October 17, 2012
On the Sunday morning, towards the end, I met this chap.
He turned out to be a young Frenchman and a very nice guy. He rode with me from Kincardine back to Queensferry. I was happy to have the company and he was a real help for a tired old cyclist.
During that time we talked about how his childhood passion was always to be a pro bike racer. He talked about how hard he had worked towards that dream. And he told me of the bitter disappointment of being told, as he was negotiating his first job on a pro team, that he would have to use PEDs.
He may look happy in this photo but he was emotional as he told the story. It is really very sad, tragic almost, that a child and then youth should follow his dream, working very hard and with great discipline to achieve it, only to discover when he arrives that he doesn’t want it any more because it involves a sacrifice he is unwilling to make.
So he moved to Scotland to be with his Scottish girlfriend and rides his bike as an amateur.
Now we know that two men, Lance Armstrong and Hein Verbruggen, were responsible for this. Armstrong could have chosen to race clean in 1999 and Verbruggen could have chosen not to cover up Armstrong’s doping. Those personal choices were decisive. From then on for the next 7 years Armstrong was the lead for doping in his team and of the code of silence throughout the peloton while Verbruggen co-ordinated the cover-ups from the regulatory side of things.
Clearly a lot of other people were complicit in the cheating, lies, deception and bullying. But, to me, these two men stand out because they were in fact in a position to change everything while almost no other individual was. When I think about all the young cyclists, like the one pictured here, who have faced the same choice as a result of what Armstrong and Verbruggen chose to do, (not to mention all the other harm done) I am very sad and angry.