• shitalkin’

    by  • November 23, 2008 • too random • 9 Comments

     

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    {stol’d from the brave one}

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    So FrankAndreu and his wife, Betsy are back in the news about the Lance Armstrong affair(s).

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    oy.

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    For those who haven’t read the … stories … about what it’s all about ~ the crux of the matter is that the Andreaus are reported to have stated in court documents:

    “And so the doctor asked him a few questions, not many, and then one of the questions he asked was… have you ever used any performance-enhancing drugs? And Lance said yes. And the doctor asked, what were they? And Lance said, growth hormone, cortisone, EPO, steroids and testosterone.”

    Betsy Andreu’s statement was made on January 17, 2006, and according to Le Monde, backed up what her husband had said to the court on October 25, 2005. “I don’t know how the doctor formulated his question, but the response was that he had taken EPO, testosterone, growth hormones and cortisone,” said Frankie Andreu. [CN]

    well … what’ya gonna do?

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    I’m not here to question whether L’Armstrong took performance enhancers.  And, I’m not here to question the honesty of the Andreaus.  I’ve never met Armstrong and I’ve only casually bumped elbows with Frankie a couple of times … years after his retirement.

    so … what am i here to do, ask you to listen to, think upon?

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    Drugs and survival

    I’ve only known, personally and with certainty, of a very few cyclists who have taken performance enhancing drugs.  One was from our own NorCal backyard in Dave Fuentes.

    The year that Fuentes got popped … i reckon there were probably a good dozen breakaways i was with him in ~ a season of lapping crit fields, chasing him for hours across shitcovered farmroads, hell … even having to go redder than sin to drop his massive ass on a hill.

    i remember those days clearly.

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    Another was Joe Papp.  I saw the transition his body went through over a month, saw the change that occurred in his riding, his results.  … And saw a bit of what he went through after he had admitted, went public … how that changed him, as well.

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    The pain and hardships that professional athletes undergo, and those who strive to become so …

    I ask you, is it so difficult to empathize with them? Is it so difficult to glimpse into their minds and realize how horrible a choice it is that they are forced to make?

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    From the high school football player’s demanded bulk ~ to the aging, limping veteran who’s knees won’t function unless shot-up…

    to the gymnast’s body, bound and shrunk, empowered yet exploited…

    to the swimmer, who’s worth is measured in fractions ~ fractions of one fleeting, and cruel second …

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    to the cyclist ~ who must endure hours, upon hours of … suffering.

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    Cycling is the only sport in the world where life and limb are risked every single day of every single race and every single training ride.  Every fucking day.  Cycling is the only sport in the world that demands each and every one of its participants, man or woman, to risk bone and skin … and mind.  Every single day.

    Think about that.

    Cycling is a sport that demands pain – demands those who can take the most pain into their bodies, those who can suffer through the icey wets of rain and snow, the insane boilings of heat and furnace winds … those who can deprive themselves, push themselves, destroy themselves.

    over and over and over again.

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    And these men and women, these teenagers, these aging stars of the sport … each of them has known, or will one day know, how miniscule the difference is between 1st and never seen.  They know, or will know, how awful and seemingly unfair the gap is between the gold-covered glories of the victor and the anonymous, the poor, the discarded also-ran.

    And many will know, or will be forced to know … how a simple injection, a seemingly harmless set of pills or tabs ordered from someone never met or judging you, can … cross that divide between the many faces of wealth that winning provides and ~ the forever ache, anonymity, and seeming poverty of … losing.

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    I have often said, that i do not judge those who take the drugs that improve performance. Often said, “take what you want, i’ll still win … in the end.”

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    … and that does not change.  But what does, is my sympathy and sorrow for those forced to make that choice.

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    for, it is a choice.

    ~

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    9 Responses to shitalkin’

    1. Matt
      November 23, 2008 at

      Mike – dude…while I can sympathize with the horror of self-inflicted DOPING for the sake of our beautiful sport (not).. it is more than a bit hype’ish to state “Cycling is the only sport in the world where life and limb are risked every single day….blahblahblah. First off it’s a simple case of self-agrandizing to the choir. We all know it’s hard and dangerous. Second – It’s not true.* Third – Don’t excuse the actions of people who willingly choose to cheat as somehow a by product of the difficulty of the sport. Can I empathize with them – NO…i was watching the final TT of this years Giro today – watching Ricco attacking Contador and all i could see was a cheater. All I could wonder was how many races was he doped for? Fuentes – cheater. Joe Papp – cheater. That they did it for some seemingly noble end goal like securing a contract or maintaining their ‘celebrity status’ is just an embarassment to them. That they got ‘religion’ after they got busted is a coincidence that wouldn’t have happened if they’d not been caught. Play with fire, get burned. At the same time Theunisse was the shit when he rode, that he was the shit b/c he was on the shit just makes him a joke now. Still he’s a funny guy so I can empathize with their humanity, not their weakness…

      *” Did you know that over 500,000 high school and college kids were injured playing football on 2005? Since 2000 33 people have died as a direct result of football. *A few more stats for you: Bicycling – In 2000, more than 373,000 children and adolescents ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries. In addition, 173 children and adolescents ages 14 and under died in bicycle-related crashes in 1999.
      Football – In 2000, more than 186,000 children and adolescents ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for football-related injuries.
      Gymnastics – In 1998, nearly 25,500 children and adolescents ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for gymnastics-related injuries. Among girls’ sports, gymnastics has one of the highest injury rates, increasing with the level of competition. *childrens hospital of wisconsin stats.

