Some may have missed it over the weekend but Friday saw the demise ofTyler Hamilton as a professional cyclist to a second positive resultfor doping.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Some may have missed it over the weekend but Friday saw the demise of Tyler Hamilton as a professional cyclist to a second positive result for doping.

American national road champion Tyler Hamilton announced
his retirement from cycling on Friday after confirming that he tested
positive for a banned substance in an herbal supplement he used to
treat depression.


The 38-year-old Hamilton confirmed that he had tested positive for
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) a multi-functional steroid he said was in
an herbal remedy he took after he had stopped using prescription
anti-depressants.


Now there are two ways I could write this blog on Hamilton, one is to criticise, the other is to show some empathy.

In his case one is easy, the other hard. I've never been a fan so criticism would the obvious choice.....but.

Hamilton is no footnote to contempary cycling history, he's an integral part of it for good and bad reasons.


Those of you who follow the sport will already know of Hamilton's
career on the road, those new to it should know that he's the current
US Pro Road champion and former Olympic gold medalist in the Time Trial.

He
also has a history of being a seriously tough character, having ridden
the 2003 Tour de France with a cracked collarbone, winning a stage and
finishing fourth overall.

Many will choose to remember him as
a cheat, having several high profile brushes with the anti-doping
authorities one of which resulted in a two year suspension for blood
doping.

Despite a long trail of evidence arrayed against him Hamilton fought the courts decision at great personal and financial cost.

In many ways he's a poster boy for the doping generation.

Over
the past two weeks many of us had heard the rumours of a second
positive test, fueled further by the rider pulling out of recent races
he was destined to start with a claim to having bronchitis.

Now those rumours have become fact. But the facts still came as a surprise.

Hamilton
said he'd been using prescription anti-depressants since 2003, and due
to a myriad of personal and family problems had attempted to double
down on what he was taking in a desperate attempt to stay on an even
keel.

It's important to note that even in his press conference
Hamilton refused to address his past doping history preferring to focus
on the more immediate issue of this result, saying, "There's nothing to
fight about," ... "I took a banned substance. I accept the
consequences. You make mistakes in your life and I accept the penalty
like a man."

I reckon he'd be a lot further ahead if he had manned up and done that the first time around.

But
he's right, there is a need for everyone to move on, because this time
it's a heckuva lot more serious that cheating at sport, this time it's
about a long fight with depression.

We only have to look at cyclists like Marco Pantani and Jobie Dajka to see where this could head if Hamilton isn't cut some slack.

Depression
is a cruel thing, robbing the best of us of our ability to think
clearly, to make the right choices and to deal effectively with a range
of issues.

It appears that this was at the core of
Hamilton's inability to take responsibility for his past actions, this
time he understands the position he's in and accepts it.

Considering
his history, a long ban is not only a formality but the right thing to
do but a life ban from the sport has also been mentioned.

It's a
rare person that doesn't understand what Hamilton may have been going
through, so the anti-doping authorities need to tread carefully around
Hamilton's current mental health.

A life ban without seriously considering Hamilton's extenuating circumstances could turn out to be a devastating decision.