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 third and final installment of our interviewees’ thoughts on the topic. Have your own thoughts? Chime in in the comment field. — ed.
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
Tom Zirbel is a convicted doper. But rightly or wrongly, he’s been given the benefit of the doubt by the majority of those observing the sport. Most (your author included) believe that his positive test in 2009 for the steroid DHEA was caused by a tainted supplement. Whatever the case, after serving an 18-month ban, he’s back racing.
“It’s a funny game because almost everyone at least starts out saying they are innocent, so you have to do your best to filter through it and follow your gut. If a guy is not apologetic and never owns up to it, that plays a part in how they are perceived. But I don’t think it is all one way or the other. I think a lot of people like David Millar and what he is doing now, and a lot of people can’t get past the fact that he did what he did and only admitted to something after he was caught red-handed.”
“I don’t think anyone is evil. You have to look at the motivations. A lot of times in that era it was just leveling the playing field. I really wish there was more consistency. I wish we knew more
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/04/news/road/perceptions-of-a-doper-part-iii_213552