Other Voices

by Old Bone Machine

In this B-grade Western movie the cowboys ride bicycles and the Texan, the man in black, our villain, has been lynched by the deputy and his posse.

No judge, no trial, no jury.

The outlaws, that lived and rode with the Texan, have been hailed as heroes.

When the Texan joined US Postal in 1998, both Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie were already riding for the team. Christian Vande Velde and Jonathan Vaughters were others that rode with him.

At the time many in the peloton were using EPO, a substance known to raise the percentage of red blood cells and thus assist the rider aerobically. UCI with no scientific means to test directly for the use of EPO, ruled that a rider’s hematocrit (red blood cell) percentage could not exceed 50%. This created an environment were EPO could be used in a casual and controlled manner. A rider could test himself before a race to ensure they did not exceed the UCI limit.

I don’t believe the Texan is innocent, by all accounts he was one of the wildest outlaws in the west, but I am concerned that justice has been compromised. That the process that led to his lynching was flawed, unbalanced and the punishment unfair.

Why haven’t the other outlaws been dealt harsher penalties? Why haven’t their wins been erased from history?

Most believe the Texan deserved to be lynched, but there are other voices. The voices of discontent.

Alberto Contador:

In my opinion, at certain times, there has been a total lack of respect for Lance.

From my point of view, he has been humiliated and lynched. He has been destroyed. If cycling is popular in the United States, it’s thanks to him. If they know the Tour, it’s thanks to him.

People talk about Lance but there is no new proof against him, nothing. They’ve relied on testimony that dates from 2005. I respect the choice of every rider, but I would have preferred if they [sic] been a bit earlier.

Alejandro Valverde:

The Tours were won with his legs, his body and let no one believe that he did not suffer.

Why not speak when you were competing. Speaking out now that you are retired. Why?

Samuel Sanchez:

I don’t find it right, I think there should be a fair trial. You cannot punish a person only by verbal accusations. I think Lance has not tested positive throughout his career, was never sanctioned and now we see it all in cycling. One is accused of doping and they take away your career.

Miguel Indurain:

But as far as I do know, it’s been his own teammates, and in some cases close friends who are pointing the finger at him… can he be sanctioned like this? Only him?

Because apparently those who admitted they did the same – his accusers – are going around like heroes. I don’t know what the current legal situation is, it’s changing a lot, but common sense tells me that something isn’t right.

Fernando Escartin:

I don’t want to finish second or first. It was all a long time ago and however much they want to, they can’t change history. I was third and that’s what counts.

Ultimately and sadly, EPO and blood doping has destroyed the lives of riders both innocent and guilty.