schmalz In the last 24 hours, you've been fired, and your teammate Tyler has been reported to test positive. What the hell?
Creed Good question, what the hell. I don't know. I wish had something clever and witty, you know, something I'll laugh about later, but now it's just a really bad scene.
schmalz What's your reaction to Tyler? Are you more sad, angry, you feel betrayed, or you just, eh?
Creed I'm sad, because I know Tyler personally. I've been lucky enough to be his teammate and on some level his friend, really good to know him more than the demonizing look that a lot of cycling mags give him. So I'm sad for him because I'm sure we'll find out later but I'm willing to bet the house it's not one of these hardcore performance enhancers. It's not EPO or testosterone, or something like that. I'll bet the house a contaminant or one of those things where someone got busted for Propecia. Obviously if he tested positive USADA thinks it's a performance enhancer, but I'm willing to say it's something relatively low level. I'm not saying that's right, but...
schmalz But if the blood transfusion is correct, he didn't go low level before...
Creed I'm saying current test, I'm not talking about the past. I'm saying this yet to be announced test. It'd be one thing if I thought he would test positive for these things, then I'd be angry and questioning him. But I just feel like Tyler is on the level. With the team there wasn't this gargantuan pressure on us to perform, and we weren't doing hellacious races. When he won the national championships it wasn't like he was this dominating force. It was 25 guys coming over the climb, and I don't want to bad mouth Garmin, but I think they'd admit they dropped the ball. So that was very much a tactical win, he didn't have any of these domineering performances that would be questionable.
schmalz In your estimation it didn't seem like he was riding like a doper, then.
Creed No, no, very on the level. Very normal. I never once saw anything from him that was questionable.
schmalz If he does come up for something like EPO or blood transfusion, is that going to change the way you think about him?
Creed It would make me think that he...this is a hard one... I would be disappointed because I would feel like I never got to know him. Whereas now I feel like I got to know him, and if he came up with something like that I would be more sad than anything. I'd feel like, 'Wow, I really didn't know this guy'.
schmalz Or he's been putting on this face and nobody got to know him.
Creed Yeah, same thing. Just, wow, I was fooled, but like I said, I'd bet the house on it. Which is a crazy thing to do seeing as how I don't have a job.
schmalz If you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain, Mike.
Creed I still have the house! I'm not on the dole yet!
schmalz You can go all in and not really have to worry about losing too much. So you just got a pdf in an email and that was it, you're out of a job?
Creed I wish it was that. I got a call from another Rocker who got fired. I'll leave his name out of it 'cause I don't know if he wants to talk about it. He called me, "Mike, I got fired."
"Wow, really? What's the reason they gave?"
"Performance, lack of performance."
And this rider was riding really well, and it didn't make sense. Last year they fired a couple guys early. They fired 'em once the season was over, so they didn't have to pay them October, November, December.
schmalz Do you think they fired them as a cost cutting thing?
Creed Exactly. And that's what they did last year. It's the same standard line, that you're not performing your duties to the utmost, which is just shenanigans, because...
schmalz That's probably written in the clause for contract termination, that's probably the excuse they have to use.
Creed Sure. Sure. In the contract there's no guidelines as to what performance is, so that can be really murky, you know? Especially after only performing one race, in my case anyways.
schmalz Did you get the feeling that once you were relegated to amateur status that the writing was on the wall?
Creed You know in cycling you're just constantly optimistic, beyond the storm clouds, it could be hailing on you, still optimistic, for some reason. And you just, you have to be. There's always another race, there's always something else. Looking back at it now, I don't know. I turned down an offer from another team from a really good friend, and I turned an offer down twice. He really wanted me to join his team, and I talked to him yesterday, and it cut you up even more because you saw how much of a friend he was 'cause as soon as I told him he was scheming to find a way to get me on his team. Fuck, I can't believe I did this to this guy.
schmalz You gotta feel a little betrayed, because you put your eggs in the Rock Racing basket, and apparently it didn't turn out too well.
Creed Yeah, but you know the thing is too, I have to accept some blame. I have to accept that all the warning signs were there. And I have to accept, even more so than some other guys that got fired recently, because I was already on the team for a year. And I saw all the warning signs from last year, and I still willfully ignored them. Why? Because Rock was offering quite a bit more money than anyone else would, and I knew that. So while the agreement was broken between me and the team, I share some blame because you're only as good as the person you go into business with. Just because a crazy guy offers you a crazy good deal doesn't mean it's not going to fall through. Just because there's a piece of paper doesn't mean it's not going to fall through. So while I'd love to throw my hands up and play complete victim, I can't.
schmalz I guess this frees up your time to be a male escort.
Creed My clients were already pretty upset with me that I couldn't see them as much as I could, so I think this is gonna be good for them.
schmalz That's good. And your low level of dignity always helps with that.
Creed (Laughs) Fucker! That's a good one.
schmalz So, what do you do now? Do you try to train? Do you try to get on another team? What're you gonna do now?
