I'm reproducing the intro to the interview here, along with the first question and two photos. Click through to Pez for the full text and the complete portfolio of magnificent images. And remember, as I wrote in August, mental illness haunts pro sports - and athletes are humans, too, with limited coping mechanisms and breaking points and only a finite capacity to suffer, even if you perceive that limit to be infinitely greater than your own. Because of the complexity of the calculus that athletes must make when deciding whether or not to dope, it is nearly impossible for punters and laymen and even recreational racing cyclists who've never practiced sport as a profession to truly understand the intersection between villain, victimization, criminal innocent and naive man-child, yet so many have no qualms about screaming in black and white "Dopers Suck!" and "Go back to your cave and die!" But most athletes caught doping didn't start practicing sport in order to become modern-day lepers and outcasts, drug traffickers or even, in the case of David Millar, reformed, poster-boy Phoenixes who own professional cycling teams. So someone like Hamilton ... if he blew his brains out like Claveyrolat, or died alone, partially clothed in a pool of his own piss and shit and a light dusting of cocaine like Pantani ... well, I'd bet that some of you would suddenly not feel so good about having screamed "Dopers Suck!" at the 2008 USPro Champion, either virtually or in person alongside opportunists like Brandon Dwight.
Opening the piece, Hood writes,"Now that the initial furore has died down following the shocking news of Tyler Hamilton's positive doping test, PEZ thought we should hear what the man himself has to say. It took us a long time and a lot of patience, but eventually he came back to us with the answers to our questions.
Back from a two year suspension for failing a drugs test after a Vuelta time trial win - a further 'positive' from his winning ride in the Olympic time trial championships was rendered null and void due to improper storage of the 'B' sample - it looked like all of his demons were behind him in 2008, as he took the US Pro title and the prestigious Qinghai Lakes stage race in China. And then early this year came the news that had us all shaking our heads; another failed test.
But there was no prolonged denial or outrage from the man who has a Liege-Bastogne-Liege win to his credit; just a ready admission that he had taken a medication for his depressive condition which contained proscribed substances. A journalist should never ask his readers rhetorical questions; but I have to - Tyler Hamilton, sinner or sinned against?
PEZ: When did you first feel the effects of depression?
'That's a tough question. Probably when I was a young teenager. Looking back, I would have to say during my mid-teen years is when I first experienced symptoms of depression. It was sort of like being in a bit of a fog at times. I was always a quiet and shy kid and I spent a lot of time questioning myself...'
Continue reading the Tyler Hamilton interview at Pez Cycling News.