So now the doping scandals are making their way into the amateur ranks. Kenny Williams, a household name in Seattle-area cycling for years, a cycling instructor and top Masters competitor, is caught using DHEA and owns up to it (be sure to read comments queue).
What to say? There’s no point in being naive or righteous about doping at the amateur level. Anyone who goes to a high school football game these days knows that performance enhancers are as easy to find and ingest as a double cheeseburger with fries. Drugs permeate our culture, to the point where enforcement has become so politically manipulated and selectively rendered that any deterrence factor is utterly lost.
Kenny’s heartfelt apology, in this context, is pointless. No one with any experience in the sport will take him at face value. See comment queues in Drunkcyclist and Papillon. Cyclists testing positive these days have only two credible options: 1. To own up to all their past misdeeds while noting, as Bernhard Kohl did, that in order to win these days you have to dope. We repeat, you have to dope. 2. Or to just STFU, serve their time and let the chips fall where they may.
Denial is ludicrous. Abject admission in a context of greater denial — the Kenny Williams path — invites scorn, cynicism and disbelief.
Williams has been a role model and comported himself well by all accounts over the years. It’s sad to find him in these circumstances. But shock and outrage serve no point.
If I were him, I’d take the BikePure pledge and really truly mend my ways (which would undoubtedly mean a fall from the top ranks he’s dwelled in over the years). Go on the lecture circuit about the poisoning impacts of drugs on health, self-respect and sports.
It’d be a departure from the norm. I can’t think of many banned athletes who have fessed up and crusaded on doping, because let’s face it, they want to get back to the top once their suspension is served.
But it’s the only path that would allow Kenny Williams, who raised the hopes and fed the dreams of so many fellow cyclists, to live the rest of his life being able to look others straight in the eye.
How bad is doping corruption in cycling? So bad that Team Elk Haus’ manager, noting that the taint from doping kept his team from finding sponsorship, suggests cycling should simply look the other way like swimming, football and other sports. He has a point: No steroids user, even those admitting it, has ever been penalized in baseball, and the last time I checked two of the most famous juicers just led their team in the World Series. But is covering it all up really useful — or sustainable?
Joe Papp lays it on the line about his own doping, the way a true confession should read.
BikePure teams up with a BMX bike maker to get its point across. Not a bad idea — reinforce the anti-doping message with the younguns when it can still make a difference.