MailBag2: Readers Respond to Ed’s Look Ahead
Responses to Ed’s 10 point plan, thoughts on the USADA report, positive and negative comments on our coverage of it – it’s all here as we open up the overflowing mailbag again and let the comments fly. It’s time for your say!
First, I applaud your efforts to sift through all the comments you must be receiveing. It is a joy to read comments that are truly worth reading, without having to be bombarded by BS.
As for my take on the LA situation, I have thought for years that PED’s played a major role in the pro cycling community, including LA and US Postal. It was part of the culture at the time. Just like drugs and rock n’ roll were part of the culture in the late 60’s and early 70’s, especially if you were a musician. That doesn’t make it right, but it does make it understandable. I was disappointed to learn the truth about all the riders, including LA, but I can’t condemn them for their drug use, as we all have skeletons in our closets.
That being said, I have lost all respect for LA as an individual. Not because of drug use, but his treatment of other human beings in his quest, and the damage he has caused to the cancer community.
Contrary to other comments I have read, the 8 people I know who are dealing with, or have survived cancer, feel like they were just kicked in the guts by the person that gave them inspration.
The lies from LA have been perpetuated for so long,and with such ferocity, that they have invaded our everyday life.
When your whole life is based on lies, your life is a lie. And when those lies are exposed, the foundation for your life is gone.
I don’t believe at all that this is nearing the end of this story. On the contrary, it is just the beginning, and will continue for years.
Mr. Hood, I applaud your efforts and to a certain extent agree with them. However, until we make the penalities as harsh as they are in other walks of like there will be continued cheating. For most, if we committed the same acts we would face criminal charges of fraud and civil suits for reparation. All responsibility for guidelines, testing, and penalities need to fall outside of each sport’s oversite organization. This organization would have absolute power world-wide, even overseeing country organizations like USADA. And finally, there should be fines and prison for first offense. Second offense yields more time and greater fines as well as a ban for life from any competitive sport sanctioned by the world organization. Only then will you see it improve. For now, I equate pro cycling to professional racing – a farce. And such, I do not watch or follow it. however, I will still follow PEZ for his fantastic stories about the world’s great riding locales. Oh, let’s not forget the Daily Distractions.
Loved Lance. Have two nephews who also survived cancer in past 10 years and we were all inspired by Livestrong.
Lance is at the centre of all of this but know it seems that via legal deals most of USA’s premier cyclists are also involved.
HOPEFULLY lIVESTRONG WILLSURVIVE AND PROSPER anyway.
Interesting to see what falls out of the Bruyneel testimony/questioning.
I have to say that I am disappointed and shocked by what all was revealed by USADA’s investigation. Mostly because I did not want it to be true. I am also very disappointed in the reaction of so many people to the evidence. The trend seems to be to paint Lance as the instigator of the whole doping problem. Lance is just the focal point. He is the ultimate product of the system of which he was a part. Lance is, in fact, a once in several generations athlete. He is gifted, talented, intelligent and driven; and when he entered into pro cycling all those attributes were focused on playing the game according to the “real” rules as understood by the peleton. Wrong? Absolutely. A great deal is being made now of mentoring young riders in order to clean up the sport. Who mentored Lance and his generation of riders? Apparently generations of other big-name successful dopers.
The really scary thing is that the UCI, even if they weren’t actively involved, made a point of being actively uninvolved. Why kill the golden goose? It is apparent, that as with most all ” governments”, self-preservation is more important than the welfare of the governed.
Lance should be stripped of his results. So should all those who testified against him. Confession may be good for the soul, but it is time to pay the piper, all across the board.” What is good for the goose….”.
I believe this should include the UCI as well.
Perhaps the cure for all this is to take the money out of the sport, as someone else suggested. Personally, I don’t think that is the answer. Highly competitive, gifted people will always push the envelope to the limit in order to get the “WIN”. The fact is, like it or not, if you aren’t ” in it to win it “, you should stay home and watch it on the boob tube. Perhaps the answer lies in ” controlled and sanctioned ” doping, where-in qualified team doctors administer transfusions and/or drugs in an open, safe and transparent environment. Of course, even then, people will find a way to cheat.
For myself, I believe that the zero tolerance approach is best. No ” 3 strikes and your out”. No 6 mo. or 2 yr. bans. You know the rules going in and if you cheat and get caught, you are GONE. Forever. A sad, sad idea to have to suggested such an approach, but what are the realistic alternatives?
