Bradley Wiggins should feel disrespected.
The British cyclist is currently the yellow jersey holder in the 2012 Tour de France on NBC Sports. Despite the fact that Wiggins has never failed a drug test, he continues to be bombarded with questions about doping, not his impressive performance thus far. For an elite athlete fighting for his first Tour de France victory, he doesn’t deserve that cloud of controversy.
Brendan Gallagher of The Telegraph reported that after yet another day on top of the standings, Wiggins was put through yet another day of answering questions about his hypothesized use of doping. He said:
There’s one reason why I’m in this position and that’s because I’ve worked hard and I shouldn’t have to justify all that other stuff which we spoke about the other day to certain parts of the world. I’m tested by the governing body, the UCI [International Cycling Union]. God knows how many times a year and God knows how many times on this race and the Dauphiné. To me, it’s them (expletive) all over everything I’ve done, by just saying, “Oh yes, he’s cheating” or whatever. What more can I do?
When a 32-year-old cycling veteran is in position for a Tour de France title for the first time, questions about doping are justified, right?
Why does doping have to be the cause of Wiggins’ emergence? The fact that hard work couldn’t possibly be the reason in many critics’ minds is pathetic. It isn’t like he’s come out of nowhere.
This is a man whose career achievements are too vast to list. He’s won gold in the Olympics, World Championships along with countless other honors in countless other events.
Not only is Wiggins innocent until proven guilty, he should be free from the ignorance of doping questions until proven guilty. Enjoy the talent—don’t hate.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.