Yesterday, Ivan Basso said that while he had planned on doping for the 2006 Tour de France, he had never up until that point actually doped, and that all his victories up to that point (and since) are completely legitimate.
Yeah. Sure. Basso was about to inaugurate his doping career on the eve of the Tour de France, the most important race of his career. That’s not quite as believable as a pro cyclist trying a new nutrition plan, or a new training plan, or switch to a new bike or riding position, immediately before starting a grand tour.
I have no problem believing that. Happens all the time.
Basso’s excuse isn’t just bad, it’s startlingly bad. I found myself checking the byline to see if I had written it as fake news.
And then I became interested in a question. Is it possible that Ivan Basso has given the lamest of all possible excuses in the history of lame excuses? Will all future excuses be measured against Basso’s as a percentage? “You say that you were mugged by masked Dutchmen, who bludgeoned you into submission and then injected EPO into you against your will? Well, that’s lame, but only 72% as lame as Basso’s excuse.”
I mean, was this really the best Basso could do? I’m completely addle-brained right now, but even so, I can think of a few excuses that have more credibility than “I was about to dope and had given several bags of blood to Fuentes in order to dope, but I never actually doped, and now that I’m about to be caught I’ve had a sudden attack of conscience.”
For example, I think Basso would have been better off using any of the following:
- I doped, but only recreationally. “Have you ever tried EPO, man? It is a freaking rush. You’ve got all this extra oxygen going to your brain and you’re suddenly finding you can remember the quadratic equation, which you haven’t thought about since high school. It’s a total freaking rush! I wasn’t doping to be fast, man. I was doping because it’s dope.”
- I didn’t know it was dope. “Hey, when you’re a pro cyclist, someone’s always jabbing you with one needle or another. I didn’t know I was being doped; I was just rolling up my sleeve and doing what I was told. It never occurred to me that I was suddenly going 7% faster for any other reason than my improved TT position. Also, I didn’t get a clue from my suddenly very-pronounced browline. Nor from my shrunken testicles.”
- I was making a statement. “Yeah, I was doping, and I’m proud of it. I want to be the best, fastest rider I can be, and if that means taking EPO and percolating pure oxygen through my blood thrice daily, I’m fine with it. In fact, next week, I’m having a second joint placed in my legs, giving me unprecedented leverage in my pedaling power. I’m also having my skull structure modified to be more aerodynamic. Two months from now I will be able to pedal up 30% grades at 48mph. If the UCI wants to be a bunch of Luddites, that’s their problem. The fact is, I will be the fastest man alive, and everyone watching or racing in the Tour de France will know it.”
- I didn’t know doping was illegal. “Whh? Huh? You mean I shouldn’t have been taking EPO, HGH, steroids, and suffusing my bones with high-tensile titanium alloy? Whoah. I feel so stupid. I’m really, really sorry. It’s just that I’ve been super busy with my training schedule and haven’t really had time to check my email. Seriously, guys, thanks for the heads-up. I’ll stop using right away.”
- I only doped occasionally. “OK, fine, I was doping, but it’s not like I didn’t have it under control. I’m just a social doper. You know, the occasional testosterone patch on weekends, maybe a vial of EPO on Christmas or special anniversaries. I could totally stop doping any time I want. In fact, I’ll quit it right now. There. I hereby declare myself clean. Let’s race!”
See, that’s five right there. And I’m only quitting because my lunch hour’s almost over. By all means, feel free to help Ivan Basso out by providing excuses he could have / should have used instead of the supremely lame one he went with.