Armstrong is not an ass. You can give a jackass all the drugs available, and you still have a jackass, not one of the greatest of racehorses. TDF does not want to remove his titles because they know that 90% of the riders Lance beat were doing the same regimen (including the drugs and substances that were not tested for) as Lance.
The more I read about this, the less I care about the individual riders who doped and the angrier I become at those who ALLOWED and PROFITED FROM turning a blind eye. Most of the riders admit to not wanting to dope, but felt compelled to because it was the norm, and if they wanted to keep their jobs, they had to do it too.
If the UCI had done it’s job, and tried to prevent doping, it wouldn’t have been worth it to dope, and thus many, many riders wouldn’t have been forced into making that decision.
I would like to see some heads roll in the UCI and a riders union come out of all this.
Earlier today I posted my thoughts on the recent events surrounding Lance and the USADA investigation. One thing I did not address and should have is this; an enormous number of us out here in “fan land” owe an immense apology to people who spoke up about the situation that they saw and were bad-mouthed and vilified for their courage. Specifically people such as Betsy Andreu, who had absolutely nothing to gain by coming forward. For myself and many, many others:
Betsy, I am sorry. You deserved better.
Tour de France Winners – 1999 to 2005
This may sound out there but the ASO (people who own the rights to the Tour de France) have an opportunity. From 1999 to 2005 there are seven years of yellow jerseys to place properly on the shoulders of deserving winners, now that Lance Armstrong has been relegated for suspicion of doping. The ASOВ are struggling to find the right person to replace Armstrong on the podium.
So, how about this?
1999 – Christophe Bassons France
One of the few and outspoken CLEAN riders in the peloton in 1999, who openly wrote about Armstrong and the drug problem in cycling. For his efforts, he was shunned, isolated and taunted, which eventually led to his abandoning that year’s tour when even his teammates would not support him. Armstrong openly confronted him and Bassons said that he was talking for the next generation of riders. Later Lance made this comment on national TV, Armstrong said: “His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.”
2000 – Betsy Andreu USA
I realize that this is not the Tour Feminine, but why are we restricting ourselves here? Ms Andreu is someone who stood in the face of adversity and simply proclaimed the truth. She had to repeat her words for almost 15 years before everyone understood her to be a person of great integrity.
2001 – Emma O’Reilly Ireland
She spoke the truth when David Walsh interviewed her and stood by her convictions while Armstrong lambasted her with innuendo.
2002 – David Walsh England
The writer of LA Confidential in 2005
2003 – Paul Kimmage Ireland
The writer of A Rough Ride
2004 – Greg Lemond USA
Greg has said that Armstrong tried to destroy his reputation and his business through his connections, but Lemond has always spoken out about cheating in cycling.
2005 – Christophe Bassons France
A repeat winner from France, who have not won a Tour since the likes of Bernard Hinault in 1985.
Having raced in Europe for a number of years at the D3 and junior level I can say that things are still murky and I do not think that anything has changed. First there were riders protesting drug tests at the Giro. Then there was Festina. Then there was Ceccini and Ferrari, then Puerto, then Clembuterol soaked beef, and now the ‘Truth’ about Lance in which a bunch of riders testify and get sweet heart deals. Lets look at the past few tours and see who’s been up top: 2009, Lance was on the podium, likely microdosing, and Contador and Schleck the younger beat him. Schleck the fourth, now implicated in his own doping case, was a close 4th. My point is simply that dirt still muddies the water and that focusing on Lancegate as a ‘moment of catharsis over a dirty era’ betrays that the era in question ended only two years ago and that the protagonists of that era still hold the reigns.
Pez does not have a strong track record around the issue of doping. Over the years it appears as though the publication did everything it could to avoid or minimize the subject — preferring happy talk always. To be fair, most other cycling publications were similarly willfully blind and apologetic, and are just now finding the courage to report about and reflect upon a subject that had been begging for honest investigation for many years. But Pez went along with the still unfolding charade, preferring to be more of a cycling fan “zine” than a serious observer of the sport and its true culture and characters. That was your choice. Your readers probably preferred it. And that’s ok. Not everyone needs to be a crusader for clean sport.
