A few weeks ago it was the Landis doping accusations plastered all over the front pages of the Belgian papers, last week it was the turn of ‘Cancellara’s technological doping case’. Only a few months ago the media had him up on a pedestal; ‘Super-talent’, ‘Untouchable’, ‘Another Merckx?’… So yet another example of how fickle the media is; how quickly can the media influence our opinion of an athlete, and indeed a sport?
I have to admit that I have watched the Youtube ‘film’ presenting a case against Cancellara; and a believable case that is. His seated accelerations over the Muur and along Mons-en-Pevele could well be powered by a hidden motor. Or the alternative is months of dedicated training, exceptional talent and a focus beyond the capabilities of most.
It will never be proved one way or another; the moment when that was possible has now been and gone. I am therefore not going to jump off the fence!
Cycling’s vulnerability to both ‘technological doping’ and ‘medical doping’ has seemingly pushed it to the bottom of the integrity pile. Only a handful of sports can be victim to both kinds of doping (I think!) I recently saw an interview with Greg Searle; his genuine passion to test his body to its limits during both training and competition was hugely imposing throughout the interview. So if that is what he lives for, works for and takes so much pleasure in, would he consider planting a motor in his boat? We would all hope ‘no’.
As I sat in a doctor’s waiting room yesterday contemplating this blog, I flicked through a book entitled ‘The 100 Greatest Moments of the Olympics’. I could not help smiling at a photo featuring four members of a female relay team in their rather antiquated costumes. My point? Then sport was simply sport; one ‘man’ against the other, no one had considered a streamlined costume material or super tight fitting swim cap. Indeed for all sports there was no sponsorship deal at stake, no contract for the following year; money had not yet infiltrated to the extent that we now see. Are we slowly losing perspective of the true meaning of ‘good old competitive sport’?