When Lance Armstrong won his record seventh Tour de France in 2005 he stood on the victory dais on Paris's Champs-Elysees and said: ''The people who don't believe in cycling, the cynics, the sceptics; sorry for you. You need to believe in these riders. I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles''.
Those ''cynics'' suspected it then, and six years later they are vindicated. Armstrong's speech was Denial 101. The result of lying for so long and so hard that you fool yourself. You think you can fool the world.
The way that Armstrong has maintained his lie - whether in the company of US presidents, influential corporates, adoring fans, cancer sufferers, or on the myriad multimedia streams he has used to build his empire - now looks pathological. But while he is also surely peerless as a sportsman in his sheer audacity to defy the lawmakers, Armstrong is far from alone in cycling.
Until Friday Stephen Hodge, the comparatively small fry vice-president of Cycling Australia - a quietly spoken and intelligent man who completed six Tours de France but used performance-enhancing drugs - had kept his dirty sporting story secret. Even, apparently, from his wife, Adrienne.
We don't know yet if the first Australian casualty of cycling's most recent international crisis, sacked national coach Matt White, told his wife - former Olympian Jane Saville, who he coached during her competitive hey day - whether he doped while he was a teammate of Armstrong. History suggests it is unlikely Hodge or White would have come forward and confessed their past doping sins without circumstances forcing it.
Now that Armstrong, cycling's most iconic figure, has been officially deemed dirty - even if he yet to declare himself anything but clean - others who have pedalled the same road sit and sweat.
Tyler Hamilton, one of Armstrong's former US Postal Service teammates and long-time doper who provided critical testimony against Armstrong in the US Anti-Doping Authority's investigation after coming clean, remembers in vivid detail his internal wrestle with the truth. Yet until the evidence against him was so compelling, honesty was unthinkable. "I'd like to tell you that I thought about confessing," Hamilton writes in his riveting, recently released book, The Secret Race. "But the truth is I never considered it, not for one second."
Now, as domino after domino falls, cycling is revealing just how deeply its inclination to live in denial is entrenched. Startlingly, in the minds of some observers, CA's embattled president Klaus Mueller gave Hodge a glowing exit reference on Friday when it had in fact emerged that someone entirely inappropriate had been holding a seat in the highest ranks of Australian cycling.
For 13 years Hodge had sat on CA's board hiding the fact he doped while he representing the country in the biggest European races. Mueller rightly said that could only lead to one result - immediate resignation - and yet he was sympathetic.
"All the time that I've had dealings with him I've found him to be a person of high integrity, high principal, and a fellow also of high intellect. Ironically, had Steve done what I suppose most leading cyclists do and simply exited the sport and simply advanced his own career without wanting to put something back into the sport, he'd never be faced with the predicament he's in now of being required, in effect, to admit up to the past wrong-doing and suffer the humiliation that's involved in that," he said.
David Culbert, an Olympic long jumper and dual Commonwealth Games silver medallist for Australia who now runs sports management company Jump Media & Marketing which manages leading Australian cyclist Simon Gerrans, found the Hodge praise gobsmacking.
"One of the things that has stunned me most is the eulogising of Stephen Hodge as a man who has made a great contribution when his contribution has been based on a fraud. I'm certain that Stephen Hodge wouldn't have been a vice-president of Cycling Australia if his best result was 27th in the Melbourne to Warrnambool," Culbert said. "I thought Cycling Australia should have said that they were ashamed to have him as a board member and that they were disappointed that he hadn't disclosed his background earlier."
Federal Minister for Sport Kate Lundy is determined to make sure that Australian cycling does not live in denial any more, and is now championing the review of Cycling Australia the Australian Sports Commission will lead.
Senator Lundy is adamant the whole truth needs to be extracted from riders, coaches and administrators in order for the sport to truly move on. "It's in the interest of their sport that they declare their situation and anything that they've got up to in the past," she said this week.
The head of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, Aurora Andruska, is similarly convinced and, pointing to the vastly more at ease looking Hamilton, says there is incentive for athletes to own up. "I suspect it's about living with yourself, and living with the truth," she said.
Culbert, who was a friend and regular room mate of fellow Australian athlete Dean Capobianco before the sprinter was revealed as a drug cheat, says that from an athlete's point of view there is no upside to confessing to doping.
"There's no upside for a rider who is coming out. Though I think Stephen Hodge, in some sort of weird way, has earned an honourable disrespect. That's the best outcome you could possibly hope for, in my mind."
Interestingly, in the interests of knowing where things stand with his top cycling client in such a volatile environment, Culbert said he has asked Gerrans squarely in recent days about doping. Gerrans told him he had nothing to fear.
Jason Bakker, a former state cricketer turned manager with cyclists including Cadel Evans on his books, said yesterday he has not felt the need to clear the air. Bakker said, however, he would encourage all his cyclists - including Evans, Matt Goss and Jack Bobridge - to speak frankly when they return to Australia.
"I haven't had to advise specifically too much on anything at the moment," Bakker said. "I suppose what I do say is that they need to be very clear. I have absolute and utter faith in every guy I manage."
With cycling's world governing body due to announce its decision on Armstrong tomorrow, Australia's top riders have to date been largely silent on the growing storm.
Stuart O'Grady, the 39-year-old veteran who has ridden professionally throughout cycling's worst doping era, said last week he felt "in as much shock as anybody" and that doping for him had "never been a thought, never been an option". Michael Rogers, one of three Australian riders named in the USADA report that brought down Armstrong, clarified that while he had worked previously with Dr. Michele Ferrari, who orchestrated Armstrong's systematic doping program, he said he has never doped. And yesterday Bobridge, who at 23 has seen White leave the two professional teams where he has ridden due to doping matters, tweeted: "As the old speak out, the young pay the price. Get rid of them, move on and do what we love, ride bikes!"
If only it were so simple.
Tomorrow UCI president Pat McQuaid will have to face the tough questions when the UCI announces its response to USADA's lifetime ban of Armstrong.
Australian riders, meanwhile, are making their way home for what they no doubt hoped would be a relaxing summer. As soon as they open their mouths they will have an audience of open ears. No one is denying that.