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Friday letters — Vandenbroucke’s troubles

VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews, or see something on VeloNews.com that causesyou to want to write us, drop us a line at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mailto this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.In the end, what do they win?Is this drug use and abuse ever going to end?I want to think that, yes, it will end sometime...I just wonder with what face these cheaters will look at their grandsonsand say: "I won that race," when deep inside (or not so deep) they

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VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews, or see something on VeloNews.com that causesyou to want to write us, drop us a line at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mailto this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.In the end, what do they win?Is this drug use and abuse ever going to end?I want to think that, yes, it will end sometime…I just wonder with what face these cheaters will look at their grandsonsand say: “I won that race,” when deep inside (or not so deep) they knowthey didn’t win anything, not even a Twinkie.
What embarrassment for our sport.As far as I know, these cheaters aren’t racing under the same rulesI am. At the race results, to me, they don’t even count on the list.With a big smile
Jimena Florit
RLX-Polo SportSkewed priorities and fallen heroesEditor;I think its time to face the facts. Doping is as old as professionalcycling, and frankly, it is here to stay. The first time money exchangedhands at a professional race, was the first time a rider decided to “tryto get ahead.” In cycling, like every other sport, the rewards are basedon merit. It’s a simple equation really: You win; you get rewarded. Youwin some more, you get placed on a pedestal and are given the title ofhero. We don’t worship these cycling legends because they are swell guys.We worship these guys because they win.The problem is that the professional cyclists know this. I bet you thatmost of the pros consider chemical enhancement an acceptable job risk.After all, what they do day in an out is pretty risky. I am sure that theseguys see the risks of taking performance enhancing products as no greateras descending the back side of an Alp at 90 kph.We reward the top of any profession (except mine) with wealth, and moreimportantly fame. Those are two of the most addictive, and self destructiveforces ever seen in professional sports. That is why we see guys in allsports (Jordan, Lemeiux, Aikman) who refuse to hang it up at the ends oftheir careers. Permanent damage to their bodies is an acceptable risk becausethe potential reward is just too great.That is a shame.Somewhere along the line the concept of “for the love of the sport”got diluted with the trappings of glory. I am afraid that now there isno turning back.Joe Ajello
Falls Church, VAWhat advantage?Editor;In response to TimNixon’s letter to the editor concerning drug use in the peloton: if”everyone” is using it, how can anyone have an advantage?Think about it.Cameron Johnson and Jennifer Meyer
Missoula, MTWhite punks on bikesSo, Belgian über boy VDB finally got sacked.What took so long? Why was he even on a team? Doesn’t anyone with tiesto cycling management have a clue? Was 1998 that long ago?This whole story is a joke. VDB should NEVER have been on a team. Hedeserved a second chance, but on a high profile Belgian team? What in thename of God were Domo’s managers thinking? Or were they in the stall nextto Frank getting “homeo” treatments too?Here is a challenge to VeloNews and the cycling media: treat dopingand drug use in cycling for what it is – illegal! The police blotter hasbeen opened, let’s go all the way. I personally know of THREE Californiabased pros who toke up before rides, races and daily chores. Do you wantto know their names, addresses and teams?Of course, they will have some excuse like “I don’t smoke weed in season,”or “I only do it when I’m training.” Let’s call this whole thing whatit is: BULLSHIT.Dopes on bikes dope because that is how they survive. And sadly, theyusually don’t know anything else. Ask yourself how many top American prosare working 9-5 jobs in the off-season? Not many, huh? That’s because thesemorons (the doping ones at least) have no skills. They bus tables at alocal watering hole, mow lawns at the memorial park and act like spoiledrotten little punks. For them, “Caddy shack” is a real-life movie. Nothinglike sitting on my bike riding around looking cool, blowing through STOPsigns ’cause “I’m too stoned to read” and acting snotty. All in a day’swork, right?WRONG Poindexter!!!Maybe if the cycling press treated these miscreants for what they are,this whole story wouldn’t be that big of a deal. For reference, formerNew
Jersey Net Jayson Williams is accused of shooting his former bodyguardto death in his own house, and the press hails this as some sort of problem.
No, Jayson Williams had a gun. He pointed it at someone. That someoneis dead. Case closed. End of story.WRONG AGAIN Poindexter!!!The problem as far as I see it is that the cycling press looks at theprofessionals as something to be glorified. Just like ESPN says Barry Bondsis the greatest baseball player in the league. Yeah, sure, but he is alsoan accused wife beater. So is he great or a scumbag? Which is it press-guys?So is VDB a great bike racer or is he a doper? Is he a hero or a zero?
