Here we go again. Last night Cyclingnews was reporting that 2010 Tour De France Champion Alberto Contador had tested positive for clenbuterol. Clenbuterol is typically a steroid associated with Bodybuilding and one that I have heard of from my weightlifting days. The initial reaction to the news is one of shock, which turns into disbelief, and then anger.
The shock comes from that another Tour winner or participant has tested positive for an illegal substance. After just getting over the Floyd Landis controversy, we now are hit with another scandal within the cycling community. It has been happening on a regular basis that cheaters have been caught and suspended, but when the Tour Winner tests positive, then it is major headlines.
The disbelief part comes from trying to figure out why Contador would stoop to that level? I know the obvious answer is that people will do whatever to win, even if it involves cheating, but I still don't understand when someone has so much natural talent, why would they stoop to such a low level. Like him or hate him, he is a great cyclist.
The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Cycling is a great sport and one I like to do, but when numbskulls like him continually bring the sport into the public eye in such a bad light, it infuriates me. People like to rally around winners, not cheats and it really lets the wind out of your sail when things like this happen. I know they are human, but when you are at such a high level of competition and and are thrust into the international light, you have a certain level of responsibility to the fans and the public. I know Charles Barkley thinks he is not a role model, and I agree that the parents should be the role model, but whether Charles or Alberto like it, they are broadcasting an image to the youth and fans of today.
I personally have never been a Contador fan because of actions like him overtaking Schleck's chain problem.. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I think that he has never been a team player. Cycling is very much a team sport. Yes, they always have the GC contendor, the climber, the sprinter, but they always function as a team. If you read Lance's book, he paid his team a big bonus after one of his Tour De France wins, because he realized he could not have done it without them. Priest Holmes, the former great running back of the Kansas City Chiefs, won an award for the most rushing yards in a season and he went out and back all of his lineman gifts, because he realized he could not have done it without their help.
He did the same thing in the 2009 Tour when he attacked his own teammates and ended costing Kloden a podium spot. Lance was able to bridge the gap, but fell from 2nd to 3rd. Team manager Johan Bruyneel was not happy with the move, but I would have expected no less from him. Kind of ironic that everyone left him on Astana to go to team Radioshack.
Alberto is supposed to have a conference today in his hometown and I guess explain what happened? Right now he is saying that is because of some meat that he ate. The guys over at Science of Sport have a more accurate take on this, but my experience has always been, that lies usually proceed the truth. Whether it is a politician, athlete, or even the President, they always start out lying and then eventually the truth comes out.
It may be possible that it is because of him eating some meat that caused it, but I don't know if I buy it. I am not a doctor, nor portray one on TV, and I did not stay in an Holiday Inn Express last night, but I can read human nature. Floyd Landis had everyone fooled. Wrote a book about his innocence, conned millions of people into believing it, had tons of money donated to his legal defenses, and when it appeared that he got mad about getting snubbed for the Tour of California, he comes clean. Greg Lemond has been kind of a cantankerous, bitter, old kook as of late, but maybe he is right on some of these things. He is kind of like the crazy, old uncle everyone has.
Sadly, last month, great cycling champion, Laurent Fignon, passed away after losing his battle to cancer. He was a father, champion, and hero to many. But before he passed away, he said that he did not know if some of the doping that he did may have attributed to his cancer. No one will ever know, but to think that to achieve the highest level in this sport may have cost him his life, is truly sad. It is one thing to be the best, achieve the highest, and succeed where others have failed, but when it costs you your health and your family, was it really worth it.
Time will tell whether Alberto is innocent or not. The media will try him in the public, long before the courts do. In the meantime, I hope that he is honest with his fans and himself. Whether you like him or not, I do not think anyone wants to hear about him passing away at a young age because of the choices he made to be the best.