Wednesday, 24 March 2021

A case of peloton dysfunction

Lance, my hero

What got me fascinated and interested in cycling was the story of one man, Lance Armstrong, he recovered from testicular cancer and went on to win 7 consecutive Tour de France titles. That was the story, there is life after cancer.

When I then had life-threatening cancer in 2009, after months of denial, at the point of acceptance, I began to believe there is a life for me beyond my ordeal. That Lance Armstrong was then found out to be a drug cheat and stripped of his titles is unfortunate, but that is not the story that resonated with us, cancer survivors.

Indeed, one can die with great integrity and be eulogised quite ordinarily, or die having achieved notoriety, ignominy, and even disgrace, but with a life to live there is some opportunity for redemption if it comes. If it does not, you are still there for the ones you love and still love you and that for me is an extraordinary story. Lance Armstrong as a person remains a hero.

Medicine for the race

As the world unravelled around him, the mantel fell to the UK to retrieve the reputation of cycling from the dust. In track and road cycling, at the Olympics and peloton Grand Tours, cyclists from the UK took golds and titles, we were cheering from the rafters and men rose from their knee to become knights of the realm.

Great men like those of old, men of chivalry rescuing damsels from distress. Erm, well, there was a Dr Richard Freeman, the team doctor meant to see to the medical needs of the cycling teams and in his position would have been able to acquire medicaments to treat all sorts of conditions. Saddle soreness, for example, and anything in that region that might need attention.

Challenges of manhood

He however highlighted one condition about a male head coach that drew recriminations and rebuttals. You can challenge a man about many things, but not his manhood and its efficacy at performance and surely not in a public forum. Yet, Dr Freeman will have us believe that he ordered 30 sachets of testosterone to help Shane Sutton with his erectile dysfunction. I am a tyro, but I thought you got Viagra or Kamagra for that, but what do I know?

Anyway, with that order comes the possible taint of the achievements of the British cyclist, though, meanwhile, Dr Freeman, free with words, free with the truth has been freed from medical practice. Sadly, he might have set the peloton in dysfunction.

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