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Mail for the week of March 18

 VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.comthat causes you to want to write us, drop us a line at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail to thisaddress, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.Cycling can clean up like football and baseball didWe all reallyneed to decrease our focus on the UCI to help solve thedoping issue in cycling, and look far more to the team ownership and sponsors.Like the NFL, or Major League Baseball, the anti doping rules

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VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something inthe pages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.comthat causes you to want to write us, drop us a line at WebLetters@7Dogs.com.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail to thisaddress, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.Cycling can clean up like football and baseball didWe all reallyneed to decrease our focus on the UCI to help solve thedoping issue in cycling, and look far more to the team ownership and sponsors.Like the NFL, or Major League Baseball, the anti doping rules are alreadyon the books, and have been for quite some time. Only when the sponsorstake an extreme interest in ridding the sport of dopers will anything everbe accomplished.The UCI’s zeal to solve problems is going to be directly influencedby the team ownership, as it is these team owners who control UCI policy.The reason we have not seen stronger anti-doping action in the past bythe UCI is because they simply wanted to bury the problem, combat the badpress, and just hope the problems go away. So long as sponsors continueto pay big Euros for a scandal-ridden sport, the problem will perpetuate.One could argue that the extreme pressure placed on the teams to performwell for their sponsorship money, is the reason they tend to look the otherway (if not outright encouraging the use, or even providing these drugs).I’ve now seen some encouraging signs that certain teams are nowtaking responsibility and testing their own riders for drugs, but certainlynot enough. Look at Fabio Sacchi. Saeco only dumped him AFTER he was bustedfor drugs by the Italian Police. But we should (now) be able to expectthat Saeco should probably have an “in-house” testing regimen in place.Obviously they do not. and they probably WILL NOT anytime soon. Obviouslythey care more about having a winning program (and so do their sponsors)than they care about running it clean.Remember back to the NFL days of the 70’s and early 80’s. Players didn’tget into trouble unless they were busted for drugs off the playing field,or busted independently (sound familiar?), and we could never really lookto the NFL to do anything more than perhaps fine them a couple of bucks.But over time, the team ownership (and thus the league) realized thatall the bad press about drugs would eventually affect thier bottom lines.Same went for baseball. Now the players have to pass drug tests internallywithin the teams to keep playing (independent of NFL regs), and if theyget busted off-the-field, they have clauses in their contracts that penalizethem if they get caught.Anyhow, don’t expect the UCI to fix this problem. Look to team owners.If (by this point in the mess) teams don’t have their own internal testingprograms going on, then you can probably take a good guess as to how interestedthey are in seeing the drug problem being combatted. So long as the moneyflows, so will the EPO.-Patrick MannionProfessional football is now clean? — EditorWhy the poll? And why so many Republicans?!?!?Editors;Why the poll? Despite my suspicion about this type of a poll,  the strong numberson the Republican side leads me to comment.
 
“Conservative” (republican) cyclists never cease to amaze me.  It simply does not make sense to me that people who consume as much airas cyclists do can vote for politicians that would produce policies thatwill most likely give us “air guzzlers” lung disease.
 
I also appreciate access to trails, most importantly, the “local trails”that are accessible via a short ride from my driveway.  Just recently,many of these trails were saved from condo developers because of the effortsand direction of a local environmental group.  Besides the developers,the only people in town fighting for the condo’s were conservatives becausethey value consumption more than conservation.  Well, I’d rather beable to do a ride after work right from my driveway rather than see thevalue of my home go up 1 percent.
 
I also appreciate the “share the road signs” with pictures of a bicycleon a local stretch of road that many road riders in my area frequent. Those signs are there thanks to eco- and bike- friendly liberals, not byadvocates of mass consumption.  If it were up to some of our conservativeofficials, that stretch of road would probably be a four lane 60 mph highwayby now.
 
Perhaps it seems simple to me because I enjoy the wilderness and wildopen spaces.  I don’t see many Republicans advocating for pristineland and air, but rather for taking what they want from the land and leavingit bare or full of cookie-cutter housing.  I don’t value consumption,I value conservation, and the long-term picture is clear to me.  Whatcyclists stand to loose is even clearer.
 
