Racing through the dark

Morning Tash Appreciators,

Now that we’ve all heard Lance Armstrong’s “confession” and the media frenzy has died down, I thought this might be an opportunity to tell you a tale of real redemption. Not the kind that follows crocodile tears and a prime-time tv interview; I mean the kind which follows spending time in the depths of despair but which ultimately leads to a raised fist and victory while doing something you love. This kind:

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That’s David Millar: a Scottish cyclist who insists on being described in the press as “David Millar, ex-doper”. Like everyone else 10 years ago, he took performance enhancing drugs to win bike races. And, like many others, he was caught. 

Unlike most, however, he offered no excuse for what he did. You will not hear him attempting to justify his use of drugs by saying that everyone was doing it and that he was just trying to level the playing field. 

Instead, even once he lost his lucrative contract, his newly built house, his friends and his livelihood, he gave a full confession which described what he did and why he did it. He then served his ban; helped start (and now partly owns) a successful cycling team that has a no-needles policy but which also allows former-dopers to race again; started campaigning vigorously against doping when no-one else was; and did everything he could to ensure that cycling, and sport generally, is drug-free.

Armstrong and Millar make for an interesting comparison. Both could have (and did) win clean but both bowed to pressure and cheated and were ultimately caught. That’s where the similarities end. Millar used his experience to better himself and the sport he cares about. He missed out on two years racing – and a lot of money – but since then he has made a lasting impact on cycling and sport in general. He’s now an athlete representative on the World Anti-Doping Agency committee and has done as much as anyone to help young athletes avoid making the same mistakes he did. Along the way, he’s even managed to win a stage of the Tour (which he did in 2012) and get back to the very top of the sport. Millar shows that sometimes the pain of defeat is sometimes worth it. He’s rebuilt his life on his own terms and seems to be a happier man because of it. I’m sure Armstrong can’t say the same. 
Millar’s victory in the Tour was his last step to redemption. The state he was in after it shows just how much of an effort it was:

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I’ve already mentioned Millar’s team. Its name has changed over the years but Garmin has always been part of it. It’s also always got some kind of Argyle pattern on the jersey. Over the years, some of the team have sported a Tash. One such Tash was worn by Dave Zabriskie: another former-doper who is currently serving a 6-month ban after blowing the whistle on Armstrong. He’ll be back racing in March and I can only hope his Tash also makes a return:

 

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Quality, right?
Have a good weekend folks!
Keep going!
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