Monday’s mailbag: Lance, Walsh and O’Grady

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.O’Grady isn’t a puppetEditor:Patrick, thank you for not joining the "Lance is a cycling god" chorus of the press (See "Friday's foaming rant: Shooting the messenger). Being a cyclist and a racing fan I have enjoyed watching Lance win the Tours

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.


O’Grady isn’t a puppet
Editor:
Patrick, thank you for not joining the “Lance is a cycling god” chorus of the press (See “Friday’s foaming rant: Shooting the messenger). Being a cyclist and a racing fan I have enjoyed watching Lance win the Tours and have great respect for his accomplishments. I have met and interacted with Lance on several occasions, on and off the bike, and he is just a guy with all the normal human frailties that afflict us all. He has become a marketing commodity with Teflon status, and I for one would like to actually read some facts regarding his success.

My limited personal exposure to Lance (before his Tour victories) was not only not impressive but I found him to be someone that I would not want my kids to emulate. I commend Walsh and Ballester for their difficult endeavor and you for not being a puppet.

Jon Roberts
Tucson, Arizona

No, he’s an idiot
Editor:
You are idiots at VeloNews. What a rambling, idiotic article that was (Friday’s foaming rant: Shooting the messenger by Patrick Idiot). Whoever wrote it (no-brain Patrick) should be fired, better yet, his job and he should be moved to India. Idiots.

If it was not for Lance, no one would even look at your site. Instead of defending the greatest athlete of our time, you idiots try to defend the lies in this so-called book of lies. Shame on you. Shame on you all for misusing our trust, for not knowing that 99.99 percent of all Americans are for Lance. So now, you idiots can go join Al Qaeda in fighting what is good in the world.

Paul McGinness
Norcross, Georgia

No, he isn’t …
Editor:
Brilliantly reasoned and impassioned plea for proportion from Patrick O’Grady in regards to the typically knee-jerk reaction from the Lance punters. I always hate rationalizations in the face of facts, and the cult of Lance is a powerful one. I seem to recall Eddy Planckaert singing the praises of EPO, and how it boosted performance 10 percent, and then Greg LeMond saying the difference between winning and losing the Tour de France was less than 2 percent.

Regardless of what Lance has or has not done, he is a fantastic athlete. He’s also human. If I can rationalize on my own meager cycling career, I know if I’d trained my whole life for something only to have it taken away by the abstraction of a needle everyone else was using, well, it’s just another sacrifice I’d have to make in my life because cycling and racing is my life.

Matt Brown
Lausanne, Switzerland

Oh, yes he is
Editor:
O’Grady makes a good point. We should read things so we can become informed. Things like, “Baby From Mars With Twelve Heads Living In White House With Bush” and “J-Lo Eats Fourth Husband” are very informative and allow me to judge if they are true or not. Get real! If you don’t have real evidence, then keep your mouth and pen quiet until you do. If they have evidence, it should be turned over to the legal system and Lance should be prosecuted. If they don’t have evidence, then they should be prosecuted.

This guilty-until-proven innocent, sensationalistic journalism is just plain crap! I think that I will write a book about O’Grady being on something. I don’t have any evidence (other than his writings), nor is it probably true, but I’ll publish it and let each reader decide for himself (their decisions will be based on lies, but oh, well). The difference is that Lance has a reputation to lose, while O’Grady … well … you decide.

Justin Maines
Boise, Idaho

You needn’t worry about libel once your tome is published, Justin. O’Grady’s on something all right, but few people, barring the late Charles Bukowski, ever considered whisky to be a performance-enhancing substance. — Editor

We need facts, whether they are good or bad news
Editor:
Having just read Patrick O’Grady’s editorial and your interview with David Walsh, I must respond “Hear, hear, bravo.” I cringe when I read other readers’ comments that you shouldn’t give attention to people like Mr. Walsh or to the possibility that there may be a skeleton in Lance Armstrong’s closet. As a newspaper, you have a responsibility to provide us with both sides of an issue, and to provide us with as many facts as possible.

Certainly Lance went through an ordeal which could be life-changing, and I’ll be rooting for him in July. It will be a great race this year, whether he wins it or not. I have a feeling it will be as competitive, if not more so, than last year’s. But if Lance is dirty, I’d like to know.

We should also take into account that we don’t know how clean any of the past great champions were. They’re still great champions.