Conserving our air and our land makes sense to me for obvious reasons,why others are so short sighted I’ll never understand.
 
AHM
Ann Arbor, MI
 
Why the poll? We were just wondering and it’s our poll so we putit up. — EditorStop the whining… and the O’GradyAs a lifelong cyclist and cycling fan, I get so freakin’ fed up withthe whining about drugs in cycling.Yes, I do believe that the sport should be kept as honest and cleanas possible, but imagine this all you American Sports fans: lets subjectthe NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB to the exact same drugs scrutiny that cycling,international track and field, Nordic skiing and soccer are subjected to.I can imagine the uproar when over half of the “professionals” in theseNorth American team sports are found to test positive for steroids, creatine,human growth hormone, stimulants, cortisone, pain killers and a whole hostof “recreational” drugs that would cause an athlete in international sportto be banned.There exists such a double standard regarding drugs in the world ofsport that one must suspect that there is serious money involved in protectingthe big commercial sports in the U.S. and Canada.As to the writings of Patrick O’Grady, I guess I had hoped that theaverage cyclist and/or reader of VeloNews would be more mature thanto be amused by the rantings of such a talentless poser, but there seemsto be a lot of folks out there who will sink to the lowest common denominatorof human character and I suppose that cyclists aren’t immune to that disease.Tom Adams,
Fair Oaks, Pa.So, between our poll, our demographic studies and your letter, wehave to conclude that our readers are rich, old (but immature), Republicanswith a bad sense of humor. Our professors always told us to write withour audience in mind. — Editor
 Tuesday’s lettersLeveling the playing fieldAs for the dopers: Clear ’em out, less competition for me!!Mike ObstA pledge of honor?Dear VeloNews:      My special thanks to VeloNewsfor keeping us informed about the ongoing investigations of professionalcyclists for illegal possession and use of banned doping/drug products.As a life-long recreational cyclist and one of perhaps millions of professionalracing fans, my comments may mirror those of many you’ve already received,but I wholeheartedly endorse the actions of the Italian police (or anyother constituted authorities) in continuing their surveillance and monitoringof professional racing cyclists for illegal use or possession of banneddoping products.Obviously, if riders acted as the supposed “professionals” that theyare being paid to be, rather than the slinking cheats and lying opportunists,we’d be freed of this onerous responsibility. For the sake of the futureof this beautiful sport, the honor and integrity of their profession, theirown welfare (for Christ’s sake!), and the faith and following of the publicin their pursuits,  we must not tolerate their refusals to followethical and sportsmanlike practices/conduct. This should go without saying!!If they continue to act in these unprofessional and criminal ways, theyshould be expelled from the sport, period!  I believe the UCI shouldrequire every professional racing cyclist, as a precondition of their employment, to sign an oath stating that they will
(1) refuse the use, possession, or distribution of banned performanceenhancing products;(2) accept random, unannounced  urine or blood tests whenever authoritiesfeel sufficient grounds exist for these checks to be made;(3) be familiar (educating themselves) with current prohibited performanceenhancing products on the UCI’s lists;(4) reveal to authorities the names of any medical doctors, trainers,coaches, managers, or anyone else who suggests they use these prohibitedsubstances; and(5) swear their allegiance to a code of ethics and sportsmanship thatrenounces use or acceptance of these substances.Furthermore, the same oath of allegiance must be required of all coaches,trainers, doctors, owners, and sponsors. If these supposedly reputabletypes can’t make this commitment to the sport, they won’t be allowed tobe involved in this sport, period!!Honor must be protected, with or without their phony excuses!!!
 
