By Sara Carrigan   18th October 2012

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I am up at 4am to lead, with my trusty assistants, a wonderful group of people who assemble outside the closed coffee shop astride their pushie and ready to start the day in a positive way. Each individual has their own unique story as to how they found cycling but the common theme is that cycling has in some way touched their lives for the better.

The majority are recreational riders who want to enjoy the social experience, meet like-minded people, love a challenge and want to have fun in a safe and educational environment. This morning we had a fabulous ride under the warm sunshine and at the end, enjoyed the social coffee with a good ol’ yarn. I was asked by one of my riders today what my thoughts are on ‘Lance Armstrong and the whole cycling doping situation.’

So below I have expressed my own personal views on doping in sport…

We all know the adage of: ‘A good honest day’s work’, ‘work hard and you will get what you deserve’, ‘you reap what you sow’, ‘no pain no gain’ etc

Most of us are prepared to get out there and give something a go and to work hard to get what we want. However, somewhere along the line some try to take shortcuts and steal from others what is not rightfully or truthfully theirs – and this is how I view drug cheats, as burglars. Just as one works hard to get the beaut sports car or the big TV or the super light carbon bike and then have it stolen from them; so too does an athlete train day after day to be in top form to win a certain race and then have that stolen from them by a cheat.

As an elite athlete trying to achieve my dreams, I worked hard and invested all of myself into being the best I could be to achieve my goals – in an honest & truthful way. To have anyone undercut this effort by lying & cheating, is something I find so DISRESPECTFUL and heart-breaking.

Furthermore, I have NEVER understood how one can win a board game, a footy game, an Olympic Games or a Tour de France and then stand on the podium with a tear rolling down their cheek and feel fulfilled and proud if it has not been won in a truthful manner. There is obviously some type of justification in their mind to say ‘well this is ok’.

What I believe makes the entire ‘Armstrong’ saga even worse (if this could even be possible) is that bullying and vilification has taken place along the way! This is never acceptable under any circumstances, ever. We teach our kids this in the school playground!

The sad thing is that cycling is the most beautiful sport and I am hurt that it is being tainted in this way. In saying this, I am hopeful this ‘unveiling’ will help to create an open, honest arena in which our current junior riders can enjoy in the future.

I am thankful that I never witnessed any doping throughout my career as I think this would’ve played havoc with my mind – wondering if it would be possible to win. As a coach now, it would be difficult for me to inspire my elite athletes and encourage them to be the best in the world if I didn’t think it was possible to compete and win clean … but I know it is, cos I did it a number of times. Of course, women cycling and men’s cycling are worlds apart in that one elite male cyclist’s salary would be more than the whole budget of a women’s elite team … It would be fair to say doping and coin go hand in hand.

In the end, I love cycling and I love sharing with my athletes & my bunch of recreational riders the joys and simple pleasures that come with riding a bike. 🙂