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The world’s most famous cycling race, the Tour de France, is in full gear, but, as usual, with the cloud of some high-profile doping scandals hanging overhead.
Cycling has been dubbed by some as the “world’s dirtiest sport.” Local former professional rider Clay Moseley can appreciate why, but told the Monitor during an interview last month that he doesn’t think the moniker tells the whole story.
Moseley was on the U.S. National team in the mid-1990s and rubbed shoulders with several of the top racers of the time, including seven-time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong.
One of Moseley’s crowning achievements was a win at the 1995 Pan American Games. Moseley won the men’s individual road time trial, which followed up on a 1994 win at the U.S. National time trial championship. Moseley won the Pan Am Games event by more than four minutes, an eternity in top-level cycling.
While Moseley doesn’t race competitively anymore, he is still a big promoter of the Tour de Los Alamos and is involved with XTerra, including coaching some up-and-coming local racers.
“That’s in my past,” Moseley said of high-level competitive cycling. “That’s not the same sport to me now.”
He said he’s become disillusioned by cycling, mostly because of the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and the political grandstanding he’s seen because of their usage.
Moseley said he’s been particularly disgusted in recent weeks by the Armstrong affair. Armstrong, the most famous racer in the United States and possibly the world, has had allegations of past PED usage flying at him, including accusations from former teammates Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Yancey.
But the use of PEDs in cycling is hardly a new phenomenon. In fact, Moseley said, PEDs are the norm and he himself was one of the few racers he knew that raced clean.
What kind of gets under Moseley’s skin about the whole Armstrong allegations is not so much whether he used or didn’t use PEDs but the defensive stand Armstrong is taking rather than opening up real discussions about their usage in cycling and other professional sports.
“This is where I find fault with Lance,” he said. “The fact that he could make a big difference in sports is where I find fault with his denials. I wish they could call off this witch-hunt, but Lance could make a difference.”
Moseley feels that if big-name athletes would take a stand, real change would come about in professional sports. However, the underlying factor behind everything is once again money.
There is a different mindset in pro sports, Moseley said, about PEDs and things such as steroids and human growth hormone which have been used by football and baseball players. Their thinking is more that they have considerable pressure on them to perform well or be replaced and lose their livelihoods and that makes such drugs quite attractive.
Now there are several sophisticated methods of both doping and testing for doping, but Moseley said it’s not that hard to figure out who has something illegal in their body.
“Some of these stages, guys are going at speeds of 26-30 mph,” he said. “If you can’t keep up with even the racers in the back, you start thinking, ‘man, I stink’ …. But the human body has limits.”
In his 1995 Pan Am Games win, Moseley said he knew he was going to have a big day. He said he had the psychological edge over most international racers because the Pan Am Games anti-doping measures were tight and many of his opponents were nervous about having to compete without their PEDs.
Now, Moseley does compete in more multi-sport events, particularly state events such as triathlons in Farmington, Cochiti and the Elephant Man in the southern part of the state.
For competitions, he still trains in Los Alamos. He said he is very impressed by the number of athletes from Los Alamos that are able to compete on a national level.
“A lot of people are very diligent about their sports over the years,” Moseley said. “There’s a lot of stick-to-it-ness. You see a lot of people in Texas. They’re great when they’re kids, but they give it up. You just don’t see a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, that have that competitive mentality.”