The business pressures to perform, without requiring conformance withgeneral standards of honor and ethical conduct, must be monitored and reportedto authorities, to protect the welfare of this sport. All sponsors shouldbe required to promote the UCI’s code of ethical conduct first and foremost,with or without victories of a team’s riders!This should be sworn to… by the business people and owners who sponsorthe teams of riders. To fail to require the foregoing commitments has alreadycost this sport dearly. Sponsors who act honorably don’t want to be associatedwith criminal behavior, nor see their companies’ reputations ruined/destroyed,just because no one insists on honorable behavior being followed. Thissport needs to take whatever prosecutorial measures it must to mandatethe following of all ethical codes of behavior. WE HAVE SEEN WHAT DOPINGIS DOING TO THIS SPORT AND WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!! WE MUST ACT!!!Time for excuses has passed! Case closed!Another fed-up fan,
Steve Marvin
 Just say mais nonEditor;In an era when testing positive for a poppy seed muffin and a Diet Cokeis grounds for having your billets raided, I’d say we’re already 100 timescleaner than the Merckx era (the first one).Clean Is New. Let’s give it time to work itself out. Let’s have FrankVandenbroucke as our test case, our transition from the old school to thenew. Can he make it? Will we all make it? Will his dog make it? I hopeso.I’m not naive enough to think that heroes of the past didn’t indulgein performance enhancing drugs just because EPO didn’t come in from thecold until Richard Burton did. I suspect the big names Coppi, Anquetil,Moser, De Vlaeminck, Hinault, some of the guys in “Stars & Water Carriers,”but not Roche, he was a god.Maybe that’s why there are only muted cries of “just say mais non”from the recliners of the Euro stars of auld (except France, no reclinersin France). I mean, didn’t our boy, LeMond joke about knocking back a flatcoke — for the caffeine and sugar — right before a summit finish? Poorguy, retired right before they invented Gu.Are we only incensed by the current era or can we go back a ways? Whatfun. We could strip Joop Zootemelk of his Tour win on the grounds of, well,probably something. I mean, come on, wasn’t he good for about twenty yearsstraight?On a side note, if not doping, cyclists can certainly be guilty of collateralP.R. damage to the sport, like donning a neon pink Coors Light cap at theend of a stage. God forbid you sign on with Viagra. What would you be obligedto get on-camera as the podium girls kiss you? It’s almost funny to seea handler scrambling to get his guy off the bike and into their personalsponsor’s Aqua Socks and Oakleys even before toweling off.Click, click.Tom Patten
Madison, WISome letters just demand a responseFirst to Troy Waters (see “Enough white bread already” below, underMonday’s letters) who made the outrageous claim that an MTB race isno more than a time trial. This guy has obviously never done a mountainbike race or else he would know it’s a hell of a lot more than that. Tostart with, it’s about 2 hours long, and how many TTs include lung busting,leg burning, you can barely make it climbs followed by a rocky, twisting,white knuckle descent. If it was “just a TT” why is one Mr. Armstrong (arguablythe world’s best time trialist) unable to win the occasional MTB race heenters against not even world class mountain bikers?Secondly to Al Gould (see “Americans just train harder and longer”below, under Monday’s letters), on first reading of his letter I thoughtit must be tongue in  cheek, but upon re-reading, I get the terriblefeeling he is serious! If this deluded soul wants to live in a fantasyland where no American cyclist takes performance enhancing drugs and theUS are the best cycling nation in the world so be it. I can only say thatthis sort of holier than thou one eyed patriotism is the reason a lot ofpeople don’t like Americans. “More and better cyclist(s) than any othercountry” please, give me a break!I won’t bother going into statistics to refute this claim because anyonewho knows anything about cycling knows this is simply not true even involume terms, let alone per capita!Sam Alison
Ostrava
Czech RepublicMonday’s Letters:
Lots to say on Roll… and O’Grady and drugs and copsDon’t stop Roll-in’Do not stop Bob Roll articles!Those who whine can keep whinin’, but don’t lose Roll.Matherw PurcellLet them rant!Thanks for the great articles from these guys!!I used to read Roll like gospel, back in the early ’90s.  I havemissed that dude.  And O’Grady is right on target–if you don’t likehim, don’t read him.  In fact O’Grady seems to have studied the religionof Roll, with perfect imitation of style that makes me want to pick upback issues to re-read Bobke diaries.Thanks for bringing back the classic Roll.  Keep bringing him back. And keep O’Grady off the leash too, he’s super fun to read.Zack Vestal
