December 18, 2015 § 37 Comments
Bobby “Perky” Lea tested positive for metabolites of oxycodone shortly after winning the national points race championship and his sanction was announced today by USADA. The best part of the sanction press release is the generic language that specifically talks about how USADA works with athletes to keep them from doing exactly what Lea claims to have done, i.e. used a drug without checking to see if it’s prohibited.
Below are his two exculpatory messages, with annotations in italics by Cycling in the South Bay to assist readers unfamiliar with the self-serving language used by drug cheats. The first message is an email that “Perky” sent out a few hours before the anti-doping violation and suspension were announced by USADA. The second is a contritely defiant letter posted on his web site.
Dear Friends and Family,
I am writing to you tonight because I have some very important and time sensitive news I have to share with you. And I need to share this with you tonight because it will be public in the next 48 hours and I want you to get this from me directly.
And I also need to apologize for hiding this from you for so long.
Otherwise known as lying.
Over the last few months I’ve had more than a few conversations with many of you and I have had to either dodge questions or just outright lie about by (sic) coming plans.
I have been lying for a long time because I’m a liar who lies.
For that I’m sorry.
But, as you’ll find out if you keep reading, I’m really only sorry because I got caught, I plan to appeal, and if you are a careful reader you’ll see that I never admit to being a cheater. More of a mistake-prone fellow, and I’m sorry for that.
At first it killed me, and then either I started to believe my own story or it just came to (sic) easily, which was also scary.
I am so pathological that I believe my own lies. I’m a habitual liar; so much so that my lies come to me “easily.” This isn’t morally reprehensible or indicative of profound pathology. It is just “scary.”
And not (sic) it’s been eating me up again.
We call this a Freudian slip, Bobby. Soooo revealing considering the number of times you must have proofread this missive.
So on one hand it’s nice to finally be able to put this out there so I can be open and honest but on the other hand I hate to have to say it at all.
It’s nice to be able to come clean 48 hours before USADA issues a press release that will be distributed worldwide. Honesty is nice for a change. Kind of like a different pair of shoes. You wear the liar shoes for a few years, they get a bit scuffed, and then you put on the truthy shoes, at least until the CAS hearing.
So without further ado, here it is.
Pull on the fuggin’ hip waders.
Thanks for reading.
What follows is from “Perky” Lea’s web site. Enjoy. The annotations are mine.
Cycling has been a part of my family, and who I am, for my whole life.
So this is the most amazing and profound betrayal that can be imagined as I shaft everyone at once.
I can say from the bottom of my heart that I love this sport.
So much that I cheat at it.
I would never intentionally do anything to harm the sport or intentionally jeopardize my own ability to compete.
Despite being a habitual liar, dodging, dissembling, and outright lying, I would never lie.
On the night of August 7th, in a state of post-race exhaustion and having run out of my normal sleep aid, I made the poor choice to take my prescription Percocet hoping it would help me rest.
Everyone takes Percocet when they are tired, especially when they are out of their normal sleep aid. You’re probably wondering what my normal sleep aid is. It’s green tea, that’s what. Percocet though is a narcotic, and it is as addicting as heroin. Narcotics are the most widely abused prescription drug in America and because they have gotten harder to obtain they have driven addicts to heroin. In other words, it is something that everyone takes after a race when they are tired. Some of you may have read this article that says opiates are a sleep inhibitor that disrupt sleep architecture but that is bulldonkeys. Shit will knock you OUT. I would never have taken the Percocet in order to numb the pain so that I could win the points race. That would be crazy, for sure. Instead, I took a sleep inhibitor so I could sleep before the big race.
This medication had been prescribed by a doctor to help me manage pain and sleep while traveling for competition, especially in the event of a crash.
