Why a Truth and Reconciliation Process Won’t Work

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Given the endemic spectre of doping across pro cycling for so many years some suggest the idea of a “truth and reconciliation commission”, a process of amnesty and dialogue where systemic wrongdoing is aired, analysed and ultimately forgiven.

The latest proponent is Dick Pound, the Canadian lawyer who run WADA for several years and made a name for himself as the scourge of the UCI.

It sounds great but I just can’t see it working in pro cycling. Here’s why in just 500 words…

First a definition of the process. It comes from South Africa. Here’s Wikipedia:

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.

Can this be applied to cycling? Well we could imagine a procession of riders, managers, doctors, coaches, pharmacists, journalists, anti-doping officers, UCI staff and more appearing before a hearing, seeking amnesty in exchange for honest testimony. Only imagine is the operative word.

Pick a rider who gained a fame as a champion, earned millions and today relies on recognition and his name to continue to work, whether as a racer or in retirement. Only he used EPO and blood transfusions extensively during his career and whilst some suspect this, there’s no proof: he got away with it. Why would he come forward to confess? Even if there was no sanction from the sports bodies there would be a price to pay in terms of image and reputation, those who believed in the rider would get second thoughts.

Our rider would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Confess and the image takes a hit. So what do you gain? Rien, nada, niente, nothing.

Call the Cops
The UCI probably couldn’t run the process so let’s imagine WADA ran the process. Witnesses could turn up and if they are promised amnesties when it comes to bans and sporting sanctions the same would not be true with national law. Doping is a crime in several countries, whether cheating in sport or, more commonly, the trafficking and false prescription of medical products. Surely WADA can’t get an amnesty from criminal law.

Given this the rider who appears in front of our commission could open their heart and confess for the good of the sport but they could quickly incriminate themselves under, say, French or Italian law. If this isn’t bad enough, a “truth and reconciliation” process needs many to come forward including those who supplied the doping substances, it needs to be comprehensive, not selective. Yet it is impossible to imagine crooked pharmacists taking part because their actions are an infraction of the law in many more countries and we can assume few declared the revenue from these illicit sales and did not pay tax. Again, why would they show up?

An Imperfect World
Still, let’s imagine everyone somehow decided to show up for this. In South Africa there were multiple witnesses to injustice but doping in sport is far more clandestine meaning recollections can vary and stories differ. Within no time it would turn into an arduous session of claim and counter-claim.

Conclusion
There’s an asymmetry between what might be good for the sport and what might be good for a rider’s reputation. As long as this remains it seems delusional to expect some to come forward and admit past mistakes. Those that have gotten away with it have little incentive to reverse this and besides, any public statements could invite criminal prosecution.

The only remedy to this is perhaps to leave investigators the chance to revisit old cases. Rather than wait for people to come forward if there is ever new evidence – for example by storing blood and urine samples in perpetuity – then this could offer greater resolution than waiting for the guilty to open up in public.

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{ 37 comments }

David Mclean August 29, 2012 at 1:00 am

How about an anonymous confessional? You are right: It may be unrealistic to expect all the names to get out there in the open (no incentive) but the promise of anonymity might reveal attitudes, methods and other information that may prove useful.

daniel August 29, 2012 at 1:09 am

The idea itself is very naive in thinking that anybody would come forward. Good intentions but unworkable.

If only the tHb-mass test (CO re-breathing method) was workable.

It looks like we’re going to have to put up with things as they are, hope to keep on catching people (however sporadically it seems to be getting) and cross our fingers that the UCI aren’t still protecting riders (hah).

Larry T. August 29, 2012 at 1:26 am

The IOC was instrumental in getting WADA established, maybe the threat of tossing cycling out of the Games would be enough for the UCI to either clean house OR be replaced by a new sanctioning body. Just as ex-doper JV has created what seems to be a clean team, a “clean” as in non-corrupt UCI could be created if the will was there. Once the USADA evidence is made public via the arbitration process courtesy of the BigTex conspirators, pro cycling will (maybe) have finally hit rock-bottom with nowhere to go but up. If no real reforms are forthcoming, welcome to cycling’s equivalent of the WWE. But who knows…it might prove popular? Doping scandals don’t seem to have hurt the NFL, MLB or even FIFA.

