How much of your life would you give to expose a hard to believe truth? Conversely, for how long would you live a complete lie to save integrity? If one were to reach such extremes is balance so far removed it plays no role?
Tyler Hamilton made his return to professional cycling this week. For those of you who are not cycling fans, or who are unaware of Hamilton’s story it is worth a little investigation. Just over two years ago he was one of the premier cyclists in the world (and at the time my favourite), winner of a gold medal in Athens, and possible heir to Armstrong’s Tour reign. That all dissolved when he tested positive for blood doping. Tests showed another person’s blood was mixed in his own. Through the heaps of data – which is incredibly technical and jargon filled – Hamilton has remained steadfast. Through numerous hearings and appeals, where his suspension was repeatedly upheld, he has been consistently enthusiastic in saying he did not dope. His efforts have not gone in to half-baked denials. He has not tried to blame others for misleading him. He has not spent huge sums of money on suing newspapers, labs or doctors. Instead, Hamilton has spent all of his resources on leading a very transparent rebuttal and a very clear headed media campaign to prove his innocence. He has been supported by numerous doctors, technicians and officials who refuse to back down in their belief that Hamilton’s test was a false positive. They have put forward a mountain of data and evidence in return that suggest his suspension should have been annulled without argument. But, with two camps at polar ends, and no lay person being able to fully understand the technical aspect of the case, Hamilton will forever remain branded.
However, I can think of no other athlete who has tested positive to put everything in to clearing his name. Cycling is zealous in its attempts to catch dopers (a position more professional sports should take) and I want to believe it is making a difference. I also want to believe Hamilton. There is simply something about the way he expresses himself and the lengths he has gone to. I do not see a resolution because a sporting body so fanatically paranoid about its reputation that it feels it must catch people, is pitted against a man who has bared his soul to the world to profess his innocence in a way no other athlete ever has.
I think cycling is a fantastic sport and encourage people to follow along or get involved. I want cycling to be clean. I want Tyler to be clean. But I just don’t know. I don’t like not knowing.
Nevertheless, guilty or not, he has served the time, and now deserves to ride regardless. I hope he finds what he feels is redemption.