Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Treatment of Former Dopers--Tyler Hamilton

Tyler Hamilton has started a coaching company. He also recently earned his second doping violation while holding the US National Road Championship.

The internet has been abuzz with people tittering and scoffing at Tyler's new venture. Why? Do people doubt his talent as a cyclist? People forget that dope only makes you marginally faster. You still need talent and to train hard to race at the Protour level, even with dope.

Americans are puritans. We want to see people punished for their transgressions. We want them to suffer and express genuine remorse because of that suffering. Tyler hasn't suffered enough. Never mind that he lost his pro cycling career (which meant the world to him I'm sure). Never mind that he recently was divorced. Tyler needs to suffer more and then redeem himself before the cycling community will embrace him again, if ever. The people demand blood and Tyler has not shed enough.

This is the absolute wrong approach to take with someone who has violated your mores. Recidivism is often a direct result of criminals' and addicts' difficulty in finding acceptance in society after their transgressions. Ex cons aren't readily offered employment upon release from prison...how do you think that they end up making ends meet? I am not saying that Tyler will become a convict. But if you are prepared to expel Hamilton from the cycling community, are you also ready to expel all former drug users too?


Why is David Millar acceptable, while Tyler is a pariah? Is it because Tyler seemed so innocent and pure? Perhaps we felt taken in and betrayed by Tyler's seeming innocence.

Tyler doped. But by all accounts he's a pretty good guy off the bike. I have never met Tyler, but someone who I trust recently wrote "[Tyler's] an approachable, humble, nice, genuine, and knowledgeable guy." These attributes, along with his past successes (remember, they may be tainted, but he still worked very hard to achieve them) and his knowledge of training techniques seems like they would make him a good coach. His rates should be reasonable too, considering how most of the community is intent on shunning him.

Since Tyler lives in Cambridge now, I am sure that I will run into him sooner or later. I know that I will be trying to make friends. You should too.

** Adam Myerson has been reading and commenting on this blog (I've been commenting on the Verge series). Since he has raced against Hamilton while Hamilton was doping, Adam has a legitimate right to be upset. I look forward to his comments on this matter.

15 comments:

Colin R said...

I'm pretty sure Adam has already made his opinion of Tyler and those who choose to dope pretty clear.

rosey said...

At least Millar was man enough to own up to it. Hamilton and Landis both wasted thousands of dollars trying to clear their guilty names. I don't respect people who try to get out of taking responsibility for their actions due to a technicality or a lawyer's skill.

Suck it up, admit it, take the punishment and then people might believe you when you say you're sorry for disgracing the sport, your team, and your family.

gary! said...

agreed, rosey.
i neither like nor respect doping; however millar got caught, manned up, took his punishment, and came back vowing to be clean again.
hamilton got caught, denied it, fought it, etc (i'm not 100% clear on all the details), came back, and got caught again.
if you're not sorry, if you feel it was something you had to do, then say that; you don't NEED to be sorry or apologetic, just admit that you were doing something that at the time was against the rules and accept the punishment.

RMM said...

Rosey/Gary:

I view Millar's owning up to doping as a calculated strategy untaken to minimize the PR damage that his doping violation caused. If Millar thought that he would have fared better by denying his doping, I am pretty sure that he would have done that instead. He played his cards well. But thinking that his confession came from some higher moral fiber is purposefully forgetting what got him into hot water.

Landis and Hamilton chose a different strategy. It backfired.

If you get caught doping, be ready to admit it, apologize and show remorse.

Billy said...

I view doping as a part of sport that will never go away. Obviously the advances in testing procedures has made it more apparent than in the past, but only a select few will ever know if it's a bigger problem now than in the past. Millar's stance sits the best with me, I hate the denial, but the worst is a a guy like Kohl who just throws people under the bus because he was the one who popped a test. I think the pro tour needs to just be changed to the modified class, like in drag racing. Let the guys over there do what they want to themselves and just stop testing.

Anonymous said...

