I used to be a big cycling fan – followed the Tour de France, waited by the side of the road for hours simply to touch my heroes (helped push Eros Poli up an Alp in 1991 – one of the highlights of my life), and even wrote fan letters. I sent one to David Millar when he won the prologue in 2000, gushing girlishly. In 2004 he admitted that he had been doping. And in 2012 he took part in both the TdF and the Team GB cycling team. Should he have been allowed to do this? I think not: he did the very thing that sportspeople should not do (cheating, and then lying about it for years until cornered) and I think that this betrayal of the very core of sport – fair competition – should disqualify him from it forever.
Which brings us to money laundering – of course it does, because almost everything I ever think about eventually leads to money laundering. I don’t want to pick on anyone in particular, but we all know that since the beginning of the year the FSA and now the Americans have had harsh words to say about various large financial institutions and their rather rickety AML procedures. I don’t know whether individuals will be named and shamed, or whether it will remain at institutional level, but the principle remains the same: why should the public believe that the leopard has changed it spots? None of these institutions, surely, is claiming that they did not realise their AML obligations, so it seems that they knew what they should be doing (i.e. the equivalent of Millar getting on the bike and pedalling as hard as he could, on a diet of pasta and ginger cake) but instead did something else (i.e. injected himself with banned substances, and I don’t mean chocolate cake).
Of course I know that it is more complicated than that – some cyclists have been shown to have doped accidentally, for instance, with their doctors prescribing vitamin injections and omitting to mention the EPO. And perhaps some institutions have misinterpreted the AML requirements. But what of the ones who haven’t? Off with their heads, or pay the penalty and then redemption?