Boulder, COIn praise of diversityOh, That was rich! (See “Friday’sFoaming Rant“)VeloNews runs the entire spectrum on cycling. From the Tech-geeksto the retro-grouch, the Palmer-esque downhill to the hardtail die hard.It’s got something for everyone and never stops to take risks with subjectmatter, photography and frite eating wacked out Durango-ites rants.It’s kinda a rainbow jersey of diversity and there’s something for allof us. Shame on those readers who want Velonews to cater specifically totheir narrow cycling view.Good Job!Barry Johnson
Salt Lake CityFrom Kerouac to Howard Stern, Roll is slippingVeloNews folks, As a cyclist and avid consumer of cycling journalism, I have cometo develop a particular interest Bob Roll’s unique perspective and mannerof articulating it. He is at once irreverent, unique, gritty, and honest.Oh, and lest I forget, quite manic. Yet, at the same time, he clearly demonstratesthe utmost respect for his dignified sport and its culture.Nevertheless, I do need to say that his latest backpage piece in Velonewswas perhaps one of the most idiosyncratic, self-indulgent, and incoherentcontributions I have ever read. I felt like I was reading B-level beatpoetry. It was Kerouac meets Howard Stern meets aspiring-but-brooding-and-bitterpseudo intellectual high school literary. His string of misplaced and floriddescriptors and obscure, gratuitous references was painful to read. Perhaps Bob Roll is one of those inimitable sports culture iconswho has achieved that status of “cool and quirky” that he can do no wrong.However, I believe he needs to play to his strengths, namely riding, growingback his mutton chops, writing brief (and I emphasize brief) cycling commentary,and continuing to offer the great insider OLN coverage of the TDF thathe did last summer.Andre P. Bessette
Woodstock, CTLet he who is without a narrow little point of view cast…Editor,Mr. Geary rips Mr. O’Grady for having a “narrow little point of view.”(See Friday’s Letters)Perhaps Mr. Geary should go look in a mirror.Patrick Caselli
San Jose, CABlasphemers unite!re: O’Grady and RollIt’s the bumps and rattles that make the road fun; debate, rants andcolor make the world go ’round folks.Without them, we know only routine and prim conformity. Blasphemersunite! To O’Grady and Roll, thanks for keeping me in
stitches. Doubly so to VN for retaining a sense of humor andpublishing the good stuff.And I can’t resist comment: if you don’t like rif raf, spend your dollarselsewhere.Jeremy Littell,
Bozeman Montana.Waiting for the Groove TubeIt’s about time that the man was back writing.I only wish OLN would let the man really shine.Miles Hersey
NY, NYAbove all, Roll’s a menschI had the pleasure of asking for his autograph at the inaugural IrvineClassic sponsored in part by Mercury.  Bob was doing commentary forOLN when I was able to corner him as he crossed a barrier on his way backto the sound booth.After yelling his name a couple of times, I introduced my wife to Boband Bob to my wife.  My wife interrupted and indicated that I wasa big fan.  Without hesitation, Bob signed the cover of my Competitormagazine (featuring Steve Larsen).Bob stood and chatted a bit until I was just a babbling idiot. Cordially, he excused himself, shaking our hands and wishing us well. My wife and I walked away commenting what a class act this guy truly isup and in person.All I know, there are two people in Southern California that reallyrespect the guy for his past accomplishments (helping Andy win the Giro)and our face to face experience.  As far as his writing, I dare youto find someone as creative with their writing style and knowledge of cycling.Brian Comiskey
