01.10.2006 | 4:46 pm

I’ve never had sports heroes. I don’t care about watching baseball, football, or basketball. Even when I became interested in cycling, I didn’t idolize anyone. Sure, I was impressed with Armstrong, but he was never my hero.

But when I started reading Tyler Hamilton’s column in Velonews, along with his diary entries in the Tour de France, I became a fan. He’s the toughest, nicest guy in the professional biking world, and there’s nobody in the world I’d rather ride with.

Then, in stage 16 of the 2003 Tour de France, when he pushed through the pain of a busted collarbone to do a solo 200Km mountain stage win, he became my hero.

A few days later, I snapped the saddle off my seatpost in the final quarter of the Brian Head 100 — a 100-mile mountain bike race — with 20 miles of climbing still ahead of me. I kept going — standing, cramping, suffering — chanting to myself in time to my pedalstrokes: “Ty. Ler. Would. Not. Quit.”



Today is Tyler Hamilton’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, trying to overturn the doping allegation. The logical part of me knows that it’s possible he’s guilty, but — and this is rare in me — my gut says he’s innocent. I just can’t believe that the nicest, toughest guy in pro cycling would cheat.

I know that sounds naïve. Fine, I’m naïve. But I desperately hope Tyler’s successful in his appeal.

I want to watch my hero race again.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 4:57 pm

    amen brother.there has to be ONE good guy out there.i hope it’s Tyler.

  2. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 5:16 pm

    Agreed. Tyler was great fun to watch and it would be fantastic to see him race again.And like you, my brain tells me he doped (the evidence is pretty strong), but I hope he gets absolved. One thing gives me hope: Andy Hampsten (my actual favorite cyclist, sorry Tyler) has spoken in his defense, and Hampsten’s as anti-doping as they come.

  3. Comment by Tyler | 01.10.2006 | 5:17 pm

    I know the little bits of the tests they’ve shown us look bad, and I don’t know Tyler Hamilton personally — hell, I’ve never even SEEN him — but it just doesn’t make any sense.This is the guy who smiles his way through broken bones, so hard he grinds down teeth, but also the guy who can barely ADMIT he’s won a race. He’ll praise his team, his coach, his family, and anyone else before he breaks down and confesses that he was just plain FAST.This is the guy who had enough cash to retire comfortably, is nearing cycling’s retirement age anyhow, but has spent years and much of that retirement money to prove his innocence instead.Watching him push through pain and suffering to triumph or seeing his tears of unabashed grief as he mourns his late canine best friend, Tyler Hamilton makes us all feel more human.I believe Tyler.

  4. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 5:18 pm

    I know this topic has been covered at length in other forums, but as a research scientist and someone who has actually done the types of experiments used to bust Hamilton, I just want to say that no test is 100%. It doesn’t sound like standard UCI lab practices were followed, and the interpretation of this particular test is quite subjective. Having said that, the evidence (including cirumstantial)against Hamilton is farily convincing, and his chimera defense is easily demonstrated to be correct, and yet hasn’t been.Botched

  5. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 5:30 pm

    Yeah, this is the most heartbreaking thing going on in cycling right now. The excuses Tyler has put forward sound weak. It seems to me that, given his character, he would come clean and admit he screwed up if he actually had doped. That’s the sticky point for me. He has always seemed the type of guy who would admit his failings. Yet, given the fact that he can tough out any physical pain on his way to reaching a goal, it is obvious that he has the toughness to adhere to a plan; even if the plan is to avoid responsibility for his actions. I don’t want to believe that Lance misbehaved either. The world is a sad place. If only people could be trusted and weren’t weak willed. If only I could be as sterling as the standards I want cyclists to adhere to. If only our guys HADN’T if they did and if only the world believed them if they didn’t. If only all the cyclists were morally upstanding and they eschewed doping as a group in solidarity…..

  6. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 5:52 pm

    say it ain’t so, joe.but it is. it’s so.bummer.

  7. Comment by Robert | 01.10.2006 | 6:07 pm

    Based on the Frank Deford piece on Real Sports, I’d say there’s a 93% chance that Tyler is guilty. (I’m not a scientist but I watch them on TV.) Another way of looking at it that there’s a 7% chance that Tyler is innocent. By the way, that’s a funny joke to use at parties. You sigh heavily and say, "My beer is 10% empty." Or, "Woo hoo, my beer is 10% full!" I forgot what I was talking about. Oh yeah. Tyler. He’s my second favorite rider, behind Greg LeMond.

