The news of the Spanish Cycling Federation not banning Contador for his positive drug test has spread all across the world. I tweeted yesterday that I had considered writing a blog post about the ruling but decided I wouldn’t because it would be a complete waste of time. My opinion hasn’t changed and I’m not going to write about Contador. Instead, I’ve decided that he and pro cycling deserve each other and that pro cycling isn’t my cycling.
As a kid I remember watching the Tour de France on Wide World of Sports. They would devote a few minutes to the race summarizing the stages of the prior week. It wasn’t much but I loved it. Many years later, as the sports popularity grew and Americans started winning, other networks picked it up culminating in the current stage-by-stage cover on Versus. With this increased popularity and coverage came more scrutiny and the drug talk started.
I’ll admit, I was blind to the rampant use of drugs in the sport until the past 7 or 8 years when it started to get a lot of news. Riders, and entire teams, getting banned were commonplace. Meausures were put in place to monitor riders more with increased testing, better tests, zero-tolerance contracts, and stiffer penalties. Even after all that the sport of professional cycling still remains a cesspool of drugs, lies, and miscreants. It sounds like a reality show. And I guess it is.
After this latest fiasco with Pistolero, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that pro cycling isn’t my cycling. The pro riders can have their contracts, money, recognition, trophies, and drugs. The sport of cycling they perform isn’t the sport of cycling I love. Maybe I was naive or just dumb to not recognize this before.
Why is my cycling different? It’s something I turn to as a tool to make me a better person. I use it to try and make myself healthier by losing weight, increasing my fitness, and getting off the couch. I use it to accomplish goals whether it’s riding more this year or raising money for a worthwhile charity. Cycling is a sport I enjoy doing whether it’s cold outside, raining, or the temperatures are approaching the triple digits. My cycling gets me outside where I can enjoy mother nature as my gym. My cycling has afforded me the opportunity to do some amazing things and meet some great people. My cycling isn’t tainted by drug use or political agendas.
Will I watch pro cycling on TV? I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist the urge to watch a sport that’s so graceful in its purest form. The lure of watching riders suffer to crest mountain passes, laying it all out in a time trial, or mass sprinting for a win will be strong. I think I can watch it, knowing that there are probably cheaters out there trying to beat the system, and rest assured knowing that what I’m watching isn’t what I’m doing. Knowing that pro cycling isn’t my cycling.
Professional cycling deserves itself.
Thumbnail PhotoC: Stuck in Customs