4/28/13

'When people say I dope, they're saying I'm lying to my kids' | The Sunday Times

'When people say I dope, they're saying I'm lying to my kids'
Ahead of the Giro d’Italia, Bradley Wiggins’ opposition to drugs reflects a painful relationship with his late father
David Walsh Published: 28 April 2013

"HOW does Bradley Wiggins feel about having a journalist travel with the team?” I had asked Sir Dave Brailsford at the beginning. “Totally in favour, Brad thinks it’s a good thing,” the general manager of Team Sky said. The proof would come in the meeting. It is the second day of my first visit to a team training camp, Majorca in February. Wiggins turns up at the hotel with his wife. He has a small apartment on the island, so when possible he takes Cath and their two children with him to the island. Standing in the hotel lobby, he stretches out his hand and passes the first test. We agree to meet later in the week. Unannounced, drug testers turn up two evenings later. Wiggins comes from his apartment to the hotel and must join the queue. “Sit in the corridor,” he is told, “and remain there until we call you.” It is 10.30 Wiggins is facing a new challenge as he competes in the Giro d’Italia, which starts on Saturday (BRYN LENNON) at night, he is alone on his chair. We have never spoken one to one, but he knows I am a close friend of Paul Kimmage, who has been critical of Team Sky and very critical of things that Wiggins has said in answer to doping questions. “How is Paul?” he asks, almost straight away. “He’s good,” I say, wondering where he is coming from. “He’s a good writer,” he continues. “Outstanding,” I say, realising he is not being sarcastic or smart-assed or anything other than straightforward. “His book on the footballer Tony Cascarino was one of the best I’ve read. I loved that book.” With this tribute, he shows a generosity that isn’t commonplace among elite sportsmen. We talked for an hour in that corridor, mostly about things beyond professional cycling and he struck me as intelligent and grounded. I liked him more than I expected to. ABy month or so I site, wasyou with the team inof Tenerife andcan through very week, he was continuing to later use the agree to the use cookies. You changea this andtough find outtraining more by following this link.quieter, more introverted.
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His team bosses say he is a tiger, naturally comfortable hunting on his own and with eyes only for his prey. But he agrees to have a catch-up and a 20-minute chat runs to more than an hour. He speaks about his family, we speak about doping and he connects the two, saying it is his relationship with Cath, Ben and Isabella that has determined his response to the doping dilemma. His hopes for his children have been formed out of the loss he feels at not having had a relationship with his dad, Gary, whose sad life ended in a violent death after he suffered a blow to the head in Australia five years ago. Our third
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4/28/13

