I BELIEVE IN SANTAS CLAUS
Or Rafael Palmeiro.
Isn't it time for us cycling fans to grow up?
If you have picked up a newspaper, watched the news or turned on the radio in the last few weeks, you've come across this quote, "I have never taken any performance enhancing drugs."
Is that a true, but misleading statement? Are performance enhancing drugs involved in blood doping? I really don't know...that's a grown up question.
"I have never tested positive for any banned substances."
Does that mean that somebody would test positive later for substances not yet banned? Substances that are essentially the same as the prohibited ones except for one or two amino acids or methyl groups added in to create a 'new and improved' but as of yet un-banned go-go juice.
A Tour winner has always maintained that he holds loyalty in high regard. In his book he tells how his team sponsor, Cofidis, did not show any loyalty towards him when he first got sick. They did not stick by him.
His wife, who did stick by him while he was sick, who nursed him back to health and gave birth to his kids, was later shoved aside for a Hollywood rocker soon after he became a multi-tour, mega star, gazillionaire. How loyal is that?
So how good is his word that he is clean?
Think of it this way. Seven times in a row, he has destroyed the field. A feid lousy with guilty doping cheaters.
He has dropped on the hills legendary, and guilty, climbers like Pantani and Virenque. He has chewed up doped-up time-trialers like David Miller. Former teammates like Tyler Hamilton who carried his water and led him out have been found guilty.
One of his coaches, Ferrari, is a drug dealer.
He has whupped former Tour winners like Ullrich who was also found guilty of illegal, recreational drug use, although Ullrich claimed those "pain killers" were merely for recreational use. Okay, that probably doesn't count.
If he is just riding away from them all, and very, very many of them are cheaters, then what is he? Superman? An alien from a more cycling-friendly planet?
I really want to believe, I do. I want to set chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk on the fireplace mantle. I want to see reindeer tracks in the snow on the roof.
Personally, I don't want to grow up. I absolutely love this guy. How could a kid not?
How about you? Do you believe in Santa Claus?