Lance Armstrong main topic of discussion at SF race

September 3, 2012 8:22:08 PM PDT
A bicycle race in San Francisco Monday brought out everyone from kids to seasoned professionals to ride laps around downtown. The cyclist a lot of them were talking about, however, was one who wasn't even there.

On the race course they call him Roman the Destroyer. And as he takes his place at the starting line of the Metromint Il Giro di San Francisco, pro cyclist Roman Kilun says he can remember when he lined up next to the most famous man in cycling, "I raced against Lance here in San Francisco." Noting that Lance Armstrong always took cycling seriously, "He was extremely focused. I remember a few races I tried to talk to him or joke with him and he wasn't too interested in that."

But nothing is quite as serious as what Armstrong is facing now. By saying he'll no longer fight the charges that he used a hormone called EPO to pump more oxygen into his blood stream, Armstrong stands to be stripped of seven Tour de France titles, and will likely be banned from the sport of cycling for life.

Kilun says the charges stem from a time when a lot of athletes used drugs, "It was a dirty era. I think before there was a silence about doping, and now there's active communication about clean sport."

But doping is still a touchy topic in the cycling community. Some pros wouldn't talk about it on camera for fear of losing their sponsorships. But privately, they told ABC7 News they saw the charges against Lance Armstrong coming a mile away.

"I think the negative press is, is just hard for cyclists," Mike's Bike's Team Director Steve Palaez said. Paleaz says bad press for the sport can make it hard for the young athletes he trains to get sponsorships. And it can make them feel like they need drugs to "compete. He hopes that changes, "That the sport does get cleaner, which allows kids more choices, you know. So that when they participate they don't have to be you know forced into that lifestyle."


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