Although many of the team directors, managers and riders at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado chose not to comment to the media about Lance Armstrong's decision not to fight the USADA allegations of performance enhancing drug use, those who did displayed a definite divide among their opinions.
Spidertech-C10 team director Steve Bauer, who wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for 14 days in the mid-to-late 1980s, said it's time to put the controversy to rest.
“I have a personal statement that's pretty simple,” he told Cyclingnews on Friday. “Lance versus USADA has nothing to do with our sport now. And that's all I have to say about that.”
But Bauer did have more to add, saying the future of the sport looks positive because of the much stricter drug testing regimes and protocols.
“The UCI has done a great job of developing the anti-doping program: the biological passport that all our professional cyclists have to abide by and adhere to,” he said. “We have the most stringent anti-doping policy of any sport in the world, which has probably imposed the cleanest professional sport in the world. So that's it. That's all I've got so say.”
Bissell Pro Cycling veteran rider Ben Jacques-Maynes agreed with Bauer that things have changed for the better in cycling.
“I race my race with my own ambitions, at the level I know I can do,” he said. “The people who dream bigger, but maybe don't have the ability are going to have to be happy with where they are now. I think the options are closing for cheaters and people who think bigger of themselves than the reality of the situation.”
RadioShack-Nissan assistant team director Lars Michaelson said he agreed with Armstrong's decision to surrender to USADA, and that he hoped the anti-doping agency would focus on the future.
“Speaking for myself, I think what Lance is doing was a good choice,” Michaelson said. “I think for the point USADA is making, they should focus on what's happening today and try to state some example of what testing they are capable of doing today instead of going back in time and spoiling a champion.”
Michaelson also questioned why USADA appeared so Hell-bent on pursuing Armstrong.
“Why? Tell me why? Give me one good reason why?” Michaelson asked. “They should have a heads up of what's happening today, that they are on top of things today. That's what they should show.”
But Jacques-Maynes disagreed with that assessment, saying the pursuit of the truth surrounding Armstrong is an important step in the long road to cleaning up the sport he has devoted his professional life to.
“This is the crux of when the new cycling really starts,” Jacques-Maynes said. “Everyone's been saying, year in year out, that this is the cleanest cycling's ever been. Well I think this is the first step. From this point, maybe it will start cleaning itself out. I don't think it's cleaned itself out yet. I think this is the first sign that however big your ambitions are, you're not too big to fail. People can go down, whatever you think of yourself.”
While admitting a bit of frustration at having to deal with doping news at another big race, Jacques-Maynes also said he hopes people will continue to support and enjoy the sport he loves as it transitions from the old guard to a new one.
“I just hope people pay attention to the big races that are happening,” he said. “That there are good results happening at the Tour of Portugal, the Vuelta, here in Colorado. There's a ton of great racing and good fight in those races.”