LDR99 August 29, 2012 at 1:36 am

I have long been an advocate of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but clearly there are problems. Getting riders to come forward is the most obvious problem, but it is not the only problem.

It would seem for such a process to work, it needs a carrot and stick approach. There needs to be a credible downside for the riders who remain silent before any would voluntarily incriminate themselves. And I don’t know what it might be. Lifetime suspensions? How long are blood and urine samples maintained? Could old, protected, specimens be retested using the most current testing procedure? Would such a threat to riders be a credible threat? The threat could be that if they don’t participate in the process, they will be busted for old doping practices and given a lifetime suspension. But whether old specimens have been maintained, I don’t know. But one thing is clear to me, regardless of how healing the reconciliation process would appear on its face, it won’t happen unless some credible threat to the riders exists that makes it in their best interest to participate.

I don’t see it happening.

slim jim August 29, 2012 at 1:45 am

I watched a documentary in the lead-up to the Olympics that was about the 1988 100m final. Seeing the confessional process that took place with the Canadian sprinters once they were caught – and seeing how they were all treated – amnesty or not; I can’t imagine this working at all.

If Floyd Landis is to be believed (I’ve read about half of the transcript between him and Kimmage) then the UCI is the one who’s image is going to take the biggest hit; and I can’t see McQuaid or his cronies letting go of their little gravy train any time soon.

Vanilla_Thrilla August 29, 2012 at 4:10 am

Could another potential problem be that someone testifying honestly in front of such a commission could open themselves up to the threat of (albeit spurious) legal action for libel/defamation if they were to implicate others.

I seem to recall little Larry Gunderson using this approach to silence and threaten others. And isn’t the UCI currently suing Kimmage for defamation..

TheDude August 29, 2012 at 5:23 am

Perhaps a bit off topic, but I gather the motivation is a “clear conscience” for chaps like Erik Zable, Rolf Aldag, Bjarne Riis, (others) to confess to “doping” activities after their riding careers had concluded. These men are still very active in the management of cycle sport, so it appears the confessions have not decimated their follow on careers. What/When is the “tipping point” to confess, if you have not been caught through testing protocol or other means during a current career (e.g., millar, schumacher, di luca)?

David August 29, 2012 at 5:24 am

As LDR99 says, there’s no stick to encourage people to seek amnesty. The threat in South Africa was of prosecution for human rights violations and other crimes; that’s what perpetrators got amnesty *from*. The doping testing system doesn’t work, and there’s zero threat that dopers will be “found out” if they don’t confess.

But that’s not the real problem with this analogy.

The real problem is that in doping in cycling the riders are not the perpetrators. The proper way to think of the riders is as the *victims*. The *perpetrators*, by contrast, are the managers, coaches, trainers, and doctors, who compelled their charges to use doping products, to transfuse blood, and to otherwise manipulate their bodies in ways they did not want to and which were often detrimental to their health. That’s the concrete harm and the real crime here, not some violation of an ineffable and ahistorical ideal of sporting purity. (Incidentally it’s also the reason to go after Armstrong, not because he doped but because he forced everybody around him to dope. He was much closer to the Michele Ferraris of the world than to even the George Hincapies.) Until we stop seeing dopers as criminals who should be ashamed of what they did we’ll be stuck clinging to this notion that we, the fans, are the “real” victims. We’re not.

mjc August 29, 2012 at 5:44 am

David, I’d love to see proof that the *perpetrators* are really the managers, coaches, trainers and doctors, but I don’t think you’ll find it. Ultimately, the rider, the athlete, has final say on what goes into her or his own body, not the *perpetrator.* In my mind, it is the athlete that is both the perp and the victim. He or she feels compelled to use a PED or a transfusion to stay at or exceed the level of competition instead of working harder, being smarter through tactics or finding an alternative (legal) path to a win. We all know peer pressure is a strong factor in everyone’s life, but we also know that being a “hard man” is about staying the course and not falling into the trap of outside forces weather it is not going for that extra two hours of intervals or not putting your head down in the rain and riding it out or just too much caloric intake or taking a synthetic drug or an infusion. The athlete alone is in charge. Period. They know what is legal and what is not. It is black and white. And it starts and ends with the athlete. If there is no market for PEDs, then doctors, pharmacists and pushers won’t pursue athletes. If there is success with out PEDs, then everyone, even the “perps,” will stop considering a PED as a viable solution. Grand Tour wins can happen without the aide of a PED. Just ask Ryder. He did it.

