We have long been privy to the fact that there’s cheating in cycling. It’s a professional sport happening right now, so of course there’s a degree of cheating involved. That desperate desire for victory that drives people to reach the very tops of sports worlds is the same desire that pushes people into the darker world of cheating and performance enhancers when things don’t appear to be going the way of victory. It often comes as a surprise to the layman to see athletes looking glum or even outright depressed while having a silver medal placed round their neck – “hey, you’re still the SECOND best in the world! Out of nearly eight billion, second isn’t so bad, hey?” It is. When you’re that close to first, second sucks.
Indulgence in or reliance on P.E.D. usage is what you might call an “open secret” in the cycling world. There have long been allegations levied at those at the top of the sport regarding drug usage, allegations that turned to reality and were brought to wider public knowledge with the implosion of Lance Armstrong’s career and, with it, the US Postal Service Cycling Team.
In the wake of the death of Team US Postal Service rose Team Sky – a British team destined for greatness with some of the great British rider of the day, such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. They won multiple Grand Tours including the Tour de France on six out of seven occasions between 2012 and 2018. At their peak, they were unstoppable. Now, their achievements are called into question amid the charging of former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman of ordering the prohibited drug testosterone while “knowing or believing” that it would be given to a rider (who has not been named anywhere in the trial) in order to improve their athletic performance.
That is a damning mark against Team Sky and their dominance over the last decade. Although there is no concrete proof of any wrongdoing by the team itself, questions will always, and have always, hovered over the heads of the guys at the very head of the peloton. Now, with concrete proof (in the minds of the prosecutors, at least) of intentional wrongdoing by the doctor responsible for the athletes involved with Team Sky, the questions regarding who, in fact, the testosterone was for will inevitably start to gain steam.
It has taken nearly a decade, but the verdict has finally been reached by the courts. Freeman was accused of ordering 30 sachets of “Testogel” to the national velodrome in Manchester in May 2011 in order to assist the performance of an unknown rider. The verdict came in on Friday 12th of March 2021. Do you think there has been cheating in the ranks of Team Sky, now INEOS Grenadiers? If you do, how far elsewhere do you think cheating in the sport is still present?