Thursday, November 5, 2009

Local Dopers

Well the big news around here is local racer Kenny Williams, and his recent doping confession:

From the WSBA listserve:
To my friends, clients, competitors and USA Cycling officials,

My name is Kenny Williams and I've been racing my bike for 20 years. In June 2009 I broke and had surgery on my left collarbone. In my haste to return to the top of my game I purchased DHEA at the local Drug Store, without consulting anyone. 6 weeks later at Masters Track Nationals in Colorado Springs I was tested positive for this illegal drug. I do not deny the results of the test.

I am ashamed that I’ve done something that hurts the sport of cycling and the community of people who have become the most important part of my life. I’m facing the very real possibility that I can try for the rest of my life to regain the confidence of the cycling community and my friends, but this cloud will be with me for the rest of my life. I am not asking for forgiveness, because I am admitting to my mistake and own all the horrible feelings that come with my bad decision. I am hoping for compassion and understanding. Compassion that I never intended to hurt anyone and understanding that if I could have one re-do in my life that this would be it. As I have done throughout my whole athletic life I will fight to re-gain my reputation as a fair man, tough competitor and drug-free cyclist. You can trust me when I say that I will never take a short-cut like this ever again.

Bike racing is one of the most important things in my life, second to my wife, whom I owe the biggest apology to for being so irresponsible. I am sorry Annette. I also feel horrible about the results I took away from the other athletes that I raced against. I am very sorry to have disappointed all of them. To my sponsors and my clients, I am sorry. To all in the cycling community and my friends, I am sorry.

Sincerely, Kenny Williams
The reaction thus far (at least over internet listserves) has been surprisingly supportive: "we know Kenny fucked-up, but he's still a great guy, and he's a valuable member of our community, and it took a lot of courage to publicly admit what he did, and DHEA isn't that much of a performance enhancer anyway, and poor poor Kenny Willaims," seems to be the predominant sentiment. Maybe that's all true -- and don't get me wrong, I'm glad Kenny came clean instead of lying like a lying liar; however, I am one of those racers who Kenny displaces from the podium when he wins*. I am also trying to make a living riding my bike. The rules governing doping are admittedly inconsistent and arbitrary, but that's not the point: they're the rules goddamit, and if we all follow the rules, the sport is interesting and fun, and fair enough that I can abide. Kenny knowingly cheated, and only admitted it after he got caught. Fuck that!

Am I disappointed in Kenny's actions? Of course -- he's lost a lot of my respect.

Am I glad he got caught, and hopeful he'll serve a ban from competition? Absolutely, that's what cheats deserve.

Will I race against him once his ban is over? Without complaint -- he's admitting his wrongdoing and is prepared to do his time. Once he's done I'll gladly line up next to Kenny Williams again (and with a great deal less resentment than I feel towards dopers who also happen to be lying liars).

I'm not through digesting this news, and I'm sure most of the Northwest cycling community isn't either, but I will say that it's not fun to be reminded of how immediate ethical problems in sport can be. Doping, as Kenny Williams proves, is not a problem confined to "the pros."

Call me naive, but I just want to put my head down and train hard, and prepare well, and want it badly, and have that be enough to be the best.

*Example: here's the finish photo from the Seward Park season closer (thanks, the weekend after Masters Track Nats. I remember being off the front for the last half-hour of the race, only to get passed by a hard-charging Kenny Williams in the final turn of the final lap.


LAV said...

wow, I'm shocked. what depressing news, for all of us who try to make a living as clean athletes.

Anonymous said...

Its all about intent, and you can't tell me that after Hamilton got busted again people didnt know about DHEA. BUSTED!!! now do the time...

coach hall said...

For the most part I can't stand all those pithy little sports aphorisms that coaches love to plaster on locker room walls, but I can't help myself here as this seems yet another case of "sports don't develop character; they reveal it."

The saddest commentary on sports culture (and human nature revealed therein) is that for some time now we have accepted the absolute necessity of drug testing, which seems to me to suggest that we have at some level also accepted doping itself.

Anonymous said...

Confession? that implies him not lying...You have to be pretty naive to think he had only be doing it for 6 months and magically got caught....

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's always been dirty. Who knows? We know he was dirty for part of this year, even if DHEA has unknown benefits. It has been reported to be a masking agent. We still haven't heard the official doping report.

Why did he never go and stay pro? His stint with NutraFig was really as an elite rider. Maybe afraid of getting tested regularly or the potential for it? He's been remarkably consistent and dominant locally and at the Masters track level. Who else has shown the same dominance? And now, the most dominant guy has turned a positive. Now all that dominance is tainted. At least I, and the rest of us who get near the podium, will not have to deal with him for 2 years.

Dustin Van Wyck said...

I appreciate you calling it like it is - he is a cheat. What is even more surprising than his urine sample is the overwhelming amount of pathetic responses from the cycling community. It doesn't matter is he joined forces with Oprah to fight HIV/AIDS at African orphanages or found a cure for cancer. No characteristic or accolade can erase the fact that he cheated. Look at it for what it is people!

P-Dog said...

The real crime here is that I sat on this as long as I did and now Sam is getting all my internet traffic. Damnit.

JOD said...

I agree with almost everything said, except the part about it being more honorable for him to have 'confessed' in light of his positive test.

To me, it's simply the most expeditious choice. He didn't have a 7 figure contract at stake (nor the massive resources to fight the charges).

So that leaves him with a)claiming Prudog spiked his water bottle, or b)pulling the 'accidental and/or tainted supplement' card. In this day and age, the former scenario is probably more likely...

So let's face it; he simply took the pragmatic option. The immediate outpouring of support shows it was a pretty good decision.

Anonymous said...

He's beaten me a few times and cost me a few places here and there. But the bottom line is, we're MASTERS RACERS. We have jobs and (hopefully) lives outside of racing. What's happening here is the same battle of egos that goes on between doctors and lawyers at the University Club intramural basketball league. I'm certain this isn't the first time he's masked 'roid use and I'm also certain there are other masters racers who juice. But the question is; is beating an insurance salesman or cardiologist to the line in a local crit really that important?