Kiwi cycling great Bruce Biddle, the Warkworth native, had the courage, or perhaps the audacity, to say something that has probably been on the minds of many cycling fans ever since Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France medals for using performance-enhancing drugs and lying about it.
Simply distilled, it is this: If there were 150 riders in any of the pelotons during any of the stages of any of those races that Armstrong won, 120 of them were boosted by one performance-enhancing substance or another. Armstrong was simply the best of those 120.
The very idea of using a performance-enhancing substance to gain an advantage is absolutely moot if, because everyone is doing it, there is no advantage to be gained. If you wanted to find a clean rider in the field of the Tour de France from Armstrong’s era, all you would need to have done was test the bottom ten.
Biddle was in New Zealand recently, although he now lives in Italy, and was having an adult beverage, or as they are sometimes known, conversation-enhancing substance, with Stephen Stewart, a former professional cyclist who was also outspoken about the EPO that permeated stage cycling in those dark days.
Biddle produced a fourth place finish in one of the cycling events at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The bronze medal in that race went to a rider who failed a drug test, but Biddle did not move up because officials did not administer a test to him.