Doping Fever - Is it terminal?
Michael Rasmussen's book hits the shelves and the effects are felt by the peloton.
Honk, honk, honk! Do you hear that pro cycling? That’s the sound of Michael Rasmussen throwing you under the bus.
The banned Danish rider has a new book hitting the stores called Yellow Fever and it’s already number one. What made the book jump to the top of the charts? Well, for the same reason gossip sites like TMZ get huge amount of page hits: The public LOVES salacious stories and this one has it all. We have the standard blood doping tale, but what sets this one apart from some others is Rasmussen is naming names and he isn’t holding back.
One of the first riders outed by The Chicken was Team Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal. In the book Rasmussen says he taught Hesjedal about EPO. It wasn’t long after this hit the news that Ryder issued what has become the standard boilerplate answer when faced with undeniable facts of getting caught doping.
“I chose the wrong path,” “it was 10 years ago, and they were short lived,” “I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.” You get the point.
Before we get whipped up into a mob mentality of burning Ryder at the stake let’s take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves - is this really that big of a surprise?
Hesjedal started racing in the heyday of the EPO era and every week it seems like the list of non-dopers during that time is shorter than the list of guys with needles in their arms willing to do whatever it took to get that few percentage points advantage over the competition (or at least try to stay even with them).
What really bothered me is that it wasn’t until Yellow Fever was hitting the book shelves did Hesjedal feel compelled to admit to doping. To be fair, the Canadian did admit to USADA earlier this year and according to them, was honest about his doping, which supposedly ended in 2004. Also, Ryder was told by USADA to keep quiet about the admissions as there were “investigations” continuing. However, I’m really skeptical of the 2004 ending date. In 2004 and 2005 he rode for the US Postal Service team. He wasn’t on the Tour de France squad, but that didn’t stop guys from getting juiced. In 2006 he joined Phonak which according to Floyd Landis wasn’t exactly running a clean operation. So yeah, color me a bit doubtful when Ryder says the last time he was concerned about his “glow time” was in 2004.
The blowback also hit Garmin-Sharp team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. Cycling fans took to Twitter like the Romans at the Colosseum and accused JV of covering up, lying, and kicking kittens. Vaughters stated that he knew about Ryder’s doping admissions and was told by USADA that 2004 was indeed the last time Ryder used EPO - witnesses verified to this.
What can’t be denied is that Ryder had one of his best seasons ever in 2012, winning the Giro d’Italia years after he said he stopped doping.