David August 29, 2012 at 6:17 am

I was happier than anybody else outside of Canada to see Ryder win and Garmin-Sharp (let’s all do our part for sponsors of our sport) are a great team.

But I think this is a fundamental misreading of how doping works, biologically, athletically, and economically. There’s no drug that is a replacement for training, for “that extra two hours of intervals.” Doping lets you train HARDER, not lets you train less. If you read the long interviews that people like Hamilton and Landis have given, or you read books like Matt Rendell’s “The Death of Marco Pantani” this is what they say. This isn’t just true in cycling, but in other sports. What would be the point, after all, of going to all the bother of taking drugs only to slack off and get beaten by somebody who had taken drugs and worked too? Doping isn’t a substitute for hard work but something that increases its efficacy.

What people like Hamilton and Landis also say—and they’re not the only ones; the stories I’ve read are consistent, all the way back to Kimmage—is that 95% of the riders who doped did it because otherwise their careers would be over. They are neo-pros. They have ridden clean their entire lives, for their first 18, 20, 22 years. They were the best rider on their amateur team, they got picked up by a pro-am outfit, they got noticed by a bigger team and now they have made it to a team that has a chance of riding the Tour de France. But there are 25 guys on that squad and they are hurting, working harder than they ever have, they’ve never been in this league of rider before. And then their team boss or the team doctor comes to them and says, “If you want to make the Tour team, you have to take this pill and inject this syringe.”

And what are they going to do now? They didn’t come all this way and devote their entire lives to pedaling a bike in order to get smoked by a bunch of guys who are taking some pills. This goes back to hard work, too. Should they turn their back on all they’ve done to get here? Lose the ability to get a contract that will actually pay them some money—not a fortune, because they’re good but not team leader material, but some real money? Retire at 22? Did they bust their ass all this time to go work in a bike shop or start a bar called the Maillot Jaune? The teams know, or knew, that young riders were in this impossible position, and they took advantage of it. And when a rider gets caught doping, the team fires him, insists they have no idea what’s going on, and the managers and doctors and coaches are not held liable.

Moreover, doping is hard. There’s no way you can do this by yourself. You can kill yourself if you try to do it by yourself. Look at what happens, not just to a clown like Riccardo Ricco but a smart guy like Joe Papp. You’ll wind up in the hospital, if you’re lucky. And doping is expensive, especially if it’s a newly released pharmaceutical, and not something you can mail-order from the back of a weightlifting magazine.

In short doping isn’t an individual activity, and it isn’t—or shouldn’t be—a matter of personal “guilt” in either the psychological or legal senses of the word.

Jcoxbar August 29, 2012 at 8:17 am

Great post David. Spot on

The Inner Ring August 29, 2012 at 8:39 am

All good points. But I’d add, via an anecdote, that doping is what the user wants it to be. If someone wants it to be able to train harder, then it works in this way.

But one ex-Festina rider said that the doping regime made him lazy, he didn’t need to work for the fitness gains. His words were something like “when it was raining I didn’t need to go out and ride”.

Anonymous August 29, 2012 at 9:28 am

When all the Armstrong evidence comes out, with some big name witnesses, surely we can assume all the fans will accept the 90s/early 2000s were “dark times” for the sport. In which case, if there is a rider whose career started during this time, I would like to think the fans would support this rider coming forward, and perhaps villify him if he kept silence, meaning he doesn’t have anything to lose by participating in a T&R exercise.

The only problem I see with this is will everyone try and convince the fans they are David Moncoutie or Marco Pinotti and were clean the whole time.

David August 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I don’t have statistics to back me up, but my sense is that this is the exception, rather than the rule, because all the incentives to train hard that were there before doping are there after doping too.

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

This is certainly true of EPO – that it provides a performance enhancement whether or not the rider trains harder while using it. Even testosterone can cause improved performance w/o any increase in training (you can simply push the pedals harder, which means sprint faster or conquer shorter, steeper climbs) – though it’s more effective as a recovery agent for an aerobic endurance sport like road cycling.

