5.18.2007

The secret dossier of Haven Parchinski: Bike racing in the news today


Haven Parchinski is Tyler Hamilton's wife. Hamilton is a professional cyclist (originally from New England -- I've been in races with his brother) who has been linked with many doping scandals, has recently served a two-year suspension, and may be facing another suspension for involvement in another scandal. Despite quite a bit of evidence, Hamilton has never admitted anything. The image is a fax allegedly sent to Haven Parchinski by a notorious Spanish doctor at the center of a major doping scandal.

Cycling is in the news these days but not in a good way. The NYTimes had an article "When the wheels come off a sport" recently that discussed the impact of numerous and repeated doping scandals on the sport's popularity. To read the cycling news sites these days is like reading the "Day in Court" section of the newspaper. Velonews has a lawyer writing a column about the Floyd Landis hearings! What does this have to do with riding a bike? It's squalid and disheartening and has caused me to lose interest in following the sport. The Giro d'Italia happens this time of year and live video is (apparently) being streamed online by Italian tv... but I really don't have an interest.

In modern bike racing, any time there is some big exploit on a bike in a pro race, I wonder, what's that guy on... not 'wow he's on a super day'. The whole system is rotten and maybe the pro sport needs to go away. Winners of the sport's biggest events are caught out and exposed but the team directors and the shady doctors who supply the drugs go largely unpunished.

I was working at the GMSR last year and I was doing prize distribution at the last stage, and one scruffy, low-budget 'pro' (I use the term loosely) team managed to scoop up most of the prize money from the last stage. The rider the team sent over to collect their winnings was a guy coming back from a two-year doping suspension. It was kind of an odd experience to hand him a wad of cash, shake his hand, and send him on his way.

All this squalor and scandal, however, is no excuse for me not having touched a bicycle in 2007...in past years, when I was racing, I would be on a bike every month of the year no matter how cold or wet it was outside. I know that it is very hypocritical of me to be driving back and forth to work on my increasingly flabby ass while stories about wars in the Middle East and the consequences of imminent climate change dominate the news. And $3/gallon gas should provide a strong incentive to not drive unless it is necessary, maybe next week I'll finally start commuting by bike again.