By Jen Benepe
CAREFULLY CRAFTED MESSAGES, CONFESSION “BLOC” TIMED TO USADA RELEASE
Canadian rider and previous U.S. Postal Team member Michael Barry has become the latest cyclist to post a true doping confession on his home page.
First came his previous team mate George Hincapie, who posted a full admission that he doped but went clean in 2006, and “hasn’t doped since.”
Both public admissions were timed to coincide with the publication of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s “Reasoned Decision” against Lance Armstrong in which the two riders are named as confessing to doping, and providing evidence against Armstrong.
Other riders named in the document are Christian Vande Velde, Levi Leipheimer, Frankie Andreu, Jonathan Vaughters, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, and David Zabriskie.
Other players who were named in the decision, like Floyd Landis, who lost his 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for banned substances, and Emma O’Reilly who was paid by journalist David Walsh to contribute her allegations to his book, “From Lance to Landis,” don’t come as a surprise, because their names have been bandied about in relation to the Armstrong blame-game chronicles for a very long time.
Leipheimer’s name came out in the press this year during the Tour de France.
But what is striking is that Barry’s confession is very similar to Hincapie’s, especially in his statement that in 2006 he decided to go clean, and has not doped since.
The Mea Culpa’s appear to be carefully orchestrated and editorially crafted to provide a public face of the “confessing bloc,” and raises the question: Was the USADA behind the PR machinations that orchestrated these oh so similar mea culpas?
Below is part of Barry’s confession:
OCTOBER 10, 2012
Cycling has always been a part of my life. As a boy my dream was to become a professional cyclist who raced at the highest level in Europe. I achieved my goal when I first signed a contract with the United States Postal Service Cycling team in 2002. Soon after I realized reality was not what I had dreamed. Doping had become an epidemic problem in professional cycling.
Recently, I was contacted by United States Anti-Doping Agency to testify in their investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs on the United States Postal Service Team. I agreed to participate as it allowed me to explain my experiences, which I believe will help improve the sport for today’s youth who aspire to be tomorrow’s champions.
After being encouraged by the team, pressured to perform and pushed to my physical limits I crossed a line I promised myself and others I would not: I doped. It was a decision I deeply regret. It caused me sleepless nights, took the fun out of cycling and racing, and tainted the success I achieved at the time. This was not how I wanted to live or race.
In the summer of 2006, I never doped again and became a proponent of clean cycling through my writing and interviews.
Let’s compare some of the statements:
Hincapie opening statement:
“For over 30 years I have dedicated my life to cycling.”
Michael Barry, opening statement:
“Cycling has always been a part of my life.”
Hincapie, first paragraph intro:
“I have always been determined to compete at the highest level, in one of the most physically demanding sports. With hard work and success have come great blessings from the sport I love.”
Michael Barry, ditto:
“As a boy my dream was to become a professional cyclist who raced at the highest level in Europe. I achieved my goal when I first signed a contract with the United States Postal Service Cycling team in 2002.”
Hincapie, disillusionment and doping:
“Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them.”
Barry: Disillusion and the fall from grace:
“Soon after I realized reality was not what I had dreamed. Doping had become an epidemic problem in professional cycling.”
“I deeply regret that choice and sincerely apologize to my family, teammates and fans.”
“I crossed a line I promised myself and others I would not: I doped. It was a decision I deeply regret.”
Hincapie: I went clean in 2006
” I have competed clean and have not used any performance enhancing drugs or processes for the past six years. Since 2006, I have been working hard within the sport of cycling to rid it of banned substances.”
Barry: I went clean in 2006:
“In the summer of 2006, I never doped again and became a proponent of clean cycling through my writing and interviews.”
And so on and so on.