On my wall hangs a painting of an iconic sporting moment. 2012, the Champs Elysees. Mark Cavendish is cycling hands free in a moment of triumph, crossing the finishing line ahead of the charging pack of cyclists behind him. His right hand is raised in a gesture of victory, three fingers raised, one for each stage win accomplished. He wears the Rainbow Jersey of the reigning world road cycling champion. A scene that was replicated repeatedly in an era when he was the undisputed sprinting king. To me, whilst there are other pretenders to his throne, it is still his, although the victories are harder to come by. But it is not Mark Cavendish that catches my attention as I write with it hanging in front of me. No, it is the cyclist behind him on the periphery of the picture who had surprisingly been his line out man who had safely brought him to the front at the right time, Bradley Wiggins. Bradley Wiggins, winner of numerous track cycling medals, including Olympic, winning the Tour de France. The first Brit to do so. One of my heroes.
‘Wiggo’ is in the headlines again, but not the headlines he would have wanted to be featuring in, with allegations that this win, and others, were assisted by his taking of legal drugs, given under the cover of treating his asthma. MPs have published the accusation that whilst he and Team Sky broke no rules, they crossed the very ethical line they had always protested about. Technically fair, morally dodgy. What to make of it as a cyclist? It is so hard as neither Wiggins or those who point the finger can prove their side of the story.
So what do I think? I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, it is my natural response, and to me he sounds honest and his accusers sound bitter, but sadly, there will always be that nagging doubt. Too many of my cycling heroes in the past have been tainted by doping. But I refuse to become cynical. I will continue to hope that the sport can be honest, technically and morally.
Something Wiggins said caught my attention, however, as he reflected on what others thought of him,
I can’t control that, what people are going to think or not think. All I can tell you is from my point of view, what I experienced. Some people, whatever you’re going to do is never going to be good enough. I just don’t know any more in this sport.
This got me thinking about how other people see me. Like Wiggins, I can’t control their thoughts, none of us can. Some will like me, others won’t. Some will believe what I have to say about my faith, others won’t, but I am responsible only for myself and can control only my own actions. All I can do is seek to follow Jesus, do the best I can for him, share my story as honestly as possible and trust that God, the only one who can judge me with full knowledge, with find how I live pleasing, as I know in Christ he will. As for others? How they see me is between them and God.