Pont Aven , Brittany , June 22, 2013
In an interview to a German magazine , the erstwhile German professional cyclist Jan Ulrich admits having taken illicit performance enhancing drugs during all his career. Not really a revelation after so many other confessions, Armstrong’s one being the most shocking of all.
What’s new is that Ullrich says that everybody, absolutely everybody in the peloton took these drugs at the time-the years 1990 to 2010-. And everybody in the cycling circus knew it. But no one dare say anything. Omerta. Like in the Mafia world. For the same reason: money. Everybody, organisers, journalists , competitors, sponsors , regulators, doctors, everybody had a financial interest to “let the show go on”.
The angle of this blog being to draw parallels between the bike and life in general, what can we learn from such vastly organised crime? After all,
the subprime crisis that led to the financial crisis of 2008 was no different : competitors were traders, organisers were banks, sponsors were big companies, subprimes and titrisation were EPO and blood transfer. No one would have denounced it if the whole system had not collapsed by itself. And there are many other examples : the tax heavens, that allow individuals and companies to legally cheat on their taxes. The financing of political parties, which uses complex and murky retro commissions and sophisticated legal constructions. To name but a few.
When the chain of intertwined interests is strong, no one can break a link: this is why the Founding Fathers drafted a Constitution based on checks and balances: in front of any power, there must be a counterpower.
Today the rising counterpower is Internet. Internet means immediate communication of images and texts: it is more and more difficult to hide anything: remember Romney and his slippery remark about the 49 % moochers. Everything ends up on You Tube circulating around the world. Dictators in Egypt, Lybia, Syria, Turkey, are facing crowds of people exchanging tweets and e-mails and blogs. Wikileaks reveals diplomatic exchanges, NSA files, military secrets .
Lawyers are busy trying to set limits and legal counterpowers to the ultra transparency triggered by the digital world, among others to protect privacy and the burden of the proof.
Democracy is like a bike : a fragile balance, a never ending movement. Skilled riders required!