When it comes to doping in cycling, Philip Gomes thinks fans need to take a step back and take a fresh look at the evidence and personalities behind it all.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Like many, I don't like doping, but I'm not a black and white person,
shades of gray are what the world is usually like and I like to keep an
open mind on most things while holding clearly defined opinions that
usually conform to current available thinking.

I'm also a big fan
of scientific inquiry, understanding that it is evolving and ongoing
with no 'end to the story'. It's why I'm also fan of the bio-passport
system while understanding it is no panacea for the ills that dog the

Science allows us to update our thinking as new evidence
becomes available. The Earth used to be flat and the sun revolved around
it. These things are no longer true thanks to brave and inquisitive

That we evolved from apes in Africa is no longer
controversial, with evidence supporting that case piling on decades
after initial discoveries were made.

Today climate change science
dominate the headlines, and again the evidence continues to be
compelling, adding new layers of understanding to what is a highly
complex field of discovery.

And so it is with the science and
narrative of doping in cycling, a quickly evolving field if there ever
was one.

Maybe it was tainted meat. The plasticizers did come
from our increasingly plastic environment. But that other stuff in the
cupboard most definitely was not for Rover or your mother-in-law.

previous personal view on doping was pretty black and white.
Performance enhancing drugs are bad kids, just say no. Riders who dope
deserve cycling's version of the death penalty. Yada, yada, yada.

has changed as I've see a lot of minds close completely on the issue.

believe that if I do close my mind to views, interpretations and
evidence that might lead to a more informed position on the issue I'll
do myself a disservice, one that endangers my love for cycling - and all
sport, for that matter.

As one of the hordes who didn't believe
his initial denials of doping I understand the negative sentiment
regarding Floyd Landis.

But I'm also a big fan of empathy and
walking a mile in another man's shoes.

Today this and an open
mind have me listening to Floyd even more closely because I do think he
has a unique and compelling contribution to make.

There were no
PayPal contributions from me to the Floyd Fairness Fund but his priors
don't now mean I won't listen attentively to what he's saying about the
culture of doping in the sport and possible solutions to deal with it.

has been there and done that, an elite bike racer who doped and has so
far lived to tell the tale. His experience and journey carry weight
whatever the evolving motivations.

And what Landis is suggesting
makes sense. Why? Because it acknowledges the shades of gray in life and
in the science as he calls for an anti-doping system to mirror that.

asking that there be a balance of the magnitude of the punishment
weighed against what the actual magnitude of the crime was," Landis told
Cycling Central in an interview last week.

Dr. Michael Ashenden
also sees the gray. This time in acknowledging the bio-passport is not a
magic bullet in the fight against doping but another tool in the
arsenal - and one that clearly requires careful and expert

"That's the scenario we're facing today and
that's why I'm pragmatic that, look, the passport is the best thing
we've got but it's not going to catch everyone – not by a long stretch."

what am I attempting to poorly argue here? Well it's a bit of a plea to
cycling fans to take a step back from an absolutist view and to engage
more fully.

Much of what we see are simple human failings. The
UCI is not evil and neither is WADA. The riders certainly aren't. Their
world is a unique bubble in which to live.

In a way,
acknowledging the gray allows closure, allows us to make peace with the
situation and thereby continue to love the sport while understanding
doping exists. It's worked for me.