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Saturday’s mail: More on Brooke, Simoni, Garzelli, Tyler…

VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something in thepages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.com thatcauses you to want to write us, dropus a line. Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail to this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter. Say it ain’t so, Brooke I am a former team member on the team Brooke manages. All I can sayis, I am horribly disappointed. (see Blackweldersuspended) Last year while competing with Brooke in the Women's Challenge, I commentedto friends and family about what an amazing

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VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something in thepages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.com thatcauses you to want to write us, dropus a line.

Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail to this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.

Say it ain’t so, Brooke

I am a former team member on the team Brooke manages. All I can sayis, I am horribly disappointed. (see Blackweldersuspended)

Last year while competing with Brooke in the Women’s Challenge, I commentedto friends and family about what an amazing athlete Brooke was and howI aspired to have such athletic talent.

I appreciate the opportunity I was given to race at a higher level,but is this really supporting women’s cycling like she says she’s tryingto do? How unfair to her team members as well as the other competitors.

Rebecca Bjork
Bozeman, MT

Motive versus responsibility

I read Brooke’s letter with interest.(see “Blackwelderresponds to USADA ruling and suspension“) The issue here isn’t motive,it’s responsibility.

As Brooke noted, nandrolone has been associated with certain dietarysupplements. The UCI and USAC drug rules do not differentiate between intentionaland unintentional use of banned substances. The rider is responsible forwhat goes into their body.

 If a rider selects a particular dietary supplement, it is theirresponsibility, not the USAC’s or UCI’s, that the supplement does not containbanned substances.

If there is doubt, then the rider should err on the side of safety andnot take the supplement. Everyone at the elite level knows this and smartriders make sure they know what’s in their supplements, food, and medications.Whining about making a bad judgment that resulted in a failed test demonstratesa lack of taking responsibility

Brad Anders

Shampoo

Perhaps Brooke should look into what ingredients are in ‘Prell’ (Blackwelderappeared in a Pert commericial two years ago —Editor).

Sorry, Stefano can’t use that excuse though.

Barry Johnson
Salt Lake City

Physically impossible

All of you applauding Brooke Blackwelder (see “Friday’smail“) must have your heads up your asses. Quit making excuses forher. She got caught cheating, end of story. She deserves whatever suspensionshe received.

These cheaters are ruining our sport. I don’t care if athletes in everyother sport use drugs or not, we don’t need them in ours. It’s about timethey start taking serious actions against these cheaters, because our youthof today needs clean role models, since they are our athletes of tomorrow.Quit crying Brooke, face the music, you got busted! The same goes for thosein the Giro, quit making excuses, I for one am sick of it. Sure cyclingis a very tough sport, you all knew that going into it. If you can’t makeit on training, dedication, and a lot of heart, get out.

Art Schafer
Atlanta Ga.

Look at the big picture

Those who seek to disqualify people for simply testing positive needto look at the bigger picture. The sanctioning body states that they donot seek the method or motivation for a positive test result.
They only see a positive. Using this logic a competitor could sneaka low level “supplement” into Lance’s water bottle during a stage of theTour they know he will win.

The “supplement” is unlikely to change his performance for that day,yet when he takes the “whiz quiz” at the end of the race he would be disqualifiedand suspended. He would have no motivation to use the substance (he isalready well trained and expected to win), and would have no knowledgeof the supplement he ingested. Do you think it would be fair to removehim from the sport of cycling if he did not knowingly cheat? If Brookedid not knowingly attempt to improve her performance using a banned substance,then she should not be suspended.

While I agree you should know what you are putting into your body, therestill should be a margin for error, and some consideration for method andmotivation. I have met Brooke and she is certainly someone we want to keepin cycling.

Greg Powers
Denver, Colorado

Take a stand. Ban ’em for life

When is someone really going to stand up and take real action againstthe dopers? When are riders going to learn?

Get rid of the suspensions and replace it with a lifetime ban. If you’recaught you’re through! I would rather see drug free no names than dopedup marquis riders.

Mark Gale
Phoenix, AZ

How many of us would pass the wiz quiz?

How many of us in the recreational cycling ranks could pass a UCI drugtest right now? I know I couldn’t due to allergy meds I’m taking- and I’lltell you what, they aren’t making me fast.

There is no doubt there is cheating out there in our sport, but letsput it into perspective. In most North American pro sports you cheat- youhave a foul called, the game goes on. When a pro cyclist or elite levelXC skier cheats and gets caught, toss them from the event and move on-let them line up at the next event, if they cheat toss them again. If they’resmart they’ll learn, if not they won’t find a team willing to pay themtheir salary.

