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Local Cyclists React to Hamilton's Admission

Marblehead cyclists voice their opinion on Tyler Hamilton's recent confession that he used performance enhancing substances as well as the outing of fellow rider Lance Armstrong.

Marblehead native and world class cyclist, Tyler Hamilton, appeared on 60 Minutes Sunday night, where he admitted using performance enhancing substances and announced that he would be returning the gold medal he earned at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

In the same interview, Hamilton also implicated fellow cyclist Lance Armstrong and said he witnessed Armstrong injecting EPO, a banned substance that increases a rider's red blood cell count, during the 1999 Tour de France, which Armstrong won. Hamilton's admission, as well as the implication of Armstrong, has struck a chord among local cyclists.

In a letter written to friends and family members on May 19th, Hamilton made an effort to prepare them for Sunday night's interview and the firestorm that would inevitably follow the return of his gold medal and the implication of Armstrong.

"There's no easy way to say this, so let me just say it plain: On Sunday night you'll see me on '60 Minutes' making a confession that's overdue. Long overdue," Hamilton wrote. "During my career, I knowingly broke the rules. I used performance-enhancing drugs. " 

Residents react

After the interview, local resident Rich Robb, an avid cyclist who rides regularly with Tyler's brother Geoff and knows his father said "he has to be telling the truth about his past and about his experiences with Lance Armstrong in the context of using banned substances."

"My feeling is one of sympathy for Tyler, based on my initial feeling following viewing the interview, on several elements," Robb said, adding that the elements include the pressure to dope and the pressure to keep quiet about it, along with "his success and key involvement with a huge charity, Lance Armstrong's doping."

Robb also said that he felt that Hamilton felt "enormous pressure" to give into his coaches urgings to compete at the top of his game in order to keep up with other elite cyclists.

"(Hamilton) brought up the fact of the enormous amount of doping going on, a fact given by the number of podium finishers in past Tour de France races that have been found to have violated such rules," Robb said.

Robb also pointed out that cycling causes an incredible amount of stress on the human body, especially in a race such as the Tour de France. This type of event "causes one to use everything possible and stretch the limits to be successful. Unfortunately illegal substances became available," Robb said.

Another local cyclist, Jim Hanratty, echoed Robb's feelings about the pressure that Hamilton was under to compete with other elite riders, but Hanratty said he felt that it was no excuse to cheat.

"It is still cheating. I am concerned about the message it sends to all young athletes, whether they are cyclists or not." Hanratty said. "In our society, the end justifies the means. I think that it is the wrong message."

Jim also believes that that there is "no doubt" that Lance Armstrong was using illegal drugs. He refers to another athlete, George Hinicapie, who is one of Armstrong's teammates.

"George, like Armstrong, has never been caught. He also does not have an axe to grind and still races with this admission," he said.

Robb supports Tyler Hamilton's confession and hopes that maybe it will clear up the the world of cycling's "amazement" on Armstrong's continued successes as well as his "clean record."

"Ending the wondering about how Lance Armstrong won so many races can hopefully be concluded soon," Robb said. "That, beside the cleaning up of doping, is good for the sport. I suspect Tyler wanted this day to happen for some time."

At the end of Tyler Hamilton's letter to his family and friends, he wrote "Again, I just want to say I'm sorry, and that I hope you can forgive me. What matters to me most are my family and friends."

Hamilton also added that his parents have always told him that "the truth will set me free" and he mentions he is now feeling how right his parents advice was.

