Friday’s mailbag: Lance vs. Walsh; Beloki vs. French; Samplonius vs. Jeanson; and money-hungry scum

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. This reader believes LanceEditor:I find the almost evangelical fervor with which some readers have come to the defense of Lance’s character a little distressing. The reasoning, if cited, for this faith is not, in my view, supported by what

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.


This reader believes Lance
Editor:
I find the almost evangelical fervor with which some readers have come to the defense of Lance’s character a little distressing. The reasoning, if cited, for this faith is not, in my view, supported by what is public knowledge and seems more of an emotional reaction. So what’s wrong with that?

Firstly, I believe Lance. I cannot, however, say that the possibility does not reasonably exist that there is some truth to an allegation of this sort. Unfortunately, Lance cannot offer proof of the negative, that he has never doped; he can only assert, to his credit, that he has never tested positive and offer his prior actions and patterns of behavior as further circumstantial support.

I choose to believe Lance because, from what I have read in the press, and observed in interviews, I think I see a passion for sport and a passion for living life that are not consistent with doping. I do not know Lance, I do not know anything other than what has been reported on and released to the general public. I cannot really say I “know” very much at all with respect to Lance’s actions.

This present situation makes me think about Marco Pantani. I fear that this evangelical fervor which I sense could turn into something very ugly should people’s beliefs/judgments be less than 100 percent proven.

I truly hope that Lance has had a career entirely free of banned performance-enhancing drugs. With all that is Lance’s story to date, it makes me marvel at our capacity for life to believe that. But cheating is not, in my view, anything close to a capital offense, and the indifference, lack of sympathy or outright hostility that I observed in some people’s reactions to the tragedy of Pantani’s death was totally out of proportion to any related real or imagined misdeeds.

Lance Armstrong’s exploits are amazing. In July, I will be cheering, eager to see how this chapter plays out. Many have enjoyed, even taken inspiration from, Lance Armstrong’s cycling career to date. I believe there is some absolute truth in that, regardless of whatever “truth” comes out of these or future allegations.

Go Lance!

Steve Mac
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Forget what you think: What do you know?
Editor:
It absolutely astounds me that so many people can so vehemently defend Lance Armstrong against doping, when they have absolutely no personal knowledge of the man or his practices. Reading his books, watching television shows and following races are not a substitute for knowing the man firsthand.

The fact is that only a select few people know whether the allegations are true. If these allegations prove unfounded, the purveyors should be prosecuted to the full extent allowed by law. But to judge the matter with only public information, based on emotion, is certainly foolhardy.

Michael Pizzorno
Northville, Michigan

It’s all about the bucks, baby
Editor:
Bravo for Lance! I’m so sick of seeing people at the top being constantly battered by those money-hungry scum, “book writers.” Let’s see, why do you think they felt the need to tell their story? Money, baby — money. They know they can write whatever they want, and people will start talking, and the next thing you know they are rolling in the cash.

Lance is a good guy. Jealousy, envy and greed are the sad emotions that seem to swirl around stars of today. I personally believe in Lance and all that he stands for. If he says he’s clean, I believe him.

Doug Cunningham
Sag Harbor, New York

We’d like to thank Doug on behalf of money-hungry scum everywhere. — Editor

VeloNews is just doing its job
Editor:
People who are suggesting that David Walsh’s accusations are so baseless that VeloNews shouldn’t even have reported on them need a serious reality check. The controversy over “L.A. Confidential” has been covered in many other media outlets (like The New York Times, for instance). The reason? People care.

All the letters being written in response to the book is plenty evidence of that. Shame on Walsh and L’Express for a sorry attempt at investigative reporting, but don’t hate VeloNews for simply doing their job: bringing information to the public.

Jan Wolfe
Brookline, Massachusetts

Sniff … we love ya, man. Now give us some money. — Editor

Take the bad news with the good
Editor:
Still love your show, the great mag that I look forward to each month. I guess that your readers, or at least those that write to you, can be placed into two categories: “You report the news,” and “You don’t report the news.” Kinda wish they would make up their minds. I view the recent news about Lance as essential to anybody that follows cycling. I do not view this as any kind of endorsement of anything by anybody at VeloNews, but it sure is news.

Great articles about world cycling. Keep up the good work.

