It might seem strange to review what is largely a book about cycling by a cyclist on a marathon running website. However Tyler Hamilton’s The Secret Race is much more than a book just about cycling – it is a book about EPO, steroids and blood doping in professional sport and how athletes outsmart the testers.
While there have been very few cases of marathon runners testing positive for drugs, it would be naive to think that the sport is entirely pure. A read of The Secret Race details how Hamilton, and his more famous teammate Lance Armstrong, beat the system and used the best doctors to ensure their doping techniques remained undetectable.
From the cloak and dagger of secret phones through to modifying the choice, dose and administration method of drugs, Hamilton shows how largely the entire peloton was using some sort of illegal boost to improve their performance. Athletes knew their red blood counts and hematacrit levels better than you or I probably know our weight, they owned their own centrifuges to do blood tests and banked their own enhanced blood to be transfused back into their veins in the midst of a Grand Tour race.
The book is refreshing in the openness that it describes how the process occurred and the attitude of the athletes involved. It also reveals the naivety or purposeful ignorance of the professional body to address the issue of doping within the sport.
The IAAF undoubtedly has a better reputation on the matter of drugs than UCI, however for anyone interested in the life of a professional athlete I can highly recommend The Secret Race.