Peter Lake, LAKE Real Estate May 24, 2011 at 11:13 AM
First, if ALL the cyclists were using drugs -- and it seems almost all of them were -- then the winners shouldn't have been penalized. In fact, it sounds like a (regretable) even playing field. Second, it seems the sport's governing body must have had a hand in this. At the least, their lack of energy in detecting drugs would have forced even those who rode clean to adopt the ways of their cheating competitors. Third, it's hard not to feel sympathetic with Tyler after hearing his confession. He was in a corrupt sport, trying to do the right thing. It was a toxic mix. Fourth, who's now going to care about high-level professional cycling? It's taken on many of the unfortunate aspects of professional wrestling -- more for spectacle and performance than honest competition. Finally, whatever negative opinion someone might hold against the cyclists, I'd venture to guess that no one feels worse about it than the cyclists themselves. After all, they've got to pick up the pieces of their careers and carry on with their lives and not a one of them got on a bicycle for the first time and thought they've ever wind up where they are now. They're the real victims -- not us nattering spectators.
Alex Wormser May 24, 2011 at 12:06 PM
Nothing but admiration for Tyler's attitude towards it all.... the situation that everyone finds themselves in.... his attitude towards Lance, his remorse about the Olympic medal which, ironically, he won without doping. My heart reaches out to him and his great family. Alex Wormser
Bob Berkelhammer May 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM
It would be helpful for cycling coaches to speak candidly about the pressures they believe existed in the competitive cycling culture. There may not be anything wrong at all with intense competitive pressure. Is there a line coaches went over? If so, what is that line, and can a coach go over a line and not break any rules or not encourage the breaking of any rules? A poor analogy perhaps, but many of us who grew up around widespread peer use of recreational drugs did not use them or used them sparingly, maybe once or twice.
Tom Wolfe May 24, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I think the message is clear. In the end, cheaters never prosper... they have to live with themselves and that for most is probably harder than they ever imagined. I'm sure Tyler has exorcised a lot of demons. Perhaps, younger riders can use his experience as an argument for NOT travelling down that road. Thanks Tyler for coming clean!!!
glenn burgner May 24, 2011 at 05:33 PM
i met tyler several years ago in pittsfield ma at an event sponsered by my club. i found him polite , down to earth ,an intelligent. as one who rides an has had to overcome many challenges in my life i support tyler wish him success an most importantly forgive him. we are all human an whats most important is doing the best we can going forward . the past is the past. look to the future. also dont forget to floss ha ha . alberta was a great patient i loved her much. be well an prosper Tyler my friend. glenn
John Aktil-Brewer May 24, 2011 at 06:33 PM
I met Ted Bundy back n 1973, I found him to be polite, down to earth, and intelligent. But anyways back to Tyler...Lance used, lets agree. Lance will be punished, flogged and shamed. But to sit here and praise Tyler Hamilton for putting the palm of his hand up to get rich off of interviews, books etc. is disgusting. Tyler Hamilton is an admitted liar, cheat and conspiritor. If Goerring had sat and said "yeah, Hitler did it" would you have said "jeeze, turns out Hermann is a great guy, a real stand up guy!"
Carl King May 24, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Tyler's performance on 60 Minutes struck more than one chord, as the above comments are starting to indicate. I didn't take the framed Tyler- autographed Postal Sercive cap off my wall when the first charges were made. I left it there even after I read the arbitrators' findings and discovered (as I am sure his parents did for the first time) that there had been a twin in the womb that explained the presence of two types of blood in Tyler's veins. Lawyers will argue almost anything when they claim they have won the case if the suspension is shortened by even a day. And I left it there even after the second failed test. But the testimony on 60 Minutes was simply too much. We are asked to believe that Tyler just happened to be a witness to, or to have heard Lance's true confessions of, every rumored allegation of wrongdoing by Lance any one has made over the years. I will await the outcome of the likely proceedings against Lance before casting a vote on his guilt or innocence. I won't be buying Tyler's book!
Len Mason May 25, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Are you kidding me? Comparing a cyclist who took PED's to a serial killer and a Nazi? Nice!
Reg Dimsdale May 25, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Len, it seems you have mistaken an analogy for what you have deemed a comparison. A bit of toungue in cheek. A wise man with long facial hair and small feet once told me..."Bob, always eat your vegetables" I responded that my name was not Bob and that I was not sure what vegetables had to do with anything but what I took from it was...to get a sense of humor Len. I'm sure Tyler is a really nice guy, I just would not take him with me on a trip to Vegas. (Hint: What happens in Vegas would not end up staying in Vegas it would be on "Extra" and "Good Morning America" and in Tyler's next book).
mary p. ayer May 25, 2011 at 11:34 PM
The whole thing is sickening!!! What an example for our children and grandchildren!!!
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 01:15 PM
hi john i new ted bundy ted bundy was a friend of mine . ted said he never used PED an i trusted him. i believe he commited all those murders clean. i will buy his book
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 01:23 PM
hi len ur the only guy here i would go to vegas with
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 01:42 PM
hey carl are u related to carol
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 02:07 PM
alex we all thank you is that comment ok?
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 02:08 PM
hey stop deletin my comments
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 02:22 PM
pete u could sell me swamp land in florida
glenn burgner May 26, 2011 at 07:37 PM
tom live with this
glenn burgner May 27, 2011 at 12:42 PM
mary get over it

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