It is a known fact that doctors give you prescriptions for Percocet, a DEA Class II drug, not for actual pain, but “just in case” you crash and to help you sleep even though it’s a sleep inhibitor. Just walk into your doctor’s office, explain that you have sleeping problems and are often tired as a bike racer, plus that you might crash, and they will prescribe Percocet for you. Sure, it’s addicting and disrupts sleep architecture, but who’s an architect? I ain’t building shit, I’m racing bikes. And even if you don’t crash, it’s okay to take it when you are tired. I would be happy to show you the prescription and give you the name of the doctor but I forgot it and the dog ate it plus I think I got it in Bangkok. Narcotics, i.e. morphine, methadone, and oxycodone have never been used in cycling to mask pain from injury or discomfort from illness and I have no idea what “pot Belge” is. Narcotics would never raise an athlete’s pain threshold so they can continue competing through the pain. Because that would be cheating and cheating would be a betrayal of everything, especially all the things that I have betrayed.
Because it was late at night, and I was trying to sleep, I failed to check my prescribed medication against the prohibited list, an action I have correctly executed hundreds of times over the years.
I had the prescription from my doctor and never checked it against the prohibited list. Even though I carried it around for sleeping and pre-crash pain and post-race exhaustion, it never occurred to me to check whether a powerful narcotic that comes with a long list of side effects and warnings might possibly be prohibited. After all, lots of other narcotics are not prohibited like heroin, opium, and stuff. I think. Are they? Anyway, I was tired and it was late at night. When it’s late I just take stuff. If you were a pro you would understand. Plus, I have checked my drugs hundreds of times over the years. Now this doesn’t mean I’ve taken hundreds of prescription drugs, it means I have checked prescription drugs hundreds of times. I’ve actually only taken some aspirin once. And Alleve. But I’ve checked those two drugs hundreds of times because rules can change. So now you’re wondering what kind of drugs was I checking for those hundreds of times. I know. Sounds weird, but it was just aspirin and Alleve. And once I smoked a joint. But I didn’t inhale.
Had I done that I would have seen that Percocet is not banned when used out of competition, but is banned in-competition.
And if Grandma had balls she’d be Grandpa.
Had I done that simple check, the same simple check I’ve done in pharmacies all over the world, I would have reached for another beer or two and I would not find myself here today.
You see, I’ve been in pharmacies all over the world. Haven’t you? When you travel you want to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and French pharmacies. When you’re in Mexico you want to see pyramids in the Yucatan and pharmacies. And in China you’d be insane to see the Great Wall and miss out on the pharmacies. Anyway, it’s a simple check and I’ve done it in a zillion pharmacies, checking everything I ever buy there, and then I’ve checked my prescriptions hundreds of times. But I never checked whether a prescription narcotic might be banned. My bad! Sometimes I am a silly fellow!!! (Sad face!)
Nearly 24 hours later, after winning the Points Race at the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships, I was notified that I had been selected for drug testing and reported to USADA to provide a sample.
The sample I provided showed trace amounts of noroxycodone, the metabolite of oxycodone, which is the active ingredient in Percocet. As a result of that finding I was given a 16-month suspension from September 10th, 2015.
I didn’t cheat. I didn’t lie. I didn’t do anything wrong. I simply was suspended as the result of a finding, kind of like having to wear a cast as a result of falling off a ladder and breaking your arm. Shit happens, right? Nowhere did the suspension call me a doper or a cheater or a douchebag, by the way. So I got that going for me.
As I write those words, 16 months, even though I have spoken them out loud, it’s difficult to wrap my head around what they really mean.
Does it, like, mean sixteen calendar months? Or does it mean “hire an attorney and appeal because I wuz framed!”
It’s even more difficult to accept that meaning. As an elite athlete, I think it’s only natural to spend a lot of time thinking about how best to wind down your career.
And how to wind it “up,” heh heh.
I think its only natural to want to craft the storybook ending; the ending where you walk off the track after the biggest success of your career.
Story crafting, making stuff up, fairy tales, it’s only natural to want to make stuff up when you lie all the time. And with the right “stuff” you don’t even have to make it up. You can make it real. You picking up what I’m laying down?
Or maybe you want to return to your roots, to the place where it all began, and say goodbye one last time. I think it’s only natural to want to end it on your own terms.
Which is totally different from crafting a storybook ending, and more like returning to the womb. And ending it on your own terms means, well, how do I say this? Here’s how: “CAS.”
