A frequently occurring reaction from (former) professional riders is discontent with the way doping is publicised. This attitude comes from two misunderstandings. These misunderstandings are:
1. The audience is stupid.
2. Professional cyclists are not responsible for their actions.
1. Contrary to what both reporters and people involved with pro cycling seem to believe, the audience following cycling is not stupid. They know there is doping, and they know there is more than is indicated by the number of positive tests. Because of that, a speech like Lance Armstrong held when he said goodbye to cycling (if only!) is easily dismissed: there is, indeed, no such thing as a miracle. The seas will not part just because you're riding a bike and water will not be turned into wine only based on the colour of one's jersey. In spite of that, cyclists again and again fail to point out these rather obvious conclusions. They seem to believe that their audience will go along with the same 'there is nothing going on' message year after year, just because everyone appears to be enthusiastic about yet another Tour de France.
What they don't realize, however, is that doping has become part of the story. It is an interesting story, and people want to know how it goes. The spectators knows they are being fooled, they just doesn't know by how many and how serious the scam is. Anyone who cannot see that this is irresistable and that there is no way to stop debates about this doesn't know people. There is ofcourse a fairly simple way to stop it: if riders would actually stop doping, the number of positives would drop to zero and there would be nothing to report. The story would come to a halt. Which brings me to the second misunderstanding.
2. Cheating during a race requires is a conscious choice on the part of the person who is cheating. Still, what seems like a devious choice from the outside, might be something of an unstoppable bandwagon from the rider's point of view. Some former riders, like Manzano, have stated that to get to a certain level, you need to use doping. Yet this does not relieve riders from their responsibility: they are the ones perpetuating the situation, and nobody else. If cyclists stopped using doping, the problem would no longer exist. Some scoff at this obvious reality, claiming that it is not so simple, but they should consider very carefully what is keeping them from behaving as ethically aware human beings. The same riders who lambast the audience for being interested in the background of doping - a completely legitimate and understandable interest - can be extremely apologetic for themselves or cyclists in general. They turn the possibility that doping can perhaps not be eradicated into a natural law stating every attempt to reduce it is doomed to fail and does more harm than good. Without ever calling out to their colleagues to do the most obvious thing and *stop doping*, ofcourse, because...well, because that is simply not done. Those three weeks are hard enough as is, and the boys can't be held responsible for what they are doing consciously out of free will anyway, right? Wrong.
Victims. In modern cyling, the riders are suffering from a victim's complex, complaining about being treated as criminals and having to suffer bad press and stringent controls. These are not reasonable complaints - the riders have had the possibility to prevent all those things themselves, yet they chose not to take the necessary steps. And yes, riders can be treated as a group, sharing responsibility, because that is exactly how they behave. It doesn't take much for a peloton to reach consensus on a subject and for the individuals to conform to what the majority wants. Obviously, groups of riders make decisions, have done so in the past, and now they are lamenting the consequences.
Investigative journalism. Added to this is the reluctance by some journalists to actually investigate the problem. In my country, the Netherlands, this is particularly obvious. Co-commentator and former rider Maarten Ducrot said yesterday that he hates speculation and lies from dubious managers (as a response to an interview with Matschiner) and that he is only interested in facts. Facts, as far as Ducrot was concerned, come from legal courts. Investigative journalism is apparently an alien concept for Ducrot. This is not surprising, since his employer, the main Dutch TV channel, has failed to uncover any facts about the case, mostly limiting itself to asking Rabobank for reactions. This attitude feeds speculation. Ofcourse nobody believes Boogerd when he says he never was in Vienna; T. Dekker would have said the same thing and look what happened to him. But because the press fails to do its duty - uncover facts - both cycling and the journalists are made to look stupid because the whole story is left to anyone's imagination. Because of this, too, assertions that 'the debate is pointless' are themselves pointless: the uncertainty will fuel speculation and perpetuates the impression that pro cyclists as a whole are not to be trusted. And they do very little to make the audience believe otherwise.
Calimero. To conclude, the complaints about the continuing attention for doping by riders are nothing but denials of the consequences of their own actions. I don't have sympathy for cyclists' 'calimero complex'.