Feet of clay


So now it’s all exploded
Off the back pages onto the front –

Confessions and contrition
Hearts emptied, guts spilled

Laundry aired, carpets lifted
And all the dirt swept under them

Dragged out into daylight
In a cloud of told-you-so –

Who’s left to raise
A glass or monument to?

Whose triumphs were their own,
Unaided by the blood-bag, syringe or pill?

What is there to believe
When every word and pedal stroke

Is now proved false
Or too good to be true.

What is a history worth
When spangled with asterisks

Stacked on footnotes
Or just left blank

As ink and decency recoil
From such names and such deeds.

All that comes out clean
Unsullied and unstained

Is the machine:
The one they all professed to love

But simply used.
It is not them. It is itself.

And in itself
It makes us more than men –

Faster, stronger, more alive
Than we ever dared to dream.

A fine, benign addiction
My stimulant of choice.

And even after everything
I’ll still take it every day.


A hard piece to write, and a very incomplete and inadequate expression of what’s in my mind right now. I’m still reeling from the USADA’s decision to annul Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories, Tyler Hamilton’s (long-overdue) confession and all the other dreadful revelations that have engulfed cycling in recent days. We all knew things were rotten in the sport: we just didn’t know – or dare to imagine – just how bad they were. Now we do know. And I’m so angry, disappointed and disillusioned, I don’t think I shall ever watch a professional bike race again. Sorry, Bradley. All that’s left is the bike itself. Which, thank goodness, is still more than enough. N.