Now that I’ve lost the ability to write my own ending, I’m left to answer some very hard questions.
“Why did I cheat?” however, is not one of them. Neither is, “Why did I lie?” And of course I’ve never asked, “How can I possibly write any of this crap with a straight face?”
When I look back at my career, how do I feel about what I’ve done knowing that I may have raced my last race?
How do I feel about having lied and covered up and dodged questions and traveled the world’s pharmacies and taken prescription narcotics as sleeping medication? How? I’ll tell you how: CAS.
Can I walk away from the sport today and feel content with what I’ve done?
Especially when I haven’t done anything wrong? When I’m basically being victimized because unlike what I did at all the world’s pharmacies I accidentally on purpose took some narcotics? Can I be content with using oxycodone as a sleep aid?
Have I accomplished what I set out to do?
Can I get the suspension lifted? The market for forcibly retired drug cheat US trackies is not too hot these days.
Does the ending change the body of work?
Although most people associate “body of work” with literature, science, music, or other intellectual endeavors, isn’t bicycle racing like that? Aren’t races a “body of work” like Einstein, Beethoven, etc?
I like to think that I know the answer to some of these but I think the reality is somewhere between knowing and hoping.
In other words, I know I’ve been busted but I sure as fuck hope I can beat this rap in CAS.
At the end of the day, I made a mistake and that was wrong.
I didn’t cheat. I made a mistake, like when you put on mismatched socks or when you drop an egg on the kitchen floor. Now you’re probably wondering what is wrong about making a mistake, and I’d agree with you. Mistakes aren’t right or wrong, unlike cheating and lying and deceiving. Those things are wrong but I didn’t do those things except for where in that earlier message I admitted to all that outright lying. I just took some narcotics to go to sleep instead of doing what I do at all the other pharmacies I visit and what I did the hundreds of other times I had prescription drugs.
I know that as an athlete, I am accountable for everything that I ingest, regardless of the source.
This doesn’t mean I cheated or that I accept my sanction or that I will ‘fess up, sit the fuck down, and take my beating like a man. Rather, I mistaked. I accidented. And if I’d been at, say, the pharmacy in TJ that I like to hit when I’m in Cali, I would have checked. That’s what I’m guilty of: Not checking.
I live with my mistake and I accept full responsibility for it.
However, not “full responsibility” as in “I accept the sanctions.” That’s different. What I accept is the responsibility of not checking. And I think we’ve all not checked stuff before. So in a way we’re all the same. Plus, it’s hard to check stuff when you’re tired.
To my family, friends, coach, fans, sponsors, and the sport that I love: I am deeply sorry.
You may be wondering “Sorry for what?” since I haven’t spelled it out and to that I can only say I’m sorry for not doing what I do when I’m at the pharmacy in Beijing: checking. But since I didn’t cheat I’m not sorry for cheating.
I remain committed to the strict rules and ethics that govern track cycling and Olympic Sport and I support any and all anti-doping efforts that help better it.
For other people.
However, because I want to end my career on the track and not in a lawyer’s conference room, I will appeal this sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
What in the fuck do I have to lose?
Thank you for reading.
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December 9, 2015 § 8 Comments
Only problem is they don’t, and they’re not.
“If they [had] an equivalent [to EPO] tomorrow that is undetectable, everyone would be on it.” Lance Armstrong, on the current state of doping in the peloton. Cycling News, December 8, 2015.
Imagine what he would have done to beat a field of, say, twenty.
Hickman, 49, won the 66-mile championship race out of a field of 10 riders in the 40+ age group. He has accepted a four-year ban for the doping offense. VeloNews, December 4, 2015.
You mean they don’t just do it because they’re cheating douchebags?
“Simply looking away and not testing the athletes is the worst decision that a race director can make because it forces everyone to take drugs to try to level the playing field.” GFNY CEO Uli Fluhme, on why it’s important to drug test at gran fondos, Cycling Weekly, October 29, 2015.