The UCI rules said that riders has a second chance after the first violation. Millar came back and Hamilton came back too but was caught a second time and he is now suspended for doping... There is plenty of good coach in NE and the best athletes doesn't translate to the best coach? Hamilton should not be involved in bike racing for now.

Adam Myerson said...

First off, the ban is supposed to cover any involvement in the sport, including coaching. At the very least he won't be able to get a USAC coaching license, which is where we get our insurance.

Second, hiring Tyler as a coach is like hiring someone convicted for insider trading to be your stock broker. Or maybe a guy in jail for cooking the books at Enron as your accountant. And he says he wants to work with juniors and young riders? Might as well hire a sex offender to run your summer camp.

Lastly, spell my name right, dammit.

RMM said...

Adam:

Oh, I didn't realize that Tyler's ban extends beyond just racing. That changes my opinion of the matter. I don't support his violating his penalty.

See, I knew that I was looking forward to your comment.

To nitpick, while I agree with your insider trading convict metaphor, I don't agree with the conclusion. Some of the best traders in the world are convicted of this and go on to legally and successfully manage portfolios. Michael Milken is still in business and, last I heard, quite profitable (not an inside trader, but notorious for stock market misdeeds).

Are you implying that Tyler will encourage younger riders to dope? That's a level of depravity that I wouldn't lightly ascribe to anyone without evidence.

Sorry about the mis spelling, I am quite embarrassed.

Adam Myerson said...

I'm saying that more than Puritans, we're Catholics around here. And whether you're a believer or not, we all love the idea of confession and redemption. Tyler never did the first, and shouldn't get the second.

He has a right work, and a right to health and happiness. But he has no "right" for any of that to come from cycling at this point, ethically or officially.

As a consumer, if ethics don't matter to you and you think that Tyler has unique knowledge or perspective or just a way of being that resonates with you, then purchase accordingly. Most of you know me well enough to know that ethics matter most, that I run my business with profit as a secondary concern, that I make less money racing my bike because it matters to me to race clean. We want coaching clients who value that and identify with it, and we've built our reputation on it. What Dischord is for record labels, Cycle-Smart wants to be for cycling coaching.

Tyler and I came up racing together and he had the chance to make those same choices and didn't. For me, I find it personally and professionally offensive. I think that any special or specific knowledge he may have about training based on his experience is overshadowed by his doping, the ridiculous ways he tried to defend it, and the fraud perpetuated by his defense.

Had Tyler come completely clean at any point, said "this is what I did, this is how I did it, and this is what I want to do going forward to help make sure no one finds themselves in this situation again," I'd be more sympathetic. Since none of that happened, I will continue to speak out against him.

RMM said...

Adam:

If I was looking for a coach, I would only consider someone who I knew personally and who I trust implicitly. Tyler doesn't meet either of those criteria for me since I don't know him.

Second, as I have pointed out and continue to acknowledge, I am an objective outside observer, who has not been personally harmed by Tyler. As such, I want to point something out. Over many years, you have proven yourself to be a strong, capable, ethical, highly principled and driven person. In many ways you are quite the opposite of many of the people around the professional cycling community who often value results over ethics. I don't believe in making excuses for people, but holding others to the standard you achieve is bound to leave you disappointed in many many people.

Tyler messed up. Twice. More than twice, since he handled the aftermath of his doping so poorly. Maybe he's not that strong. Again, I don't know him.

He's made it clear that he isn't leaving the scene. How many times can we kick this guy while he is down?

Adam Myerson said...

I don't think anyone's kicking him when he's down. The criticism is typically a reaction to something, more like whack-a-mole. He just needs to stop poking his head back up into cycling.

RMM said...

Adam:

Whack a Mole indeed.

It seems like he aims to stick around. And he'll likely be successful (at least in staying). Unlike the hardcore scene, there is no FSU or Wrecking Crew to kick his ass and kick him out.

Anonymous said...

Hate to say it but take a look at a recent picture. Ever see long term exposure to use of corticosteroids? He could be the poster boy for it.

Marty said...

Last I heard, Tyler moved back to Boulder, so you probably will not be running into him.

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