ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
Eugene Bicyclist has obtained a transcript of a previously unaired portion of Tyler Hamilton’s¹ shocking² interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley about the use of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and others in professional cycling. We thought — perhaps wrongly — you might be interested:
Scott Pelley: So, I want to change the subject for a minute. When you weren’t racing. There have been allegations about widespread rolling through stop signs. Did you ever see Lance Armstrong roll a stop sign?
Tyler Hamilton: Yeah. But, you know, I did too. We all did. You don’t want to waste any energy. It was the culture of cycling. There were lots of things like that.
S.P.: Like what else?
T.H.: Well, like detouring onto the sidewalk in order to go the wrong way on a one-way street. Like, riding three abreast in the bike lane.
S.P: Anything else?
T.H.: This is hard to talk about.
S.P.: Is there something else?
T.H.: Well, late at night — when there was no one around — we might run a red light.
S.P.: You witnessed Lance Armstrong run a red light late at night when no one was around?
T.H.: Yeah. But I did it too.
S.P.: What did you think at that moment?
T.H.: It was expected, I guess. I was starting to see the dirtier side of commuting by then. I mean, you’ve been at work all day. You’re tired. Your wife is home alone with two little kids. Somebody else does it. You don’t want to be sitting there all alone. You worry the guy behind you is probably thinking, “Man, who’s this goody-two-shoes, actually waiting at a red light?” You just want to get home. You’re so close. What would you do, Scott?
S.P.: You know, Lance has said many times that he’s never been issued a citation. If he was such a scofflaw and really doing this stuff, how is it possible he never got caught?³
T.H.: Well, I know for a fact Lance did get a citation.
S.P.: He did? For what?
T.H.: For going 35 mph in a 25. Residential zone. He was flying.
S.P.: How come there’s no record of this citation?
T.H.: Lance’s people and people from the police, they got together. There was some kind of meeting. It was taken care of.
S.P.: What does that mean?
T.H.: Officer who wrote the ticket is now working security for the Moody Blues, touring on the tribal casino/county fair circuit. That’s what Lance told me.
T.H.: Did I mention that I’m a scofflaw, too?
— — —
1. Hamilton, of course, is a former professional cyclist and a former teammate of seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
2. To be serious for a minute, what Tyler Hamilton actually revealed in the real “60 Minutes” report should come as a shock only to someone who has been living under a milk crate for 10 years. Not that I don’t appreciate his coming clean. I do.
3. I was as big a Lance Armstrong fan as anybody. I loved watching him win all those Tours de France. I read his books. I followed his Twitter feed. It’s weird how much I know about his life. And even as he continued saying the same thing over and over — that he was clean, that he never tested positive — I wanted to believe him. Christ, he’s still saying this stuff.
At some point, though, I became pretty certain it was a lie. In some ways, I still am a fan, but it’s getting harder. Oddly, what sullies his reputation for me is not that he (probably) was doping, but that he (probably) just keeps lying about it. I guess he’s trapped. And I don’t really fault Hamilton (or Floyd Landis before him) all that much for doping. I’m just glad they are finally saying it.
The ridiculous thing, now, is that a lot of people will persist with the lie. It’s that kind of situation you get in politics: A very public person is telling a lie. And everybody in the world knows it’s a lie. But a lot of people just go on pretending that it’s not a lie, or wanting very badly to believe it’s not a lie, or deciding that it’s just not worth the trouble to challenge it, or just wanting to watch the race and not think about it, because, hey, everybody’s doing it so the playing field is level in that sense. Who cares? Let’s just have an exciting race.
There’s this strange veneer of phoniness. Phoniness that’s not — or shouldn’t be — fooling anyone. But some people keep polishing the veneer anyway. Do these people not realize that we know they’re lying? Or do they start to believe their own lies? Or do the lies give just enough cover that they can keep on going, making their buckets of money or whatever it is they are getting out of it? Or are they just trapped, so deep into it that they see no way out without destroying everything?