If it’s too good to be true. It probably is. I had 3 rides planned on consecutive days. My crankset fell apart in mile 1 of ride 1. Following the Fancy Bears’ TUE hack the wheels have fallen off the Team SKY Deathstar.
STOP. It’s easy for us to get on the moral high ground. What would we do? Professional cycling is cut throat. It always has been. Read any history of the Tour de France. Without so much money in the form of advertising at stake, then the decision to bend the rules wouldn’t be so inevitable.
Why are we surprised?
Sir David Brailsford (then just plain Dave) after convincing his financial backers (SKY) that they would profit richly from a CLEAN British Rider winning the Tour de France for the 1st time had to deliver. Once Sir Dave got under the skin, immersed himself in the world of professional road cycling did he find it opaque, dirty, tawdry? Tough. He had to be successful. You think Rupert Murdoch would allow for anything else?
I don’t know the ins and outs of professional cycling. It’s a guess, having sold the Clean Team Dream Sir Dave had a choice – WIN with:
A) a clean team;
B) an unclean team;
C) a team that rode unclean legally.
We know he chose ‘C’ and called it Marginal Gains. He talked bespoke mattresses for riders and cooling down on rollers post-race he didn’t talk about the use of banned steroids with an accompanying TUE. He didn’t make the rules and he didn’t break the rules.
He did make the choice to take the ethically questionable option, the one that when it inevitably comes out looks dodgy, doesn’t feel right, undermines the Team SKY brand. That will hurt Sir Dave the most. He’s talked about Team SKY being a brand as recognizable as Barcelona FC. He’s not there yet as Teflon brands like Barcelona FC shake off the mud. The Team SKY brand is badly tainted. Less for the usage of PEDs more for their cyclical actions and hypocritical rhetoric.
I don’t blame Sir Dave. I don’t blame the spectators. Race Organisers create sensational parcours – 2 ascents of Alpe D’Huez twice in 1 day – to attract mega global TV audiences for the advertisers that bankroll the sport. They raise the stakes. They make professional cycling win at all costs. Whatever the price. The irony is that when the inconvenient PED truth comes out the brand premium of all involved in cycling is eroded.
How to stop drugs in sport? Stop watching. Get out and ride. (With or without a Doctors Note).