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July 1, 2015 § 6 Comments
Hair product manufacturer Alpecin, co-sponsor of the Giant-Alpecin team, announced on Tuesday that it has dropped its controversial slogan, “Doping for your hair” ahead of the Tour de France and for the duration of the race in order to make sure the focus stays on the team’s athletic efforts rather than their attempts to avoid doping controls, reported AFP.
Cycling in the South Bay sat down with Edward R. Doerrenberg who in addition to having a name that no one can say or spell properly is also the managing the director for the team.
CitSB: So, that’s a really hard name to spell.
ED: Yes, it’s given me trouble all my life.
CitSB: I bet press conferences in Japan are hell.
CitSB: So the team has decided to drop the “Doping for your hair” slogan for the Tour? What’s up with that?
ED: It was pointed out that “doping” and “Tour de France” might have negative connotations for some people.
CitSB: You’re joking, right?
ED: It took us by surprise, frankly.
CitSB: What were the specific concerns?
ED: There was concern on the part of the organizers that by using the slogan “doping for your hair” it was possible that some people might think that the riders were actually doping.
CitSB: For their hair?
ED: For the race. Doping for the race.
CitSB: Come on.
ED: I’m serious. That’s what the organizers were afraid of.
CitSB: Any thoughts as to why they were so prickly on the issue?
ED: It’s hard to say. One highly placed person with the UCI whose name rhymes with “Bookson” said that doping issues had negatively affected sponsorship.
CitSB: Hair doping?
ED: Performance. Performance doping.
CitSB: But isn’t Lance Armstrong riding a section of the Tour this year?
ED: Well, yes. But he doesn’t have hardly any hair left. So, no hair doping there.
CitSB: I see. And wasn’t Chris Froome pretty vocal about the absence of volcano doping tests at Tenerife recently?
ED: He did seem to think it was an issue.
CitSB: Got it. Volcano doping, bad. Hair doping, bad. Lance riding the Tour, good. Do I have it right?
ED: I’m afraid so.
CitSB: What have you come up with for a replacement slogan?
ED: We’re trying out a couple of new ones in focus groups right now.
CitSB: Want to share any of them with our readers?
ED: Sure, what’s the harm? The first one is “Doping for your muscles and cardiovascular system to illegally enhance athletic performance.”
CitSB: I kind of like it. It’s a bit long, but also succinct. Any others?
ED: “Doping in undetectable quantities to avoid detection by scientifically administered doping control.”
CitSB: Oh, that’s good. Any others?
ED: “Dope ’til you croak.” We were going to use that if they had Ventoux and the Simpson Memorial on the route. And there’s also “Just Dope It.” That was for a potential spot we were planning with Nike.
CitSB: Nice! Well, good luck, Mr. Dorkenberg.
ED: It’s Doerrenberg, atctually.
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February 4, 2015 § 66 Comments
The Facebag almost broke on Monday when someone posted a photo of the results in the 50+ masters race at the Red Trolley Crit. There atop the leaderboard sat Richard Meeker, returned from a 2-year doping ban and picking up where he left off: Making fools of the best old fart racers in the state, make that the nation, make that the world.
According to eyewitness accounts, Meeker the Beaker a/k/a Loose Leaf Powder a/k/a Mr. Kleen rabbit-punched breakaway companions Mark Hoffenberg and Thurlow Rogers with a finishing sprint so vicious that all they could do was loll their tongues and do the Harpooned Whale Bellyroll of Death as Sir Toxic blew across the line in a blur.
None of this should have been surprising. Rich doped (to no one’s surprise), was busted (to everyone’s surprise), mounted a pathetic tainted supplement defense (to everyone’s undying hilarity), and has now returned with a vengeance, which he will be serving up nice and cold. If you plan on racing in the 50+ category in SoCal this year, and you’re super fit and super fast and super good, I hope you like the sound of “second place,” because whether it’s a time trial, a hill climb, a crit, or a rolling, windy course, the unrepentant, proud owner of a two-year doping ban is going to stomp your nuts.
‘Cuz you know, when it comes to bike racing, Rich Meeker does it all.
