In early March, Velo Magazine conducted exclusive interviews with a varied panel of individuals intimately involved with the sport of professional cycling. The goal: To find out why doping, or being accused of doping, elicits such diversity in response and outcome.
From Riccò to Zirbel, Armstrong to Contador, the court of public opinion is varied and unpredictable. Where fans welcome one rider convicted of performance enhancing drug use back as a spokesperson for clean sport, they crucify another.
These interviews formed the foundation for the editorial in our May 2012 issue, written by Caley Fretz and Neal Rogers, suggesting that empathy — and more importantly, how it is achieved — is the key component determining how fully the public accepts a convicted doper’s return to the sport.
Below is the second of three installments of our interviewees’ thoughts on the topic. Look for Part III on Friday, featuring Tom Zirbel, Joe Parkin and Frankie Andreu. — ed.
Christian Vande Velde
Christian Vande Velde has seen a lot since turning pro in 1998. He sat next to Lance Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service team bus, flew the colors of Liberty Seguros, went to battle for Bjarne Riis’ Team CSC, and he’s been an outspoken member of Garmin-Barracuda, cycling’s clean team.
“You definitely have your extremes that go from (Riccardo) Riccò (widely viewed as unrepentant) to (Tom) Zirbel (widely viewed to have been tripped up by a tainted supplement). There is obviously a lot of space in between those two. All the people I talk to look at Zirbel and just say, ‘Wow, he got screwed. But guys like Riccò, that guy should be hung.’”
“On the inside of the peloton, if I think to myself that, ‘everyone is doping,’ or ‘so and so is still doping,’ then I’m going to drive myself crazy. So I’m one to give people the benefit of the doubt. If I’m second guessing everyone then you start second guessing yourself and you may start thinking you can’t stay with some guy, when maybe you can.”
“As far as being let back into the sport, I guess it can depend on where you are in the peloton at
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/04/news/road/perceptions-of-a-doper-part-ii_213481