  8. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 6:07 pm

    I’m in the same boat. I want to believe Tyler, but the evidence I’ve seen looks really damning. Even if he is aquitted, is his professional career over anyway? At 34 years old, the prime of his career was essentially taken up by his legal battles and suspension. Would a team take a chance on an aquitted Hamilton? Probably. But would he be the same Tyler?I saw the IMax movie "Wired to Win" this weekend. It follows Jimmy Casper and Tom Boonen through the Tour De France, taking a look at the brain functions that help a rider cope with the severe stress the tour puts on their body. Originally the movie was to chronicle Tyler – and what a movie it would have been – it was all shot in 2003 as Tyler was grinding his teeth to the gums riding through a broken collarbone to take 4th in the tour. But sadly, all that footage is sitting on a cutting room floor somewhere. We get a couple of shots of Hamilton in the front of the peleton, but that’s it. Maybe we’ll get more on DVD?

  9. Comment by barry1021 | 01.10.2006 | 6:17 pm

    I finally decloaked and figgered out how to get one of them there new fangled IDs to publish. Great blog, I have been enjoying it for awhile.Here in Mass., no one was bigger than Tyler, a Marblehead boy (proper pronunciation–Mah-bul-head), and nothing seems more out of character. Unless of course, cheating at the highest level of the sport is so ingrained as to make it the norm, which it looks like is the case. People can rationalize anything when its what everyone seems to be doing–and the results are so dramatic.As for the broken seatpost story Fatty, it’s good that you clarified the story, because a number of your (so-called) friends tell it differently, i.e., that you SAT for the last 20 miles with a big smile on your face <g>.

  10. Comment by Jake | 01.10.2006 | 6:45 pm

    I would like to say Tyler is also one of my cycling heroes after the 2003 TdF. He’s courageous and a true gentlemen. Stage 16 was epic, and his actions on Luz-Ardiden after Lance fell were admirable and demonstrated a high level of respected from his peers. He’s a true champion. I believe in Tyler. Good luck! FYI… Here’s a pic of Tyler and me the day after Stage 16 (see, I’m a fat cyclist too).http://www.bikestyletours.com/thegallery/pyrenees2003/adwPS: Here’s a pic of his wife and dog from 2003. Both were nice and friendly. http://www.bikestyletours.com/thegallery/pyrenees2003/ahb

  11. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 7:48 pm

    While I deeply respect Tyler Hamilton’s body of work, especially that magnificent TDF, he’s not my bicycling hero. You know who my bicycling hero is? It’s the first champion who comes out and blows the lid off the whole doping scene. He’s the guy who tells us, “yep, I did it. So did Jan. So did Pantani. So did the Badger. We all did it. And we have to clean it up.” This will be hard, it would be tough to do. It would involve taking a short term black eye, naming names, being hated by many, in return for maybe being remembered as the guy who cleaned up Dodge City. It would take a great champion to do this – somebody with credibility, with absolute authority in that arena, with the backing of other great champions. A disgraced dummy, a cycling version of Jose Canseco couldn’t do that. But some champion with a remarkable stature just might be able to pull it off. In short, it would take Lance Armstrong stepping forward and doing something to clean up the sport. Lemond, Hinault, Hampsten, and the old greats like Mercx would have to put aside their differences and stand with him – and I think they would. But he would have to take it upon himself to do it. So no, I don’t have a bicycling hero. I could. That would be a kind of courage not often seen, a real courage – moral courage. But I’m not holding my breath. I think OJ has better odds of producing “the real killer” than bicycling does of finding this kind of champion. Still, a guy can hope.

  12. Comment by Zed | 01.10.2006 | 8:45 pm

    I can’t help but think people are way off about some of these guys. Lance’s test–all it takes is some extra protein in the urine (caused by riding hard) to trigger that test and make him look like a doper. Tyler–the guy’s a climber anyway, he’s supposed to have high haemocrit levels naturally. I can’t help but think that if the system finds him guilty anyway, that’s a problem with the system not with the rider. It seems to me that a positive test should be grounds for opening an investigation, not for ending a rider’s career on the spot.I have a hard time believing a guilty rider would take his defense as far as Tyler’s taken his. If he really believed he’d done something wrong, Tyler wouldn’t have taken his appeal as far as it’s gone.

