The cycling world has been abuzz with rumors that cyclists have been ‘moto-doping’ for years. Every few years, the UCI tests some bikes, riders get mad, and nobody gets caught. All told, it’s a pretty fantastical rumor that almost seemed too weird to be true. Cycling has been plagued by an ever-evolving series of doping problems, but moto-doping always felt more like something for truthers to parse out than anything (Look how Ryder Hesjedal’s back wheel keeps spinning!). Who would actually think they could get away with something as blatant as putting a motor into a bike?
I would never in a million years have imagined that professional cyclists would cheat by hiding electric freaking motors inside their bikes. I find this hysterically funny. In a 1980s comedy, this is how one of the kids from the Rich Kids’ Summer Camp would cheat in a race against the Working-Class (But They Really Know How To Party) Kids’ Camp.
It sharpens an idea I had a couple of years ago. At this point, it seems as if cheating has actually become part of the culture of elite pro cycling. Baseball catchers at the major-league level use a lot of tricks to influence the home-plate umpire into calling balls as strikes and vice-versa; it’s not cheating, it’s a subtle part of the game. It’s possible that a certain element within the pro cycling community feels that some of the skills they’re expected to bring to the competition is “cheating in such a shrewd and cautious way that they won’t get caught.”
And if the sport can’t fix this, then it should at least exploit it. There should be a new “Unlimited Cheating”-class series of pro cycling events. At the start of the race, each rider and bicycle is inspected. Visually. So long as the bike looks stock, and, like, the rider’s pupils aren’t so dilated that there’s no white in them, they’re cleared to take the starting line. I suppose we’d also need a “no interfering with other racers in any way” rule. Otherwise, once this racing league really takes off and the winner’s purse runs into serious money, we’d wind up with land mine problems.
It would be great for spectators: every known record would be completely obliterated. And it’d be great for the athletes, because finally people are appreciating and admiring their full portfolio of skills. And who, might I ask, does the academically in-over-his-head teenager look up to when he asks himself “is my will to succeed so strong that I can talk myself into dosing myself with prescription amphetamines for an all-nighter, despite the likelihood of self-destruction?” This kid needs heroes, too!!!
I’m still working out the finer points of Unlimited Cheating Bike Racing. For instance, it simply won’t do if the winner blurs his way uphill at 75 miles an hour, trailing a cloud of rocket exhaust. The league is endorsing cheating, yes, but not the tacky, ungentlemanly kind. We will have standards. We shall aspire to the Kobayashi Maru ideal.
Perhaps we’ll give the winner his or her podium moment in front of the cameras, but we don’t assign the official win (and the monetary prize) until 30 days have passed. The win is void if anybody posts race video in which the competitor is obviously doing something that a human rider on a non-powered bike couldn’t do, or if they took so many dangerous drugs in such a high quantity that his or her heart chewed its way out of their chest and scurried into an overhead duct, “Alien”-style.
You will have objections, I’m sure. My response to all of them is “Just think of the ratings.“