Doping… It’s out there, but you can’t go into races with a losing mentality. You have no control over how someone else prepares for an event, but you can show up physically and mentally prepared. And with a clean conscience.
With all the recent doping news, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought… I am not a great cyclist. By any stretch. I would say I have a reasonably high level of natural ability, but not through the roof, by any means. Despite this, I managed to secure a contract with a 3rd division (“pro”) team at 22, with a completed degree in my backpocket. I have never won any big races, but I have managed to win about 30 Pro 1/2 races and have never used anything harder than a Monster Energy, and most of those were with a full-time job and kids. I am not tooting my own horn (okay, I am a little) here, these aren’t big races, but when I hear people are doping for Master’s or even Cat. 3 races, I just don’t know what to make of it.
One of the recent US headliners (not something to be proud of, these days!), I’ve known for some time. Yes, it was “Mr. 3 strikes, you’re out… for life”. In all my dealings with him, he was a pretty much a decent guy. So, it’s true what they say. Dickheads dope and nice guys do too. I don’t know why someone would be otherwise an okay person, but they can legitimize what is clearly cheating in their own mind. I guess when you turn pro with Mapei, maybe that changes your perspective of things, so maybe I am lucky I am not of the “super talented” lot.
I will admit that when I was pursuing pro cycling, I was relatively naive to what was going on. I realized it was there, but it’s now becoming apparent how bad it was. I guess it became apparent as I progressed. Or did not progress, as the case wound up being! But I’m not blaming that on doping. And I don’t have any regrets.