x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Different ways to look at cheating

Professional cyclists are trying their best to restore the sport they love while the Lance Armstrong doping scandal can be viewed different ways.

Professional cyclists do not want to speak about Lance Armstrong anymore while they try their best to restore the sport they love.
Professional cyclists do not want to speak about Lance Armstrong anymore while they try their best to restore the sport they love.

It is tough to watch Lance Armstrong lose everything he worked hard for all his life.

Even though he took some substances to help him, he worked hard to get where he did, and had some bad times in his life.

Watching the Oprah Winfrey interview, what was touching was when he spoke about telling his son he could not defend his dad anymore, against people saying that he was a cheat.

Everyone who has kids would have known how tough that must have been for him and I felt sorry for him.

In a certain way he deserved it as he did it in a conscious way and also forced it on others to an extent.

Watching it back then, I never thought about doping. I was sometimes surprised about performances of riders, but you know from when you are on your own bike that some days you have a better time than others.

Then sometimes there are some riders who just go faster than you. You just think that maybe he trained a little better, he was in better shape.

Even today, if somebody produces a good performance I will always see the good in them, and think they have just done their homework well, got into the right spot and their fitness level was high.

But some of those performances back then obviously came from a different source. Still today I think it is extremely tough to compete.

Even if you dope and it gives you five or 10 per cent help, it is still unbelievable that someone could be successful over so many years in the toughest sport in the world.

I do not have hard feelings towards him. He did it, but the sport has moved on now.

I have been lucky enough to meet pro riders since, and they do not want to speak about it anymore. They are trying their best to restore the sport they love.

They are trying with everything in their power to clean it up - but there will always be a cheat. There will always be someone who wants to cheat in work, in life, in private affairs. There will always be someone wanting to take a short cut.

I do not think it will have a lasting effect on the sport. There are two separate entities: the professional sport and then people like you and me who go out to ride their bike.

I really do not think one is affected by the other. There are a lot of people who do not care about the pro sport, they just like to get out riding with their friends for exercise.

In Dubai on a Friday morning there are 200 people on the road cycling and few of them really care about the pro sport at all.

For an amateur cyclist, the pleasure is in overcoming weakness and getting to a place you thought you could never reach.

But for the professional, a greater part of it is about success and therefore the money that can be made from it.

It is different. An amateur makes his living from other things, but a professional is under pressure from their teams and from the media, to be successful - otherwise nobody will sponsor them.

If a team is finishing in sixth, seventh or 10th place, nobody would be willing to put big money into it. In our society, it is the winner who counts. So their motivation is very different.

Wolfgang Hohmann is a German expatriate who has lived in the UAE for 10 years and a prominent amateur cyclist in Dubai.

sports@thenational.ae

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