Creed I don't know, man.
schmalz I gotta imagine there's no spots left on any team.
Creed There are spots, but they're not necessarily paying spots. Budgets are set. I have to figure out if I want to keep racing.
schmalz How old are you?
Creed 28. I'm not old, but I'm not young. And it's a hard spot to be in because mentally it's about all the mind fucks. It was kind of a release valve yesterday, that I could stop worrying about it, but right now the thought of joining a team tomorrow and going to race Joe Martin, is really daunting. It's just a month or two away, I'm not sure that this is something I want to keep investing time in.
schmalz Do you think that anyone needs to dope to race domestically?
Creed No. No. No.
schmalz That's why it would seem to bear out that it's odd that Tyler would be doing that, but of course, he was slated to go overseas, too. So there's both sides.
Creed Sure, but Tyler had nothing to gain any more. Tyler could win Tour of Murcia, but then what? He was already on a good contract from Rock.
schmalz Well, I dunno, I dunno if that means some guys can never change. We'll have to wait and see what the story is.
Creed Nobody wants to dope. There's nobody who WANTS to dope. So if you take the 'need to' out, they're not going to.
schmalz What would you say the need is?
Creed Maybe they're suffering, maybe they're...who knows what the reasons are. Pressures of the team, not a good support structure from home, who knows? That's a really wide open question, there's so many different reasons.
schmalz It seems that in cycling, if people think that one guy is doing it, then the other guys feel like they're at a disadvantage, and soon it feels like everybody has to do it.
Creed I think that's a pretty convenient way of saying it. Cyclists aren't, we're not the cleverest bunch in the group, but we're definitely not robots like that. I don't think it goes to that extent. You could be in races and see these incredible performances, but it takes a really...how should I say this...you could see incredible performances in races, but it takes a really insecure person to think that the only way they could perform that was because of dope. That's a really horrible way to go through life, is to think that the only way that is possible is through doping. To think that you're the most genetically gifted, best trained bastard there is in the world, and that if anybody blows your doors off they must be doping. That is a really shitty way to go through life. And I think people who think like that are going to get beat in lots of aspects of life and they don't generally become professional bike riders.
schmalz I think that what most racers are looking for, in their perfect world, they would have doping controls at every race, and they would have the tests be ironclad. I think that's what they want.
Creed Sure, but whose fault is that? Is that the riders' fault?
Creed So I don't know what we can do. We just show up and race. You know man, I came back from my aunt's hospice last week, and I had to tell them, "You know what? Don't test me. I'm gonna be gone for ten days. Have some respect and don't test me."
schmalz Right, because you had to do your UCI reporting.
Creed Right, and I started thinking about it, and it was so...somebody's who's been convicted of child molestation, has to write down an address, and nobody checks to see if the address is right, and they just write down an address, this is where I'm living, and they do it once a year. Somebody who's on probation calls their probation officer once a week or once a month to tell them this is what I'm doing. Yes, I'm still in the state. Fucking professional cyclist has to write where they're going to be every day, without fault. It has to come to a point where cycling fans have to realize that cyclists are doing as much as they can to prove they're innocent. If somebody wants to do something out to the side, you can't throw the whole sport under the bus and say they're all dopers. Any time an amazing performance is given, that that guy is a doper. That's a horrible way to go through life. You have to realize that guys are doing everything they can. There's nothing more I can do. Fuck! I didn't even have a racing license 'til a week before Redlands. I was getting tested. I wasn't a professional, and I was still getting tested. What else can I do? What else is there?
schmalz Well, to be fair, you are wearing tight tight clothes in public, so I can see how people might want to keep track of you.
Creed(Laughs) I read these cycling forums, and I read these websites, and it makes me sad. Because you see these false idols they build up and you see these other guys they take down. I think it's a way for the average cat 3 or the local hero to put down somebody more famous themselves, to say these guys must be doping. That guy is a dirty cheat.
schmalz Yeah, but that's part of the bargain of being a pro. Once you get to be a professional cyclist, you have to be able to take of your hits. I guess that's part of the tradeoff.
Creed Sure, but the same time you kinda wish that people would...if you don't like my haircut, that's something.
schmalz Yeah, I don't like your haircut.
Creed If you don't like my equipment, that's something. If you don't like my jersey, that's something.
schmalz I don't like your haircut, your bike, or your jersey, Mike.
Creed All right! When you start questioning someone's performance, it gets more personal.
schmalz But there's a good chance you can be right about some of these things. If you're right, if somebody types something up and they're correct in their assumption that they did use something to get an extraordinary performance, for instance, Ricco at last year's Tour, or even Schumacher at last year's Tour. Suddenly Schumacher is a time trialer, and people are suspicious because, well, he'd never done it before. So, I don't know...
Creed But where do you draw the line?
schmalz The problem is, right now, you can be cynical about cycling and be right. That's the problem. It sucks, but if you want to be the biggest cynical jerk in the world, you can find a lot of examples to back your case. And that's a big problem. That's what cycling has to address.
