When Cycling Karma Strikes

People in sport, as in life, cheat. It is an unfortunate fact that this is the case, but luckily, there is something in the cosmos that occasionally seems to balance out the actions of naughty riders. At least, this is what four seasons of My Name is Earl taught me – do good and you will receive good rewards, be bad and karma will come back to hit you in the face. In that (Christmassy?!) spirit, here’s a selection of when bad guys got their comeuppance.

David Millar

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Perhaps the biggest hypocrit in cycling on so many levels, whether it be haranguing Rabobank for leaving the sport he helped to ruin, talking about being strongly anti-doping when he tried to reduce and backdate his original doping ban and was happy to compete in the Olympics after a very vague ‘well I wouldn’t mind if they abolished it but its not up to me’ approach to his ban from the Games, Millar has at least had a little cosmic karma along the way:

What he did wrong: Well, he cheated, denied it, called his team mates crazy, hid his drugs in hollowed out books, then made his entire career around the fact he was an ex-doper, and coupled with Garmin’s fairly pro-ex-doper policy, did extremely well out of it. He published a book which I haven’t read, because frankly I don’t see why I should pay to read a confession, so I won’t go into that, and continues to preach as if he’s the saintly figure of the peloton.

How Karma returned the favour: Karma has caught up with Mr Millar a couple of times now. Firstly, in 2003, when he was still on the juice, he was leading the Tour’s opening Centenary prologue when his chain bounced off in the final metres on the cobbled straight. His 7 second lead was thus slashed, and he lost by a measly 0.1 seconds to Bradley McGee. It later transpired that Cofidis, Millar’s team, had taken the front derailleurs off the bikes to save weight -quite why they needed to do so on a flat 7km time trial is another matter- and that they bumpy cobbles and caused five of the nine riders to lose their chains. Tsk, what bad luck.

Millar was also undone at the Giro when the cycling Gods decided in 2008 that they didn’t fancy him winning a stage, and so snapped his chain, making him so angry he threw his bike away. He then embarrassingly had to ask for it back from the crowd.  Shame.

Pedro Delgado

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What he did wrong: Pedro took a drugs test in the 1988 Tour and tested positive for probenecid, which was banned on the Olympic list but not the UCI one, and so despite it being a masking agent for anabolic steroids, he was allowed to continue and subsequently won the race.

How Karma returned the favour: The following year, Delgado was going to try and repeat his success. Unfortunately, he somehow managed to forget when his start time was, and managed to lose 2 minuted 42 seconds by turning up late. He lost overall by 1.55, which means he theoretically completed the course in the fastest time, yet still lost.

Stefan Schumacher

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What he did wrong: Remember the good ol’ days where everyone loved George Hincapie? The days before Stefan Schumacher was even a doper who won both Tour TT’s in 2008 and held the yellow jersey? Well, Schumacher was somehow not penalised for what seemed like a fairly obvious push of Hincapie in the final Eneco Tour stage in 2006, although he claimed it was because he had been hit by a spectator. Given his further devious cheating ways, hindsight does not look fairly on the indecent:

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How Karma returned the favour: Luckily, karma came back by making Schumacher appallingly rubbish in the Beijing Olympics, where despite his Tour TT success, he was suddenly back to also-ran again. Then of course, he got nailed for taking EPO-CERA.

George Hincapie

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What he did wrong: Hincapie claimed to be part of the world’s ‘most sophisticated doping ring’, you know, the one where they walk into rooms and see people hooked up to blood bags and drugs are kept in fridges. It turns out Hincapie was on the juice for the majority of his career, and like many others, was somehow still the same or better when he claims he wasn’t.

How Karma returned the favour:‘Big George’ had forever been trying to win Paris-Roubaix, coming second to Boonen in 2005 and looking strong most years. In 2006, perhaps forces decided that he deserved punishment for his ways, and so on the cobbles, his headset snapped, leaving him with no steering. Of course, the subsequent crash and broken collarbone is not something I’d wish on anyone, but the broken steerer meant Hincapie would have been out of the race anyway.

Alberto Contador

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What he did wrong: As usual, whether this is wrong or not depends on whether you like Contador or Schleck, but he attacked the yellow jersey wearer when his chain had come off. He can’t really claim he didn’t know either, as he had to move around the stranded Schleck, as the footage shows, to pass him as he accelerated. Contador gained 39 seconds and subsequently won the Tour by that amount of time.

How Karma returned the favour: In the end of the worlds most drawn out and tedious legal process, Contador was eventually stripped of his 2010 win for the clenbuterol positive. The less said about that endlessly debatable event, the better.

Andy Schleck receives yellow jersey of the 2010 Tour de Franc

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