Joel Scherer
Utica, New York

Did the authors even talk to Lance?
Editor:
In response to Patrick O’Grady’s recent editorial concerning the publishing of doping accusations against Lance Armstrong, I would suggest that in order for journalists to be fair and objective in their reporting, it would be proper to include both the accusations as well as any rebuttals from the accused in a piece of work.

Since I have not read the book, I do not know if either David Walsh or Pierre Ballester attempted to get such a rebuttal from Lance Armstrong prior to it’s publishing. It appears to me the authors did not include any rebuttals since Lance is now asking for these to be included after the fact. To publish a one-sided point of view is not fair and objective journalism, regardless of the author’s credentials.

Noel Lindemann
Vacaville, California

The authors attempted to contact Armstrong for his comments, but neither he nor his staff responded. According to the usually reliable sources, that is.— Editor

Why denounce a book you haven’t read?
Editor:
While I cannot say that I am a “fan” of O’Grady’s, I will say that I read his opinions whether they appear here or in other publications. His recent comments regarding this supposed exposé are spot-on. Let’s all relax and wait until the book has been released and we’ve had the time to read it before we shout, “Foul, it’s all lies, or impossible!”

As an American, I understand the need for modern heroes and role models. However, Lance Armstrong is an athlete and an entertainer, as O’Grady points out. I hasten to add that he is no prophet and he isn’t (currently) campaigning for the presidency. Why must we be outraged that this cancer-surviving cyclist might have skeletons that may come to light? I guess we lack public figures with admirable character and cannot tolerate when an outsider tries to tear one down. Perhaps, thanks to communication, the world has no more secrets.

Who knows whether Lance Armstrong was using performance-enhancing drugs? I’m not sure why I should even care. If one chooses to assume that all athletes are “juiced,” then the best should still rise to the top, no? Personally, I have been intrigued that so few have commented on Lance’s somewhat curious response to doping allegations. Claiming that you have never tested positive for a banned substance isn’t exactly a vehement denial, is it?

Mike Monastero
Sayville, New York

Check the messenger for warts
Editor:
Not surprisingly, you fail to remark at all on the “warts” of the “messenger” here, while advocating that we dwell on Lance’s “warts,” whether these particular warts exist at all. Not all messengers are the same; some may well need to be “shot.” You’re not doing your job; just protecting another messenger.

John Carr
Moraga, California

Nothing like a slap in the chops to get you thinking
Editor:
Nicely done. It feels good to get pulled out of my comfortable box every once in a while, and nobody does it better than Mr. O’Grady. As the man said after getting slapped across the face, “Thanks, I needed that.”

Steve Rempel
Mountain View, California

Ignore this book and it will go away
Editor:
In response to “Shooting the Messenger”: Don’t you think it’s a bit hypocritical to start a letter about shooting the messenger by telling the reader to “shut the hell up?”

As for “L.A. Confidential,” the timing of its release is reason enough to doubt whatever it might say. It is clearly aimed at causing personal grief to Mr. Armstrong as he enters his final preparation for the Tour. I am not willing to investigate a book with such transparent motivations.

O’Grady apparently feels that David Walsh must be honest, because he has won several journalism awards. Yeah, right. I’m sure there are plenty of trial lawyers out there with “awards” hanging all over their walls too. I encourage you to ignore this book and it will go away just like all the other grocery store tabloids.

David Landstrom
Kalispell, Montana

Where’s the bile, the venom — the rant?
Editor:
That was a “foaming rant?” I know the man has gotten soft over the last year, but that was simply pathetic. Where’s the bile, the venom, the savage glee in publicly humiliating yet another hapless victim? No one reads O’Grady for balanced, even-handed commentary on the latest cycling news – we want blood and we want it now! (I hear booze helps liven up his pen…) Nathaniel Goggin
Chicago, Illinois

Lance the hero; Walsh the zero
Editor:
Thanks, VeloNews, for shedding light on Mr. Walsh. After reading it and the excerpts published in L’Express, I am left with many disturbing questions – about him.

If he cannot say that he believes the allegations against Lance Armstrong, what reasonable and probable grounds does he have, and why choose to give them a voice? If his interest is in the truth, why then would he not wait until he could go out and find solid corroboration or denial? Is this a writer’s laziness to do the tough research or a haste hinting at something more sinister?

I’ll subject the case against Walsh to the same standard of proof I apply to the allegations against Armstrong, leaving Lance a hero and Walsh stuck at zero.

Rob McCleave
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada


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.