Must-click link: Barry Bonds’ second act

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We’ve noted around here before how Barry Bonds has gotten into cycling in retirement. Like, seriously into it, spurred on by his girlfriend, former world champion and Olympic silver medalist cycler Mari Holden.

Bonnie D. Ford has a feature on Bonds’ involvement in cycling in ESPN the magazine, and it’s excellent. It explores how and why Bonds got into cycling and notes his involvement with and sponsorship of a women’s cycling team. It also notes how some in the cycling and anti-doping communities are wary of Bonds’ involvement with cycling, a sport which knows from doping. There’s a considerable tension between the sport’s need for sponsorship and backing like Bonds provides and its uneasiness with a known doper.

But, apart from the personal stuff about Bonds, the most interesting part is about how, the wariness aside, cycling in general is basically accepting of Bonds and dopers in general. More so than baseball anyway:

Bonds’ most casual asides can have a jangling reverb because of the damage doping has inflicted on both sports — like his oft-expressed admiration of Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, whose 2010 Tour de France title was stripped after a positive test for a banned substance.

The flip side is that Bonds might have found some degree of acceptance in cycling because the sport is far franker than most about its recent history after 15 years of more aggressive PED testing and policing. Doping offenders frequently re-enter the sport after their suspensions end, and some have prominent roles in management, broad-casting and sponsorship. Professional peace, however uncomfortable, has to be made.

As it should in baseball. Police doping and suspend dopers. But deal with it like the chronic problem it is, not as if it’s some sort of mortal sin. Barry Bonds and others like him have things to offer baseball just as the people who re-enter cycling have things to offer their sport.

Anyway, a good story about Bonds’ second act. A second act which some people would probably prefer he not have given their obvious desire to see PED-associated ballplayers just disappear entirely.