come across during my (admittedly short) time in cycling is Dopers Suck.

Why do I HATE “Dopers Suck?” There’s so many reasons. Let’s begin with the fact that people have an astoundingly pretentious way of showing off their “Dopers Suck” t-shirts and stickers like they’re part of some new revolution that’s sweeping cycling clean. News Flash, kids: doping’s been a part of cycling as long as pneumatic tires. I’m not saying that makes it ok, but just think for a second: in the 120 years since the first 6-day racer threw back a glass of bubbly laced with cocaine, maybe you aren’t the first person to think that’s a pretty lame way to win a bike race?

That bit aside, you still hate doping and dopers. You think it’s destroying the sport etc, etc. So what did you do about it? Did you donate to WADA? Write a letter to your congressman about anti-doping legislation like they have in Italy and France? Volunteer for USADA at a big local race? No. You bought a t-shirt. Or a sticker. From some fly-by-night commercial organization called “Dubba Racing,” which just so happens to make no statement on its web page about where your money goes.* For all you know, you’re keeping some pothead stocked with rolling papers. Way to contribute to the movement, anti-doping crusader!

Then there’s the guys that take their “Dopers Suck” t-shirts up onto the podium. All respect due to JHK and Geoff Kabush, but I cannot imagine anything more idiotic. Did Richard Virenque, upon finishing third at the 1997 TdF, suddenly come clean and say “oh, BTW, guys: I’m totally on EPO.” No. Even faced with (literally) a car load of dope, including some vials and IV bags that had his name written on them, he protested his innocence for months afterward. So I guess, because Virenque didn’t have a “Dopers Suck” t-shirt on, and because you do, we’re all to believe that you’re clean? Sure, that works for me. I mean T-Shirts (that’s R. Kelly, in case you didn’t know…) never, ever, lie, right?

Now, it’s not that I think vanishing twins, mysterious South American candies supplied by Francesco Moser’s sister, and trunkloads of EPO for sick mothers-in-law are any less ridiculous. They’re not. These things just represent the last-ditch efforts of desperate men and women to salvage their lives. It’s really easy for us as mere mortals to point at these Gods of Sport and say “how could you just throw it all away?” But keep in mind, these people race for a living. Yeah, they’re really good at it, but they doesn’t mean they like doing it. For many (European) pro riders, cycling might be the only way they know to earn a paycheck. That’s a whole ton of pressure, and it only gets worse if you’ve got a family to worry about as well.

Can you imagine what it’s got to be like for some 31-year-old Belgian domestique who’s been supporting a family of five on one-year contracts for the past 3 seasons, and who has only the most basic education to fall back on, to realize that unless something drastic changes over the winter, he’s not going to be able to keep up come March? THAT’s pressure, man. It’s pressure like us fry-slinging, investment-banking, wrench-turning simpletons will hopefully never have to know. It still doesn’t make it OK to dope, but it ought to make you think twice before proclaiming to the world that some guy you never met sucks.

Which brings me to another point. Dopers don’t suck. They dope. That’s all. They don’t drive drunk, abuse small animals or endorse fascism. Just because someone takes an illegal substance for the sole purpose of performing better doesn’t necessarily make them a worse person. Tyler Hamilton, for example, really looks like he cheated during last years’ Vuelta. Officially, the jury is still out, but I’m gonna guess they’ll throw the book at him. But he is still, by all accounts, a nice guy. He drops big money into MS research and even comes out to push fat Cat 4/5 riders up the hillclimb at the Boulder Stage Race. But I guess, if your t-shirt is true, Tyler Hamilton sucks. And then there’s Lance Armstrong, who brings in literally billions of dollars each year for cancer research, gives some of the most seriously ill people on Earth hope for the future, and has probably done more for the good of mankind than any other cyclist in the history of the sport. If l’Equipe is telling the truth, then, according to you, he now sucks. You sure want that message plastered across your chest?

At the root of it all, my problem with “Dopers Suck” comes down to attitude. “Dopers Suck” helps no one, offers no improvements and suggests no alternatives. It’s runs on the same dumbsh!t, zero-tolerance, with-us-or-against-us logic that suspends 7-year olds for brining nail clippers to school and has alienated America from pretty much the entire rest of the world. Do you really think that treating riders like David Millar and Marc Lotz, who readily admitted their EPO use, the same as riders like Virenque and Johan Museeuw, who fought as hard as they could to hide it, is really going to make people less likely to dope? I think history shows us that it’s just going to make them work harder at not getting caught. So go ahead, man, parade around in your sweet “Dopers Suck” t-shirt. Just don’t pretend like you’re trying to fight doping when you do it.

*unless you buy their repackaged Jittery Joe’s coffee. Then you help US Juniors get slaughtered racing ‘cross in Europe.

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11 Responses to “Dopers Suck? – Rant”

  1. random 14 September 2005 at 7:58 pm #

    i am impressed that you can see us wearing the dopers suck tshirts from your view atop your horse. the main point of the movement is to discourage the practice of doping. sending the juniors to race cross in europe is good for the sport in the u.s. results aside. it really is a shame that you can’t grasp the importance encouraging cleaner racing. the ivory tower must have quite a view. regardless of if 90% of the bunch is on the junk or not.

  2. Freddy 14 September 2005 at 9:30 pm #

    Well put, Cosmo.

  3. Anonymous 27 December 2005 at 11:07 am #

    Boy do I agree. Dopers Suck t-shirts are just another yellow wrist band — another way to make a statement without really doing anything or fully understanding the issues. joe z

  4. The D. 12 February 2006 at 4:34 pm #

    Would you feel better about it if they said “Cheaters Suck”?

  5. ALAN 11 July 2006 at 12:57 pm #

    Maybe You should do a little research into Dubba’s involvment in cycling, trail access advocacy, and junior development before you start ripping on him and his t-shirts. A quick Google might tell you what you should know, but I guess you are too busy writing letters to the UCI.

    By your logic, I guess Ken Lay wasn’t a bad person for robbing people of their money. After all, he gave money to chartiable organizations.

    Dopers Suck!

  6. Dr. G 19 November 2007 at 1:14 pm #

    It is soooo cool to be contrarian! Especially for such a noble cause as ragging on people who think sports should a) be as health enhancing as possible, b) fought out fairly without peculiar advantages for some an not others, c) true fans of cycling who no longer can watch races without wondering things like “was that move only possible because of doping.”

  7. Confused 22 April 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    According to the Doper’s Suck website, Ivan Basso sucks: http://doperssuck.typepad.com/doperssuck/2007/05/hey_ivan.html

    According to the owners bike shop blog, you to can own the same bike as Ivan Basso:
    http://bouldercyclesport.com/page.cfm?pageID=317

    When exactly did he stop sucking? When he could make the guy some money? If you’re going to make simple blanket statements, have the guts to stick to them…

  8. Robbie 2 June 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    Nice attempt at making a point, mysterious cyclocosm man. Too bad it didn’t work out for you. Better luck next time.

  9. rg 18 October 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    7 years since this was written, and prophetically, yep, it looks like Lance indeed sucks.

  10. pollux 20 September 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    If you can no longer keep up as a professional athlete and need the aid of EPO to support your poor starving children. Go get a job that you probably will dislike like most people. Its like a starving artist, they dont have to be starving you know. They could go out and do something that pays money. Pathetic soulless cheaters are all they are. I think any movement shaming them, substantially effective or not, is a positive thing.

    • Anonymous 23 September 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Fuckin’-A,

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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