Tyler Hamilton the Tour de France with a broken collar bone and in what sounds like such mind-bending pain that he ground down 11 of his teeth down to the nerve. EPO or no EPO, that makes him a total bad ass. And if a bad ass writes a book, it’s probably worth reading.
That he’s come clean about his drug use through his cycling career and written about it (with co-writer Daniel Coyle) in such an eloquent and non-sensationalist way pretty much backs up his bad ass credentials.
His book ‘The Secret Race’ gives us all an idea of what we might have found out had Lance Armstrong chosen to challenge USADA’s ruling. And it’s pretty mind blowing.
Everyone has an opinion, and I have mine, but you don’t want to hear that. What you might want to hear is that this is the sort of book that anyone with an interest in sports could and should read. The Hamilton story covers an incredible time in bike racing (by any definition of ‘incredible’) and really paints a picture of a man who, after years of lying, wants to decompress by telling the truth, holding nothing back and laying it all out there.
He’s a doper, yes, but like in David Millar’s equally excellent biography ‘Racing Through The Dark’, Hamilton makes it understood that it’s not quite black and white. His delivery is great – facts, events and little conjecture delivered in a personable way.
Doping is complicated – legally, scientifically (and yes, even morally) – but the book finds a great balance of navigating these issues. The attention to detail is amazing and there are excellent footnotes at the end of each chapter that give additional background, sources and context. You also get a sense of how his private life was affected and of not just his real character but that of Armstrong, ASADA pitbull Jeff Novitzky (who seems like a decent lad, to be fair) and many of the other insalubrious players in the drama.
At the end of the book, I didn’t feel sympathy for Hamilton or want to excuse his actions (the period between getting busted and admitting his doping is particularly hard to reconcile) but I did like him. He seemed honest and transparent in his telling of his story as well as contrite and he’s certainly taken it on the chin.
Lance Armstrong attacked Hamilton’s credibility, as he has with anyone of the growing number of voices who speak about his complicity in a decade of doping. But ultimately I think Hamilton emerges from writing this book with great credibility – not for what he did then but for what he’s done now.
But I feel most sorry for Tugboat. The poor fucker didn’t ask for any of this……