I’ve often wondered what it would be like to cheat, you know, to get my blood turbo charged and lay waste to the opposition.
In times past I’ve raced against some big names and people whispered about EPO users. I never came across it, maybe I was totally naive or blind but nobody tried to offer me so much as a double-espresso. I did come across one Russian rider – a big name pro today – who beat me for a mountains prize and made a syringe-injection movement with his fingers as he passed me. Maybe he was teasing, I don’t know, but that was it.
But what if I cheated? As much as I’d like to win races today and it could have changed my career path in the past (although probably not), I’m not sure if I’d do it.
One example I can think of is computer games. I played a lot of these as a kid and a teenager and later a team mate won an Nintendo N64 in a race and gave it to me, I started playing again. You’d play these games for ages, aiming for a high score or to get to the final level. This could take ages, I’d miss schoolwork and later, training sessions, in the quest to beat the machine.
But sooner or later I’d crack. You could look up cheats for the games, either you’d tweak the software or you’d find a hidden cheat in the game. The result was “infinite lives” or a gun that never ran out of ammo. But this ruined the game: what was a challenge that took up every minute of my time out of school suddenly got boring. Being able to slay all those aliens or collect the golden coins with ease, well it became boring.
I fear cycling could be the same. Now if it’s at pro level and pay and job contracts come in, then that’s very different. But at amateur level, half the fun is trying to improve yourself, it’s the satisfaction of a good block of training or finding the rewards from sacrificing that bowl of chips.