Peter Chisholm
Boulder, Colorado

Ask anyone who’s raced in Europe about doping
Editor:
I hate to burst the bubble of all those who believe Lance Armstrong is drug-free, but if these believers had the opportunity to talk to anyone who has raced on a European team that uses drugs, they would be told that one can not begin to compete at the same level as the drug users. Many a naive and talented American has gone to Europe, trained hard and found on race day that their less talented teammates suddenly had supernatural powers. Emma Reilly has nothing to gain but heartache by coming forward.

Steve Hansen
Sacramento, California

Bravo, Anne Samplonius
Editor:
Regarding Anne Samplonius’s warning: Congratulations for putting it on the line, saying it like it is and telling us what you think. I admire that. Your views are shared by many. Good luck.

Kevin Nelson
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Boo, French fed and Beloki’s ex-team
Editor:
I find it incredible that the French cycling federation would not allow Joseba Beloki to take his asthma medication, which he had been using since boyhood.

His Brioches La Boulangere team doctor reportedly said that “no recognized case of asthma was confirmed,” but this came as no surprise to me. At the age of 15, I came down with asthma virtually overnight. I went to bed breathing as freely as I always had and woke up in the middle of the night barely able to take in air. My doctor was skeptical because he could not detect it in a routine physical exam. It took a two-mile run in blisteringly cold temperatures to induce a full-blown asthma attack, from which I almost passed out due to lack of oxygen, and it took two days for me to recover fully; my doctor, while remaining skeptical, could hardly deny the results of that test

Apparently, asthma can manifest itself in strange ways. It can, at least in my experience, evade detection in its milder forms. But even in a mild asthmatic state, one’s athletic performance can be drastically hindered. My sophomore basketball coach nicknamed me “Sickly” and claimed I was dogging it on the court.

Beloki was put in an untenable position – ride the Tour knowing his asthmatic condition would hinder his performance, or resign and find new digs. I can sympathize with Beloki; there is no way to overcome even a mild asthmatic attack and still put in a full-potential athletic effort.

If his team was worried he would test positive for cortisone, why was this issue not brought up during negotiations over a very lucrative contract?) If Beloki has been using it since childhood, it must have shown up in tests before now, while he was riding for ONCE. And yet, as far as I know, he was never sanctioned for its use.

It’s a case in which the letter of the law once again violates its own spirit. Sometimes common sense is more fleeting than the glory of being a champion. And as far as I’m concerned, Beloki is a champion, even if he has yet to win the Tour.

Wes Baki
Green Mountain Falls, Colorado

Can’t wait for the Tour and live updates
Editor:
With the London roads already bustling with summer-only cyclists, I watch with intrigue to see what frenzy approaches during the month of the Tour de France. My 11-mile commute to work is made more interesting in the early summer months by the appearance of hordes of mountain bikers in T-shirts and shorts, their fat tires purring on the tarmac. The pace has already picked up, and the commute now has a competitive edge. Next month I’d expect to see a swell of road-bike commuters in team colors and aerodynamic gear. That’s when the competitive natures of followers of the Tour De France flower, and before I know it I’ll find myself in a mini-peloton whizzing along the Embankment.

Is it just me, or does your live coverage of the TdF make us all want to reel in the guy who has just “attacked” as the traffic light changed from red to green? Do I cycle faster because I followed Tyler Hamilton winning that stage last year, and know that my suffering legs can and always will suffer more?

Next month, I’ll look forward to your live coverage, hope to goodness a heat wave descends upon London, and possibly repeat softly to myself the names of Hamilton, Mayo and Armstrong as I cycle homeward. My thanks to the live-coverage team.

Julian Dams
London, England

What’s in it for me?
Editor:
Holy jeez … I just got my renewal notice for my subscription of VeloNews. Can I use Flexpay? If I renew for three years, can I at least get a bicycle phone, a T-shirt, a water bottle (new) or something? Do the advertisers pay anything? Oh, well … I guess I’ll just go ahead and renew and ask for that new carbon seatpost for Christmas.

Jim Nankervis
Midlothian, Virginia

Sorry, Jim, but you know how we money-hungry scum are. And if you don’t, we’re sure Doug will be happy to fill you in. Nevertheless, as our man Tyler Hamilton says, thanks for reading, and we’ll forward your note to Santa.— Editor


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.