Sven Cole
New Hampshire
 

Sports honesty?!?!

Dear VeloNews.com editors,

One of your readers wrote of “the structure that competitive sportsare built upon… honesty.” What the hell is he talking about?

What a pile of bull. I’m still waiting for the day that the Americanmedia and sports federations will begin pouncing on the “big” pro sportsin this country — basketball, baseball, football, boxing, hockey. Haveyou ever SEEN those guys, and how HOPPED UP a lot of them seem to be? (Like,have you ever seen those guys who compete in the World’s Strongest Man?)I’m willing to bet that they’re ALL on drugs — performance enhancers andrecreational stimulants (like cocaine) alike.

Drug testing? What’s that?

Pro cycling is in truly a bad and humiliating way right now, but it’sin a much more “honorable” place than all those other sports, where theathletes and their fans don’t even care. I’m GLAD that the Italian policeare so tough, and I’m GLAD that the Giro/Tour/UCI officials are so uncompromising– maybe one day, when pigs fly and hell freezes over, the other sportswill follow.

Jud Santos
New York, NY

Why even watch anymore?

Dear VeloNews,

I love cycling, but am losing my appetite for following the professionalroad events. I came to cycling from another sport, swimming, which alsohas a less-than-stellar record with regard to dealing with the issue ofdoping.

Specifically, the East German and Chinese women had brief periods ofunchecked, dope-aided success before they were caught (in the case of theChinese). The East Germans were never caught, but revelations of theirdoping came out after the Berlin Wall came down. Ever hear of Rick DeMont? He is now an Associate Head Coach for the University of Arizona swim team.In 1972, he was stripped of his 400-meter freestyle gold medal at the OlympicGames when it was discovered he had — unknowingly — taken asthma medicationcontaining the banned drug ephedrine.

To this day, he is fighting to regain his lost medal. And good luckto him … However, at this point in cycling’s history, I’d be in favorof less due process and more strict liability when it comes to positivetests — you come up positive (excuse me; “non-negative”), you’re history.

And what is with all of these lame excuses? Enough with the “dog atemy homework” claims of innocence. DeMont never saw it coming; his doctors(and the Olympic swim staff) knew of the ingredients and still advisedhim to take his asthma medication. And he still lost his medal. Once burned,twice shy, I say. In an environment where there are no second chances,I think a lot of people would be more careful and less trusting of whatthey are putting in their bodies. And that is how it should be; the buckought to stop with the athlete, not his or her dentist, coach, nutritionist,etc.

In a sport like cycling where drug abuse is rumored to be rampant andthe authorities claim to be getting serious about testing, etc., why wouldn’tfolks like Simoni, Garzelli, Blackwelder, et al. be pretty damn sure theyknew what they were putting into their bodies (or, failing that certainty,find an alternative)? In swimming, we had ad hoc groups of Olympic athletespressuring FINA (equivalent to UCI) to do more to catch cheaters. Whereis the same sense of outrage among today’s riders? Who wants to be championof a sport that is plagued with one embarrassing revelation after another?

Stan Smith

Look on the bright side

After today, the criticism that the cycling authorities’ fight againstdoping is so weak that it implicitly allows doping can be laid to rest.

We’ve all heard it – the 50% hematocrit limit is cynically intendedto tell dopers go ahead and use EPO, just make sure your hematocrit doesn’tgo over 50%, etc.

When the two of the top Italian riders are removed from the top Italianrace of the year on, frankly, pretty thin doping evidence, it means theauthorities are very, very serious. That Simoni left the race partiallyas a result of pressure from other directeurs is even more evidence thatthe anti-doping stance is starting to seep into the teams as well. I doubtthe authorities in many other professional sports, like American footballor basketball, would have the courage to remove a quarterback or star centerunder the same circumstances.

A black day for cycling today? No way. A giant step forward in the marchto a cleaner, more honest sport.

Chris Tolley
Acton, MA

Forget Garzelli and Simoni, Tyler and Mario are still in there!

This year’s Giro is full of controversy just as the last two have been.

I must say I’m really disappointed in all the doping scandals, but thereare two aspects of this race that I’m enjoying:

Tyler Hamilton is truly a class act. For hi to have that horrific crashand still be a contender (let alone keep riding) shows how tough he is.He is now one of my favorite riders.

The second aspect is Super Mario is STILL in the race! Who cares thathe’s one of the last guys to the finish line (with Marco Pantani by theway). He’ s very quietly riding over mountains everyone n the sport saidhe couldn’t ride.

Here’s a 35-year-old who’s never been caught up in the doping scandalshis entire career. A 35-year-old who’s still one of the world’s fastestsprinters. Sure he’s criticized for not riding over moutains, but that’snot his specialty. (I never heard someone criticize Carl Lewis or MichaelJohnson for not running a marathon or the steeplechase).

