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Friday’s mailbag: More on doping, ball sports vs. cycling, OLN, and Merckx’s bikes

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. 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.Stop paying attention to all this crapEditor:If you pay attention to the ratio of articles posted on your site (which has always been my favorite, by the way, and I go to it several times a day), about half of them are about drugs. Everyone keeps saying, “Show something else other than

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The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. 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.


Stop paying attention to all this crap
Editor:
If you pay attention to the ratio of articles posted on your site (which has always been my favorite, by the way, and I go to it several times a day), about half of them are about drugs.

Everyone keeps saying, “Show something else other than the doping part of the sport” – well, do something about it. Stop posting every little article about every doper, drug incidence, Frank Vandenbroucke shooting his gun, etc. It occurs to me that this is really what people want to hear – all of the trash. Let’s just all ride and race hard, and stop paying attention to all of this crap.

Come on, VeloNews, let’s get back to the tech talk, mountain bikes, road bikes, the upcoming cyclo-cross season. It’s about time you guys see yourselves as front-runners in this whole thing.

Matt Rainey
Issaquah, Washington

Thanks for enjoying the site, Matt; we appreciate your point of view. But let’s consider this: If reporting about illicit drug use were to be placed off limits, what about cutting the course, taking a tow from a team vehicle on a climb, or riding a rival into the barriers during a sprint? It’s all cheating, right? So where would you draw the line at reporting bad news? – Editor

Time for a new top-fuel category?
Editor:
In light of recent doping arrests and confessions, the UCI and other regional sanctioning bodies should create a new category. The new Cat. U (unlimited) racers can have races with 25 percent more climbing and/or length and a max bike weight of 5kg. We can even flunk out Cat. U riders whose blood hematocrit that falls below 52 percent.

Of course, once removed from Cat. U they are ineligible to race in any other category — ever. It would be a winner-take-all, anything-goes, WWE-style cash grab with no girly-man points to keep track of. Come to think of it, the UCI could offer a million-dollar Cat. U purse once every five or six years to entice dopers to make the jump into the unlimited category.

Matt Carter
Las Vegas

Las Vegas, eh? Pitching a new act to a casino, are we? – Editor

Dopers are cheaters, liars and thieves
Editor:
I’m glad Leo O’Connor of Salt Lake City, Utah wrote the letter “Learn to live with doping in sport,” because he gives possible insight to the way dimwitted doping athletes think and how they use faulty comparisons in a vain attempt to justify the type of people they are.

Dopers are cheaters, liars, thieves and people of low moral standards. Mr. O’Connor should compare the druggies with the executives who ran Enron into the ground, not hard-working honest people.

Darren Mertz
Ridgecrest, California

Leo got it right
Editor:
Leo O’Connor is bold enough to say what each competitive cyclist already knows.

Dave Bergey
Cumming, Georgia

Accepting pro doping would legitimize it for young amateurs
Editor:
Leo O’Connor’s letter made some valid points, but I still find it disturbing on several levels. First, he states that we should accept doping in sport as we have accepted cosmetic surgery, bovine growth hormone and ChemLawn. But none of those things is illegal – in cycling, taking dope is cheating. And until the rules get rewritten to allow any and all performance enhancement, the only viable path is to continue to crack down on dopers. Second, and more disturbing, is the behavior that the acceptance of doping would foster. In the USA, one of the worst-kept secrets is that pro baseball and football players are juicing. And now steroid abuse is rampant in high school. Kids who don’t stand a realistic chance of playing at the college level, never mind professionally, are juicing. Legalizing this behavior – even among licensed pros who are, for all intents and purposes, paid gladiators – will only result in its legitimacy at lower levels, where it has no place at all. Professional athletes should not be role models except when, perhaps, they do good things away from the bike or playing field, as Lance Armstrong does with his foundation. Unfortunately, no matter how much Charles Barkley says he’s not a role model, the reality is that 99.9 percent of young kids – even those with good families and loving parents – are going to pay a lot more attention to what the Chuckster says and does than anything they their parents tell them.

To just cave in and say, “let them dope” is taking the easy way out – and more often the easy way is not the right way.

Jim Burlant
Mesa, Arizona

Drugs are part of life
Editor:
Finally, Leo O’Connor of Salt Lake City nails it. He is correct. The other holier-than-thou antidopers just do not get it. Drugs are in and always will be; it’s life. Accept it.

Paul O’Neill
Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Cheaters steal from the clean racers
Editor:
Regardless of the current effectiveness of the war on doping in sport, that doesn’t make it right or acceptable. And we as a society wanting safety do not accept recreational (or destructive and abusive) drug use regardless of the ease of purchase or efficiency of potency. We are not talking about recreational drug use here. We’re talking about doping in sports – cheating.

Comparing a doped-up cyclist to a corporate executive who works excessive hours each week is wrong. Comparing a doped-up cyclist to an Enron executive who increases profitability via “creative” accounting is more appropriate.

People who work harder and smarter to become better athletes, employees, and humans – for their own good and the good of others – are most appreciated and should be rewarded. But some don’t want to do the hard work required to achieve their goals. Sure would be easier to get to the peak by taking the low, underhanded road. Who cares how you got there? At least you’re sitting pretty in your summer home, reminiscing about how easy it was to steal something rather than actually paying for it.

Jesse Ignacio
Seattle, Washington

Comparing apples to oranges is a waste of time
Editor:
I think I can offer a different perspective on the sudden football vs. cycling argument. Most contributors to your mailbag are very one-sided in their viewpoint and experiences, but so are the writers and fans of most ball sports. Unless you have played with both types of helmets, I don’t think you can look at this argument objectively.

I played Division 1 football in college, and I’m now a Cat. 4 roadie. There is absolutely no way Mike Vick, Ricky Williams, or any other NFL player could complete stage 1 of the tour without being eliminated on time. At the same time, you couldn’t stuff all of U.S. Postal in a football uniform and produce anything close to a football player.

The skills and talents needed for the two sports couldn’t be more different. The sheer athleticism (hand-eye coordination, speed, quickness, intuition, etc.) needed for the NFL is an apple to the orange of cycling’s demands (physiological wonders, a love of pain and discomfort, mental toughness, etc.). Arguing about the two from either side is a total waste of time.

Rob McPheeters
Clifton, New Jersey

Time for an unbiased network to cover cycling
Editor:
I guess the only way OLN will show races now is if Lance is participating. It’s really a shame, since there are so many other cyclists out there who deserve to be seen and talked about.

After OLN’s coverage of the Tour de Lance, they shouldn’t be allowed to show any races in the future. Let an unbiased network cover them from now on. It would be a refreshing change to not hear Lance’s name every few seconds for three weeks straight, only to then have every commercial about him, too. Enough already!

Bernd Krause
Johnson City, New York

Merckx and Coppi, Merckx and Colnago . . .
Editor:
Bret Martin writes: “I have noticed that whatever team Axel Merckx joins they usually end up riding his dad’s bicycles. When Armstrong and Merckx rode together for Motorola they were riding Eddy Merckx bikes. Does this mean that the new Discovery team will be changing equipment? No more Fisher Price-esque Treks?”

At Polti, Axel rode Coppi bikes, and at Mapei, he rode Colnago. So I don’t think that Axel has a problem riding bikes from another manufacturer than his dad.

Steven L. Sheffield
Salt Lake City, Utah


The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. 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.