Creed Yeah. I don't know, maybe I'm just a little more rose colored about it, for some reason.
schmalz And you're in the profession, too, so you probably have to fend off attacks. Well, I don't know if anyone's ever attacked you, but certainly people that you know, people that you've ridden with.
Creed I don't think it's as bad as everybody says. A group of people who intend to go a way tend not to hang out with a group of people who go another way. And I can say it's not as bad as everyone thinks. It's really isolated cases.
schmalz Have you ever noticed or ever heard of a case where people know riders, when professional riders know that someone is taking something, does anyone confront the guy they know is taking something? Has any rider come up to someone and said, "Knock it off"?
Creed Never...I've heard rumors, I've never heard a case where someone got caught with it and a teammate called him out for it. I've never heard of a case of someone getting red handed caught, you know what I'm saying? If there was a case like that, there'd probably be a sit-down, but I've never heard of it.
schmalz It's just that guys wouldn't feel comfortable talking about something that might be a rumor, or wouldn't feel good confronting or calling someone out like that?
Creed Yeah, because you don't know. How many frickin' rumors are there? It's not a good thing to start calling people out.
schmalz Then you have to start being a cop and worrying about it. Is there anything that you've ever seen on the bike that just looked to you like, "Wow, this is not natural, this isn't right, there's something going on here." Has anything ever occurred like that in a race, where you've seen someone and "Nah, not buying it"?
Creed Yeah, I've seen some things that were really impressive. You're just careful, you know, you always have this belief that one day you're going to ride like that, that you can do it if the stars align, and everything was perfect, that you could probably do that. So, who knows, maybe it was for this guy, you know? And in other cases, where something goes totally insane, the guy is pretty much called out on it. I mean, Rasmussen rides three Tours in a row, he rides 100 some odd k by himself in the mountains, wins a stage, awwwright...you know, that's totally normal, man, that happens all the time, three years in a row, maybe it was just two years, I don't know, but...
schmalz But no other riders in the Tour said anything about it.
Creed But you wouldn't say anything to the press, 'cause you would just come off as a whiny little baby. Can you imagine, every time somebody rode really phenomenally, somebody else would say, "Well, that was normal."
schmalz It's in your best interest to keep your mouth shut, because there could be retaliation, you could get sued.
Creed And if he doesn't test positive, then what? Then you seem like a whiny little kid.
schmalz But if you've been in a race with somebody's who's taking something and they win, don't you feel like they're, in essence, stealing from you?
Creed Yeah, of course, but what proof do you have? That's where you have to have faith in the testing.
schmalz How much faith do you have in the testing?
Creed I don't think that they test foreigners a lot. They don't test foreigners in the US. That's something that I wish they would do more.
schmalz So in a big race you wish they'd test foreigners more?
Creed No, I mean out of competition. Let's be honest, I'm so paranoid of contaminants and whatnot from supplements, it sucks living in the same town as USADA, because I don't drink protein drinks, I don't take tablets. There's a lot of things that are hard for me to do, because I'm worried. If you got tested 365 days out of the year, sooner or later you're going to come up with something. Everybody will.
schmalz Do they give you a list of products that are safe? Wouldn't that make it easier, if they go proactive about it?
Creed I think that gets into a case of legal, I don't think that they necessarily, maybe it's something that USADA's endorsing and bad mouthing another one. It's not legal and I think it's fairly expensive to test everything.
schmalz And they don't have the money to test the supplements. Supplements aren't held to certain standards by the FDA anyways.
Creed Exactly. It's hard because...
schmalz If I know you you're going to test positive at some point for goat's blood...
Creed Goat's blood is perfectly legal up to this point.
schmalz Since you probably bathe in it regularly, I'm sure some has gotten in there.
Creed That's what my clients like, they're kinky like that.
schmalz So, I wish you luck in your new adventures, Mike, I don't know what to say.
Creed Yeah, will we still do the Creed Feed if I'm not a pro, or am I going to be pushed to the side like the whore I am?
schmalz You'll find that we never push anyone to the side, unfortunately. Yeah, you can do whatever you want, I don't care.
Creed Is there an over/under on what Tyler's tested positive for?
schmalz How many?
Creed No, what he tested positive for.
schmalz I don't know, I don't know if there's a test out for auto-low-gee-ous, however that's pronounced, transfusion or not.
Creed I would bet good money on that if anyone wants to take me up on that.
schmalz You're gonna go autolowgeeous? You're gonna go blood transfusion?
Creed Shut up! I'm saying it's not a performance enhancer per se.
schmalz You're saying it's allergy medicine or something like that.
Creed Sure, so mething not a big deal.
schmalz I'm going to go the classy route and say he tested positive for transfusion of dead dog's blood.
Creed That is classy!
schmalz That's what we're all about, brother.
Creed Well, all right, we'll be in contact.
schmalz We'll be in touch. Hope your week turns out better.