Jun 03 2014

Canadian Cyclists & Doping: My Thoughts Today

I read the exclusive update that Velonews published after the end of the Giro (posted to their website on June 2nd) with Ryder Hesjedal talking for the first time in more detail than a press release about his past doping transgressions:

Exclusive: Hesjedal speaks about past doping offenses

I was glad to see the storyline, I think it’s long overdue. Having read it, honestly I’m still not sure what I think about it. I’ve been taking my time to formulate a response, and I expect you’ll find it as inconclusive as the overall story.

What Do We Know?

Hesjedal didn’t talk much about what took place back in the days when he was learning things from Rasmussen; very few facts came out when he acknowledged it and not much more is known now despite his exclusive with VN. Like many other journalists I tried to get more insight into what happened and what the impact was. I found the most sincere insights came from other Canadian cyclists who were affected by the actions of riders like Hesjedal. A number of them were published online via PedalMag.com and you can find them from riders like Bauer and Kabush here, as well as Pendrel, Parisien & Watson. Good honest commentary, nothing from the folks outed by Rasmussen other than pre-scrubbed responses though. 

The print article I worked on was less rushed and being able to talk to people like Svein Tuft, USADA, Jonathan Vaughters and others for hours gave me some deeper insights from team and peloton but not really a lot more from Hesjedal. I still feel the same way despite his saying things like “It’s not everyone’s right to know all the details in these types of matters” in the VN piece. My opinion is very different… I think being more detailed in responding is in fact required. I can guess at why he’s reserving his rights, I’d rather he say what those reasons are or just share the details.

Canadian, Eh?

Having interviewed Michael Barry on the same doping topic, I find the two story lines radically different and I’m less inclined to accept what feels like obfuscation from Hesjedal. When I asked Barry about personal details like how he hid it from his wife there was no tone of deception in his voice. He made it clear that she knew and accepted his right to decide that (and he was equally clear to not to imply Didi approved… just that he did what he did). I get no such sense of honesty from anything Hesjedal has shared yet. And to be clear, Hesjedal has not accepted any opportunity to talk to me since this became public so I only have what’s published to go by. I’m just sayin’… talking to any/all/even little guys like me journos give some credibility to whatever is shared. And being Canadian does have some implications…

I get the sense that there are more results at risk for Hesjedal than Barry with more candid answers and can’t help but wonder if that might hint at motives. I can only guess though. And wonder about why. The VN piece includes some important comments from Vaughters on the topic and I agree completely… “tell the truth and it’s six months if it’s within statute of limitations. If you lie, it’s a lifetime ban.’ [To suggest] that he might have lied about later years, is a bit ridiculous”. Coming out, being honest is hard at the best of times. Still, it leaves room for questions and I wonder who needs to address that. I think the community that thrives on cycling is wondering, not just me.

Does Timing Matter?

The VN piece touches on the timing of the USADA interview, I looked into that too. As well as the investigations by the Canadian equivalent (CCES). They both described a timeline that’s consistent with what VN has reported on. And I got a very clear indication that this is still an ongoing investigation, which can only be taken to say that Hesjedal, Barry and lots of others are only pawns in a game that seems to be aimed at one Lance Armstrong. He certainly seems to have a huge target painted on his chest… hard to imagine he didn’t have a big part to play in putting it there though. As for the timing… well I am unconvinced as there aren’t enough facts in front of me.

The story’s evolution doesn’t excuse the lack of facts… we’re now talking about revelations that were front and center in late 2012 after years of preamble. They flared up again about the same time in 2013 with Rasmussen’s book and Hesjedal’s outing. And we’re already into June 2014 without much more being answered.

So I have to ask: who’s holding us back from learning the full story?

Leave a Reply