By CHRIS AGEE
Following seven-time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong's recent admission he used performance-enhancing drugs during his career, the Index contacted several local cycling enthusiasts to share their insight into the controversy.
Andy Hollinger, a founding member and longtime officer of Team Bicycles Inc., has helped organize numerous local races and explained the impact the Armstrong incident has had on the sport.
He said cheating is present in any sport, though cycling maintains a strict testing regimen to expose such activity as early as possible.
"I think it is much less prevalent than in sports like football," he said. "The reason for that is the testing. [There is] more testing in bicycle racing than any other sport. The reason it seems so prevalent is because people get caught and there is an enforcement program."
Hollinger said there would be similar outrage if other sports conducted similar testing.
"What would happen if they caught just two players per team?" he asked. "The uproar would be amazing."
He conceded that as cycling becomes more ubiquitous participants in the sport have more incentive to cheat.
"I think people try to hone an edge wherever they can," Hollinger added. "As cycling gets to be a bigger sport, there is more pressure to win."
At a local level, though, he said such abuses are much easier to identify.
Cheating at all levels is "more prevalent than it was 25 years ago," he explained, "but that said, there's also an intimacy and a local knowledge of people in bicycle racing. If someone started winning consistently or came out of nowhere, it would create a stink."
At Armstrong's level of competition, however, Hollinger said the urge to win can be too strong for some cyclists to resist.