'When people say I dope, they're saying I'm lying to my kids' | The Sunday Times

meeting is in Tolos bar in Majorca. This time there is a tape recorder between us and I ask him about his father, his own kids and doping and how the three interconnect. “I have a lot of issues with my father, what he did to me, how he left. He was a six-day [track] rider, using amphetamines. He got into that, it got the better of him and he lost the plot mentally and developed a drink problem. I have a big issue with him walking out when I was two years of age. “Since I’ve had children, one thing has always struck me. I can’t allow what happened to me to happen to them. My kids must stay true to their mother and I want them to look up to me when they’re adults and go, ‘He was a great father’. I never ever want them to say, ‘I don’t like me dad’, like I grew up saying. It would crucify me if they did that. “So how I conduct myself in my sport is central to this. They can come into this bar in 20 years’ time and look where my Y ellow Jersey is hanging, and say, ‘That’s my dad’s, he won the Tour de France and we’re proud of that’. Not coming in and going, ‘Oh, it’s there, he won the Tour but he tested positive afterwards’. “I would rather not have won the Tour at all than win it and later test positive. I would rather go back and work in Tesco, not win the Tour, not be knighted, not have all the other stuff and just be a father that my kids are proud of. “Winning has never been everything for me, it’s not life or death, and if I don’t win, I get over it. I want to watch Ben play rugby league. If I tested positive I would be too ashamed to stand with the other parents at the side of the pitch. When people say I dope, they’re saying I’m lying to my kids. I’m not having that.” The message hasn’t always been delivered with this clarity. I remind him of his scathingly dismissive comments about Floyd Landis during the 2010 Tour de France. Landis had done an interview with the Wall Street Journal and sent emails to various cycling administrators that detailed the systematic doping of Lance Armstrong and his US Postal team. Wiggins, who could have stayed clear of the debate, chose instead to run with the mob that attacked Landis, questioning the former Postal rider’s mental state and suggesting that only a crazed man would say the things Landis was saying. For someone watching from a distance, the obvious question was why would Wiggins, who most people considered clean, defend a cheat such as Armstrong? He is embarrassed by the memory but attempts to explain how it happened that he too tried to discredit Landis. “There was all this talk in the peloton, I was talking with [Dave] Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde because I was with them in Garmin the year before. They were saying, ‘Y ou’d never guess what Landis has done, he’s sent this email to this guy and that guy and he’s said all these things’, and I wondered about his mental state. “People were saying he had four or five Twitter accounts and he was posting crazy stuff. Then you walk out of the Team Sky bus, someone says, ‘What do you think of what Landis has said?’ and you reply with some throwaway remarks that are misinformed and with the benefit of hindsight you would never say. I wasn’t going well in that Tour, I was feeling the pressure and it was easier for me to spit out from the tent than spit into it. “Lance was still a powerful figure in the peloton and it was just easier to say something that meant he wasn’t going to be on your case. When it came out that Zabriskie confessed I was surprised because I never imagined they were doing it. I mean, he wasn’t winning any races when he was with Postal and I remember being on the bus with Michael Barry when Floyd’s accusations were flying around the place. “‘Ah, Floyd’s lost it, he’s drinking every night, he’s sent an email to Zabriskie saying this and that’. And this is coming from Michael Barry, incredibly articulate, quite trustworthy guy, in love with the sport, talked a lot about how his father got him into cycling and I imagined this was a guy who would never fall into that doping culture. He never made the Postal team for the Tour de France, was always on the fringes. “Then you get asked about Floyd and feel like you’re in a gang and you say what everyone in the gang is saying. Y ou become part of that, because it’s easier. A lot of people look really stupid now, as do some of the comments I made.”

WITH the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Naples on Saturday, and the Tour de France in the immediate future for Wiggins, serious questions await to be asked. Last year he was almost unbeatable in his pre-Tour races and then excelled in controlling the Tour itself. This year he is following a different path and making the Giro the priority, though there is a subtlety here that he would like people to understand. “I see it as a Giro/Tour project. The Giro comes first so that is the priority, but the minute the Giro is finished, it is not a case of going back to normality. I will be preparing as seriously as I can for the Tour. Tim [Kerrison, Sky’s performance director] believes there is no reason I can’t be strong in both. “Last year at the Tour de France, the time trial I did in Chartres at the end of the race was one of the best I did in my career and it showed me that I would still be strong at the Olympics. I believe that I can come out of the Giro in the same shape and be seriously competitive in the Tour.” Among those he will have to beat in France, one name stands out. Chris Froome, his teammate. They are not friends but Wiggins believes they can work together for the good of the team. “I’ve been asked about my relationship with Chris a lot,” says Wiggins. “We don’t room together, we don’t mingle off the bike, but we are two very competitive leaders of this team and both want to win. That’s it. Chris is one of the best climbers in the world, maybe even the best. “Joaquim Rodriguez is more explosive but he doesn’t have Chris’s consistency and Chris has gone past Alberto Contador. In the time trials, Chris might not win them but he’ll be up there.”
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4/28/13

'When people say I dope, they're saying I'm lying to my kids' | The Sunday Times

Wiggins reacted badly when Froome attacked on different mountain stages in last year’s Tour de France, when momentarily deviating from the team’s plan before returning to doing the super equipier’s job that he was supposed to do. In this year’s Tour, Froome will be allowed to ride his own race but both he and Wiggins must still ensure that they don’t hurt each other and thus give a rival an opportunity to gatecrash the party. “I don’t think I’ve ever really forgotten last year, especially the attack in the Pyrenees,” says Wiggins, “but enough time has passed and I just accept it now. Chris and I have a professional working relationship and I believe we’ll both do what is right for the team.”

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