Alternately, is it because we make them tell us they're clean?
Eli Manning doesn't go on the Super Bowl presentation podium and shout from the rooftop about how he and the Giants are clean, and neither do hockey players or basketball players or baseball players (although their day may be coming - couple of recent positives there, despite unbelievably athlete-friendly testing rules). Maybe because we're learning more and more that you kind of might be able to turn a donkey into a thoroughbred. The efficacy of drugs in cycling really makes me think that, at worst, the riders are just proxies for the doctors, and may the best protocol win. Barry Bonds no way does A LOT of the stuff he accomplished* in his career, but if he'd never taken anything more powerful than Tylenol he'd almost certainly be in the Hall of Fame right now.
It's not like, for example, football is devoid of this need to keep up like you keep hearing about in cycling. If the secondary wants to be able to cover a bunch of receivers who are all on effective "enhancement" programs, then they have a profoundly similar need to the GC rider who needs to keep up with the guys on the sauce. But it's like our first demand is for cyclists to tell us they're clean. I'm not a particular football fan, but I don't think that a lot of people are losing a lot of sleep over whether Ray Lewis is on the super secret or not. People DID seem to lose a lot of sleep over whether Barry Bonds was on or not, but again he probably did protest too much. And he was an asshole. As someone was quoted in "The Secret Race," nice guys like Tyler dope and assholes like Lance dope.
But we beseech them to tell us what they can't honestly say. As even my previously very skeptical and jaded eyes are opened to the breadth and depth of what goes on in the peloton that my enthusiasm for the pro sport wanes rapidly. I just don't have a lot of interest in seeing who's the best responder to whatever the protocol du jour, even though there's still a game of skill and tact going on alongside that stuff. But the first thing we do is make them lie to us. With all of the pictures that came out last week of Jens and Motoman, does anyone still think there's a Santa Claus? Jens is an immense talent and personality and character, but the bare fact is that there's no freaking way he doesn't play the game.
Maybe we wouldn't feel so betrayed by them if we didn't make their telling us that they're clean the first order of business?