Hats off to Super Mario! I realize there’s much more racing to do, butI hope he finishes the Giro. Maybe he fully intends to finish to silencethe critics? Show Saeco they made a mistake in letting him go? Even ifhe doesn’t finish, no one can take away his impressive victories this year.Who knows: with Saeco having problems we may see the zebra stripes in TheTour after all…

Wouldn’t it be nice to see The Lion King and Mr. Consistent Erik Zabelgo head to head for old times sakes? I think so…

Jeffrey White
Tampa, Florida

Folks, this is getting ridiculous

I’ve had it. I’m right with Patrick O’Grady on this one (see “Friday’sfoaming rant: Supermen vs. Clark Kent“).

Right up front, let me get this out of the way: While I’m not necessarilyin favor of use/abuse of substances like EPO, steroids, the various andsundry stimulants, etc., the thing that’s gonna get my knickers twistedaround somebody’s neck is the persistent cheating. Folks, this is gettingridiculous. There’s gotta be rules. Oh, sure, we could just line up a bunchof wacked-out Betty Ford dropouts, give them all bikes, and point themto a finish line a ways down the road and tell ‘em “First one to get thereand stay out of jail long enough to pick up the check wins.”

Then stand back. ‘Cause the performance-enhancing substances are gonnabe only the chopped nuts on top of the banana split of ensuing insanity.We’ll have riders and teams whacking knees, heads, and close relativesof competitors, the whine of the accompanying motorbikes will be punctuatedby small arms fire, the leader will wear camouflage body armor insteadof a maillot jaune, and domestiques will drop back to the team car formore shrapnel grenades.

The Basques will blow up the Spaniards, everyone will beat up the French,the Italians will beat up everyone else, the Aussies and Germans will fightover, well, pretty much whatever’s handy, and then the Palestinians willshow up and redefine what it means to see a rider blow up on a mountainstage. Gentlemen, please. (No, that’s not right.) Listen up, you idiots.(Much better.) And yes, I’m talking to the officials of the cycling world,too. Let’s somehow make a level playing field and then really punish cheaters.

Like maybe not let them race again. Ever. Instead of this “six monthsuspension” lunacy. I’d much rather watch a race where I know everyone’splaying by the same rules than wonder how many of the riders are sippingsomething a little extra with their post-race champagne. Given the ludicrouscircumstances of this year’s Giro, I’m tempted to say I’m done with it.No more. It’d be better for me if I just went out and rode anyway.

Perry L. Clark

Marco the (Pittsburgh) Pirate

Our anger and disappointment in Pantani, Simoni, Garzelli and countlessother riders while understandable may be misdirected.

Maybe their choice of drug wasn’t the mistake, their choice of sportwas.

All they have to do is re-tool their skills and they will be warmlywelcomed into Major League Baseball. Maybe Pantani can get drafted by Pittsburgh.

T. H. Watson
Kansas City, MO

Of dopers, self-righteous amatuers and armchair quarterbacks

I’d like to provide a counter-point to all of those diatribes beingdirected towards cyclists testing non-negative (what a clever euphemism)by what I can only assume are, naïve and self-righteous amatuers.

I’m certainly not condoning cheating in cycling, or in any other facetof life for that matter, but it seems to me that the various governingbodies and the participants themselves have an extremely difficult jobin maintaining integrity in a sport that demands superhuman efforts, andhas a long history of drug use that testifies to these difficulties.

To quote Jacques Anquetil,  “you don’t ride The Tour on mineralwater alone.”

As one of those rank amatuers myself, I’m simply astounded by the talent,conditioning, and dedication of the professional riders. So if Bob Rollwants to poke fun at a certain Italian who’s well past his prime, and byall indications reached the pinnacle of his sport in a less than honestfashion, I’m fine with that. Besides being a hellishly funny guy, Bob Rolllived the life. But when Joe Schmuck from Palookaville wants to damn Simoni,Garzelli, or even the pitiable Franke Vandenbrouke to cycling hell, I’dreally like to throw a crankarm at them.

These overly vocal laymen remind me of the armchair quarterbacks allacross the U.S. that shout blindly at athletes and coaches for every failure,both major and minor, as if they could have done better.

Performance enhancing drugs have been in sports since the beginningof sports, and I don’t see that changing in my lifetime. In my view, thereal goal is to mitigate the impact of drug use such that the overwhelmingmajority of athletes will choose not to use them, and that they are rewardedfor their integrity. But we fans should also recognize the tragedy of thosewho make the alternate choice, and understand that their aspirations aremore often than not, the same things that Lance Armstrong aspires to. Tragedyis characterized by a great flaw, in an otherwise great character. So keepsome sense of humility and humor about it all.

