Wheels resume under Lance cloud

The cycling season starts this weekend and apart from local issues, the whole Lance Armstrong drugs scandal is the main talking point.

The first race of the 2013 season is a two-person team time trial over 15 miles starting and ending at Bodden Town football field.

It heads east with a turnaround at the High Rock Road intersection with Sea View Road.

Team cyclists will start side by side and both have to complete the course to record a finish time. The time is stopped when the last cyclist’s back wheel crosses the line.

It is open to teams in the junior, open men, ladies and masters divisions or any combination of them.

Sign in is from 6.15a-7am and the race starts at 7.15am or as soon as the start list is completed. Entry fee is $15.

Organiser Barry Jones said: “Craig Merren (local cycling president) and I also recently attended the Pan American Cycling Confederation conference in Havana, Cuba to vote for vice-president of the Southern Zone, the candidate for the UCI management committee and to reconfirm Cayman Islands Cycling Association as a cycling federation as well as a participant in regional and international cycling. In attendance was Union Cycliste International president Pat McQuaid.”

A keen cyclist, Jones has always doubted Armstrong’s fabulous record of seven consecutive Tour de France wins and numerous other achievements, so he was not surprised when the drug cheat finally confessed in an Oprah Winfrey interview last month.

“I have always thought that his story was too good to be true – and it was,” Jones said.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I am not a Lance fan. I don’t like or dislike him but I dislike how he bullied and destroyed people’s lives and the extremes at which he went to do so.

“He was the poster child for cancer but he needed to be the poster child for cycling in the fight against doping and now the world knows why he wasn’t.

“Lance did not create the doping culture and I would not for one second think that others were not doping, however he took it to a whole new level in order to conceal what he was doing by tarnishing people’s names, suing and using his power to ostracise them.”

Jones does not think Armstrong was as open and honest to Oprah as he should have been.

“He did not reveal anything that had not already been published in the United States Anti-Doping Association report.

“He continued the omerta (code of silence) which the sport is known for. This was an opportunity for him to gain back some sense of credibility and he fell woefully short.

“This was also an opportunity for him to give back to sport he played a big part in ruining and he left more questions than answers prolonging the negative publicity that this case has produced.”

Nor did Jones feel the 41-year-old American showed enough remorse and feels he is still playing the media for his own ends.

“He never apologised. He definitely has an agenda otherwise he would have gone before USADA and not Oprah.

“With Oprah he could control the level of questioning and how much he would reveal but he would have been grilled and would be forced to go into much more detail about those who facilitated and supported his doping and those who assisted him in avoiding detection.”

Jones is disappointed with the negative corporate reaction in the Armstrong aftermath.

“People’s perceptions have already changed, just look at the sponsors who have pulled out of cycling,” he said. “Races are being cancelled because of lack of sponsorship. Teams have folded.

“Achievements, whether rightfully or wrongfully, are being questioned and scrutinised and athletes will find it hard to get from under the cloud of suspicion.”

What should Armstrong do now to try to repair all the damage he has caused? “Unless he is willing to name and shame he should just leave cycling to try and heal,” said Jones.

“And it will heal with time. Anything less will only prolong the negative publicity which is weighing the sport down.”

Jones is not sure how endemic doping is in cycling at the top level. “This is a tricky question because with all the negative press surrounding doping there could be an argument that it is a dirty sport.

“However, I believe that other sports have not done quite as much in the fight against doping as cycling or even been forthright about doping in their sport.

“For its efforts cycling can be perceived as a dirty sport but until other sports are doing as much as cycling then it’s hard to say because we have nothing to judge it against.

“Cycling as well is a victim of its own success in the fight against doping because it is a highly publicised sport.

“In my opinion the structure of professional cycling facilitates the doping culture to which it has fallen victim.

“Past dopers retire and move into to team management role hired by Director Sportif who encouraged them to dope or turned a blind eye to their doping practices. Doctors who assist in doping move from team to team carrying on their trade.

“Today cycling is at the forefront of the fight against doping however in the past those in power only paid lip service to it.

“If you follow cycling’s history and of sport in general performance enhancing drugs have always been used to gain an unfair advantage.

“Sport is a reflection of life so it goes without saying that if there are people who try to gain unfair advantages in life that sport would be immune to it.”

Gabe Rabess is another keen local cyclist and all-round sportsman. He said: “Lance is in my view a great cyclist and continues to inspire me.

“In relation to his use drugs in the sport, I knew deep down that something was not right from the onset, so wasn’t surprised to hear it when it finally all came out.

“He was very good at not getting caught and as a result believed it himself. The truth always comes out, it’s just a matter of time.

“The year that he didn’t win and came third in the Tour de France was a bit of an eye opener for me, only because my next question would have been what if he didn’t dope when he was in his prime rather that on or around the 40-year mark.

“With Oprah he showed he was fed up of lying. I don’t think he is still manipulating the media. He has lost everything and therefore has nothing else to lose or gain anymore.

“I don’t believe it will effect the general perception of cycling. Doping is in all sports now, however to what extent is the question.”

Rabess feels Armstrong should now talk about doping, or even become a spokesperson.

“Come to think about it, he could be an investigator for an anti-doping agency as he knows all the tricks in the book and some.

“He also needs to spend more time with his family. I believe it will affect them more than it has him.

“Doping will always be around with new drugs and methods to administer them. Perhaps they should introduce a category in the sport!

“On a serious note, I don’t promote doping in any sport and the introduction to the passport is a good start to reducing this significantly.”

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