I suppose it’s positive that you are now making room (however belatedly) to discuss the dominant aspect of professional cycling in Europe. But I wonder why, and I wonder why now? Only a few weeks ago, “Senior Statesman” Ed Hood was openly questioning the necessity of pursuing Lance Armstrong, and exposing the truth about one of the biggest sporting frauds in history. (if he’d asked me I would have recommended he wait until more facts came to light before sharing but…) He suggested that airing the dirty laundry would further erode support for the sport and presumably make people enjoy it less. He seemed completely oblivious to the idea that allowing things to remain as they are was the true threat to professional cycling. If this affair has underscored anything is that professional cycling in Europe was until very recently rotten to the core. It may still be. As someone who followed the riders and teams on a daily basis, Mr. Hood most certainly must have smelled something.
But now he’s changed his mind (or nose). I guess the smell is too much. Now he is mumbling casually about accountability, education, criminal prosecution, etc. But at the same time, he is asserting that the sport is now essentially clean. This has been the go to line for apologists since day one. Proof please. Yes, I call Mr. Hood naive and craven. Cycling may well be “cleaner” than it was 10 years ago, but guess what — almost the exact same cast of characters is running the enterprise. Many of the same riders are still riding or in leadership positions on teams. These are the very same people who either spectacularly mismanaged cycling during this time or were deeply complicit in a massive fraud. I think the facts are starting to stack up very strongly for the latter.
So given his recent interest in closing this dark chapter, it’s interesting to see Mr. Hood suggest in his article that the UCI leadership and others could maintain their positions if they offered a “mea culpa” and other reforms. And there is a friendly picture of Pat McQuaid in your Pelopic section all but shouting that he can still lead the UCI credibly. Why? Why should anyone trust these people? Why do you? They either lied to you or you lied to us. It may soon be common currency that they did more to tear down the sport than poor beleaguered Mr. Armstrong. They let it happen. They could have stopped it.
Of all Mr. Hood’s recommendations the one that makes the most sense — the one that may actually get at the root of the problem is some kind of amnesty program. But the amnesty must come with honesty. Again Pez can’t seem to bring itself to simply demand that people tell the truth. I empathize with Pez. It built it’s reputation celebrating cycling’s heroes and pageantry. It’s clear you’d prefer this never happened, or at least never came to light. But it did, and now you are having to face the consequences of indirectly promoting (intentionally or not) widespread corruption and cheating. We all did at some level. We all wanted to believe. But then most of us were not in a position to find out the truth while it was happening.
I welcome Pez’s late contributions to this subject, even if your editorial position appears to change with the prevailing wind. Still looking for an easy way out? The prevailing wind is strongly in favor of rooting out the scoundrels, supporting sincere, progressive programs and laying a foundation for clean(er) sport. In my opinion this all starts with accepting responsibility. This latest piece is an improvement on your previous commentary, but is still unsatisfactory. I look forward to future updates.
All the news about Lance makes me chuckle at the ineptitude of most people. It was clear Lance doped way back in 1999 when the UCI allowed him to submit a prescription for cortisone AFTER being tested positive. The media supported this miscarriage of justice. Stop and think about that, if everyone had followed the rules or protested the aberration of the rules then we would not have the mess we do today. It was so simple, Lance tested positive and did not submit the proper paperwork necessary to allow the use of the substance and should have suffered the consequences.
Over time this same thing happened again and again, Emma O’riley, Betsy Andreau, Armstrong’s former assistant, the French tabloid that retested samples- every one of the these stories (and more besides) was spun by the LA marketing machine and the press bought the spin rather than do real investigative journalism. Even when an icon of the sport (and a truly great human being) Greg Lemond made logical, scientific arguments that LA was doping he was labeled a “hater” and jealous. Anyone that dared to assert the truth suffered much the same result.
The fans wanted Lance to be clean and the media supported that idea 100%. Why? Because the fans were emotional morons that idolized Lance as an American cancer survivor and they spent the money that bought the products that paid for the advertising that paid the media. It was that simple. Much like the real estate bubble enough people believed in something that was not true and no one could contradict it without risking reputation and career. The bubble grew and grew as the belief took on a life of it’s own, with religious fervor many could not fathom Lance as doper (not could they fathom real estate prices falling).
Even today there are those that want to explain away Lance’s wrong doing and make everything OK again. They still want to believe the lie. Why? Usually they have some personal stake in believing Lance is good or they cannot admit they were wrong. They continue to help perpetuate the fraud and the lies. They don’t understand the importance of the truth.
