Back in mid-November, after reading about yet another doping scandal, I asked myself, "Is there even one clean pro cyclist out there?" Then it occurred to me that it would be really funny if there were, in fact, exactly one clean cyclist. That would be big news.
So I wrote the following little story for Cyclingnews. I thought it was one of my funniest pieces ever, and so did my wife. And so did Dug, but that’s a different story. I was sure Cyclingnews would love it.
Cyclingnews rejected it.
So here’s the whole thing, in its final draft. Yep, I wrote multiple drafts. Don’t act shocked.
Professional Cyclist Returns Clean Blood Sample!
Elk Grove, Indiana, November 21 (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) – The cycling world rejoiced today when WADA chief Dick Pound, in conjunction with Team Hoosier Directeur Sportif Stuart Talley, announced that heretofore unknown semi-professional cyclist Rick Maddox is — according to all currently available tests — clean.
“Rick Maddox is a bright beacon of hope to the world of professional cycling,” said Pound. “If it is possible for a cyclist in a small, non-funded, semi-professional regional team in a farm town in the Midwest to be clean, can the day when we claim total victory over illicit performance-enhancing substances be far off?”
“I am both humbled and honored,” added Mr. Talley, “to have Rick Maddox on our team. We believe that he has a great future as a non-doping cyclist, and hope to help him continue to be the pre-eminent non-doper in the cycling world.”
“I would like to make it clear,” Talley continued, “that the fact that there is no possible way we could afford EPO has nothing to do with why Maddox is clean.”
Science Community Weighs In
While it is still unclear to the general public how a professional cyclist is somehow not doping, Scientists and nutritionists from around the globe have been dispatched to study Maddox. Asked what he thought of this phenomenon, Dr. Richard P. Kelly, one of the world’s foremost nutritionists, responded, “I have long believed that if one trained, ate, and rested properly, it would be — theoretically — possible to race as a professional cyclist without doping. Here, at last, we have proof.”
Other scientists, however, remain skeptical. “Of course I am gladdened that Rick Maddox appears to not be doping,” said International Screening Association (ISA) representative Sammakko Miyasaki. “This, however, does not constitute final proof that Maddox has definitively not been doping. We believe the safest course of action is to — for the time being — refer to Mr. Maddox as an ‘alleged non-doper,’ until we have developed additional tests over the course of the next five years, which we shall then run on his current blood, saliva, and urine samples.” At that point, we believe we should be able to say, with 72% confidence, that Maddox either is or is not doping at this moment in time.”
“Also,” continued Miyasaki, “We’re going to need a lock of his hair, a 4-inch-square sample of his skin, and one of his kidneys for our tests. You know, just to be safe.”
As one would expect, the tight-knit community of professional cyclists is abuzz with the news that one of their own is not doping.
As one would also expect, not a single one was willing to speak unless guaranteed anonymity.
“I am very, very happy for Mr. Maddox, who I have never heard of before today,” said one popular-but-currently-suspended professional cyclist, who (prior to his suspension) was well known for winning practically every stage he had ever raced in his professional career. “I wish him great success in the future as he races on the…the…excuse me, what team did you say he races on?”
A recently-retired racer, having raced a long and successful career without a single positive, also offered his congratulations to Maddox, but with a caution. “Don’t assume that just because you’re testing clean today means you’re going to test clean tomorrow, OK buddy? Basically, don’t count all your chickens ‘til they hatch. And believe me, some of them chickens can take a good long time to hatch. As in years.”
“Seriously, he tested clean?” asked a third racer, who is currently fighting 29 separate charges of doping. “For everything? Is that even statistically possible?”
“By the way,” added this racer, as he sat glumly on the steps of the courthouse, where he will likely spend the rest of his adult life, hastily, “I’m clean, too.”
How He Did It
As one would expect, the public — not to mention professional cyclists everywhere —want to know how Maddox managed to test clean. “Well, mostly it’s been easy, because as a racer outside the limelight, I can barely afford to keep my bike maintained, and the tips I get for waiting restaraunts don’t exactly cover $800-per-syringe designer drugs,” admitted Maddox.
“Plus, one day I had an idea: what if I just race, and don’t start doping?’ I know that sounds naïve, but I figured I’d give it a shot. And, well, here I am.”
“Also,” continued Maddox, “I never take cold medicine, or any other medicine for that matter. And I don’t eat cold cereal — have you seen the ingredients lists for that stuff? I wouldn’t be surprised if something in those boxes registered on one of the eight or nine new tests they’re coming out with every week.”
“Also, I stay away from soda. And processed cheese. And I don’t use deodorant unless it’s been approved by Johan Bruyneel himself.”
“And, finally, I cycle my blood through a special chimera-removing dialysis machine on a thrice-weekly basis.”
“You know, regular stuff like that.”
Future Looks Bright
Reached for comment, incoming Tour de France Race Director Christian Prudhomme said, “I wish to personally congratulate Mr. Maddox, who will be — by default — declared the winner of the 2006 Tour de France in a special ceremony this July.”
Continued Prudhomme, “This ceremony will last for the three weeks during which we would have otherwise held the race, if we could have found any other clean riders.”