By Steve Medcroft
The United States of America media company Home Box Office (HBO) is airing an episode of its sports analysis program Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that features a segment on attempts to rid cycling of performance-enhancing drugs. During the episode, that airs for the first time 10:00 p.m. EST/PST Tuesday evening, correspondent Jon Frankel looks at David Millar's fall to a doping scandal and subsequent re-invention as a champion for a drug-free sport.
The segment starts by painting a simplistic and bleak picture of the sport; placing blame for a negative public perception and loss of sponsorship support solely at the hands of the riders who have been embroiled in doping scandals in recent seasons then quickly switches focus to Millar.
In the segment, Millar walks through his career, saying he was naive about the prevalence of doping in the sport when he started as an amateur and said doping "went against everything I stood for." Millar then speaks about a point in his early days as a professional after he won a race when he showed a team-mate that his natural hematocrit level at the time was 8 points below the UCI allowable 50 percent. "I saw it as showing him that you could win without doping," Millar says in the show but adds that his team-mates response was that Millar was unprofessional to not have a hematocrit level right at the allowable limits. The message, he said, was that doping was considered normal and expected.
The segment covers Millar's return to the sport and alignment with Jonathan Vaughters' Slipstream cycling team and delves into the team's mission to operate as a clean and open team. Vaughters and Dr. Paul Strauss, developer of Slipstream's blood profile program, are both featured in the segment.
The episode, which also features segments on the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games and horse breeding, will be aired again several times before the end of June.