So I ask you- were you a Lance supporter? Did you ignore the stories? Did you rationalize the truth away? If you were part of the media did you write in support of Lance? Did you wear the stupid yellow bracelet? Did you ride a Trek because Lance did?
Now is the time to throw that yellow bracelet away and embrace the truth, Lance cheated and lied to win. He bullied many people and forced some dope. He was (and is) a bad person. Now is the time to condemn Lance and all he represents. Now is the time to withdraw any support for Lance and LiveStrong, if you want to help fight cancer there are better charities like the JimmyV Foundation or Susan G Kolem. Do not participate any races that allow Lance to race. Do not buy any products that continue to support Lance – Trek Bicycles, Nike, Oakley ect unless they condemn Lance and withdraw their support of him. Boycott the advertisers of any publication that continues to support Lance Armstrong. Force the people that helped create the Lance Armstrong fraud to admit their part in the fraud and withdraw their support.
Lance can be forgiven when he admits what he did and makes restitution to those he harmed. Until then if you support him in any way you are contributing to the fraud. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
I coach a young women’s soccer team. Seems that a few of the girls would skimp on their fitness training. How did I find out? Not from their teammates. Other coaches, parents, individuals pointed out what I already knew. They were confronted, reprimanded and told to alter their behavior. The situation was discussed with their parents. Most of their parents supported the players. Those that did not change their behavior did not play. Much grief given to said coach.
Now same team, same girls but with different coach in high school. Same girls with the same issue but the coach allows the behavior. Team becomes dysfunctional and the desire to work on fitness is lost because “if they can do that, why can’t we”.
Human nature is what it is. That is the reason we have rules and laws to protect people from the worst parts of our nature. There will always be people who cheat. Is it really cheating though if the supposed rules are not enforced? Morally the answer is obvious. In a world where rules are established but not enforced and flagrantly ignored, you can expect a new dysfunctional norm to develop.
Cycling has been “dirty” since early in it’s history. From the ridiculous, racers smoking cigarettes prior to racing because it was supposed to “open up the lungs”, to the serious; steroids, amphetamines, blood boosters etc. We do not have to look hard at the majority of the great champions and their link to performance enhancers. I am not defending Armstrong or the majority of cyclists who used PED’s but certainly understand how the situation developed and am not going to crucify them for their decisions. If the governing body does not care enough to even rudimentary enforce the rules, they really are not rules. More like guidelines I guess.
Let’s remember that at least in the US, the go-go times for U.S. Postal was responsible for a Renaissance in interest for cycling. It certainly helped inspire the young guys starting now and gained the attention of the general public and not just the weird people who ride bikes in tight shorts. It is also good to remember that it is just entertainment and though I feel sorry for the few individuals who kept their moral compass and could not succeed during this time, their situation is no different than individuals who take moral stands in their workplace and suffer the consequences of those actions. Been there, done that. You know, that’s life.
This is a wonderful soap opera and we can read about all the infighting between the power players and the wonderful opinions from the knowledgeable journalists and endless commentary of the public at large. It is great fun and interesting reading until the racing starts again. That’s the point isn’t it. To entertain us.
I do not want to run the risk of loquacity,as my ‘eloquent’ predecessors did…But look,its a round wheel,a pedal,a chain and a hill: Cyclist’s are all pretty much same size and strength pretty much. Once you get to this level we’ve weeded out the weaklings. For instance, take baseball, steroids are good for what? 10-15 more yards, what the heck does that matter when your already in the upper deck..It’s a round ball and a round bat. The ball comes in at 90 mph…give it up! its a tough thing to do anyway. Lance had the bluff, and the athleticism no juice can supplant or enhance.
As for me and my family….yellow bracelets..all the way around…I’m wearing two…save your lecturing for the pulpit, Im too old for that. I ride…
Im off this computer and out for a 50 mi ride..cya..
As a long time fan of cycling I am of course saddened by the report. After reading Tyler Hamilton’s book I was depressed for 2 days. All the focus on the riders and coaches are missing the point.
What about the team owners and sponsors who provides the money to pay for the drugs the riders used. The win at all costs to make money and promote sponsors is the real culprit behind this scandal.
Nothing will change until the entire system is changed. I do not have a solution, but to place the blame on the riders and support staff without looking at the source of the corruption is in my opinion misguided.