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A Tale of Two Knives

Brrrrrtt brrrrrtt! it’s Tuesday, October 16th, 2012. The day begins when Brad Huff texts me at 6 AM to tell me he’s proud of me for winning this weekend’s USGP races in Fort Collins. He’s on his way to Japan for the last race of the year with my Jelly Belly teammates. He also happens to have a 12-hour layover at LAX. That vibrating text wakes up Tony, one of our RAPHA-FOCUS mechanics, and now he’s gotta use the bathroom. So now, of course, I gotta use the bathroom too. Up I go, as hard as is it to get my sore body (from the Fort Collins races) outta bed.

As I stumble to the bathroom I have a mild freaker – thinking oh man, I updated my USADA whereabouts, right?! I tell myself “yeah of course I did, I’m always meticulous about that…” DING DONG DING DONG!

Wow.

There’s only one person that can be: Anti-doping. I’m flying to Prague that afternoon, and my slot was early because I didn’t know my schedule when I filled out my whereabouts. I open the door; it’s Jurgen from Denmark, here for blood and urine.

I thought I was dreaming but, really it was really a bout of déjà vu. I tell Jurgen that I just took a massive, exhilarating pee and I’m sorry, but welcome to Colorado. He just flew in, he tells me. I grab him some water and we start filling out a bunch of paperwork – Probably six forms in total. I pick out the test kits, read the numbers, double, triple check to make the numbers match up correctly. He then takes out a butterfly needle and draws two tubes of blood. It’s now 49 minutes after he showed up and we’re finally in the bathroom, and this complete stranger – Jurgen – who just flew in from halfway across the world, is watching me with my pants down at 7 AM in my mechanic’s bathroom in Colorado. AWESOME, right?

This isn’t the first time this has happened and it’s not going to be the last. To be accurate, the last time was about a month earlier, in Las Vegas. This happens to me about twice a month, and I happily greet them every time they knock at 6 AM.

While that was a nice story to share with you all, about how an anti-doping control takes place in the world of professional cycling, with so much talk of doping going on lately, I fell the need to re-state my stance on the old doping culture of cycling and bring some attention to the issues that have been really bothering me over the last few months.

As I sat there and had my blood drawn I wondered to myself, does anyone actually believe that “I’ve never tested positive” means anything anymore? So many guys did such a good job of lying for so long, why should anyone?

I’m not an idiot. I know some question my results; I know what many of you think. But the honest (and sad) truth is that the choices I’ve made in my career mean I’m making less money, getting worse results and achieving less than those who choose to cheat. Call me naïve, but I believed in the controls. I didn’t know you could be doping and not test positive.

To all of you who are reading – friends, fans, family, press, sponsors, whoever – I’ve never, ever, not once, not as a ‘mistake’ or “bad decision” or by choice, ever taken any injectable, oral, patchable, gelled, liquid, pill or otherwise illegal drug in any shape or form. To go even further, I’ve never ever smoked or taken ANY recreational drugs. Not mushrooms, not reefer, not ecstasy, not cocaine.

Truthfully and honestly, on a bible or into your eyes, with my hand on my mom as I swear on her life. Never once have I put anything into my body – other than food and water – to cheat at a cycling race. I’ve never won any races with anything other than hard work. Every time I have an anti-doping control, it always feels like a challenge, like you’re being judged or accused of a wrong-doing and we give a sample to validate our integrity. It’s something that I gladly do as a part of my job and a commitment to clean cycling.

I’m disappointed that this entire mess was allowed to happen. I’m disappointed that blood transfusions are still happening and it’s fairly undetectable. I’m disappointed that the plasticizer test isn’t being used. I’m bummed out that if the anti-doping agencies believe someone to be doping, they don’t have a private investigator following them for a month or week, or doing whatever it takes to stop the problem. Why can’t we have chaperones for the entire Tour or two weeks before the Olympics and see how some of the data and results look after that. I know there’s more they can do to ensure clean cycling. It’s just a matter of wanting to do it and actually making the changes the sport needs.

Why are we athletes? Why do we love Steve Prefontaine or Babe Ruth? They’re inspirational; they’re role models; they’re good people who push boundaries and inspire others to be their best; to follow their dreams and become masters of their passion. It’s the same way that anyone who has any talent develops it and works hard to refine and perfect it.

