Letter to a doper

There’s a doping case in the news lately that I see people debating. I wasn’t familiar with this athlete but it reminded me of a guy I’d raced against many times who tested positive a few years ago. He was on a professional team but a smaller one, probably with a salary around $10,000/year. I read the articles and his statements at the time, and sent him a note that I think applies in a lot of cases and sports. I don’t want to name him but I found that note to share it here:

I saw the news about your positive test and your comment that you’ll return after your suspension. I’m sure you’re getting a ton of hostile messages right now and you beat me in some races so I’m angry too, but I promise that this isn’t hate mail. I see that out there and I feel bad for you and I want to help.

You’ve been racing a long time and it’s all we know. I’m sure it feels like you’re invested and it’s a lifestyle and you made it to a high level, so it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. Still, if you zoom out, it was barely working before which is why you doped in the first place or sought out weird supplements or whatever the truth is. Now add to that the uphill battle you’ll face of coming back with a suspension over year head, where it’ll be even harder than before to find a team or sponsors to make ends meet. And then once you’re back, some folks might side with you but you’ll certainly find yourself in a pack where many consider you unwelcome. You don’t want to go through that, and besides, this sport wasn’t going to be your way of living past 35 years old anyway. Eventually we’ll all have to move on, so let me suggest that you don’t come back to racing, and you start the next chapter now. Learn a trade, go to school, or just start a job and apply your athlete work ethic to move up. This would actually be the courageous move rather than to keep plugging along in cycling. Just think about it. Good luck.