Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team) – MTB Pro 2008-2013
Coming home from a ride to see the news of three Canadian mountain bikers implicated and admitting to drug use in the early 2000’s was definitely deflating.
I remember a similar feeling in 2005 when on my second ever national team project I checked the cycling news and felt a kick in the gut reading about Chris Sheppard testing positive. I had met him a year previously at the MTB Worlds. He was one of the fast riders. As a Canadian and as an mtn bike racer we were connected. I was proud of being both a Canadian and a mountain biker, and more importantly a Canadian mountain biker. That news felt like a betrayal.
Although I was not directly affected by having these riders finish ahead of me in races, earn lucrative contracts or take national team funding and positions, as a Canadian and as a mountain bike racer, regardless of nationality, I am affected.
Their actions take away from the hard work and dedication of clean athletes. They take away our nation’s and fans’ faith in our integrity. They collectively create a cloud over our sport.
Our sport is full of incredible talent, work ethic and strong role models. We have many accomplishments and athletes we can be proud of, and these, and our future successes, will overcome our shadowed past.
2011 MTB World Champion
Mirek Mazur – Cycling Coach – 1983-2013
The news itself was a surprise in the way it come out. It was well known for many years among some Canadian national team members that there was connection between Ryder and Rasmussen. To me when I look at someone who dopes, the first thing that comes to my mind is how their cheating has effected others directly and indirectly with respect to carding, prize money, sponsors, stolen places on the teams – pro or national team.
That’s why it would be good idea to make cheating a crime because it’s taking money away from others directly or indirectly. Criminals should not be allowed back into cycling (or their respective sport) again. It is like re-hiring someone who was stealing for years from a bike shop and gets a second chance to perhaps do it again.
I think that is how we need to educate future athletes – how cheating and stealing from others effects them because it’s a crime. We have to work hard with the talent we are born with and have fun riding bikes.
A person that gets caught should return what ever they can – carding money, medals – from the period they were proven taking drugs. Unfortunately you cannot return the loss of sponsorship.
I have been in cycling for 30 years in Canada and always worked with top riders like Clara Hughes and Mark Walters that all the kids could look up to. Canada produced many world-class cyclists like Curt Harnett, Steve Bauer, Alison Syder who were excellent role models.
Looking now at this situation, it will take a time to get a new role models for young cyclists. For now we need to go back to the past and not forget about the great Canadian riders that made a difference in Canada’s cycling history.
Andrew Watson (Norco) – MTB Senior 2006-2013
As a well-respected rider from Ontario how did you feel reading the news regarding Ryder, Seamus and Chris?
AW: Simply put I was disappointed, as many people were. After Chris was caught in 2005, I decided then that anyone can be using PED’s. With that in mind I wasn’t surprised by the recent announcement and confessions by Ryder and Seamus. This is starting to hit pretty close to home now in the MTB community. I made a comment on my Facebook page about racers that missed out on a lot of opportunities in and around 2003. These three riders were a big chunk of the national team at the time, and there were plenty of riders like Jesse Jakomait and Roddi Lega just behind them chasing those spots. I was a U23 rider at the time and depending on how long this really went on for it likely affected me as well. All those years I was 5-7th at nationals and maybe I was really closer to the podium or even on it. I’m happy with where i am in the sport, I still love it, but yes I feel robbed. This sport is hard enough to make a go of it without guys cheating.
Were you surprised by the news? Were there previous rumblings about doping…?
AW: Not surprised as I said… rumblings not so much. Yet when one starts to connect the dots (like Geoff Kabush suggested) it’s not hard to put things together. Not enough to accuse people, if there’s no proof and I believe strongly in the benefit of the doubt, but yes you can have strong internal feelings. Ryder’s second place at MTB Worlds in 2003, just behind [Filip] Meirhaeghe and in front of [Roel] Paulson who in later years were both caught. It makes you wonder. I was at Worlds in 2003-2005 and these guys were around but I never really heard anything at that time. It’s later on when you start to think back that things fall into a pattern.
On Twitter, you asked “So is there a standard form letter for doping admissions that gets circulated between riders?”. Can you expand on that?
AW: That’s was me being frustrated with the standard “I’m Sorry” letters that come out. They all sound the same, and I believe they are not truthful, again connecting some dots Ryder and Seamus admitted to doping in 2003 but then Chris is caught in 2005, at which time he said it was his first and only time and he acted alone. I simply don’t believe them, is Ryder clean now? Maybe but I do believe this problem didn’t extend later in the 2000’s.
What do you think Ryder should do about his results including the second place at the MTB Worlds in 2003?
AW: If Ryder is truly committed to moving forward, he should hand back any medals, and pay pack any carding money he received during the time he doped. I believe strongly in this and it extends to all Canadians who received taxpayer dollars through Sport Canada while doping, or if they used those dollars to fund their doping. If they are really committed to helping to clean the sport up then start paying that money back to the younger clean riders. Talk is cheap, lets see that $18K a year come back and do some good then maybe myself and others will accept those apologies in full.
How do you feel it reflects on the current state of cycling in Canada?
AW: Currently I think things are looking up as younger riders, juniors and U23s know the meaning of owning their results. They know its not acceptable to cheat. It’s been said before but this stuff needs to come out, and only then can we move forward, and that is happening… it’s just going to take some time for all the dominos to fall.
Any other comments you’d like to add?
AW: I don’t know Ryder at all…Chris and Seamus I know a little. Chris was actually the only Senior at 2003 MTB Worlds to even say a word to me. Seamus is from Ontario so there is a connection there as well. These guys aren’t evil they simply messed up, and I actually forgive them for that… but I do expect them to pay for it. With more than just “I’m sorry”.