In light of everything that’s going on, I want people, fans, young riders, friends, to believe that you can work hard at something, make a living doing it honestly and legitimately, as I and many others have – the hard work way. It’s real, it works, it takes longer, but the end result is that moment when you succeed, the right way. When you buy that house with money earned from hard work, when you look your family in the face and talk about your accomplishments at the holidays, when you sign that autograph for the young kid at the race and when you set positive examples that people can follow, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about being the person you say you are and living it.

I always do my best to be a good person. The person that you see in Behind THE Barriers or read about in an interview is the real Jeremy Powers. I’m not trying to be fake in any way or be someone I’m not. I do my best to be kind and outgoing – I pride myself on it, actually. I always believe that by being a good person and doing good things – regardless of money, power or fame – good things will come your way. Good Karma is what some call that, but it’s more than that. Do unto others as you would want done unto yourself.

With regard to my former coach, Rick Crawford:

When I read the USADA reports, I thought that Rick could have been one of the people whose names were blacked out. I felt that Rick and I had a very honest and open dialogue about anti-doping over the years. We both were crystal clear about where I stood on anti-doping, which I shared with you above. However, the USADA reports led me to feel that information was omitted from our conversations in the past. I’m human and I can understand why it was hard for Rick to admit his mistakes.

After those omissions came to light, I was pissed. I always remember a conversation with Rick over dinner at a training camp a couple years ago when I asked him about euro ‘cross riders possibly doping. He took two knives from the table, placed them next to one another, one at a steep upward angle and another at a gradual upward angle. He told me: “think of these two knives as lines that eventually intersect. Both lines will reach the point of intersection, but the steep one gets there a lot quicker. The gradual line gets to that same point. It takes longer, but it has so many more rewards.” I always found the simplicity of that metaphor to be easy to tell over and over again. One knife is doing it clean, one knife is doing it dirty. I have told the same story to many of our JAM Fund and young Jelly Belly riders that I come into contact with. Rick is a great coach and someone that helped me reach this point in my cycling. I don’t work with Rick anymore and we haven’t spoken since August when all this came to light. But I’m sure we will at some point speak again.

To end, I can only speak for myself and the decisions I made in my life. I value my fans and the people who follow my results. I continue to refine and push myself in my training and racing, and during these times of bad press for cycling and doping I hope that you can still value someone’s word, as hard as that may be. I don’t write anything here to be an anti-doping crusader, my goal is to speak to my fans and not to beg for attention on something I hate to talk about and continues to bring negative publicity to the sport.

Cycling has made lots of progress – I absolutely believe that. But there’s still an infection, and it’s made me seriously question why I associate myself with it. Here’s what does keep me going- I believe there are plenty of clean athletes that are better than me, which inspires me to get on the bike every day to become better and learn more.

I thank everyone reading this for supporting me, my sponsors and our sport. Keep having fun and smiling while you’re out riding. I’m going to do the same.

Jeremy

33 comments

  1. You’re the man Jeremy, very well put and nice to hear your thoughts. Keep on keepin on!

    • Right on Jeremy! You are an inspiration to all of us weekend warriors. All your success is justifed, and I hope it continues for many years. Especially Louisville. Rip their legs off man.

  2. Well said Jeremy. I ride an Izalco pro 1.0 because I believe in you as an athlete and as a human being.

  3. Great to hear your thoughts here. After meeting you at the cincy cross clinic I can’t say enough how easy it is to believe that you are being honest about all of this. I have often wondered your stance on the subject since I knew you were VERY anti doping. Keep on Keepin on and doin your thing and making our great sport better.

  4. Jeremy,

    Very well said. I can only imagine how hard it can be to express/defend one’s own cleanness in the sport today,not only with fellow competitors,fans, but more so with the “casual observers” of cycling today.
    Of all I have read and heard,I believe that what you have written is about as good,straight in the eye as it gets. Glad to have you @ the forefront of the sport we love so much.

    -fergie

  5. Keep going Jeremy. Looking forward to Louisville. I think you have a real shot at it.

  6. Great read Jeremy. Glad to see you doing so well. You deserve it.

  7. Your passion and commitment to you values are why I am a fan! Thanks for being someone that we can look up to.

  8. Thanks for keeping it real Jeremy! Can’t wait to see you kick ass in Louisville!

  9. Great stuff Jeremy! Keep up the hard work!

  10. such an inspiration! thank you jpow.

