Cyclingheroes: We all know what happened before the Tour of 2006, we know
what your book The Tour is about...
Do you have a crystal ball?
Dave Shields: I've got all sorts of cool research methods, but a crystal ball isn't one of them. Because so
many pro cyclists and other elite athletes loved The Race they were willing to tell me off the record stories about experiences.
These guys want to drive drugs out of sport, but they'd be committing career suicide to publicly say some of these things.
By showing readers their dilemmas fictionally I think we can empower young athletes to say no when faced with these tough
Cyclingheroes: Do you think there is still organized team doping like for instance at the times of the Festina
Dave Shields: My sense is that it's been forced farther underground since then, but one of the toughest
things about the doping problem is that nobody knows what to believe. There are people who can benefit by convincing
athletes that their rivals are using drugs. What better sales presentation could there be than to insinuate that the
reason your not winning is that your not doing what your rivals are. The mere suggestion that others might be using drugs
is sort of an anti-placebo.
Cyclingheroes: Can you understand athletes who dope?
Dave Shields:Yes, and a lot of people who've read The Tour can too. I get e-mail all the time from people
who say they had no sympathy for dopers, but then they
imagined themselves in the situations the book sets up and they
realized that saying no to drugs wasn't simply a matter of right and wrong. It is one thing to say you wouldn't use drugs
when nothing's at stake. It's an entirely different matter when you've invested everything in your big opportunity, plus your
friends, family, sponsors, fans, and others are counting on you to perform.
Cyclingheroes: Do you have an idea how cycling and sport in general could tackle the doping problem?
Dave Shields: I've seen lots of good ideas circulating recently. I think that longitudinal testing is
an important part of the solution. I also think that despite the fiasco Operation Puerto has turned into, it reveals something
positive about the doping fight. By testing everything we possibly can the doping operations are forced to become ultra sophisticated
and expensive. In order to fund such operations there has to be a constant marketing and recruitment effort. That results
in opportunities for law enforcement rather than drug tests to catch the cheaters. In my opinion, it's far more important
to catch and punish the facilitators than it is to catch and punish the users.
Cyclingheroes: You are writing a book with Saul Raisin how did you get into
contact with Saul? Did you know
Saul before he crashed?
Dave Shields: DailyPeloton.com invited me to be a guest during their live ticker of Stage One of the 2006 Tour
de France. The commentary is initiated through a private chat room, then edited and posted to the Web. The owner of the site
had given Saul the address and password. When he showed up using a screen name I had no idea who he was, then the owner introduced
us, telling Saul that I'd written some bestselling cycling novels. Saul said, "I want to write a book." I said, "I'd be happy
to help you in any way I can." Saul said, "What's your number?" I typed it into the computer and moments later my phone rang.
Saul and I had met briefly before his accident but we didn't know each other. We've obviously gotten to know each other
very well while writing the book. He's such an impressive guy! I'm proud that he has the confidence in me to help tell his
incredibly inspiring story.
Cyclingheroes: Can you tell us something about the new book Tour de Life?
Dave Shields: The story is told in two parts. Part I is from the perspective of Saul's parents as they learn
about Saul's accident and deal with the aftermath.
What they went through is overwhelming. Part II is told from Saul's
perspective as he gradually gains an understanding of what's happened to him. The story of his fight to return to pro cycling
is mind boggling. This kid is tough!