What was surprising, nay, astounding, is that the Beaker signed up for the race under the banner of Surf City Cyclery. This is surprising because according to at least one rider, he wasn’t even on the team.
Despite strenuous politicking to be allowed to join, the members reportedly held a ballot and emphatically voted not to let Sir Toxic on the team. No matter to Rich, though. Despite the vote reportedly taking place a month ago, which means he would have been well aware that he wasn’t on the team, he is listed on his 2015 license as a Surf City rider, and he apparently rode the race in a Surf City club kit that’s for sale to the general public. After this horrendous wardrobe malfunction, I heard that he received a call from management and was told to cease and desist.
It will be entertaining to see whether he continues to show up claiming to ride for Surf City and whether he changes his license. Alternately, it will be fun to see which team he rides for next and to hear the pathetic excuses that people give for allowing this unrepentant leper to ride on their team. The fact that he still maintains his innocence and refuses to admit to wrongdoing puts him on a lower level than Lance & Co., who at least admitted what they’d done and are now suffering the consequences, however mild they may be.
As far as I’m concerned, I could care less whether the guy races, although there’s no shortage of people who wish he’d find a different sport to cheat at. He’s done his time, and the rules say that he’s allowed to return to the fray. It was heartening to see people on Facebag comment that the real first and second in that race were Hoffenberg and Thurlow, and it’s encouraging that there are teams who refuse to be associated with him. Perhaps his strategy of throwing Hammer Nutrition under the bus is making teams and sponsors and potential teammates wonder who he’ll point the finger at the next time USADA rolls into town.
But of course we always save the best for last. Rich and his wife have opened an organic drink bar in Corona del Mar, catering to the beautiful set’s desire for healthful, tasty nutrition. The name?
Some shit you just can’t make up.
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January 29, 2015 § 24 Comments
Are you sure you’re the guy asking to be allowed to have your ban lifted so you can compete?
“I would probably do it again.” Lance Armstrong, affirming that if given the choice to do it over, he would take drugs and cheat. BBC Sport, Jan. 26, 2015.
How much is a dozen, again?
“I was an asshole to a dozen people.” Lance Armstrong, reflecting on his bad behavior while apparently forgetting that he had duped millions of cancer survivors and millions of cycling fans. BBC Sport, Jan. 26, 2015.
Which is frankly better than the Crazy Bitch from Hell spigot.
“When the going gets tough, he turns on the charm.” Betsy Andreu, on her contempt for Lance’s attempts rehabilitate himself. BBC Sport, Jan. 27, 2015.
That’s why we’ve created http://www.getlanceanewjacketandpairofshoes.com; PayPal accepted.
“But when I saw him last year, he was alone, he was badly dressed, he avoided eye contact, he didn’t seem happy.” Christophe Bassons, former Lance victim, reflecting on the fallen hero’s demeanor and embarrassing couture. BBC Sport, Jan. 27, 2015.
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October 18, 2014 § 19 Comments
UCI Pro Tour team Astana launched an investigation into team doping practices after Maxim Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO during the fourth stage of the Tour of Belgium. Within forty-seven minutes of the announcement, Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov announced that “doping had been discovered” within the team.
“I’m very sorry to announce that doping has been discovered within Team Astana,” Vinokourov said at a press conference held at the world famous tourist resort and secret rendition destination known as Kyzylorda-sur-Waterboarding. “The dopers have confessed and been properly disposed of.”
Despite the most vigorous anti-doping program on the Pro Tour, a program that includes asking riders to report if they dope and that makes extensive use of self-graded questionnaires to root out potential drug problems, Astana has suffered a shocking number of doping positives, beginning with general manager Alexandre Vinokourov’s 2-year suspension for doping in the 2007 Tour de France.
“After getting caught for doping, I made sure that my team would have a very strict anti-doping policy,” said Vinokourov at the press conference. “People like me would no longer be welcome on the team, and after I retired it was my goal to make sure that no one like me would ever be associated with the team again.”