But it comes down to the individual athlete’s psychology – the lazy person remains lazy while doping whilst the ambitious is equally ambitious. Some will experience a conversion like Millar, who claimed that he became über-professional in his approach to training and deadly-serious once he started using, but others will continue on the path they’ve been following…

Simon E August 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm

No, it’s not as simple as being solely a rider’s decision with no external influences. David Millar’s account of his descent into something he reviled and put off for so long is enlightening and others will surely reveal more in time. Many riders since the 1990s would admit that they “doped to keep up” i.e. to stay in a job. However, without them revealing the forces that acted on them – the suppliers, the team bosses desperate for results (and UCI points?) and maybe results that didn’t fulfill the early promise – then it is wrong as well as self-defeating to single out each rider as the individual solely responsible for his own downfall.

Although I don’t see the “truth and reconciliation” approach as applicable, I still think there is room for a second chance for athletes. Regardless of whether you like Millar, his voice is the product of experience and you can’t buy that for love nor money. He’s been in that dark place and his attitude and demeanour post-ban is like a different person. The ground-up clean outfit is one of the biggest positive steps the sport has taken in my lifetime and both the team and the sport are much healthier as a result of his involvement.

Also, I cannot see how a life ban, at least for a first offence, is going to put anyone off trying to cheat. I don’t believe for one moment that a ban of any sort deters those who sooner or later choose the needle instead of racing clean. However, it is for those involved in running the sport to find ways to take us beyond where we are now, let’s hope they can find something that to date has been absent: desire for change.

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Simon, you’re right re. life ban for first time offense. What’s effective isn’t increasing the severity of the punishment for a first-time violation, but rather, increasing the likelihood of an athlete’s being caught for that first offense, even if the punishment is a proportional (or minor?) 2 year ban. Deterrence is enhanced when you think the probability of getting caught is rising, not when the pain of getting caught is tremendous but the likelihood of that happening is minor.

Larry T. August 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

+1 Tossing out the victims without throwing out the masterminds behind doping just replaces the victims with a new set every few years. Anyone involved in doping must be thrown out of the sport. Docs should lose their medical licenses, same with pharmacists, etc. There probably would have to be a grandfather clause so ex-dopers who have worked to rid the sport of this scourge aren’t tossed as well (call it the JV clause) but that would let characters like Mr. 60% remain in the sport – making it a thorny issue.

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Fair use of me as an example – thanks. And you’re right, the most successful doping programs are in no way exclusively individual efforts where principle or disproportionate “blame”/guilt rests solely w/ the athlete. Yes, the athlete has ultimate responsibility for physically refusing or permitting the introduction of doping substances to their organism, but for those who’ve decided (for whatever reason) to go ahead with it, the intimate involvement of doping logistician, supplier/trafficker, doctor/doping preparatore, lab/analyst, doping counter-intel specialist (primary role to thwart controls by providing advanced notice of tests or corrupting sample collection process for a test already underway), etc = very necessary and if any of those are absent, the outcome can be serious harm (or even death) or a bumbling lack of success.

Though this is changing, one of the most glaring failings of the anti-doping regime over the past 12 years or so has been to myopically assign “blame” and punishment almost exclusively to the athlete w/o recognizing (and sanctioning) the intimate involvement of these other enablers.

Bundle August 29, 2012 at 8:35 am

Well, “Truth and Reconciliation” worked only to a certain extent in South Africa… because everything was still all too recent, a lot of people involved still had something to protect. And we want to apply it to only 10-year old cycling issues? Perhaps doping in the 1970′s could get come to terms with now, if people like Guimard or Godefroot, Merckx and Maertens wanted to say everything they know. Anything more recent than that is not realistic.
And by the way, I don’t see why people take for granted Hesjedal’s cleanness. I’ve got nothing to say against him, but I never have, and never will take for granted that a rider is clean, because I will never have proof.

LDR99 August 29, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Spot on on Hesjedal. I like him a lot and want to believe the entire Garmin story (Kimmage did). But I have grown jaded, cynical and skeptical of all. It doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy the sport, both racing myself in the duffers league and watching the fast guys duke it out. We think Hesjedal is clean because we want him to be clean. Wiggins and Froome too. Garmin is a clean program. Sky does it by meticulous planning and preparation. Has to be it! We want so damn bad for integrity in sport and hard work to win the day, so Hesjedal and Wiggins clearly have to be clean. Felt the same about Tyler Hamilton. Good guys just don’t dope.

