Last week, while sitting at the kitchen table, our house guest Billy told us that he'd been called doper while riding the other day. Whoa, what?
He was just riding along in normal cycling spandex and accosted. I figured it was because he lived in Northern California and hopeful that the labeling was regional.
But yesterday, Benjamin said he was called doper, not once, but twice while on a mountain bike ride. He too was dressed in spandex and just riding uphill, up Gold Camp, minding his own business and worlds away from the scandal.
It's hard not to be mad at the situation. That now, thanks to the imploding deck of cards at the upper levels of our sport, we're all being subject to ridicule and labeling. Road, track, mountain bike and cross - we're all subject to the name calling and association with doping. Now that there's this awareness of cheaters and how easy it was for them to hide it all this time, it's muddied the waters for everyone who enjoys pedaling two wheels.
How can we defend ourselves against this blow?
For all of those that are dirty - what about all of those that are clean? How do we really know other than taking their word for it? As we've seen, those who claim innocence are far from it. In a way, I can't blame the general public for labeling cyclists thanks to the recent media attention and focus. That doesn't lessen the insult though.
What are the lessons here? Is there anything positive we can make of it? Baseball survived. We can only hope that cycling will weather this storm and the next generation of racers and riders while deter from history. That when given the choice to dope or not - they take the clean road.