Vim Vandy Pants, cycling journalist and noted notary public, questioned Vinokourov regarding the team’s policy. According to Vandy Pants, “Shortly after Vino was busted, Matthias Kessler, another Astana rider, received a 2-year doping sanction. How do you explain this?” he asked at the press conference.
“Kessler was an aberration, an anomaly, a synonym for ‘one-off.’ None of his self-reported doping exams or questionnaires ever indicated drug use,” said Vinokourov.
Wham Wankypants, yet another famous cycling journalist and an even more widely noted notary public, followed up by asking Vinokourov about Eddy Mazzoleni, the former Astana rider who was banned for two years in the infamous Italian oil-for-drugs-and-old-jockstraps sting carried out by the Italian anti-doping agency, CONI-BALONEY. “You say zat no doping inna Astana, but you, Kessler, and Mazzoleni all was doping onna banana.”
“It’s true that Mazzoleni was a doper,” said Vinokourov. “But his program was very sophisticated, very clandestine, very secret. We asked him about it one night when he was very drunk, and he simply shrugged and said ‘I no doping.’ There was no way we could have known.”
Vinokourov was then asked about Andrey Kashechkin (banned for doping in the Tour of Turkey), former rider José Antonio Redondo (banned for testosterone), Vladimir Gusev (fired from team for sort-of-doping), Valentin Iglinskiy (banned for EPO), Maxim Iglinskiy (brother of Valentin, also banned for EPO), and llya Davidenok (busted for steroids and general stupidity).
Vinokourov was unapologetic. “These were isolated incidences, coincidences, outliers, random occurrences. We could never have known about such team-orchestrated doping despite our focus on self-reporting and questionnaires. However, now that we have launched a full investigation we have in fact uncovered doping. It is unacceptable and in the future we will insist that all riders on Astana refrain from doping or cheating in any way. Or else.”
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April 30, 2014 § 16 Comments
Confessed doper, drug cheat, sporting fraud, mentor to young cyclists, and really nice guy George Hincapie has released his memoir of cycling during the Lance Armstrong heyday, “Confessions of a Clean Racer.” WIth a foreword by Michele Ferrari, excerpts have already detailed explosive revelations about the depth and breadth of non-doping practices within the top echelons of the sport.
Cycling in the South Bay was able to reach Hincapie at his villa in the Hamptons for an exclusive interview.
CitSB: Your new memoir, “Confessions of a Clean Racer,” is sure to destroy a lot of long-held perceptions about the pro peloton.
GH: Well, that was the intent. It’s finally time for someone to come clean about the non-doping practices in the sport.
CitSB: Can you be more specific?
GH: Sure. There were days, and once before Lance’s first Tour win in 1999, even an entire week, in which no one doped.
CitSB: No one?
GH: Not a single rider. Not me, not Lance, not Frankie, Tyler, or even Kevin.
GH: Yes, and by the time I moved on, the team had incorporated an entire system of non-doping, strategically placed around Christmas and New Year’s. It was systematic.
CitSB: How did it go from being a one-off “clean day” to organized, methodical, and systematic non-doping?
GH: It was a process. We started off the way everyone does, thinking we could win by taking a full doping regimen. Subcutaneous EPO. Direct injections into the veins and stomach. Kotex sopped in vodka and wedged up each others’ bottoms. And then we realized that if we were really going to compete at the highest level we’d have to race clean. Not every day, certainly, and for sure not even most of the time, but every now and then we’d have to forego the transfusions, corticosteroids, test patches, even the Kotex.
CitSB: So what started as a way to level the playing field … ?
GH: … became a slippery slope that we all slipped down, especially after a couple of beers and some Vaseline. Before we knew it, we were all riding clean at certain points to be prepared for our ultimate objective, which of course was the Tour.
CitSB: When were you first approached about riding clean?
GH: Well, as a junior I’d seen clean racers, I knew they were there, but we didn’t pay attention to them. They were losers. I remember telling Eddy B when he pointed out a couple of guys with very suspicious results and a complete absence of tracks on their forearms that I’d “never stoop to racing clean.” Those were my exact words. And then as a young pro it became clear that there was a handful of riders, the very best guys, who had clean periods during the season. We had a nickname for them, the “Kleenexes.” Get it? Clean? Kleenex?