And speaking of the duffers, how about the 49 year old master rider, member of the board of the Danish Cycling Union being busted. The mind boggles . . .

Ian August 29, 2012 at 9:01 am

As Larry T said I think the serious prospect of being chucked out of the Olympics unless the UCI gets it’s act together should be looked at, in addition as cycling at the top level is inherently a commercial activity then could not the commerical and TV companies bring pressure to bear. The potential for commercial growth in the sport looks immense to my untrained eye but many big sponsors won’t come near it because of the doping. Clean up the sport and the money will flow. In the same way that dopers and those who supplied them can be chased down by following the money the reverse applies at the top level (i.e. more money would come into the sport it it was clean)

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I definitely agree that doping scandals are bad for the financial health of the sport, but serious study needs to be undertaken on the actual economic viability of cycling as a vehicle for the promotion of brands and other sponsors. Vroomen has touched on this, that cycling’s value to potential sponsors may be overstated or artificially-enhanced (lol), but obviously the UCI and other stakeholders have a vested interest in perpetuating this myth, if it is indeed a myth.

Igam Ogam August 29, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thought provoking piece and some wise comments but I can’t help thinking that the main reason that it won’t work is that — cycling is just a sport.
If countries jailed riders on criminal fraud grounds you would have a good ‘carrot & stick’ situation but for some reason sport is an exception in most states and has impunity from the normal justice system.
Unless governments take the responsibility of catching and punishing criminals in sport this will always be a mess.
When riders know that the most they will face is a ban for a couple of years there is no need to heed the warnings or confess.
Sporting criminals should face the same sanctions as fraudsters, thieves or thugs, bodies like WADA should only exist to coordinate efforts between governments and disseminate the latest techniques and practices and sports federations should have no control over anti-doping policy and practices.
Maybe then doping would be serious enough to have some kind of healing hearings.

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm

“When riders know that the most they will face is a ban for a couple of years there is no need to heed the warnings or confess.”

Igam, just want to reiterate the fact that it’s not that the severity of the punishment for a first-time violation is too minor, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the ban (2yr) as a deterrent, but rather, the fact that the likelihood of actually being caught first-time and facing any ban is so small that is salient. Riders will be deterred and athletes dissuaded from doping when the likelihood of getting caught increases (regardless of the severity of sanction), whereas increasing the severity of the ban w/o enhancing the probability of being caught falls short and is relatively ineffective.

Touriste-Routier August 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

While a Truth & Reconciliation Commission may not work, it doesn’t mean that some amnesty programs shouldn’t be developed by WADA, with their members, and perhaps in conjunction with the Governing Bodies.

At the moment, unless there is pending legal or criminal action, there is really little to no incentive for an athlete to confess and cooperate with authorities. Whether you confess or are convicted you are likely to receive the same sporting suspension/ban. We’ve mostly seen reductions in sentence for “cooperation”. And we’ve seen quite a few doping cases drawn out via the appeals process, both in sports hearings and in legal courts. While an athlete may not voluntarily confess in a T & R Commission atmosphere, there may be other opportunities to come clean.

We do not typically know what the preponderance of the evidence in any particular non-analytical doping case may be. But since many doping cases are non-analytical (as opposed to positive/non-negative test results), there obviously is an assumption of conspiracy. In cycling, since athletes, directors, doctors, and staff readily move from team to team, implications can be very far reaching. Who knows how far the evidence in the USADA vs Armstrong, et al case may extend? Bruyneel, etc’s various USADA hearings may be the worst thing that happens to some parties that have yet to be named.

If parties were given incentive to confess upon implication or indictment (such as reduced sentence, reduced fines, reduced statutes of limitation, or being able to keep titles, etc.) then perhaps the road to cleaner sport would be shorter, and more evidence against others will come out, and the process can continue.

However, without an incentive to admit your wrong doings, the status quo will be maintained. Maybe it wouldn’t work, but no one will know unless it is tried.

