Nicole Cooke devoted 11 years of her life to professional cycling—and not just any cycling, clean cycling, she says, even in the face of temptation and pressure. But yesterday, the 29-year-old who, in 2008 became the first rider, male or female, to win an Olympic and world race gold in the same year, announced her retirement with some choice words—for everyone in the sport, including a very special shout out to Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton.
About her career:
I have ridden through some of the darkest days of the sport in terms of corruption by the cheats and liars. I cannot change the era or time that I am born into. I am very proud that I have met the temptations head on and have not wavered in my honesty or sold my ideals. I have always ridden true to myself and placed my morals beyond a need to win. I have ridden clean throughout my career.
I do despair that the sport will ever clean itself up when the rewards of stealing are greater than riding clean. If that remains the case, the temptation for those with no morals will always be too great.
When Lance “cries” on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward—just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances.
To Tyler Hamilton:
Tyler Hamilton will make more money from his book describing how he cheated than Bessette or I will make in all our years of our honest labour.
Read Cooke's full telling-it-how-it-is statement here.