And if you’re having trouble finding the humor, go read Patrick O’Grady’srants from today and April 12th. If those don’t lighten you up, then tryusing a saddle the next time you ride.

Cheers.
James Lee

Agreeing with O’Grady is frightening

Regarding the foaming rant, You know, it scares me, but I agree.

Raymond McCoy

Last man standing

Dear VeloNews,

While I am saddened, disappointed and angered by having pharmaceuticalevents overshadow all the racing news at this year’s Giro d’Italia, I believewe must get on with the race.

It should suffice that the offenders have been publicly humiliated anddisciplined by dismissal. Unfortunately, zero tolerance must remain thepolicy until a fair and reasonable monitoring and disclosure program isput into place. Until that time, present and future offenses should bedealt with in similar fashion. When the dope cloud clears….may the bestman left standing be proclaimed the winner.

John Edwards

Fat-tire flyer!

Has anyone else taken notice of Cadel Evans’ name on that little columnof results with the title “Overall” at the Giro?

Let’s hope Mapei put their ducks in a line behind the boy. Cadel forthe Giro! Let’s focus those headlines somewhere OTHER than drug scandals.

Scott Schelter
Seoul, South Korea
 

War of attrition

Here’s the plan, Tyler.

Just hang tough for the rest of the Giro at the rate you’re improvingand the rate they are kicking out lyin’, cheatin’ druggies, you’ll be inthe Maglia Rosa long before Milan.

We believe in you.

P.S. Go Red Sox!

Sam Lowe
Phoenix, AZ

A role model

Tyler Hamilton is a respectful, polite, positive, and kind human being.He is a great role model for my generation (I’m 18 years old).

He is also a fantastic bicyclist! Forza Tyler!!! Win the TTs,Tyler, and fight for this with everything you have. Make your fans proud!Oh, yeah, and tell Lance I say “hi”. Everybody is so caught up in Georgeand Tyler mania that we have almost forgotten about Lance. Right now, though,it’s all you Tyler!
Andrew Meador
 

Thanks for recognizing the staff

Editor;

I just wanted to say thanks to Tyler for all the kind words about hisSoigneur and Physical Therapist. Most people don’t have a clue just whatit means to support a professional team. I have gone for days without sleepduring stage races and watched our teams mechanic sleep even less whilewe supported a team of six.

Total exhaustion….man, do I miss it.

Scott Pinion

Don’t be so hard on yourself, TylerI think Tyler Hamilton is being way too hard on himself.Although I don’t know,firsthand, the pain of a multi-day stage racelike the Giro, I can easily understand that Tyler has alot of grit anddetermination. it would be easy to excuse his performance so far by complainingabout his injuries and the bad luck he has encountered.Tyler hasn’t done that. He continues to race at the highest level, inspite of the setbacks.I applaud him and would advise him to forget about apologizing. I’mconfident Tyler will see better days in this year’s Giro when the cutsand scrapes are less painful. Then he can show the world that he is a cyclistequal to any other in the race.Greg StanislavShow them what you are made of

Editor;

He doesn’t know it yet but Tyler Hamilton  is endearing himselfto all the cyclists in the world who have ridden in pain. He is becomingthe hero of suffering and anyone who seriously rides a bike loves him forit.

He is the American in the Giro who will not give up and it is fantastic.Giveem’ hell Tyler, show them what you are made of.

Brian C. McEvilly, D.C.
Fairfield, CA

Tyler will show them all in TT

Dear Tyler,

I want to thank you for your VeloNews journal entries. I’m surethat it’s the last thing you want to do after a painful day in the saddlebut I look forward to reading it (while at work).

As for your result in stage-11: you’re huge! None of the guys who beatyou are as banged up as you…and they did not beat you by much. Thoseguys can probably take showers and even roll over in bed at night withoutwincing in pain. You’ll show them what’s up on Sunday.

Paul Poisson
Boulder, CO

From one road rash victim to another

Hang in there Tyler

I crashed in a race 2 weeks ago and am still not back on my bike, letalone contending in the Giro d’Italia. You’re a freak!

Ride your best and let the chips fall where they may
Curtis Lightburn

Two cents

My two cents’ worth:

I am a big Tyler Hamilton fan, and have been following him ever sincehis amateur days. But I wish he would stop whining about anti-inflammtoriesand stomach cramps and whatnot. Sometimes, you just don’t have it on aparticular day, and can’t blame it on anybody or anything else.

Aho Desu
Los Angeles, CA


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