He was Linford Christie – a British hero, a global icon, and an Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth gold medallist.
His 100 metre win in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and arguably been the most famous 9.96 seconds in the history of British athletics, and seemingly cemented his place in sporting folklore for evermore.
So much so, that when in 1999, he was found guilty of using the performance-enhancing drug nandrolone following an indoor meeting in Germany, the vast majority of our general public dared not believe it.
After all, here was a man who had done it all. Why, at the age of 39, would an athlete so relentlessly outspoken against the use of drugs risk his own legacy and reputation by cheating?
Of course, the fact that Christie had already dubiously avoided a drugs ban after the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and reportedly had more than 100 times the normal level of the metabolites of nandrolone in his urine this time around, was seemingly irrelevant. The authorities of course, were simply out to get him.
But inevitably, we never want damaging allegations against our national or international heroes to carry weight. Take Michelle Smith, Marion Jones, or most famously of all, Lance Armstrong. All originally enjoyed public backing in the face of damaging drug claims from those whose desire to dissect the evidence, was far outweighed by a passion to protect a sporting success story.
Therefore, when it first came to light last September that Sir Bradley Wiggins, Britain’s most decorated Olympian, had been less than transparent about his history of therapeutic use exemptions, few dared buy into the story.
Sir Bradley after all, was a man of the people. A humble, anti-establishment figure whose 2012 Tour de France win was seen as a triumph for a new, clean era of cycling. A small step towards washing away the inconsiderable damage done by the notorious ‘Armstrong years’.
Such factors, not to mention Sir Bradley’s vast list of other achievements on a glittering cycling CV, make the latest developments in the controversy, regarding a medical package delivered to him on behalf of Team Sky in June 2011, even more galling to comprehend.
Now, it is ridiculous at this stage to directly compare Sir Bradley to the afore-mentioned Christie, Smith, Jones, or Armstrong. There is no concrete evidence of untoward in relation to the ‘package’, and as media sources have been at pains to point out, his therapeutic use exemptions were medically prescribed and technically broke no rules.
At worst, he was doing everything he could to gain an upper hand over his rivals, without actually crossing a forbidden line.
But since then things have escalated.
And make no mistake. Irrespective to whether or not Fancy Bear hackers have acted immorally, the reputation of both Sir Bradley and Team Sky has been severely stained this week. And they deserve every ounce of public scepticism that is being thrown their way.
Cycling is a sport which owes the public. For decades, supporters were conned into watching epic duels and battles, not to mention tales of triumph through adversity, all whilst marvelling at the courage, stamina, and dedication of those looking to achieve the ultimate.
The next statement is harsh on those who remained clean, and refused to submit to the temptations of sacrificing true performance for drug fuelled success.
But in hindsight, supporters were largely watching frauds at work.
Now, the past culture is not the fault of Team Sky or Sir Bradley. But after rising to prominence, and ultimately becoming the most well run and successful team on the planet, they carried a burden of responsibility to embrace truth and transparency every bit as much as they embraced success.
And sure enough, under team manager Sir Dave Brailsford, they became bastions of a new, more honourable era. Their attention to scientific detail, obsession with ‘marginal gains’, and innovative training methods were largely championed.
Perhaps above all else though, their boast of being 100% committed to honest and clean competition, was what heartened cycling fans the most.
And in their talisman, they not only had a supreme competitor, but an individual who made no secret of his disgust at those who illegally sought a helping hand.
So all that considered, why does former British Cycling employee Simon Cope have no knowledge of the contents of a jiffy bag, which he travelled with from Manchester to France, and delivered to Team Sky on Sir Bradley’s behalf ahead of the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2011?
Why does ex-Team Sky medic, Doctor Richard Freeman, have no record of medical treatment for Sir Bradley at this time?
Referring back to the therapeutic use exemptions, why has it surfaced that Team Sky ordered considerably more triamcinolone than what would have been required for just one cyclist?
Why did Damian Collins MP, the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee who grilled Cope on Wednesday, conclude with considerable backing that the "credibility of Team Sky and British Cycling is in tatters?”
Some of the answers offered to the above questions by Cope and Team Sky this week have been well documented. And all add up to a shambolic, laughable series of explanations that clarify nothing.
Sir David has often been credited for leading a team with clear and concise aims. Strange then, that he clearly lacks an ability to inspire past and present employees into collaborating a believable story.
But perhaps the biggest question of all lies with the subject matter himself.
What has Sir Bradley, a man we are told with nothing to hide, been so reluctant to publicly clarify the situation?
Anger at journalists camped on his own private property is understandable. Refusal to address these potentially very serious allegations is not.
Again, it has to be reiterated that there is no evidence that Team Sky or Sir Bradley have administered or taken performance enhancing drugs, and despite her scathing analysis of their actions, UK anti-doping chief Nicole Sapstead also emphasized on Wednesday there was no proof of a cover up or illegal tampering.
But national icon or not, even the most fierce of his supporters must accept that the reputation of the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year as an individual of honesty, transparency, and integrity – is now all but washed away.
And the same can be said of Sir David Brailsford and many within Team Sky.
They have invited cynicism, scepticism, and accusations of dishonesty upon themselves, and deserve every bit of the hammering they are currently receiving.
Cycling fans, whether it be those with a knowledgeable insight or casual armchair viewers, have long waited for the time they can watch races without wondering, is this real? Without querying, if all the relevant information about the sport and its competitors is out there in the public domain?
Sadly, the wait goes on.