  11. Thanks for articulating this mate, love your work.

  12. way to state it strong and clear and with feeling! thanks for taking the time, jeremy

  13. You make it easy to be a fan. It’s this great sense of openness and willingness to bring us into your world, that makes it fun to follow you. Plus being an American expat, I’m definitely happy to see you over here in Europe wearing the national champs jersey and doing it proud!

  14. Don’t give up because of these cheaters!!
    Cheaters never win because they have to live with themselves.
    Going to sleep with a clear conscience must feel damn good Jeremy !!
    Keep up w the good vibes. It’s everything

  15. nice…

    there is nothing wrong with being squeaky clean!

    you are a great racer and a stand up person
    you most certainly have made your parents proud

    you are an amazing ambassador to the sport of cycling and to cycling as a whole!

    ROCK ON!

  16. Very well said Jeremy! It was very standup of you to hear your perspective and I definitely appreciate your continued support of anti-doping regulations. Its too bad that has to be in place, but unfortunately the cyclists that think they can only win by cheating have ruined it for a lot of clean riders! I’m not a racer, but have a deep love for the whole sport so it hurts to see riderstrying to take an unfair advantage to win. I do ppaddleboard race (new for me last season) and makes me wonder if its happening there too?!

    It was great meeting you in Providence and thank you for your continued support of Ride2Recovery Wounded Warriors!!

  17. You’re the Real Deal and that’s why we love and respect you!

  18. This looks like a clear, honest and open statement. I’m happy to read this text, it’s great. People like you Jeremy, maybe not the strongest cx rider , but a guy who speaks honestly and offers good feeling, are good to inspire yourself at life and sport. Cycling needs more riders like you.

    It was great to meet you in Roubaix WC.

    Cheers!

  19. Well said Sir, keep on trucking J-Pow!

  20. These times are really confusing for a person who loves the sport and wants to believe the sports future. This goes to the whole cycling, not only cx. I think you and many other US/GB racers are like a fresh air in the field. I´m not so sure about all the “traditional” euro crossers though. Or roadies either. There are too much cheats, who wants the shortcuts. The power of money is so strong. Fame and fortune blinds. But luckyly all the hope hasn´t gone with the wind and we can see it by just viewing for example Behind the Barriers. Cheers from Finland o/

  21. Well said Jeremy, The main reason I’m a fan of yours is because you are Real. You tell it like it is, and that’s Greatly Appreciated!!! I’m in Southern California, and waiting for you to come down this way. It would be so Cool to get on an episode of “Behind the Barriers”……..Thanks for All the entertainment, On & Off the track!!!

  22. Unfortunately, Rick Crawford has “poisoned the well.” (look it up) USA Cycling certainly will not be any help in addressing doping since the owner of the federation Thom Wiesel, ran a string of doped cycling teams, USPS just being the most well-known.

    How about contacting USADA and telling them what you know? All those years in elite cycling and doping must have been discussed on a personal level with a number of elite cyclists.

  23. I feel it is unfortunate that you have to write such an open letter, however I respect your decision to do so. Chapeau! Crawford is part of the infection in cycling and must not be allowed back in the sport in any way along with the rest of his dope cheat peers. There may come a time when the truly clean cyclists, like yourself, need to speak out and demand to their governing organizations that all dopers, confessors, and enablers be removed from our sport entirely, a true rebirth for a true new era. Until they are all banished from cycle sport (tears, poor decisions, and all) riders such as your self will have to continue to write position statements defending their ethics in response to actions of the selfish.

    Best of luck at World Championships, you are already a winner.

  24. Jeremy….keep on keepin’ on. You are one of a kind. Actually, hoping that there are more like you! Swearing on your mom’s life…..I really believe you! :>) Not that there was any doubt. See you in KY!

  25. Jeremy- You provide a much needed role model in the sport of cycling. You are dealing with the current topic which is doping. On so many levels you are above that. I am so impressed by the many layers of Jpow. Please always remember to keep it real!
    MO

  26. That was quite inspirational. You are the man Jeremy

  27. I believe you Jeremy, You’re my favorite, You can do it, Congrats on that wicked 7th, I was on the edge of my couch screaming for you to beat Niis!!
    You can do it. Show them all in Louisville.

