Friday’s mail bag: Depression and more on Marco

Thanks to the doctorsDear VeloNews,Thank you so much for the article, Acyclist's guide to depression.I think that this is such important information. I am a 58-year-old female cycling enthusiast, not a racer and not competitive.I follow the professional races. I cannot adequately express how deeplyPantani's death has affected me. To know that a man so loved and so admiredcan feel so alone is beyond comprehension, except to understand what depressionis about. If there is a good outcome to this tragic lost of a remarkableathlete, it is for leaders like VeloNews to reach thousands whomight

Photo: Chase Kennedy

Thanks to the doctors
Dear VeloNews,
Thank you so much for the article, Acyclist’s guide to depression.I think that this is such important information.

I am a 58-year-old female cycling enthusiast, not a racer and not competitive.I follow the professional races. I cannot adequately express how deeplyPantani’s death has affected me. To know that a man so loved and so admiredcan feel so alone is beyond comprehension, except to understand what depressionis about. If there is a good outcome to this tragic lost of a remarkableathlete, it is for leaders like VeloNews to reach thousands whomight recognize and prevent another death.

I hope that every website communicating to cyclists will ask for andget permission to reprint or link to this article.

Thank you so very, very much.
Sue Ellen Bordwell

Knowledge means understanding
Dear VeloNews,
I was very happy – well, as happy as a depressed guy could be – tosee your recent article on depression on the VeloNews website. The articlewas surprisingly comprehensive. I kept reading section after section thinkinghow cool it was to see this information on VeloNews. I see articleson depression in many media sources and am often disappointed when theydon’t cover it well.

You see I have wrestled with depression consciously for eight yearsnow. Depression is daunting, horrifying, shameful, isolating, tiring andeven fascinating all at the same time. I am convinced that I will wrestlewith it for the rest of my life. Pantani said, “I am all alone” in hissuicide note. That is one of the most trying circumstances of depression.Your article helps to educate and create awareness. With this comes understanding.

With understanding comes compassion. This understanding works to lessenthe horrifying isolation one finds as depression takes hold.

VeloNews running such a comprehensive article on depression helps mebecause almost all of my friends are cyclists. The more they are informedthe easier it is for me to be understood.

Depression can be difficult to impossible to boot strap or muscle through.In fact that doesn’t make sense even if you are sort of getting by. Butbecause we learn somewhere along the way that we need to be tough and stong,it’s not good to be weak… there are some powerful forces within us thatkeep us from being open to what this can be. So many people just live withmore pain than they need to. Others unfortunately, perhaps like Pantani,don’t get the right help at the right time. Maybe your article will helpmore people feel comfortable exploring these possibilities within themselvesand find a better way to be… and for the tough cases before they joinPantani on Le Alp d’Huez in the sky.
I’ll see you out there.
Chris Mann

An angel of the mountains
Dear VeloNews,
Marco Pantani was one of my favorite cyclists. I even purchased a WilierK2 team frame because of him, along with the Mercatone Uno jersey.

I must admit that I did shed some tears after reading about Marco’spassing.

When I told my 13-year-old son, who also loved watching Marco ride,he immediately sat down and sketched this picture.

I thought I should share it with you.
Best wishes,
Kelby Kennedy

How about some compassion with that outrage?
Dear Editors,
Concerning the death of Pantani, there are many opinions about thecircumstances leading up to and surrounding his tragic passing. MichaelBlock of Colorado (see “Thursday’smail bag“) appeals to fans, professionals and organizations tobe outraged instead of sympathetic. Fair enough, anger is a potent fuelin instigating change in a corrupt system. He also thinks “drug use isrampant in all sports.”

I think otherwise. How many professional world-class archers, fencersor divers use EPO or HGH? Probably not a great degree. Also, it is a worldof difference between the European and North American arenas of sport.How many police raids have been made on NBA, MLB, NHL, or NFL teams since1998? How many stringent anti-drug organizations and courts are activein conjunction with North American sports leagues? Are active athletestested for performance-enhancing drugs every game?

Realize the system in Europe is much more harsh, critical, and relentless(even in the face of unsubstantiated evidence) than in other regions ofsport. When it comes to drugs and sport, North American athletes have neverbeen exposed to, have no idea, nor could they imagine the type of Europeanwitch-hunt mentality. Why is that? If all sport is rife with drugs use,then why is there not the same level of persecution in North America?

Perhaps we are afraid of exposing our coveted sports heroes/celebritiesas frauds and cheats? Cry for outrage, but do not throw compassion outthe window.
Scott Thompson
Victoria, British Columbia

Remember what’s important
Dear VeloNews,
Yes, this is just another letter regarding Pantani and doping in general.

It’s a shame that things have gone on as long as they have for Marcoand maybe the extended persecution took its toll on him.

I can’t be certain about Marco’s innocence I’m not an MD nor a lawyer.One thing I do know is that Marco is one of the greats. He is one of thefirst cyclists I think of when someone mentions cycling.

Earlier on in my life I was a fairly talented sprinter, running fastenough at the age of 13 to be invited to compete against high school seniorsin our state championships. Later on as I entered high school I found thatI was competing against my own teammates who were taking amphetamines toboost there times. At that point I withdrew from track not wanting to haveto take drugs to be competitive. Good thing wasn’t a follower, later thatseason a student suffered a heart attack as the result of using “beans.”

It’s unfortunate that there are companies that want to profit from athletesdesire for a short-cut to greatness at the cost of their health. Or thatothers put drugs that were meant to heal to other uses and cast a darkshadow over such beneficial drugs.

Having seen the first hand benefits of EPO my sister a cancer survivorwho needed it to get her cell count up. I can only imagine what this stuffwill do to a healthy person if abused.

From a layman’s terms it would be like changing the 30wt oil out ofa high revving engine and replacing it with bearing grease. Eventuallythe engine is gonna blow!

Maybe it’ll take someone as great as Pantani to give the wake up callthat the long term effects will kill you.

Guys, there is life after 40!
God bless you Marco Pantani and may your family heal quickly in thistime of sorrow.
Jim Volsansky
San Ramon, CA

A time for reflection, not slander
VeloNews,
Is he guilty? Innocent? I don’t know, but it no longer should matter.He has passed and rather than judging him we should learn what we can toprevent this from occurring in the future.

Detection of fraud is only going to become more difficult to detectas genetic therapies continue to be developed. Already researchers arebeing inundated by athletes for muscle therapies intended for those sufferingfrom muscular dystrophy and there is no method to detect these. Marco’sdeath should be a call to honor and integrity for the future of our sport;not an opportunity to judge and slander.
Robert P.W. Price


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