Fullerton, CaliforniaLove it!Regarding: O’Grady’s rant!In a world of commercialization, mass personalization and outrageouspolitical correctness, it is refreshing to hear some irascibility and irreverencefrom time to time.  Bring it on!We ain’t no “massive butt-cheeses.”Barry GoffeEnough white bread alreadySounds like we’re voting on the tone of  the back page? I votewe turn it over to someone who has something to say that’s interestingand funny. Ya’ll can shoot for the same demo as the Economist, butwhy would you want to do that? The world has enough white bread.As for the Roadie Attitude: To me, the two sports are as different astennis and racquetball. When’s the last time you saw the Andre on ESPNslappin’ a blue ball? We force them together because the market for eitheris so small. I’ve heard it said before that MTB’ers are much more mellowthan us Roadies; that’s because the sports are so different. Ya’ll in theMTB world need to come to terms with the fact that a MTB race is nothingmore than a time trial. Road racing is political and tactical and muchmore capable of supporting opportunists.The two sports attract two very different personality types. Road racesare nervous affairs often decided in 5 minute bursts. Roadies are oftennervous, insecure folks with gnarly tempers. Go figure. MTB races are abouttechnical bike handling skills and power output at AT. MTBers… 95 percentof them go to the line knowing full well they have no chance to win. Where’sthe pressure, who are they going to create a combine with, what good willit do them to try and psyche out their opponent? It’s a Time Trial!Roadies take themselves too seriously, they’re cliquey and they’re waytoo stylish. Still, I love everything about the Roadie life.Troy Walters
Gardverville, NVThe guy writes what he knowsBob Roll raced alone in Europe for money.  He learned to speakforeign languages.  He wrote no rodomontade on the critical heartrate necessary to maximize the power curve while conserving ATP.He wrote no “in the heat of the peloton” self lauding- sleep inducingtomes.  No, he wrote about walking up a hill to meet an Italian family.He wrote about a bar in Como that Chiapucci frequented, but he wrote itin Italian and thus incurred all manner of wrath.  Now, he poundsa few idiots who conflate cycling with homework and the book banners wouldhave him burned with Huck Finn.The purchase of Motel Porn does not drop when conservative groups goto a convention.  Apparently, people who don’t like Bob Roll cannotturn away their eyes either.Bill StoneA fan of cycling… and of the copsAs a fan of professional cycling I applaud the raids launched by theItalian police.The riders, the teams and the UCI do not seem to have ability and willto clean up the sport by themselves, so a little external support is needed. I want to know that those who are winning, are winning on the basis oftheir ability, drive and determination.Using drugs is cheating and renders any race outcome as fraudulent.Jim Croxton
Columbus, OHWant’s more info before giving up on the pelotonOk…now what lead the Police to think there were drugs there? Not statedin article.Second after they search and find nothing …. how do cyclist performthe next day..It sounds like they are following the footsteps of the French and tryingthere best to ruin cycling..From what I read in the article, maybe there is more to the story, whichI would like to hear before I become more dissatisfied with the Europeancycling people.Dale NewhouseDopers don’t countGiven the comments some time back as Polti dropped from cycling withthe sponsoring spokesperson speaking about his disillusionment having beendirectly lied to by Virenque about his drug use, and more recently, Liquigas’decision to drop from the sport, or a recent title sponsor of the TourSuisse packing it on account of potential bad press, it was nice to seethat some sport insiders/sponsors are doing something about tainted results.Go to “Swix” (ski wax) home page and their title page declares thatthey consider the Olympic blood-doping winners illegitimate to the degreethat they’re going to pay the victory/performance bonuses to the athletesas if the dopers weren’t even present. Dopers, do you see that you don’tcount in the sport?Please look in the dictionary under ” really dumb jock.”Marco Libratore
Denver, COAmericans just train harder and longerWere can anyone find so many riders of the pass still involved in theirsport.It is always so good to see names come back up that were riders of the’60s and  ’70s still right there riding and helping to better thesport.People have spoken out on the question of drugs in our teams. I, forone, do not believe that they are used by our teams and especially “Lance.”Our teams train harder and longer.  WE are deeply into the scienceof the body and each individual one.  The mental power of of our teamand the physical conditioning are all working full circle and We will putout more and better cyclist than any other country.  We don’t needthe drugs because our mental powers will push us just to train harder andsmarter.Good Luck U.S.A. Teams  Pro & AM.Al Gould
North Canaan, CT
 


Archived Letters:Last week’s mailbagMarch 4 – 6,2002Friday — March1, 2002Thursday — February28, 2002February 26 -27, 2002Monday, February25February 21 – 22,2002February 13 – 20,2002February 8 -12, 2002