did lance ever ask you to dope him?
No. I worked with Lance for a 2 year period between 1985-1986. He had barely turned 16 when our relationship terminated. I was still competing and the doping specter had not even occurred to either of us at that time. He may have been guilty of other things such as being an arrogant cocky bullying prick, but at that point, he was clean as a whistle and so was I.
what percentage would you say that doping helps?
I wouldn't know enough to put an exact number to it. But simple math says that if your hematocrit goes from 45 to 50 because you doped, then you just gained 10% in oxygen carrying capacity. 10% converts to a very significant gain in power. That's a very simple algorithm, perhaps too simple, but not a stretch at all considering the lengths people have gone to increase their hematocrit, or at least maintain it through hard training blocks and big stage races. The game has changed with the passport... no longer can an athlete just boost indiscriminately because someone's watching the vital markers carefully. But it's still happening obviously, just at more of a micro level.
what are your thoughts on dr. wade exum?
Who's he? Heard his name before but don't have a clue who he is.
what would you say would be the height of doping in the domestic peloton, would you think its getting better or still getting worse?
I'd sure like to think that doping has peaked world wide and much improved but it's hard to say. I've been out of it for a couple of years now so I don't know who's getting tested regularly now and how often they get random testing. I have to think because of the attention it's gotten and the hard consequences that certain high profile athletes are now paying, that the younger generation is learning to make better choices. It's hard to see heroes fall from grace and not be impacted. And I do think that institutions are responding to better educate developing youth. Teams should be hiring and managing differently to make it better. Of course, human nature is still ever-present, and as long as it is, there will be a cheating element... I'm an optimist in general, but I don't believe that humans are capable of achieving perfection... we are corruptible, and always have been, and always will be. But I do believe that policies and policing can be a huge deterrent, and I do believe that education can be a significant booster to helping prepare for and resisting temptations. I actually don't think that doping is a huge problem in the domestic peloton... might be worse in the domestic masters peloton because they have resource, and they are in mid-life crises... people do crazy things when they are in crises.
tell us about what got you into cycling, who were your role models?
I was 16 years old when I happened by pure freaky chance upon a track event going on at Dick Lane Velodrome. I was actually lost trying to get home from an Atlanta Braves game and passed by the track and saw these two guys sprinting full out and I couldn't believe how fast they were going and I just had to stop and watch. Spent the whole afternoon there and couldn't get enough. I wanted that speed, those quads, that adrenaline. Ironically this was like 1976... and I'm pretty sure some of the guys I was watching in the match sprints were doped to the gills... they were incredibly big and muscular... not natural, I don't think it was policed much if at all back then. They looked like typical steroid freaks. But I was 16 and into the muscle and the speed and the danger and everything about it. That one event introduced me to cycling and my plans to give the sport a try started that moment.
My role models when I first started were Vince Maggioni, Mike and Jay Osborne, Mike Sanders, Ronnie Hinson. These were guys who were winning the local races in the Southeast where I cut my racing teeth. Vince, the Osbornes, and Mike Sanders were my teammates, really great bike racers, and they were great at helping me along. It was a great time, all very wholesome and clean.
what do you think about the future of cycling?
I like what I'm seeing now. I want to think that an era of blatant corruption is over. I'm not naive enough to think that it is totally purified, but I see alot of improvement. UCI needed some house-cleaning and that is happening. People have fallen that needed to fall, including myself, and hopefully that will continue to lead to the cleansing of the sport and improvement of leadership, policies, and infrastructure. I don't think people will ever tire of the sport... it's pretty obvious that even though cycling has been through hell these past few years it's still doing pretty well. I often wonder if all the scandal doesn't appeal to people... my wife loves reading the tabloids for scandal... again human nature rears it's ugly head... people love a good scandal. I do think there are people who are still involved that need to go, who have not been forthcoming... it rankles a bit to know I've exiled myself while they are guilty of things as bad or worse and they remain at work.
what do you think about the sport of downhill road cycling?
