The Horner Conundrum

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09/9/2013| 3 comments
by Neil Browne
Chris Horner in La Vuelta a Espana 2013 Unipublic

The Horner Conundrum

Chris Horner is over 40 and could win a grand tour. Let's take a deeper look.

I'm going to address the elephant in the room. I'm going to say what quite a few of you have been thinking.

Here I go.

I'm serious – I'm going to say it.

Here goes....gosh this is awkward.

Chris Horner has had a suspicious past. There - I said it.

I know lately Horner is the hero among master category racers – a 40 plus rider fighting for the podium in a grand tour. He's an American beating the Europeans at their own sport. It reminds us of the good old days when...oh wait...never mind.

Yes, Horner makes for an exciting narrative which undoubtedly sells a few more magazine issues or generates a few more page views on cycling websites. I don't get any pleasure in pointing out a few interesting issues, but we can't keep burying the past like the three monkeys - “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

It is widely speculated that the former Saunier Duval, and now RadioShack rider, is “Rider 15” in Levi Leipheimer's redacted USADA testimony. In his testimony the now retired rider said, “In 2008 Rider 15 told me that he was using EPO during his recovery from an injury in 2005 before the Tour of Switzerland.”

This matches up to Horner who was suffering a knee injury and also participated in the Tour of Switzerland.

Then there's the odd statement Horner made about performance enhancing drugs: he didn't hear about doping, didn't see any doping, never spoke about doping. Also, he continued to speak very highly of Lance Armstrong saying he didn't believe the now disgraced rider had doped. Now when asked about Armstrong he refers the interviewer to RadioShack staffers. Not a whole lot of transparency - just good political skills.

So if Horner was dirty why didn't he suffer the same fate as Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, and serve out a six month suspension or slink out of the sport with a retirement? Perhaps Leipheimer's statement couldn't be verified? Just because one person said it doesn't make it true.

Regarding Horner's statements about doping those can be attributed to him being a good “company man” and not saying anything that would make his boss, Armstrong, angry. We've all seen what happens to people that cross Armstrong, and Horner has kids, a mortgage, probably a car payment or two, so a steady paycheck is a good motivator to not be too forthcoming. Remember, Horner already knows how it feels to be stiffed for money from a team. Back when he was racing for the Mercury team in 2001 he had to go to the UCI and demand his paycheck from the squad which was never resolved. Not fond memories for Horner or Floyd Landis as both got screwed by the implosion of the Mercury team.

In a December 2012 interview with Cyclingnews Horner was coy about doping which the reporter said left him, probably the reader, as well as Horner, frustrated. And that's where we are still - frustrated that a guy that is seemingly beating the

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XpertNtraining|

Neil's view on Americans and cycling is more skewed than a category IV road.

cervelo17|

Neil, thanks for expressing what I've been thinking...and what I've NOT seen written anywhere else. Horner comes across as a likeable happy-go-lucky guy who is well spoken after the race. But it has always worried me that he has improved when he should be on the decline (which coincided when he linked up with the Johan/Lance juggernaut). And his answers regarding Lance not being a doper were ludicrous.
Cheers!

Steve O'|

Five years ago or so, no one would cheering more loudly for a Horner GT win.

Today, all I can think is: not normal.