GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany - Here we go again with Bode Miller.
Just as the brash World Cup champion skier decided to skip this weekend’s events to rest up for the Turin Games and get away from media scrutiny, Miller suggested in an interview with Rolling Stone that Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs.
“Right now, if you want to cheat, you can: Barry Bonds and those guys are just knowingly cheating, but there’s all sorts of loopholes,” he told the magazine. “If you say it has to be ‘knowingly,’ you do what Lance (Armstrong) and all those guys do, where every morning their doctor gives them a box of pills and they don’t ask anything, they just take the pills.”
Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris, declined to respond to Miller’s comments. Telephone and email messages left with Armstrong representatives were not immediately returned Thursday.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association spokesman Tom Kelly said the organization had no response.
Miller, who competed in 136 straight World Cup races and last missed a race in March 2002, will skip the downhill and super-G this weekend. The U.S. Ski Team hopes Miller’s short vacation, during which he plans to rest and play golf with younger brother Chelone, will help him focus before next month’s Olympics.
“It might be a good way for him to ground himself a bit,” U.S. speed coach John McBride said. “I think it’s great he’s with his brother. Not only getting away from the sports but putting everything in perspective.”
Chelone Miller suffered severe head injuries in a motorcycle crash three months ago in New Hampshire.
Miller, who loathes excessive media attention, has been the object of intense scrutiny all season — much of it brought on by candid comments made to the press. In the Rolling Stone interview, which hits newsstands Friday, Miller reiterates his disdain for the current state of drug testing.
“The drug-regulation system is a weird, bad system, and all I’m asking is that we talk about it,” he said.
Bonds told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he used substances given to him by a trainer who was later indicted in a steroid-distribution ring, but said he didn’t know they were steroids, according to a newspaper report. Armstrong has long been dogged by doping rumors, including a French newspaper’s claims to have evidence, but the seven-time Tour de France winner has always maintained that he is clean and has never tested positive.
Miller made more headlines by suggesting in an interview with “60 Minutes” that he had raced while under the influence of alcohol.
He apologized for those comments in Wengen, Switzerland, but was fined the following day for completing a slalom despite straddling a gate. That night, Miller skipped the mandatory bib draw ceremony in the town square, prompting officials to give him a later start number for the next day’s downhill.
Though he still shows signs of greatness, Miller hasn’t enjoyed the same success as last season when he became the first American to win the overall World Cup title in 22 years.
At this point last year, Miller had six wins and four other podium finishes. So far this season, he has one victory and four other top-three finishes. Adding to the frustration, Miller has only completed two of seven slaloms.
Miller is currently fourth in the overall standings and trails overall leader Benjamin Raich by 264 points. Raich has 952 points, followed by Michael Walchhofer with 704 and Daron Rahlves with 689.
“The whole thing with (the TV interview) bothered him. I think maybe a little time off will help him gain perspective on the whole thing and why he does it and how important it is to him. What he’s capable of achieving,” McBride said. “Right now the important thing is for him to come into the Olympics on top of his game.”
Miller plans to compete in all five events at the Olympics and is expected to race in Chamonix, France, on Feb. 3-4 — the final World Cup men’s race before the Turin Games.
Olympic alpine hopefuls
Click to see images of skiers who hope to strike gold in Turin.