Larry T. August 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I’ve said in the past there should be LIFETIME bans for doping with reduced sanction periods ONLY for those who rat out ALL of their conspirators. It works well to get organized crime members to rat out their friends, that 10-20 years vs a life sentence is a great incentive. For cyclists 2-4 years vs life would be a good deal. Once enough of the cheaters were tossed out the omerta would pretty much go away.
On the arbitration side of things, I’d bet BigTex, with his $125 million net worth is asking The Belgian how much it would cost to skip the arbitration and fade away into oblivion in the world of cycling? Maybe take a cushy job with the anti-cancer “charity” instead?

Flammecast August 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Is Cycling really in danger of being thrown out of the Olympics considering Verbruggen is part of the IOC and is President of SportAccord ?

The Inner Ring August 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm

He’s stepped down from SportAccord and some are asking more questions to the IOC.

But being kicked out of the IOC is the nuclear option, I don’t see it happening. The UCI could dispute USADA’s verdict at the CAS and only if it lost there could WADA and the IOC issue threats. Long way before any of this happens.

LDR99 August 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

You no doubt are right on the nuclear option comment. But I think it is not entirely far fetched to see a potential trigger of that option being the governing body of the sport fighting for jurisdiction of drug cases only to sweep things under the carpet to hide their own complicity. To me the smoking gun in the entire Armstrong fiasco is the alleged complicity of the UCI in covering up positives.

It would certainly be intriguing to watch a break off league fighting with the UCI for IOC recognition.

Beth Leasure-Hudson August 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I rarely disagree with you inrng. But this time, I disagree. Here’s why.

The principle of truth and reconciliation did not originate with South Africa. It is actually a biblical principle found in Matthew 18. The passage describes judicial activity which is to occur should someone commit a sin (an English word from the Greek for mistake or arrow missing the mark) so grievous that they should be removed from fellowship as a temporary means to draw them back to appropriate behavior. This passage is sometimes misapplied to conflict resolution in general but it’s real application has 2 conditions: 1. the offender commits an act which sins against another (such as cheating, as a result of doping for example) 2. there are 2 or 3 witnesses to this offense, not just a conflictual conversation between 2 disputants. The process allows for the offender – usually hardened in their offense having justified it again and again and thereby de-sensitizing their conscience – to hear testimony from others. This kind of confrontation has a way of getting through but if it doesn’t the offender is then put out of fellowship (sanction shall we say.) Peer pressure is an enormous motivator to get someone back on track; there are many scientific studies which discuss this. This method has been used again and again very effectively by many groups and yes, abused by some as well unfortunately. But the principle is effective and was meant to be purifying – allowing a disciplinary process for repentance – or changed behavior; Christ not wishing that any should continue in their mistakes particularly as it related to commandment #2 Love one another. Should the offender truly repent – a word which means turn from that behavior – reconciliation can occur. In a Christian mindset, the offender is forgiven immediately because Christ forgives the undeserving, his followers are also to forgive the undeserving. Reconciliation though – having fellowship – requires more. So if someone hurts me, I forgive them immediately (or try) – because I am forgiven; I can be angry but only for a day in other words, permitted to feel the violation but not to carry it. However, to continue on with the offender, the responsibility is theirs to 1. acknowledge 2. confess 3. turn from the hurtful practice 4. make amends if appropriate. That’s the principle explained. It works exceptionally well in practice in all areas of potential human interaction, but all parties must eventually help one another to restore conscience. This is the ultimate act of loving one another – the idea being a right conscience enables you to fulfill commandment #1 Love God.

To apply it as you’ve written, you’re right – it’s hard to imagine a victorious doper, hardened and self-justified, having made a reputation on winning and dominance to admit any weakness. I’m not sure we’ve seen any case of open disclosure without first having accusers, just as the principle above demonstrates. You’re right that it’s a principle of human nature to cover up our weaknesses and errors and we all generally have to be backed into a corner for admission. However, the disciplinary process of truth and reconciliation provides at least a safe forum for disclosure among multiple parties; thereby fulfilling the required plurality of confrontation. This process has worked across time, cultures, nations, spiritual backgrounds, and circumstances. That’s my first argument FOR.