Which is it? And why?And now more importantly, why do we care about the pros? I challengeVeloNews to follow a small amateur team through a season. A complete season.Updates each issue. Photos. Bike specs. The same treatment that the “bigboys” get.Sadly I know that this is not going to happen. Why? I think it wouldbe a great piece of journalism. And besides, it just might show the worldoutside of cycling that not all cyclists are doped up, snotty-nosed, whitepunks on bikes.James Darlow
Sacramento, CAJust one more stepIt makes me very sad to see our sport’s heroes reduced to animals lockedbehind bars on drug charges.How such talented individuals could just flush their lives and careersdown the toilet amazes me. I know many complain that they need to use thesedrugs to be on an even level with their competitors. If everyone wouldcease to use them, then they would be equal, right???Well hopefully these “idols” of ours will smarten up and realize thatmost likely the prison warden will not allow them to bring their rollerswith them to Cell Block D.And I’m sure those shaven legs will go over well with the other inmates!Just another nail in the coffin of cycling.Brian Glen
Ellyn, ILAnd don’t let the door hit you on the way out, FrankThank God. Good riddance to this piece of work VDB is a disgrace tothe cycling legends of past and present.I am glad this is hopefully the last that we will hear of VDB.Mike DavisBut not LanceEditor;Everyone has an opinion of who is doing drugs for enhanced performancein cycling.In my opinion, I doubt that Lance is using performance enhancing drugsdue to his past medical history.After all the extremely powerful and deadly drugs he endured duringhis chemo treatment, I seriously doubt he’d even want to try another drug.As for his performance in the Tour, you never see Lance attacking onall the stages, sprinting at every finish, or trying to get the king ofthe hill jersey. He sits back and waits for the moment that he knows willbenefit his attack. Just look at that mountain stage when he sat back andused all the other riders to his advantage and then when opportunity knockedhe pounced and pounced hard. This is what you call strategy. Use your enemy’sstrength, then weakness against them.Lance excels at climbing and time trailing. This is what he trains forand that is why he wins and wins big.Drugs are a big issue in many sports, but there is the rare “super human”that can pull it off without the use of performance enhancing drugs.If you look at most of the riders that have been busted for drugs, mostof them were actually failing at the sport and/or dropping out of racesand tours due to illness. So much for performance enhancing.Marc Breecher
Prairieville, LA
Hospital Pharmaceutical Purchasing RepresentativeIt’s all over the placeEditor,I had the chance to race against Frank Vandenbroucke as an amateur inBelgium in 1993There were rumors at the time about his use of banned substances. Atthe same time, there were rumors about everyone racing in Belgium, fromthe Niewlingen to the Profs.It was bad enough that if you won you were immediately suspected ofdoping. In Frank’s defense I will say that in Europe a rider visits thesport doctor frequently and there is a gray area in the use of some recoveryproducts. At the same time, the use of EPO, or anabolics like clenbuterolor “The third lung” as we called it, are not legal and never should be.The argument that doping is safe if administered by a physician is trueonly because it is safer than having your mechanic give you the juice.The problem lies in the soigneurs that have a headset wrench in one handand a hypo in the other. If you have ever raced in anything bigger thana kermesse in Belgium you know what I am talking about.As for controls in Europe, a friend of mine that was a pro in the late‘80s spoke of going to the control with 8000 Belgian Francs in his jerseyand handing it to the doctor who then peed in the cup. When I was racingin
Belgium from ’91 to ’98 doping in various forms was the rule amongsuccessful amateurs. Clean riders were the exception.Things haven’t changed there since at least the 1950’s, and I doubtthey ever will.Chris Eash
Knoxville TNIf they’re not caught, we call them heroes…Editor;I wouldn’t characterize Frank Vandenbroucke and being a “psycho” (asyou do in your poll). I see him as one of many professional athletes thatlook for outside help to boost their natural abilities. Banned substances,hyperbaric chambers, wind tunnels and homeopathic remedies are some ofthe many things athletes around the world use in an attempt to succeedat there crafts. The reasons for doing this are many. Some athletes arelooking for the extra push to get to the “next level,” while others wantto revitalize their careers. For most, it is the only way in which theyfeel they can remain competitive enough to hold onto there jobs.A few years ago, I had the opportunity to discuss the use of bannedsubstances in cycling with a former American pro. He made it pretty clearthat cycling was too difficult a sport at the professional level for anathlete to compete on a week in week out basis without using some kindof pharmaceutical aid. He said that all of his teammates either were usingor had used a banned substance at some point in their careers. The stupidity,for them, was not the idea of using drugs, but in getting caught usingthem. There are many methods available that can help an athlete avoid apositive drug test. If an athlete is caught using a banned substance, itis because they were not being careful.It may be hard for most Americans to understand why a person would usea banned substance in an effort to be successful at their profession. Theworld of professional sports is very cutthroat. The opportunity to be apro athlete is a very rare one. If your results begin to slip do to injuryor age, there are many younger, stronger, and faster athletes waiting totake your place. What if every job was like that? For many middle managers,it has been. What if you could use a pill that would allow your productivityto increase five, ten or fifteen percent? What if you were able to contributeto the success of your company, reap the financial rewards and earn theaccolades of your peers if you trained hard, gave your best and used alittle help? Would you? Many have. And many of them that have are calledheroes.Brian Meiers
Union CityAnd it goes on and on and onYeah sure. Domo-Farm Frites “had no idea.” Come on. Here we go againWhen are we going to realize as long results bring income to teams andsponsors we will never be drug free, just look to Salt Lake(cross countryskiing).There are drugs being used that are not even on the banned list. Tellme these same drugs have not already been perfected in the peloton.Gregg Mellon
CanadaThis could have been a set-upVDB caught with EPO and amphetamines? C’mon guys, that sounds a littleobsolete.Any cyclist serious about doping right isn’t going to be using substancesthat are so well known to not only the public, but the UCI as well. EPO?That’s about four years too late. Amphetamines? Try thirty-five years.Didn’t Tom Simpson die from amphetamine use in 1967? If it was synthetichemoglobin, hGH, or Aranesp, I’d be convinced, but the substances foundseem better suited to causing a stir than enhancing performance undetected.Perhaps Bernard Sainz couldn’t stomach VDB being given another chance,while his name was dragged through the dirt and then forgotten. I’ve beenreally happy to follow VDB’s return to cycling after a complete meltdown,just as I was excited for Lance’s return after cancer and chemo. I’m waitingfor the facts before I pass judgment.Matt Johnson
Seattle, WAArchived letters:Thursday — February 28, 2002February 26 -27, 2002Monday, February25February 21 – 22,2002February 13 – 20,2002February 8 -12, 2002