  13. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 01.10.2006 | 9:00 pm

    bikemike, mo, argentius – thanks for the show of solidarity. this increases your chance of winning the next bike bag contest by 12%.botched – i was hoping you’d weigh in, what with you being a genuine scientist and all. jimserotta – i agree; tyler’s the kind of guy who’s going to stick to his plan to the bitter end. if he’s been cheating and is now maintaining his innocence, he’ll continue to do so. but i just don’t want to believe that’s what he’s doing (and neither do you).dug – churl.bob – 91.5%, actually. Get your facts straight.derek – i remember how excited the imax people were to have all that footage of tyler doing that heroic solo stage win. that would have been incredible to watch. i’m sure it will surface on ebay soon enough. i think if he were aquitted now, got on a team and got riding, he could still podium in the TdF this year, and win it next year. why? because i will it so.barry – nobody rides that last 20 miles with a smile, no matter what kind of relationship they have with their bike.jake – cool pics, thanks for sharing. seeing tyler beside you, one gets the sense that he is only 4 feet tall and weighs 46 lbs.al – hey, i admitted to sorta-kinda doping a while back. can i be your sorta-kinda hero?

  14. Comment by Zed | 01.10.2006 | 9:08 pm

    Doping? Weren’t those diet pills, Fatty?

  15. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 10:33 pm

    Didn’t Tyler raise his arms in victory when he won stage 16? I’m just sayin’. http://www.velonews.com/tour2003/details/articles/4649.0.html

  16. Comment by Unknown | 01.10.2006 | 10:41 pm

    I’ll hope along with you. The saddest thing is that even if he IS innocent and is FOUND innocent, the stain remains to some degree. I wonder why it is that we love people on the way up and then once they’ve made it, so many of us go for the jugular… anything to see them topple, anything to besmirch their good name and/or denigrate their accomplishments. Is our own self-esteem, as a group, so bad that we have to see the idols and achievers flung into the mud in order to feel good about ourselves?

  17. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 01.11.2006 | 12:08 am

    caloi – to tell the truth, i don’t know much about the facts of the case and what triggers a positive. it seems that people can make a case either way if they want. as far as i’m concerned, he’s innocent because it will it so. clearly, i should be on the supreme court, what with my extraordinary analytical powers and whatnot. as far as diet pills go, i actually went with something a little stronger and more homemaade, but yeah.rocky – you’re not ‘just saying’ anything. you are insinuating something though, although i can’t tell exactly what. that his collar bone wasn’t really cracked, maybe? i tell you what: if i had just soloed a TdF victory like that, i’d manage to raise my hands even if i had a compond fracture.mumo – i totally agree with you, which is ironic considering that’s what most of my fake news stories are based on. apart from lies, hypocrisy is my favorite schtick. i find it gives me immense freedom to opine however i like, without regard to my own low standards for myself.

  18. Comment by Kelly | 01.11.2006 | 3:36 am

    I’m not a sports-hero-worshipper either, but if I had one, you’d be in the running. You’re the "toughest, nicest guy in the professional writer/biking world" to me. All this fawning over you is to say that I signed in to MSN (aka Slowest-Blog-Forum-On-The-Planet-Right-Now) just to say hi and LEAVE A COMMENT FOR YOU. I also wanted credit for biking today for the first time in a few months. It hurt. I’m sore. I’ll feel better sometime in April.Kelly

  19. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.11.2006 | 4:29 am

    The whole "would a guilty person go this far to prove their innocence" angle doesn’t hold any water. The pushing and pushing is just salesmanship. Enthusiasm is not evidence. The first time a guilty person was let off because they kept saying they were innocent it would open the floodgates. Dopers with the mentallity "I should have had a better marketing guy on my legal team" would be a dime a dozen.

  20. Comment by Bryn | 01.11.2006 | 6:12 am

    I don’t really have an opinion on Tyler, i didnt really know too much about him b4 but wat ive read since says that he seems to be a really nice guy, as for the doping, i say the opposite to big mike. If he actually was guilty, why would u spend the money and the time to try and prove something thats false. I think Tyler Hamilton is innocent, i think Heras is guilty and all the other phonak riders that proved positive, serves them right for riding for a team like phonak i guess.

