Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Bernhard Kohl is Not the Enemy of Cyclesport

There’s no reason to force yourself to reject, or otherwise adopt a guarded position in response to Bernhard Kohl's appearance at an anti-doping symposium this past weekend in the United States, unless you're on the wrong-side of the doping dilemma. Of course when someone says “everyone is doing X” or “it’s impossible for anyone to do Y,” we know intuitively that there is a degree of hyperbole involved and that there is always an exception (in reasonable circumstances – and I less and less think it reasonable to say with 100% confidence, “You could win the Tour without drugs during the 1999-2010 period.”).

Maybe you could finish the Tour, but it seems unlikely anymore, especially in light of recent revelations and goings-on, that you could win it. Maybe (qualifier) that’s just how it is, and maybe it’s high-time that such statements not be automatically qualified by others who find it offensive to their worldview to consider how corrupt a sport might be. I mean, does Kohl really need to preface what he says with, “I accept the fact that what I’m going to say could be invalidated by a statistical anomaly and that there might always be a physiological freak who is an exception to what I know to be true from first-hand experience and anecdotal evidence, BUT …[you can’t win the Tour w/o doping.]”??

And just to clarify, it was Roy Sentjens who said that you couldn't finish in the top-10 without doping, not Bernhard Kohl. 


  1. Oh, we all know nobody's *won* the tour since the early 90s, but what Kohl said was that no-one could even get a top 10, which I think is stretching it. I can't think of anyone in the past 20 years who even podium'ed the TdF that I didn't highly suspect, or was subsequently proven to be doping, but you can catch a lucky break and top 10 without doping, IMHO.

  2. Matt, it was actually Roy Sentjens who said you couldn't get a top-10 w/o doping, not Kohl. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

  3. Your proposed preface will continue to be necessary until the subjects stop insisting that the Emperor is clothed.

  4. Joe, you're right, mea culpa. Hell in that case I'd be willing to go one step farther and say that it's impossible to podium in the TdF w/o doping.

    Congrats to Kohl for at least partially breaking the Omerta.

    I feel bad that he feels that he can't be a pro anymore.

    The irony, I think, about all these denials and excuses is that it never works. If you look at all the pros who just stick with the deny, deny, deny tactic, they've all failed. Hamilton, Landis, Mancebo, etc. They've all gone down the tubes. On the other hand, Dave Millar, said "Fuck yeah, I doped, Fuck You", served his two years, and has been a respected pro cyclist for nearly a decade after the incident.

    Have you heard of the Tattoos that Adam Myerson and Phil Gaimon have gotten?

  5. I can only speak as the average fan but I have no issue with Kohl. He got caught and he came clean (for the most part) and he has contributed to cleaning up the sport. He quietly accepted an invite to USADA annual conference and I guess he made some interesting points. This is not the path the typical doper takes, they deny or claim they only took it once and never when they were winning. He deserves better in my opinion because he manned up.

    I find it interesting and possibly self serving you choose 1999. You know full well the modern era of doping did not begin with LA. He may have raised the doping game a notch but all the winners back to but not including Lemond IMO were doped on EPO. Good blog as usual, I would love to know the first clean rider in the last 10 tours, any guesses?

  6. Subconsciously picked 1999 - thanks for pointing out the arbitrariness of that. Date could be 1991 for all we know, over even earlier (though of course I hope that's not the case). Clearly the introduction to and adoption by the peloton of EPO and other oxygen-vector drugs is what changed the equation.


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