      now, i’m not saying cycling isn’t dangerous and rife with suffering…but so are most sports. it really demeans those of us who suffer because it’s the point of our sport. Cheaters are simply looking for a way to get ahead

    2. Michael Hernandez
      November 23, 2008 at

      Matt – it’s not hyperbole to say that cyclists risk their lives every day they ride their bikes.

      think about it – every day dodging cars, every day risking falls, every day they race bumping an inch from injury.

      i’m not discounting the dangers of any activity, but i do believe that cycling is the ONLY sport practiced and participated on OPEN ROADS – rife with danger OUTSIDE of the actual sport.

      with NO pads.
      .

      and i do not excuse anyone’s doping. read the links, follow the history of my calls for bans for life for doping.

      but, the point of my post was, if you wish to use your own language, to show ‘sympathy for their [dopers] humanity’ AND to point out how difficult our battle is to STOP doping.
      .

      but, bottom line – cycling IS the most dangerous sport in the world. full stop.

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      and we have NO protections for our professional riders in the US. We have no unions to protect them, no organization to empower them … and few cultural pressures in our society to acknowledge the worth of either.

    3. November 24, 2008 at

      I don’t know, I hear where you’re coming from Michael but I just think that people who end up resorting to cheating so they can win (or just win more) are the ones that don’t really understand a lot of the stuff that you’re writing about in this post.

      The danger, the sacrifice and the overwhelming emotion of a well earned win… all the romance goes out the window if you used some kind of sauce to make it happen. The guys who resort to that shit (especially around here, where there’s really no money to be made and the pinnacle of glory is pretty much a velo promo t-shirt) are probably not looking at it from the perspective of one who honestly loves the sport. Might have started out that way but once the winning addiction sets in, it’s the end of the romance for many riders.

      Bike racing is not about winning. It’s about getting the shit kicked out of you, sometimes for years on end. I feel bad for people who become addicted to the win, because even the best racers have times when they’re on top and times when they’re not. When people get used to winning, take it for granted and then hit a rough patch in their fitness where the wins don’t come- or when someone else starts straight beating their ass, fair and square- that’s when you get to see their true character as a racer. It takes a bit of class to continue to fight and race even though the win is no longer in reach.

      When a good racer gets to that point- they’re getting beat and the wins aren’t coming- and they say fuggit and start using some kind of medical method or product to bring them back up to where they were… I can’t even fathom how bad that must feel. I feel sorry for people who cheat at bike racing, who steal from others, who win the tour 7 times and then spend the rest of their life defending themselves at any cost to cover up their dirty secret. It’s all very sad, and I’ll take 2nd or 22nd over that shit any day.

    4. November 24, 2008 at

      No one is “forced” to race a bicycle.

    5. Steve
      November 24, 2008 at

      Agree with Katie. Nobody is forced to race a bike and I have little sympathy if they dope to win. (And if anyone is doping for a VP tee shirt, then by all means, they can have it.)

      All the reasoning and logic can’t penetrate the insular world of the professional cyclist though. It is obvious that the choice to dope is, on some level, rational and worth the risk to them. Why else would we still be seeing so many caught.

    6. Michael Hernandez
      November 24, 2008 at

      hmm…

      i think we’ve forgotten how blue-collar cycling really is. i think if you take a look at the top-level of cyclists … those who last more than 2 or 3 years at the professional rank – the vast majority of those riders have put in so many years at the sport that they are not trained or educated to do much of anything else.

      and they have to feed themselves, maybe feed a family … well beyond the time they’ll be on the bike and able to race.

      sure ~ you’re right, Kelly, in that no one is ‘forced’ to race their bikes. but, think about all the unethical decisions that are made in the workplace … all the lies to advance, the stealing to profit, the disregard of the good of others for personal gains that takes place.

      we have to remember that cycling is a JOB for the professional. and, it’s a job that risks life and limb every day. it’s a job that forces you to numb yourself to pain, every day.

      i make no excuses or rationalizations for doping. i just point out that we have a part in these gladiators that have been created. we are a part of the machine that eats them up, these young and aging people striving for greatness.

      and i believe we NEED to strive for greatness. and i sure as hell want those spandex’d gladiators fighting it out non-violently on the velodromes or open roads or single tracks … rather than, in military stripes, on some imperial field of conquest.

      sport has place in our society. a vital place, in my opinion. but, then again …

    7. anon
      November 25, 2008 at

      Good points regarding doping, but the “only sport in the world” thing is a bit over the top. How about professional motocross? Are those riders not out there risking it all every time they get on their bikes?

    8. jackrabbit
      November 25, 2008 at

      don’t quote me ’cause I’m not an M.D., but I believe all the drugs that El Lanco allegedly listed are used to treat cancer patients…any oncologists out there wanna chime in?

      the media tells us that just about all pro-level athletes dope (NFL, MLB, USTA, LPGA etc. etc.) and our culture accepts it. why should pro cyclists be held to a different standard? I say either take the drugs away from all sports, or let ‘em all have it. athletes know the risks.

      sure, I’d like to believe that cycling is the last “pure” sport left and I hate dopers, but let’s be realistic: when millions of $$ are on the line to perform, da moral compass do start to spin a bit.

    9. Michael Hernandez
      November 25, 2008 at

      i can’t stand it.

      This weekend we lost another rider to a hit and run.

      And, we also were very lucky to not lose our own Ileana Parker – as she was chopped by an SUV out on Skyline.
      – – –

      these are the dangers we cyclists must endure every day we ride our bikes.
      .
      let’s be careful out there, my friends.

      fucking hell.

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