CitSB: I get it.
GH: You always kind of wondered, “What would happen if I rode clean a day or two a year? Would it supercharge me that much?” And then when Johan took over, he took me aside and was totally blunt. I remember it like it was yesterday.
CitSB: What did he say?
GH: He told me that I could either lay off the daily visits to Ferrari, the wire transfers, the funny little guy on the moto carrying EPO in his panniers, lay off that stuff once or twice a month or I could find myself a new line of work. “Postal Kleenex don’t wipe snot,” was his motto.
CitSB: What was your initial regimen?
GH: One day a month. I started with weak doses of non-doping.
CitSB: What was the effect? This what every SoCal masters racer really wants to know about racing clean.
GH: At first you couldn’t notice it. But then as you upped the dosage of non-doping, as your body got used to detoxing the pot Belge, the Actovegin, the clen, the random shit that the pharmacist mixed up in his garage and carried around in an empty whiskey bottle, you know, gradually you got stronger, until finally you couldn’t race without a clean day, sometimes even a couple of them in the middle of the race.
CitSB: So the team was actually riding clean for periods of the Tour?
GH: Oh, yeah. It was crazy stuff.
CitSB: Weren’t you afraid of getting caught?
GH: Dog, yes. One time a French TV crew followed our soigneurs after we’d had a clean session and videotaped them dumping all of the non-doping substances in a trash can behind a church. They fished out the garbage bags and it was a cornucopia of clean: kale, organic chicken bones, whole milk, banana peels. Then they showed it on prime time TV and called it “How Postal Goes Bananas on the Big Climbs.”
CitSB: You must have thought the jig was up.
GH: Dog, yes. We were terrified. Another time the UCI sent in testers immediately after we’d had a three-day regimen of non-doping. We were so scared we’d test negative that we were shooting up everything we had, hoping it would hit the bloodstream in time for the testers. Lance is the only one who came up negative, but fortunately he got Dr. Moral to backdate a prescription for rest, vegetables, water, and some bread. And Hein Verbruggen accepted the backdated scrip.
CitSB: Pretty funny, but also scary. Weren’t you worried about the health effects?
GH: Yes and no. We had docs, we trusted them. They seemed convinced that even if we were clean up to 50% of the time our bodies could recover from it with the proper administration of the right potentially lethal doping cocktails.
CitSB: When did you realize that USADA was going to bring down Lance, along with you, Levi, Jonathan, and the rest?
GH: Of course we had all gotten used to Betsy’s tirades; people had been accusing us of non-doping for years. But Lance seemed to have it on lockdown, she was portrayed as this crazy woman with a vendetta, kind of an Internet-troll-meets-National-Enquirer-meets-Joan-Rivers-at-a-Tweeker-party, right? And the media bought it. But then when Floyd admitted to non-doping and the Feds got involved, shit got real. We had to decide whether we were going to keep pretending that we’d never raced clean, or take what was a very sweet deal.
CitSB: And you took the deal.
GH: Obviously. We were all perfectly happy to finger the guy who had brought us all our success and fame if all we had to do keep our jobs and our money was admit to non-doping. I mean, Levi’s laughing all the way to the bank. So am I, by the way. Okay, not laughing. But certainly smiling.
CitSB: So where does this put you in 2014? There are a lot of people who believe that George Hincapie and people like him have no place in the sport today.
GH: I can see their point, but I look at it differently. Cycling gave me everything and I want to give something back. I’ve learned from the bad things I’ve done, I’ve admitted to having raced clean, I’ve been punished, and it’s no coincidence that I run a U-23 development team. Someone who these kids respect has to be able to tell them that times have changed, that it’s no longer acceptable to non-dope, and that when the time comes — and it will come — they’ll have to stand firm against the non-dopers. Because they’re still out there. Not as many as there once were, but it’s a part of the culture, unfortunately.
CitSB: Thanks, George.
GH: You’re welcome.
CitSB: If I mail you one of my cycling jerseys would you sign it for me?
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