"Are you a doctor?" – The Legacy of Being a Cyclist in Europe at the time of Puerto

Q: “Are you a doctor?”
A: “No, I was a pro cyclist.”

Answer given in response to a real doctor’s question following my question while in the ER with a friend about what gauge needle he was going to use to drain an abscess (which itself could have been the result of a poorly-administered IM injection). I asked if he’d be using a 22g or a 21g or what, and while he answered almost immediately, without thinking, then he must have THOUGHT about it and was surely wondering, “Hmmm, not very common for a patient’s friend to be asking needle-gauge questions.” And the sad truth is that back in the late-1990’s and early-2000’s, any cyclist worth his lot who was enmeshed in the doping culture knew exactly what size needle to use, when, and what gauge was best for an IM injection into his tush; what his preferred butterfly kit was; even what size needle to use to draw the liquid (EPO, corticoid, anabolic, actovegin, whatever…) out of a given ampuoule and into the syringe, before switching to a new needle for injecting.

Like David Millar, who revealed in his interview with NY Velocity, “I knew I was going to get caught. I wanted to get caught, it was my only way out,” I realize now that when I’d reached the point where I could administer an IV injection to myself with greater skill than a trained nurse, just to ride faster on my bike, I both wanted and needed to get out – even if I couldn’t admit that to myself at the time.


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