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Friday’s mailbag: Dope, timepieces and hidden charges

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.The frivolity continuesEditor:If a court — even a French one — sanctions a litigant for frivolously abusing the legal process, isn't the abuse compounded by continuing to pursue the matter? Just wondering. Deborah KleinSan Antonio,

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The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


The frivolity continues
Editor:
If a court — even a French one — sanctions a litigant for frivolously abusing the legal process, isn’t the abuse compounded by continuing to pursue the matter? Just wondering.

Deborah Klein
San Antonio, Texas

Oooh, touché, Deborah. Maybe you should be writing our editor’s notes. — Editor

Finger-pointers and terrorism
Editor:
If “suspected doping” is allowed the front page for this year’s Tour de France, it will be as if the United States and all of the participating countries decided to fly their flags at half staff to mourn the loss of one of their great athletes. The athlete has not been convicted yet, or even officially accused, so why not let the Tour do what it does best: capture the imagination of the world? To let the finger-pointers rule the roost is no better than allowing terrorists control our day-to-day freedoms; of course, there is at least one man in the peloton who can take the power of accusation and turn it to his benefit.

Mark Miklosovich
Philly, Pennsylvania

Of dope and dopes
Editor:
Oh, David, why? Why did you take this stuff? And why did you leave the evidence lying around? You’re a great guy, but now you’re well and truly stuffed.

Stan Thomas
Wrexham, United Kingdom

What are you, anyway, Stan, some kind of finger-pointing terrorist? Or maybe a nutter?— Editor

Millar’s tale raises a number of questions
Editor:
From this morning’s EuroFile:

“Mr Millar has indicated that he used EPO during ‘courses of treatment’ taken outside France in 2001 and 2003,” said his lawyer Paul-Albert Iwens. “There were a total of three courses of one week. He has not implicated any other individuals.”

Just wondering if anyone else finds it strange that if Millar only used EPO three times total in 2001 and in 2003, then why did they find empty EPO bottles in his house in June 2004, which should be at a minimum six months after the last time he supposedly used it? I don’t know about you, but if I am using illegal drugs and know that my house might be raided, I don’t think I am going to leave evidence laying around for months on end — especially after Cofidis had the big scandal in the previous few months and you know you are under suspicion. He rides his bike almost daily — how about taking those empty bottles along and throwing them in the trash or a field somewhere or flushing them down a toilet?

Additionally, his lawyer says he used EPO outside the country. I am a bit geographically challenged, but didn’t they find the empty bottles in his house in France? So let me get this straight: You use the drugs outside of the country and then bring the empty vials home and keep them in your house for more than six months? David Millar can’t be that dumb, can he? Sounds like Millar might be a more frequent user than he would like to admit.

I am sure the readers out there can help point out the flaws in my logic. Thanks.

Fred Merry
Salt Lake City

Paging Señor Miranda …
Editor:
Why have we not heard a single word from Mr. Millar himself? Are his attorneys telling him to keep quiet? Because so far, all I’ve heard is speculation and hearsay (sound familiar?). I’m sure the rest of the cycling world, journalists and fans alike (myself included, and I’m not even a Millar fan), are dying to hear what David Millar has to say in his defense.

Jon Suzuki
Berkeley, California

We may not have heard from Millar, Jon, but we’ve heard via AFP from his attorney, Paul-Albert Iwens, who said the Scot told a court west of Paris that he had used EPO in the past. You can read more about it here. — Editor

Stars don’t shine so brightly these days
Editor:
I’ve finally had it with these “stars” of our sport. How can Lance and all the others expect us to believe they are innocent of doping allegations when they never speak out against the practice of illegal doping? If any have made such public statements they have eluded my observation. All we ever hear is a denial of guilt or claims that the charges can’t be proven.

When is Lance going to condemn doping for what it is: cheating, dangerous and wrong? Surely he could have taken a few minutes out of showing off all his stuff and his pop-star girlfriend to discourage his fans from ever considering turning to doping. How can we expect upcoming riders to stay clean if those who can influence them the most won’t take a stand?

Rob Hair
Waterford, Michigan

Ban dopers for life, but prove guilt first
Editor:
I totally agree with the letter-writer who proposed that riders be banned for life for confirmed doping convictions. I really think that will make ’em stop and think about their actions. Allegations aside, if a rider is found guilty – boom – he/she is banned for life.

My only caveat is that the test has to detect actual drug use, not simply some arbitrary “high” hematocrit level. That seems a bit iffy for me. I also agree that his/her record of achievement should be referenced with a note indicating he/she was banned for drug use.

Unfortunately, I think we have a better chance of getting a straight 10 percent federal income tax implemented (for everyone). Our culture — and I’m speaking of global culture here — tends to place too much emphasis on winning: being first, the best, the fastest, the prettiest, etc. Mix sport with money, sprinkle a little entertainment on top and you have athletes taking short cuts, trying to level the playing field, or whatever else you want to call it.

I still love the sport, and even dopers will not kill that love. I enjoy the sport for many reasons: its physical and mental benefits; tinkering with the bike for hours; riding and training with friends; riding with my kids — all this hyperbole about the pro peloton is just one piece of it. I will take it all in – mull over why those poor bastards feel as though they need to cheat, and then go for a ride and forget about it. Ya gots to keep it in perspective!

Patrick Buono
Flower Mound, Texas

Doping isn’t just cheating, it’s deadly
Editor:
I am not sure what to think about Lance and my other favorite cyclists (Tyler, Roberto and others), but I am beginning to think that to compete at this level that almost everyone must be doing some kind of performance-enhancing drugs.

What I really want to know is how many more young men must fall over dead from heart problems before this problem really gets tackled? I have lost count of how many cyclists have died in the past year. Is it five? Six? More? And I am not even thinking of Pantani, who died of recreational drugs. I am thinking of the ones who died in their sleep with a heart rate of 30 and blood with the viscosity of syrup in January in their veins.

Matthew B. Woody
Liberty, Missouri

Time for a different topic
Editor:
Recent photos I’ve seen of Lance Armstrong have shown him wearing a huge round watch. Is it indeed, just a watch? Why is he wearing it? Is he being paid to wear it by Nike or some other sponsor? Thanks!

Micah Robinson
Tel Aviv, Israel

We’ll look into it, Micah. Stay tuned.— Editor

Hidden charges
Editor:
To Jed Schneider: I’d be willing to bet you never liked the $5 charge for the movies on airplanes, either. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand it, either, but I think you’ve confused the issue.

When I’d get on one of those long “make like a cat and curl up” flights I would always cringe when the flight attendants came by asking me to pay $5 for use of their crappy, overly padded headphones. It’s not so much the $5, it’s the fact that they come by and make you physically hand it over. This practice has recently been halted, but I have an extremely hard time believing that they’ve failed to add in that $5 somewhere else, like in the already ridiculously high airfares.

The moral of the story is that while I’m still paying for the headphones even if I don’t watch the movie, somehow it feels better because now the attendants hand me their headphones “for free.” I’d guess it’s the same with registration. It’s not so much the high race fees that people mind, it’s the small insulting bit at the end.

My suggestion would be this: Tell the race promoter to bundle the registration fees, surcharges and bribes all in one package and at the end of the story you’ll probably end up paying more, but dagnabbit, you’ll only be paying once.

Kale Buonerba
Singapore


The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.