I thought waiting to hear back about Floyd's "B" sample would give me a different perspective or time to change the way I thought about it, but it really didn't. I've been going around in the peloton and talking to quite a few of the riders of higher standing about their take on the whole situation. And obviously, disappointment is a big feeling in the peloton. It hurts each and every single one of us that something like this happened.
But there's also almost a feeling that we're taken less seriously now or something. It's just that maybe people aren't going to believe the real results now when the real results happen.
When everyone is natural, the best person is going to win. And nowadays, even if everyone is natural and the best person wins, the best person is automatically under suspicion because of these bad backstories that we've had. So it really takes away a lot. Why should you even get involved in sport? Or why should you even succeed in sport? You're going to be looked at as a guilty party. Just because you were the most successful, you're going to be associated with doping.
Right now, my best friend and roommate is winning the Tour of Germany, and winning it with absolute guts and hard work. I trust this man, Jens Voigt, as much as I trust myself. And because of this success, because all of a sudden he's won two stages of a very difficult race, doubt is going to be cast on his performance because of what happened with Floyd and because of what's happened in cycling as of late.
That's what I find so sad. A guy like this who just lives, eats and breathes cycling and makes sacrifices very few are willing to make, finally succeeds in a race like the Tour of Germany -- and he's German, so it's very, very important to him -- and just because of all the speculation going on in cycling right now, his result is going to be questioned. And that's not fair. That's not right.
Talking to quite a few of the riders, we're like, "What can we do to change this?" Obviously, everyone realizes something has to change here. This is just not right, these continuing problems our sport has had. There were a few ideas tossed around -- from the thought that we need better testing to giving a blood sample and a hair sample Jan. 1 and giving the UCI (International Cycling Union) full access to our DNA in cases like what happened in Operation Puerto.
But after talking about it even more, we realize we already have more testing than any other sport. And they are serious about it. They're not tucking it under the rug the way I believe many, many other sports seem to do.
We just feel a little exploited, I guess, that there's so much sensational journalism going on with our sport. Floyd wasn't even given the chance to hear the results of his "B" sample before the rest of the world knew his "A" sample was positive. And then we find out, basically that same day, that Justin Gatlin had tested positive in April; his "A" sample, his "B" sample and everything was already finished, yet it was four months later. So he had time to defend himself and prepare himself for the onslaught of media that was obviously coming his way.
We felt Floyd deserved that same sort of thing. I mean, obviously, he won the biggest bike race in the world. And because of a leak, his dream turned to a nightmare very quickly. We just felt that even though he was positive in both his "A" and "B" samples, he should have been given time to defend himself properly instead of basically being tried immediately in the public eye.
We also looked at what we can do. It's just a very difficult question because the tests are in place and guys are getting caught. You can't police everyone and make sure they don't take these risks. Perhaps we're doing enough testing, but maybe the tests have to be better, to a point where they cannot be challenged.
Instead of an open-and-shut case that Floyd's "A" sample and "B" sample are positive, now he has the ability to protest that finding; and it's going to take months. So this is going to be ongoing, and maybe every week or two there's going to be something else in the news about this situation, making our sport look even worse.
So it's a simple fact that the tests are in place, and they're obviously catching people. But we don't really understand why it has to be such a long, drawn-out process after someone is caught before he can be punished. Maybe that gives the guilty parties more of a reason -- like, "Hey if we do this, we can get off on a technicality. Even if we get caught."
Obviously, I don't think any of these guys who are cheating are aiming to get caught. But they're almost playing it like, "Hey, if we do get caught, then we hire a big lawyer and we get off on a technicality and we don't get suspended. And, OK, momentarily our name gets dragged through the mud, but now we're back racing again."
The worst possible nightmare for an athlete is to be accused of something he didn't do. That's why it's really hard to say someone should be found guilty and punished right away. With all these excuses that are brought up by these riders who are found guilty, and by their lawyers, it really starts to put the tests into question. That's why I mentioned earlier that maybe we need to get tests that are 100 percent waterproof where there is no second-guessing.
