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Thursday’s mailbag: LeMond, Virenque, a boring Tour and the really important stuff

The Mail Bag is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday feature on VeloNews.com, but will appear daily during the Tour. 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.LeMond out of line and unfairEditor:Greg LeMond’s comments in public are out of line, and show a lack of fairness, maturity and good judgment. Absent direct and reliable proof to the contrary, all athletes, including Lance Armstrong,

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The Mail Bag is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday feature on VeloNews.com, but will appear daily during the Tour. 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.


LeMond out of line and unfair
Editor:
Greg LeMond’s comments in public are out of line, and show a lack of fairness, maturity and good judgment. Absent direct and reliable proof to the contrary, all athletes, including Lance Armstrong, deserve the benefit of the doubt, and not pre-judgment based on speculation or “he said – she said” allegations.

That’s not to say I’m a foaming-at-the-mouth Lance fan. While I admire all his accomplishments on and off the bike, I’m also pragmatic enough that given all the discoveries this season, including the latest with David Millar, I won’t be surprised (just saddened) to learn – through direct and reliable proof – that anyone, including Lance Armstrong, is doping. As a matter of fact, I won’t be surprised (just saddened) if we discover that there are 500 Balco-like labs out there feeding pro athletes from all our favorite sports designer performance-enhancing substances to exaggerate their abilities and accomplishments, at the expense of their health and our trust.

But until then, I refuse to speculate and condemn anyone – even based on the allegations of people who claim in a public forum some form of first- or second-hand knowledge of wrongdoing – because who can know whether their motives are really proper or corrupt.

John Bove
Seattle, Washington

LeMond’s comments tarnish his legacy
Editor:
As I read Greg LeMond’s comments regarding doping allegations against Lance, I am confounded. Has our society deteriorated to the point where a champion must prove innocence even when no credible evidence assuring guilt exists?

I have fond memories of the day when LeMond won in Paris in 1989. However, these memories will forever be tarnished by these insensitive comments toward a fellow champion. Where does LeMond say how he knows Armstrong uses dope?

If anyone should be presumed guilty of doping, it should be cyclists like LeMond, who rode years before the Festina bust when drug use was likely much more widespread. There were hardly such widespread doping controls in place during his time, and what has he done to prove his innocence?

As an elite XC racer, I hope I never have to prove my innocence over presumed guilt. It is a shame to read of Greg LeMond’s obvious bitterness and jealousy. I am sickened by anyone else who seeks to tarnish a rider of Lance Armstrong’s caliber with allegations based only on hearsay and intuition.

Evan Plews
Dallas, Oregon

LeMond’s stone-throwing inexcusable
Editor:
What a pity that one of American cycling’s greatest heroes feels it necessary to try to defame cycling’s current man of the hour. I’m not willing to stand on either side of the “Did Lance use drugs or not?” issue, but I find it inexcusable that Greg LeMond would throw stones at Armstrong. Is LeMond so eaten by jealousy that he has had to resort to throwing barbs at Armstrong? Is he so worried about his own place in history that he must try to defame a fellow athlete?

Until there is hard evidence, or he admits it, LeMond, keep your thoughts to yourself, every time you open your mouth with a negative spew, our collective esteem for all that you have accomplished goes in the toilet.

Alicia Davis
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Unless LeMond has proof, he should keep quiet
Editor:
I have actually met Greg LeMond, and he seems like a nice guy, but how does he know so much about Lance and his alleged doping? And what gives him the right to accuse Lance publicly without showing proof? I am not taking sides with Lance or Greg, but if he knows something, show it. Otherwise, keep quiet because it sounds like Greg is jealous of Armstrong stealing his title of greatest American cyclist.

Jerrod Janakus
Denver, Colorado

LeMond sounds like a bitter old man
Editor:
Why can’t great champions just keep their mouths shut? Greg LeMond helped turn this country on to cycling, hooked my whole family. To see LeMond constantly sounding off about Armstrong makes him sound like a disgruntled, bitter old man. Even if he is right, his mark is changing from champion to whiner. So sad.

Bill Hall
Alturas, California

Virenque just keeps foolin ’em
Editor:
All the paeans to Virenque for his breakaway victory on Wednesday by Liggett, Sherwin, et al., sickened me. Virenque is an admitted doper, yet he continues to ride. Sure he was punished, but if cycling really wants to clean up its image, it shouldn’t allow dopers to ride, period.

What makes this more disgusting is that the French press vilifies Lance with their innuendos about drugs, but they have no problem with their own admitted doper. Virenque fooled cycling once – shame on him. But, shame on cycling for giving him the opportunity to do it again.

M. Aussenberg
Memphis, Tennessee

Dangerous? Anti-Lance? How about boring?
Editor:
After having read all of the letters about how the race design for this years Tour is set up to make Armstrong fail, is too dangerous, and is designed to make an exciting Tour, I have to put my two cents in. I have followed the Tour since the mid-1980’s with Greg LeMond and I have to say this is the most boring damn Tour that I can recall.

Thank God for the crashes – they have provided the only excitement for the first two weeks. This thing is almost over and there has not even been a minor showdown between the main challengers for the overall, and as far as I am concerned the racing has been quite boring to boot.

Armstrong mentioned that the race would be safer with a first-week TT, and I agree. I think it would also be more exciting. For example, last year at this time we all knew that Armstrong was in trouble and we had a serious race on our hands. Here we are two-thirds of the way done with the race and nothing significant has happened. People complain about the OLN coverage, but to be honest they don’t have a lot to work with. Not one significant attack, nothing!

I think the race organizers would do better by sticking to the traditional format and spreading out the key stages a bit more. This would make a better show for the fans and everyone else involved. The organizers say the reason they took this format because they wanted an exciting last week of the Tour. The last week had better be good, because this has been the most boring Tour in recent memory.

Charlie Cartolano
San Francisco, California

Charlie, you’ll be pleased to know that an old Tour campaigner, Sam Abt of The New York Times, apparently agrees with you that this Tour has been less than spectacular. Writing in today’s New York Times, Abt said, “Everyone is wondering when something important will happen.” Going on to note that organizers have packed all the Tour’s major challenges into its final week, he added: “Defending themselves, the organizers say they hope to keep the suspense going as long as possible. Instead, they have generated world-class ennui.”

And now, to the important issues
Editor:
It always makes me laugh when I read letters complaining about frivolous issues. “What’s in a name?” Now I know that the correct pronunciation of a rider’s name is without a doubt the most important issue in cycling, and after reading the letters from Mr. Benson and Mr. Smith, I’m convinced they should take over the announcing.

My personal favorites are the letters like Mr. Zanarini’s entitled, “Can’t the media get it right?” Preach on! I can’t believe that the announcers make those little mistakes, it ruins the sport. I mean, nobody should make mistakes, right? I’m just glad that our country’s elite intellectuals are able to find these terrible mistakes, and most importantly, let us know about them. Well done, well done indeed.

And to everyone who decided that Al Trautwig is a poor announcer, could you do any better? I think not.

Keep the letters coming! They make me, and probably many others, laugh.

Kevin Wikander
Incline Village, Nevada


The Mail Bag is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday feature on VeloNews.com, but will appear daily during the Tour. 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.