My second argument FOR is personal experience with several known dopers. Hardened consciences and all, there is still a desire to unload what becomes a very great burden of conscience. If you’re able to talk to any caught dopers, there is a common theme of relief that’s it’s all out in the open. Here’s an example from my blog, which I’ve posted here before I think:
http://bethleasure.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/clean-cycling-confession/
So the ones with the lightest strength-to-weight ratio right now are the confessors regardless of what it’s done to their reputations, and in some cases, the cost has been very high. Once again, reputation is an external, a reward, a results-orientation – confession enables a process orientation, mastery of one’s soul – and one looks in the mirror at oneself every night not at the masses.

My third agument FOR has to do with reputation. You describe this in terms of black and white, and the reality is that reputation if often gray. Even the noblest man has detractors; even the worst man, supporters. Being a winner in sport does not necessarily generate sustained love; in fact, it makes one a vulnerable target as the world tries to unseat you. There is a perception about one very popular cycling winner – that everyone loves him and look what’s he’s done for charity etc. But the truth is, this popular winner had detractors long before accused of doping based on other factors, such as personality and undesirable behavior unrelated to cheating in sport. Unsullied repuation prior to a doping accusation is a myth, but even if the majority of people are unaware of such a blight on someone’s image which a doping accusation brings to light, then even post-accusation – there will still be supporters and detractors. Further and perhaps this is more of an American perspective but I think it really human nature, we tend to forgive our fallen heroes very quickly here particularly when they 1. acknowledge 2. confess or at least don’t deny 3. turn from the behavior. The idea of being caught in something and being sorry for it makes one even more appealing because we can all relate to that. Should a certain one accused 1. acknowledge 2. confess 3. make amends, he would probably get elected for office in this country.

Larry T. August 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm

No mention about the confessions ending up with the cheater in criminal trouble in countries where sporting fraud is a CRIME? That seems to be the problem with getting anyone who so far has escaped sanction to ‘fess up, whether they be Christian, Muslim or whatever.

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

“…perhaps this is more of an American perspective but I think it really human nature, we tend to forgive our fallen heroes very quickly here particularly when they 1. acknowledge 2. confess or at least don’t deny 3. turn from the behavior. The idea of being caught in something and being sorry for it makes one even more appealing because we can all relate to that. Should a certain one accused 1. acknowledge 2. confess 3. make amends, he would probably get elected for office in this country.”

Agreed.

The willful decision to continue to deny absolutely is calculated on the belief that a certain % of pop. will accept your denials and believe in your innocence as long as you give them that option. But confess and even those who would’ve supported you are denied that chance by your own admission – so you lose all support.

Clearly this is a fallacy as it ignores the possibilities and impact of forgiveness, especially in American political and pop culture.

Sam August 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Er…right….

So back to the issue of who can put pressure on UCI to get their house in order…INRNG, you’ve said before now that you think that the IOC are watching closely, and WADA’s patience is wearing thin. Can you elaborate a little more?

The Inner Ring August 30, 2012 at 12:04 am

Not yet. Sorry.

Shawn August 29, 2012 at 10:13 pm

While TRC for doping may not work, your reliance upon wikipedia here has given an inaccurate depiction of the purpose and methods of such commissions. As opposed to a retributive model of justice, TRC serve a restorative model of justice. In post-Apartheid S. Africa, the numbers of crimes and the breadth of those complicit required a way to find peace and attempt to create a united society that didn’t imprison a huge percent of the society. As pointed out by David, the process requires those harmed (in the case of doping, those who road clean or who felt coerced to dope) to out those who committed the harmful acts. This is more difficult when it comes to doping, since doping is not always done in the view of others (even team-mates). The promotion of doping by coaches, managers and trainers is something more widely attested to and, thus, more easily brought to a TRC. TRC does not forgive ALL acts. In S. Africa, some acts were deemed too egregious for amnesty to be given and this could be the case in doping as well. TRC only makes sense as a possible avenue if cycling needs restoration to move past the height of the doping era whole. I’m not sure it qualifies.

JoeP September 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm

From the beginning I’ve thought that this T&R process, were it to happen would have to take place behind closed doors and w/o media coverage in real-time or public access – but the results could be anonymized and summarized and released publicly. The point of the T&R process isn’t necessarily to rehabilitate riders’ public profiles, but rather, to obviate the need for further costly investigations and prosecutions of doping violations committed at some point in the past by trading the chance for the violators to continue or rebuild careers in professional sport (in whatever capacity) for full, complete, truthful testimony that finally establishes “what really happened and who was involved.”

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