I learned this weekend that the guy who won the 30-34 division of the 2008 Masters national time trial championship has admitted to taking performance-enhancing substances. I placed third that year, so his forfeiture means that I’ll now be awarded the silver medal.

I have mixed feelings about this. I was thrilled with my original result because I knew I had done my absolute best. I couldn’t have gone a second faster. Of course, I was happy to have placed so well, and I’m happy to learn that I’ve gained a place. On the other hand, it saddens me to do it in such a fashion.

What motivates a 30-year-old cyclist to dope? It’s not like we’re going to get picked up by a pro team and sent off to the Tour de France. And a couple hundred bucks in prize money surely doesn’t offset the cost of the drugs these guys are taking. So what does that leave? Can there really be any satisfaction in beating people when you know you’ve done it not through ability, training, and determination but through drugs?

For contrast, here’s how Eric Liddell, the Olympic gold medalist and the subject of the movie “Chariots of Fire” described his motivation: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” That’s how I feel about cycling. God made me reasonably fast, and I feel pure joy when I’m riding as hard as I can, whether it’s in competition or on a solo ride.

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