The now tiresome doping excuse “level playing field” is at least true on a different level.
The biological pass has leveled out the personalities of the riders and made things just a bit dull. There’s no question we will miss the fabulous, comedic and bizarre cast of characters that arrived in cycling with the EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and blood bags.
Just yesterday Crazy Dane Michael Rasmussen admitted to pharmaceutical abuse his entire career. We are gonna miss the skinny Chicken. His obsessive drug use and anorexia nervosa created a uniquely freaky character.
Was it the drugs that pushed the wild talk of suicide, UCI vendettas and doing the Danish version of Dancing With The Stars? He had his “whereabouts” issues — like, where was his moral compass and sanity? He looked like some tortured character in a dark Ibsen play, an skeleton that would even scare a Gestapo prison guard. He was ProTour Bi-polar. What cycling journalist isn’t going to miss the crazy and quotable Rasmussen?
Riccardo Ricco is another nut-ball we’ll miss now that the passport kicks people out of the sport. His astonishing sense of ego, desperate ned for attention, his serial failures, his clueless stupidity and moral dissolution made for fantastic storytelling. The man kept stale blood in his refrigerator, he tried to sign with a Croatian team to get around his Italian doping sanctions, he left his young son and attractive wife at home and torched his entire career. Give the man credit: he was never dull.
Do we miss Floyd Landis? Every single day of the year! The Mad Mennonite with the Second Coming of Lance only funnier, weirder and wilder. If Floyd had the same tight connections with the UCI, he’d be retired now with three Tour de France titles and still married to the sweet and understanding Amber. Floyd made up for the lack of a “cancer” story by being a wacko. He went off like a bomb in the tradition-bound world of pro cycling. Cycing needs more Jack Daniels and Kid Rock! A colossal loss for all those who write stories about bike racing.
Ahh, well, the doping problems have improved and that’s just peachy on a sponsorship level — and things aren’t all dull and boring. Get Bradley Wiggins riled up and he will curse you out in English and perfect French and throw in two middle fingers. However, the general trend is disturbing. We may be left with a peloton of ernest, clean, dull guys with no drugs to make them jabber nonsense and rail against the world.
There’s much talk about the business of cycling these days. It’s become corporate and careful and drug-free. In a tight job market no rider wants to show too much “personality.” He might say something that management will misinterpret and out the door he goes. Only UCI president Pat McQuaid continues to provide the comedy required to enrich the sport.
We wonder about this side effect of the biological passport: Have we also leveled out the characters and nut balls? We’re not talking blood parameters but psychological profiles. A close look at the “entertainment” values will show a significant drop in bizarre behavior.