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In Europe cycling has historically been the occupation of "bricklayers".

Much like the history here in the US.....or, if not bricklayers, guys who were so desperate for prize money that they'd resort to cocktails of stuff like strychnine to survive the gruelfest of stage races(check out the history of "madisons")

The reality is that pro cycling was founded on the back of illicit drug use. The ability of more and more folk to make something of a career on the pro peloton is due to corporate sponsorship....right or not, that's the way it is. These advertisers aren't sponsoring teams in order to advertise their stuff to avid cyclists. They're advertising to exactly the folk who're going to be watching the Super Bowl and who watch Wimbledon or the World Cup or World Series etc. etc.... ordinary folk who don't cycle, play football, tennis, soccer, baseball etc. but have found another spectator sport to interest them. As far as cycling goes, here in the US that's happened pretty much since Lance Armstrong hit the scene big time and became such a *Personage*.....right or not, that's the way it is.

My point re: Nicole Cooke isn't that she doesn't deserve the titles she's won or that she hasn't worked hard to get them but, at the age she turned pro, she could've been under no illusion about the state of doping in pro'd been going on systematically since before she was born! While she manifestly wasn't making the $$bucks the guys were or her counterparts in pro tennis, this was her chosen sport and she was able to pursue it without too much financial sacrifice and have (as she herself states) a wonderful decade. However, don't you think there's an element of double standards for her to complain so much about drug usage, how it's ruining the sport and taking swings at culprits now on her retirement and when it's become the OK thing to do? She admits that she was under pressure to dope at the outset of her pro career. It's great that she resisted but the real bravery and honour would've been to speak out at the time when it could've had an adverse impact.

Isn't that what the "omerta" is all about......knowing but not speaking out.
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