Friday’s mail bag: Pantani’s Posse responds

All we are saying is give Marco a chanceEditor,This goes out to Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Schlitzler from Thursday'smail bag. I find their positions to be based more on emotion than anhonest evaluation of the facts.Last time I checked the "doper" won a couple of the hardest stages ofthe Tour in 2000 and passed his drug tests! Also, if one cares to notethe so-called "failed EPO test" of 1999 pertained only to a hematocritlevel above a prescribed limit. It did not show any traces of EPO or provethe use, whether systematic or one time, of EPO. If Pantani is a doperwhose "...winning form was only based

All we are saying is give Marco a chance
Editor,
This goes out to Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Schlitzler from Thursday’smail bag. I find their positions to be based more on emotion than anhonest evaluation of the facts.Last time I checked the “doper” won a couple of the hardest stages ofthe Tour in 2000 and passed his drug tests! Also, if one cares to notethe so-called “failed EPO test” of 1999 pertained only to a hematocritlevel above a prescribed limit. It did not show any traces of EPO or provethe use, whether systematic or one time, of EPO. If Pantani is a doperwhose “…winning form was only based on the illegal drugs…” then wemust assume the same about Geneviève Jeanson who was barred fromthe 2004 worlds for the same reason. Does anyone really want to go there?Whatever one thinks of Pantani’s declarations, lifestyle, or all aroundweirdness, to be 33 years old, out of peloton for forever, and a littleon the sad side to boot, 14th in the Giro ain’t too bad. Garzelli crashedin to him. He could have quit. His team was a joke; he didn’t have thelegs, the time trials were too many and too long, and a certain other Italianloudmouth was flying. Funny I watched that guy (Simoni) get droppedlike a sack of rocks a month later in France.Give Pantani a break. Why not kick Richard Virenque or VBD out of cyclingfirst?
Peace,
Keith Snyder
New YorkThe record is straight
To Kyle Wolfe and Michael Schlitzer,
Kyle, you said, “I have little to no sympathy for Marco Pantani…his winning form was only based on the illegal drugs and supplements heallegedly took and not his natural talent.”Well I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever remember Marco failingan EPO test. He was, however; deemed un-fit to continue racing on the penultimatestage of the 1999 Giro d’ Italia. His red-blood-cell-count was over 50percent, indicating that he risked a blood clot or a stroke is he continuedracing. Earlier in the Giro he had won four stages and had been race leaderfor several days. When you win a stage or you are the race leader; youget tested. Why didn’t he fail any of them? If he was taking EPO, whichyou assume, he would have failed all the previous tests. EPO’s effect takeslonger to build up and last longer to then suddenly fail a test.Mike, you say, “Pantani is a doper… his famous Giro-Tour “double”[should be] permanently removed from his palmares. They stripped a titlein the Mountain Biking Worlds, why not set the official record straight?”I guess you are talking about when Jerome Chiotti admitted totaking EPO at the ’98 world’s several years after the race. Before theUCI stripped the title, Jerome met with Thomas Frischknecht and gave himthe medal and jersey he earned. If I’m not mistaken, he also sent a letterto the UCI asking them to set the record straight. Did Pantani ever admitto taking and prohibited substances ever? No.You are saying that, with no evidence, Marco Pantani’s Giro-Tour doubleshould be erased from his record? First, that’s only hearsay. Secondly,why only his best victories? If he was taking drugs in that period wouldyou assume that he took drugs on many other occasions? Could you pleaselist every race that he entered while on drugs so we can erase his namefrom all of them.; that way I wouldn’t know that he finished third in the’95 worlds.You know what? I think Lance is on drugs. Well I guesssince we disregard race results because of hearsay; he never won five Tours,or the ’93 world’s.
Nick Atkins
Baltimore, MarylandThe UCI’s post-race urine test for EPO was not in place in 1999.At the time, testing for EPO was based only on early morning hematocrittests and were not necessarily conducted based on the previous day’s results.The UCI and French officials first collected urine samples for EPO testingin the 2000 Tour, but the samples were not formally tested. Formal implementationof the urine test for EPO took place in 2001. – EditorIt’s not about the ears
Editors,
If Marco knew what he meant too many fans he would race and race hard.To many of us, Marco has long represented the underdog. Lance representsthe USA, all of its money and advantages. This is not to diminish anythingLance has done and come back from, but Lance really was the fair-hairedboy before he ever even won a stage in the Tour. He was always hyped bythe media. Conversely, Pantani has often been taunted by the media. Hisears, his bald pate, his confident talk… it has all been treated likea joke.I hope he rides again! If Pantani can dig down now and train harderand smarter than ever before, it will just go to prove that he is whatwe have always hoped he would be. Pantani’s motivation now should be toshow the world that he stands for something.
Thomas Garguilo
Mendham, New JerseyEvery distraction counts
Editors,
Okay, okay, so Lance is in the news again, this time strolling down the red carpet with his rock star chickee poo. The last quote I had read Sheryl Crow said she was a bad influence because she and Lance have to stop at every Krispy Kreme they see. So do you still think he’ll win six??? The answer is clear- NO WAY!The dude is hanging out at movie premiers in January for goodness sakes! Lance deserves whatever he gets, I guess, good or bad. All I am saying is that come July, the smart money best be looking elsewhere.It is cool to be seen in the off season, but this is monk time for the pro cyclist…Lance sure ain’t denying himself any guilty pleasures now is he?Just sign me as a long-time fan of the five-time TDF winner, but confident it won’t be six.
David DekeyserWe meant to do that
Editors,
Thank you gentlemen for publishing my letter regarding an error inyour piece about “Breaking Away” (see “Mr.Rogers’ Neighborhood: ‘Breaking Away’ with Bart Simpson“) and withagreeing with me on my assertions and making the necessary correction.Now, in response to your stating that “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” is thebest cycling movie ever made, I only have one thing to say: You guys havebeen wearing Lycra for way too long.
Brian D. Griffith


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