I love it! I'm a pretty serious descender myself. I've never been called a climber, my power to weight ratios much favor gravity over anti-gravity. I wish it had come along earlier... I'd be a contender! Don't know if the UCI would ever embrace it as an actual cycling medium... huge potential for death unfortunately... but such is Formula 1 or any high speed sport. No carbon cockpits in downhill road racing... just you and skintight aero fabric.
cycling is a punk rockers sport and it attracts many anti-establishment people. do you think cycling will continue to be policed by the fans and pro riders like myself who have spoken out in the future when we are dead and gone?
Oh yeah. The people need to have a voice. Very important to hear from the fans, the racers, the promoters, etc on all their concerns. . The sport needs them all to make it work.
what would you tell your riders today about winning clean vs winning with dope?
Interesting how you phrase that question Matt. Is it so critical to win? because if it's all about winning then doping will continue. That pressure to win is infused at all levels from sponsors to managers to coaches to parents to athletes. Of course we all want to win but at what cost? Doping pollutes the very essence of winning... winning on dope is not winning... it's cheating. I've had to reframe the whole idea of the sporting endeavor... the goal may be to win, but as long as you do your level best, while maintaining your virtue and integrity, it doesn't matter if you win the game, you win anyway because you can say you've achieved your best and not sold your soul.
In my personal experience, if I had a mulligan I'd do it waaaaay different... having suffered the humilation and forsaken a career I loved, no doubt I'd take the high road and stay fixed to the iron rod. I'd still be working in cycling today.
I'd say to my riders to pursue your dream with all you have, but don't sell your soul... win with what you have in you, don't steal, don't cheat, don't take... be a good sport, work hard, work long, work smart... most important is to be a great person, be a great member of your community, be a great example... do these things and you're a winner.
what value would you put on a world championship or an olympic medal?
It's a great accomplishment... monumental. But not worth the soiling of one's integrity. Do it right or don't do it. It's worth years of commitment and toil. But many a person has fallen victim to the shiny things that lure us to sin. Those gold medals, those beautiful shiny symbols of the victor, have led many astray. Nothing tarnishes the shine of medal like the corrosive sweat of one who knows they didn't earn it honestly.
what riders do you look up to today who are riding?
I really look up to the women who ride in the shadow of the men... I really enjoy women's racing and I will not name one because that wouldn't be fair, but they race with all the heart for none of the money. As a coach I never differentiated between the women or men... a race is a race.
I'm super happy to see strong US riders rising up to the top. Carmen Small, Missy Erickson, Kiel Reijnen, Alex Howes, TJ Vangarteren, Jeremy Powers... these are riders who are players in the international scene, untarnished, smart, virtuous, great examples. I have a great admiration for them. They are the hope for the future.
what is your most visited website that you go to?
Not really applicable to me. I'm not big on web-surfing these days. I do research online related to my farming stuff... for example lately I've been battling aphids on my pepper plants and have been cruising alot of material from various sites, blogs, and forums related to pest control. I don't look at cycling stuff much anymore... but now and then I hit up cyclingnews just to see what's happening. I do tend to hit news on Lance as I believe he's the lynchpin for alot of uncleansed elements in the sport, so I hit news on him when it pops up ever hopeful that there will be revelations that lead to further cleansing.
What are your plans for the next half of your life, is there anything you wish to accomplish?
Number one goal for me is to be a good parent to my boys and a good husband to my wife. The humiliation from the past few years has clarified my purpose in life and my family is paramount. I must provide as always, but I have learned that I must be there for them, in mind, body, and spirit. I once wanted so badly to be the trainer of the champions that I strayed, now I just want to be with my family, work my land, simplify my life. My family sacrificed alot so I could chase my dream of being that world-class athlete and coach, and they've ridden out this storm with me. I owe them so much. I know I can't fix my image with the world, but really all that matters to me now is that my family loves me, and even though I fell, they never hesitated to pick me up and help me heal. I have learned that there is nothing we can accomplish temporally that compares to doing the best for your family. No job or dream or any amount of money is worth selling your soul. Any other accomplishments I achieve will be a function of serving my family. I have a small farm that I'm developing a range of products for sell locally like eggs, vegetables, and sauces made from our garden produce... I just want to be able to sustain my family with it... it's really great to work at home, creating a place that's beautiful, with a great atmosphere, putting your hands in the dirt and being cleansed by it.
many current pro riders, fans, and coaches do not like you. they see you as a bad guy. yet you admitted your faults and i have forgiven you. what would you say to those people who still don't like you?