  28. You have set a standard with your truth, very much respect Jeremy.

  29. Long time Jeremy.

    I gotta start by first saying i can not write/spell for shit but am taken enough by the above post to respond with my thoughts and reveal to all that do not already know i am half illiterate ;)

    I have not kept track of cycling in many many moons. In the last handful of months for some reason i started checking CylingNews again daily. The latest thing to catch my limited view of interest was the latest or maybe now old news regarding Rick Crawford.

    I will be honest it made me cry when i first read about him being suspended. As stupid as it seems it hurt. Back when i was racing there was always talk of the “Crawdaddy” and doping amongst others he was not the only one. The last couple years i raced more than one person i was close to and or admired and looked up to was either being coached personally by Rick or their whole team for that matter. My last season he was working with Colavita and someone i would have at the time considered to be my best friend. I make no accusations but it sure does make you think what was real and what was not. In a way cycling is a very small community bordering on subculture in the United States. Back then as cyclist we all knew the rumors and we all herd the talk. We all knew some participated in doping and hoped that more than did choose to participate in doping did not. But we all knew the truth as many we raced with had tested positive served a minor suspension and came back to kick our asses. Regardless we still chose to partake in the sport for out own reasons. We did have some choice….

    I said goodbye to the sport for many reasons one of witch was feeling the “urge/need” to dope if i was going to progress at the pace needed for me to remain racing at the level i wanted to race. This internal pressure was not the only reason i chose to leave the sport. A few other things about cycling and I also did not see eye to eye. I will not blame me leaving the sport on a whole to the culture of doping alone but it was a rather contributing factor as it had become very large, daily, internal struggle that i was on the cusp of giving into. It tormented my brain, ruined once peaceful and quite 30 plus hour training weeks. To the point it ruined whole winters of training i once cherished so much. Race season just felt like having it all shoved in your face.

    My point in all this mumbo jumbo is doping, “the idea of doping” the internal pressure between my own two ears although maybe mostly self imposed was a rather large contributing factor to why i chose to walk away from the sport when i did. In reality it factored into my whole experience as a cyclist as i always knew as we all did that many of those whom got ahead chose to do it the dirty way. Yes i know even doped to the gills i would never had progressed to be all that good of a bike racer. On the other hand i do think i might still be scratching by a meager existence as a bike racer on some shit ass little pro team as i see many that raced bikes when i did still are. No that would not make me happy so better i walked away. Who knows maybe i would had even become a good bike racer doped or clean it is silly to even speculate at this point. I suppose the same questions could be asked had i just just stuck with it a few more years clean. Either way speculating is now a waste of energy as it is all far behind me now.

    Like i said even after all the other pro tour news in the last couple years “nothing shocking” to a former pro cyclist the news regarding Rick really really hurt. As far removed as i was from Rick having never met him and only know about him second hand through friends, peers and roomates it hurt regardless. Enough so i shed a brief tear and had to log off CyclingNews for a few days as to not let the thoughts regarding something once so very very important to me bring me down to far and tarnish the memories of a time in my life that i will always cherish. The five years i raced bikes was hands down the best thing i have done with my life to date. Even before this news i did not remember everything about them fondly but this only stirred up a now long gone internal struggle that was once very real and influenced my decision greatly to let go of something i loved very very much.

    I wish you the best and am proud for you! I remember you well the little we did get to know each other. I did trust you back in the day as i had not choice but to do so as we must take a man for his word till he gives us reason otherwise. Again i make no accusations when i say I hope i never ever have to read any negative press regarding your career as i read about you from time to time and i am proud for you. I am proud for once having loved the sport of cycling so very much and although only a little part you were part of that.

    I wish you and all those whom love cycling like i once did the very best. Regardless of pursuit in this life it is very very hard to remain honest and head strong when surrounded by those so willing to lie cheat and steal in the name of personal success.

    Really Jeremy best wishes and Happy Holidays,
    Patrick Walsh

  30. Thanks! Enjoy being able to look at yourself in the mirror everyday and feel proud.

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