  21. Comment by Bryn | 01.11.2006 | 6:14 am

    I don’t really have an opinion on Tyler, i didnt really know too much about him b4 but wat ive read since says that he seems to be a really nice guy, as for the doping, i say the opposite to big mike. If he actually was guilty, why would u spend the money and the time to try and prove something thats false. I think Tyler Hamilton is innocent, i think Heras is guilty and all the other phonak riders that proved positive, serves them right for riding for a team like phonak i guess. I think im in a bad mood cos i nearly got hit by 3 cars today, had a flat, was caught in heavy rain and rode down a section of motorway that cyclists weren’t allowed bcos they’d most probably get killed, lol.

  22. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 01.11.2006 | 6:22 am

    kelly – you logged on just to read me? sheesh. that’s incredibly nice of you to say. especially considering how slow msn spaces seems to be right now (anybody else noticing that?).mike – on its own, you’re right. enthusiasm of defense doesn’t mean much. i give it more weight in context though, because of who tyler is — or at least how i perceive him.BiKnBrYn – i can’t tell whether any of the other guys protesting their innocence are for real. i only have enough emotional energy for one pro cyclist drama at a time. everyone else is going to have to wait their turn.

  23. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 01.11.2006 | 7:51 am

    Fatty – Careful, you only know Tyler as well as his minders and PR team want you to know him. Tyler Hamilton is a great cyclist just like Michael Jackson is a great entertainer. Everything else is a sideshow. Some are marketed as freaks, others are marketed as pure and innocent, but the real truth is seldom seen. Even the courts can’t always get to the truth.

  24. Comment by Unknown | 01.11.2006 | 10:15 am

    Fatty, you aren’t my sorta-kinda hero. You are my flat-out, no qualifications hero. Any man who can keep his faith in the purity and innocence of pro athletes, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, is a man of unshakeable belief and deep convictions. You might be very, very wrong, but I utterly respect that level of committment and wish I had it. It reminds me of serial monogamists working on their 6th or 7th marriage, convinced that this time it will work out – it is the absolute triumph of hope over experience.

  25. Comment by Unknown | 01.11.2006 | 1:00 pm

    No grimmace, no wince, no ONE ARM thrust above his head in victory. Spin doctors have a way of spinning just to spin. http://www.velonews.com/tour2003/details/articles/4649.0.html "say it ain’t so, joe.but it is. it’s so.bummer."I AM just sayin’.http://www.velonews.com/tour2003/details/articles/4649.0.html

  26. Comment by Unknown | 01.11.2006 | 1:35 pm

    Tyler is definitely an outstanding athlete, someone that through his career has shown tremendous grit and a fantastic courage. Wether he is considered guilty or not , I ‘m certain that the memories of his cycling will not disappear, at least I will always remember his gesture of holding the leaders of the TDF (Ulrich included) when Lance Armstrong and Iban Mayo fell due to a spectator. To be a top professional ciclyst requires a level of devotion and will that are not common and those values nobody can take away from him.

  27. Comment by Loes | 01.11.2006 | 3:27 pm

    I thought exactely the same thing, "if he’s says he’s innocent, he is!" even though the evidence prooves something else.Also, I’m way too naïve to even doubt some cyclists.

  28. Comment by michael | 01.11.2006 | 4:20 pm

    Okay, Mike, I’ll concede that. Just the fact that he’s working so hard to prove his innocence isn’t evidence enough. But, there are some factors that I think should be taken into consideration (that probably won’t be). Specifically, there’s a false positive rate for every medical test. I don’t remember all the details from stats class, but I believe that one AIDS test has an 80-percent chance of calling you positive if you’re not (and only a 20-percent chance of calling you negative if you’re not). But these doping tests don’t have established false positive rates yet. I think we’re up to three EPO-accused Belgian triathletes who’ve been established as innocent since receiving positive tests. Bloodwork’s not an exact science either, as I understand it.Oh, hey, Rocky, give the guy a break. Stage 16 was two weeks after he broke his collarbone. People heal, man. The bone was probably still fresh, but that doesn’t mean he can’t move his arm.

  29. Comment by Zed | 01.11.2006 | 10:56 pm

    Hey, in searching around for Ty Hamilton infor, I found something that will make us bike geeks drool: http://www.tylerhamiltonfoundation.org/thfbikes72.htmlI don’t think we have too much to worry about when it comes to Tyler coming back in style.


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