We're the sport that is tested the most. Obviously, when you're the most-tested, especially with these out-of-competition controls, you're going to catch the most people. I believe we are the most honest sport in terms of testing. They don't tell us two weeks or a month ahead of time that they're going to come in on this particular date and at this time, set it up through your secretary or something like that. They knock on your door and you have to be there or respond to them within an hour.
Looking at the Floyd situation, he had to go through some major, major difficulty, mentally, after Stage 16. I don't believe Floyd would've been arrogant enough to think he would've gotten away with something like this. It's almost like you have to look at the people who were around him that maybe could have influenced him or given him this substance without him knowing.
Obviously, he was down. As an athlete, I know that when you're down, you listen to every friendly voice that maybe gives you a little glimmer of hope. So the people around him also should be questioned, because obviously something happened here, and no one will ever know what. And it definitely would be a bit of refreshing air if someone who did get caught in a situation like this were able to come clean -- who didn't need a doctor or a lawyer to explain what happened. They could say, "Listen, this is exactly what happened." Because then, we can say, "OK, these tests work."
Right off the bat, a lot of us believe that if you go positive in your test, you're guilty. But then when you're able to have so many months to come up with these conspiracy theories and what-if probability cases, it really starts to make us go, "Gosh, maybe these guys are telling the truth."
It's very difficult right now to put blame on riders you believed in and thought were doing it the right way, only to find out they were caught and now they're coming up with so many excuses. It's a very confusing time for all cyclists and for all athletes.
That's why we talked about it, and it doesn't seem like there's much more we can do. I mean, we submit ourselves to in-competition and out-of-competition surprise testing at our homes, which inconveniences us and our families. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI have my whereabouts and the whereabouts of the top 50 cyclists in the world at all times. You have to send in quarterly updates. And if you change that, if you decide to go on vacation with your wife or your girlfriend, you have to send in an update. So I don't think there's much more we can do there.
We just have to get smarter as athletes overall and realize that the tests are getting better, that no one is going to be able to cheat anymore. There has to be a line drawn and an agreement made where it's just not worth it. I've believed in that a long time. It's just time that everyone realize that enough is enough. Draw the line in the sand. From now on, let's just do it the right way. Enough with all these terrible stories that are just ruining our sport, or sports in general. When they come out one after another like this, it's even difficult for us as sportsmen to believe the great results of individuals, and that's sad.
But I guess at the moment, the only people we have to blame are ourselves. The cyclists, and athletes in general, have been making very, very poor decisions of late. And it has to change.
Yet, to be 100 percent honest, with so many big riders being involved in these cases, I'd have to say I think we've become somewhat used to this. That sounds really sad that you can become used to this bad news. It was very difficult to take because I really became a fan after I crashed out of the Tour. I was a fan watching it on TV. And to see the grit and determination Floyd showed to make that amazing comeback in Stage 17, and even the way he was able to pick himself up and talk to the media with a smile on his face after he lost 10 minutes in Stage 16 -- the way he handled himself there was just as impressive as the way he handled himself on the bike the next day.
I don't feel betrayed. I just feel disappointed that, again, we finally build up a guy everyone seems to really like and support and rally behind, then he's thrown into the same category of so many of the other big riders of late: being under suspicion for doping. That definitely takes some of the glamour away from his accomplishments.
Then you have to think about all the other races he's been good in and question those. It's just no fun like that. You want to take people for their results on that day, but the skeptics will go back to many other races and wonder whether anything was going on there. So unfortunately, we're a little bit used to this by now.
It's a disappointment, but we have to move on and try to make the sport better.
Bobby Julich, a member of Team CSC, provided an exclusive diary for ESPN.com throughout the Tour de France and is currently competing in the Tour of Germany. The American has been a professional cyclist since 1992, finished third overall in the 1998 Tour de France and won last year's Paris-Nice race. For more information on Bobby, check out http://www.bobbyjulich.com.