Now that Alejandro Valverde has made a successful return to the peloton, Michael Rassmussen is continuing to defend his ghostly itinerary, and Alberto Contador awaits a court’s ruling on the microscopic bits of clenbuterol in his blood, it’s once again time to reflect on the complexities of doping offenses and how we should react to it’s impact on our sport.
For as long as there has been professional cycling we (as cycling fans) have been imbibing the intoxicating notion that certain up and coming cyclists may be the “next somebody.” Directors, managers, fellow cyclists, commentators, and pundits are always peddling certain members of the younger generation to be “as talented as (name your champion).” Why not? It’s easy to project hints of greatness into neverending glory when predictions can be so easily forgotten. It’s fun to seek out the new Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault. But very often the riders we saddle with these unrealistic expectations fail under the heavy weight of reality. Being an “expert” in sports predictions is like being a weatherman, noone is going to hold you accountable for being wrong tomorrow. Or if they do, it will be quickly forgotten. Don’t worry, you’re getting paid for trying, not for being right.