I'm all for clean sport b/c I've come to understand from first-hand experience how destructive doping can be...but: are you or is anybody else REALLY surprised that guys like Jan Ullrich and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom were Olympic gold medalists, are reticent and inclined not to publicly admit their doping, even when it's apparently obvious to even the casual fan?
I mean, seriously - how upset or annoyed or frustrated or otherwise negatively impacted can you be by their totally-predictable decisions to deny having doped, or at least refuse to address affirmatively those accusations (even if in the long-run they might be better off b/c of the potential lifting of the mental burden of living lives based on lies)?
The likely outcome of such admissions would be total financial ruin, years of litigation, an exponential increase in harassment and persecution by the media and the loss of all public support, and in some cases possible criminal liability.
It's disingenuous for anyone to act surprised or offended or to be condescending or dismissive b/c Ulle won't admit to allegedly having been a Fuentes client - just like Hamilton won't admit to having allegedly blood doped during the Olympics and so holds onto his Gold Medal.
I have little doubt that the same people who urge Ullrich to come clean for his own well-being and for the long-term health of the sport are the same people who would jump at the chance to crucify the guy after he would make such an admission!
I'm sorry, but unless Ullrich loses "everything" and reaches the level at which Floyd was bobbing when he decided to engage the UCI behind-the-scenes to challenge them for their complicity in doping, it's totally not going to happen that he admits to anything while he still faces civil or criminal liability, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a PhD to realize that.
UPDATE: This post seems to have touched a nerve with a subset of the cycling population, including riders current and retired, other fans, commentators, officials and even some in the anti-doping movement. And while I can't reveal the details, I know that some of these like-minded individuals are themselves considering speaking on-record to the media about their own distaste for the witch-hunt mentality and no-hope-of-redemption mind-set that radical anti-dopers embrace.
We must clearly articulate, identify, highlight and protect a clear pathway back to competition and reintegration in Sport for those convicted of doping. While there are arguments in support of this that can be based on moral, ethical, even philosophical concerns, there is also a significant practical reality: few athletes sanctioned for doping will cooperate meaningfully with anti-doping authorities if the expected response is to be eviscerated by the media, the public, and even the ADA's with whom they're supposedly collaborating (see Bernhard Kohl's Life Ban, which he received AFTER he cooperated to a degree previously not seen in cycling at that level).
If the environment continues to be polluted with extremist anti-doping rhetoric that encourages the blacklisting of even those riders who meet all the terms of their sanction, we can forget the idea that the next doper might "do the right thing" and reveal the "smoking gun" evidence that so many people are crying for, or that he will provide investigators with a detailed explanation of how he and his co-conspirators defeated anti-doping controls.
No, instead you'll just see an endless parade of Ivan Basso's and Dan Staite's - riders who either want to come back and so will admit to only the bare minimum personal transgression (without "naming names" so as not to throw dirt at the sport) or riders who have no intention of ever competing in cycling again, and so basically tell the world to "F*ck Off."
Neither situation is a good one if one desires that the fight against doping in sport be successful. It might be distasteful to say it, but it's obvious that the ADA's need the cooperation of any and every doper they identify.
And while it's of interest to me that there be less radicalism in anti-doping and more opportunity for rehabilitation, there are countless others who don't even care about doping beyond not wanting to see it discussed as the number one topic each week on Cyclingnews.com. As one interlocutor explained to me:
"The more fans of cycling I meet, especially those with no direct experience of racing, the more I am beginning to believe that most spectators don't actually care about the issue of doping. They just enjoy the spectacle. And dope or no dope, that looks like it will continue. That's not to say you or I shouldn't care about it. We should. So as to avoid future instances of innocent athletes being cheated out of making a living, and to avoid guilty ones from being driven from making a living. Both, to me, are tragic. The other potential new fans who do care about doping, I worry will be turn away from a sport that has done more than most sports to ensure "fairness". And i think that if we are not careful, we can contribute to that, by engaging in the debate in a way that leaves the less informed with the impression that cycling is the "dirtiest" sport.
Yes, we should learn from the past, and that means discussing it openly, but like in Salem, witch hunts are pretty unedifying spectacles and are certainly not as entertaining as watching guys race their bikes. And witch hunts certainly aren't high up on potential sponsors lists of targets with which to advertise their wares. Something that is very relevant to our future. What is happening now will not take away man's innate desire to seek advantage, just as a lynching wasn't going to take away the desire of "slaves" to screw their "masters" wives. It might just have made them damn sure that they didn't get caught in future."