First, I'd like to say that I really appreciate that you have extended your forgiveness to me... it means alot.
I understand why people think that I'm a bad person. I struggle with that same feeling about myself still. I haven't completely forgiven myself. It takes time and I'm still in that process. You and I have come to know each other through the years initially through rivalry and now through forgiveness and making an effort to working it out. I don't expect people who know nothing about me other than what they've read to even try to see any good. I did bad things, and admitting to them doesn't take that away... I can't blame people for how they feel, I can only blame myself for what I did to make them feel that way. I try to let go of caring what people think, but it does make me very sad sometimes. I avoid cycling for this reason, it just reminds me that people out there don't like me. When I toil on my farm the dirt and the sweat somehow washes my mind clear of all that. I'm very blessed that I still have very many friends who remain true to me... 100% of my friends remained loyal... they know me and they see what's good in me... and they have forgiven me.
I know it's too much to ask for forgiveness from the masses, but I've thought about what it would take to earn that, and I've come up with some interesting ideas. One is to offer my back to the lashes of those who feel I've wronged them with the opportunity to walk away with the penalty paid and have the whole thing over with forever... not sure I'd live through it, but it's an interesting idea anyway. Old fashioned corporal punishment can be effective.
I want to say to them that I am very sorry, I wish to right the wrongs I've done, and I understand how they feel.
what would you say to lemond now?
do you believe in apologizing and saying that you are sorry? Or do you believe in making mistakes, being open and honest about them, and then moving on?
Yes to both. For me they are both critical. The reason I've chosen this path is because I believe that when you have sinned, then you must confess, then repent, apologize from the heart, recompense those you have harmed, and sin no more. I'm not done with the whole process yet but I'm working towards it. I consciously chose to do wrong, and yes that was a big mistake, but it wasn't an ooops like I dropped an egg, it was a decision that I made against my own better judgement, and now I have to deal with that... way harder than cleaning up a broken egg.
what would you say to lance armstrong now?
Uh boy... I'd like to really go off on him but I'm gonna wait to see how all this crap comes out. He a douchebag, but he's got some big issues right now that could really cut into his golf game. Will he lose his case with the feds? Will he reveal relationships that were key in his corruption circle? If he loses his cases and ends up broke-ass like me, I'd like for him to come work with me for awhile... split a few cords of wood, shovel some snow, hoe some rows, clean some stalls, turn the compost heap... get real dirty and stinky and cleanse himself a bit, see what it's like to work really hard 16 hours a day and live hand to mouth. He's in a tough spot right now and while I want to see justice, I'm not gonna pile on. But I'd like for him to know how his behavior affected me, how being shunned by him made me want to beat him at any cost, even if it meant doping Levi. Hate is strong motivator.
what would you say to landis now?
I hope he wins his case. If not he can come work on my farm too.
Love him. I hope he gets a huge reward for the damage done to him by the lies and bullying.
what would you say to betsy andreu now?
I have a great admiration for her courage. Sorry from Lance isn't enough. He needs to recompense the Andreu's.
what would you say to thomas weisel now?
How much is he paying Lance to not rat him out? Is Jim Ochowicz and Chris Carmichael paying into the pool too?
what would you say to all of the riders out there doing it clean who dream of winning the tour de france without doping? Chase that dream. Don't compromise yourself. It's not true you can't win it clean, and as long as you believe that you can. The second you buy into believing the winners are all on drugs then that's the moment you either quit the sport, or you kill your chances of winning. Mindset is what caused the doping problem and it's mindset that will fix it.
how do you think the cycling public should view all of the professionals who doped in the tour who lied about it and then came clean and who run grand fondos and get into high powered coaching positions at usa cycling and on pro teams around the globe?
I believe everyone has to be vetted individually. Cycling public is very wide bandwidth but if a person has managed to win the public approval then so be it. God will fix anything left unsettled at the judgement bar. The world is a messed up place... bad people will be elected, hired, win, and prosper, while good people won't always make the selection. In the end we have to live with ourselves. It's hard for me to watch as I sit in exile from the sport, but I'm better for having purged, while those still in action who have bootlegged the rules are still dealing with their guilt and the longer they sit out the hotter the fire they will sit in on judgement day.