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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 30, 2004

Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Each week's best letter gets our 'letter of the week' award. We look for for letters that contain strong, well-presented opinions; humour; useful information or unusual levels of sheer helpfulness.

Please email your correspondence to

Here's the second of this week's letters pages. We also got a few letters about the Tour de France.

Recent letters

Adam Bergman
Greg LeMond's comments
Drugs in cycling
Doping reporting
David Millar
Museeuw and getting doored

Adam Bergman

How exciting is this? After what seems like dozens of maybe nandrolone positives or maybe just contaminated supplements, a good old fashioned EPO case. Headline reads: Young cyclist rockets through the ranks, finds himself 2nd only to Horner, test positive for EPO. Nandrolone is the most used/abused steroid for recreational weight lifters and there really are that many supplements contaminated with it. The only thing contaminated with EPO is EPO.

As a mediocre, but clean cat 1, I've been waiting for some blood to be shed in the war on doping for quite some time, now I have the taste in my mouth, and it doesn't get any better than this.

Adam, you cheated me and hundreds of other amateur and professional cyclists who sacrificed and worked hard for their minor personal victories. However nice of a guy you might be, you represented your team, your profession, and your sport in a way that was dishonest. The cycling world was better off without you and I hope you never race a bike again. Sorry.

Call me naive, but I have faith that love of sport will win over love of money and desperation for fame and hollow victories. One at a time.

Geoff Rapoport
San Diego, CA
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

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Greg LeMond's comments #1

In response to Steve's question "why shouldn't Greg speak out?" I have this to say: Greg can speak out on any subject which he has knowledge of. When he casts false accusations about a person, he is out of bounds and should not speak out at all except to congratulate Lance on his accomplishments. THAT is the difference. Fact is one thing. False (made up) assumptions or accusations are not acceptable.

As to equating getting a bullet in you as opposed to month of chemo - there is NO comparison. (physical vs. chemical) Greg has NO idea what it is like to have your body pumped full of drugs/chemicals during months of treatment or he would not make such an insinuation unless he was drawing on his own experience? I hope not.

With chemo a person can barely move and loses much muscle mass as well as affecting other physical and mental functions. Your body changes radically. I know from personal experience as my mother went through chemo. There is NO WAY any person who has gone through chemo will willingly put ANY chemicals in their body after they are cured. That should be evident to anyone with normal intelligence.

Greg or Steve cannot equate Greg's gunshot wound with Lances extremely advanced cancer in brain, stomach, lungs, etc. - absolutely no comparison.

Also, Lance did not one day get cancer, got treatment and started winning every race he entered. He had a very tough time for a couple of YEARS. Lace did struggle - his cancer got noticed in last half of 1996. He had a couple of surgeries - testicular and brain surgery. He spent rest of 1966 and first months of 1997 in very extreme chemo treatment and all this time he still tried to exercise so kept his body from deteriorating any more than absolutely necessary - then spent rest of 1997 and 1998 recovering - racing, stopping racing, having mental problems, doubts, etc. etc. etc. For those who think he got cancer and a few months later got on his bike and resumed his career - think again. He spent two years with mental doubts, rejections, falling off bike, etc., until he finally built himself up enough to be competitive. He had been a very determined rider before his cancer discovery and had been world champion - beating Indurain - so why the doubts about his winning the tour? After he lost lots of muscle mass and weight as a result of his chemo treatments and after lots of training, he now could climb mountains and that is what wins him the tour. I think his early classic years made him a good time trialist as well and now combining the two , makes him the champion he has become. All on his own merits with no help from drugs.

We should all thank Lance for what he has done for cycling and his unselfish service to the cancer community instead of throwing stones at him.

Ris Klein Schmidt
Sunday, July 25, 2004

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Greg LeMond's comments #2

It is just another manifestation of LeMond's ego. "I couldn't come back from injury and win 6 so no one else could possibly do it."

Is it possible that cancer is different than getting shot? Is it possible that Lance is just physically superior to LeMond? Lance was ALWAYS a powerful rider, is it possible that losing several kilos of upper body mass could improve his power/weight ratio? If you are as strong as ever, but weigh dramatically less would you not expect an improvement? Let's not forget that Lance was a world champion and TDF stage winner BEFORE cancer, clearly he had enormous talent to begin with.

stop being such a self centered, bitter old man LeMond.

Losing my respect for the man,

Jason Sellars
Friday, July 23, 2004

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Greg LeMond's comments #3

Greg has the right to weigh in if he has proof. If he doesn't have any proof he should keep his mouth shut.

Tom Kaufman
Friday, July 23, 2004

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Drugs in cycling #1

You misunderstand the reason some take EPO and when. Few would take it at home , the risk of being caught is much higher. So they take a trip (away from the possible drug testing). By going to 'train at altitude', they can claim when they show higher haematocrit numbers, that it was the few days at altitude that did it. EPO is not cheap at all. I doubt as many are taking as some assume. But, it still is very difficult to detect without daily haematocrit values.

Timothy Shame
Friday, July 23, 2004

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Drugs in cycling #2

This is in response to several articles that were recently written in response to the "Drugs in Cycling" thread. Some letter writers suggest that altitude tents are ethically allowable compared to EPO use because they are not associated with harmful effects to health. Just to play a bit of devil's advocate, chronic exposure to high altitude is not without health effects. Monge's Disease is an illness associated with chronic exposure to high altitude, associated with pulmonary artery hypertension and pulmonary edema. It usually affects people who live at altitude, but so little is known about the illness that exposure thresholds required to develop it are not well-understood. Although chances that any cyclists are succumbing to this are likely very remote, it is still an unknown.

This leads into a larger argument about banning things that are not consistent with the health of the competitors in the sport. At the professional level, most sports do induce changes that may not be compatible with long-term health. The most extreme examples might be professional American football, or powerlifting. However, one could argue that cycling itself has harmful affects. Little discussed is the higher likelihood that elite cyclists develop osteoporosis, which is usually quite uncommon in males ("Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists". Osteoporos Int. 2003 Aug;14(8):644-9. Epub 2003 Jul 11.). More commonly discussed is the higher likelihood of erectile dysfunction in male cyclists. Finally, there is the ever-present risk of severe traumatic injury or death from cycling accidents in both training and competition. Athletic activity has long been considered the pinnacle of excellent health and longevity (along with a healthy diet). However, it may be difficult to include professional athletes in this regard. Their goals are different from the average person's goals, and often run up against "general health", even excluding the use of illegal substances. The "health" argument for why doping is ethically troublesome is not a strong argument.

Kevin Newport's response for me is the most appropriate. The rules currently do not allow the use of certain banned substances. A collective decision has been made by the authorities of a sport (or all sports, as per the WADA), in conjunction with the public's desires, that these substances not be used. This appears to me to be enough. All competitors cannot truly be equal at the start line. Some have genetic advantages, some have financial advantages. A line has to be drawn. This is where it is.

Prospero B. Gogo, Jr. M.D.
Fellow, Cardiology, Fletcher Allen Healthcare
Friday, July 23, 2004

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Doping reporting

I'm just writing to commend everyone on the news staff for their fine reporting of the recent series of doping incidents throughout cycling (French, Cofidis, Meirhaeghe, Bergman, Sbeih, Manzano/Kelme etc...). The issues involved are far more complex than "all pros dope" or "Rider A was doping, therefore his team is dirty" and Cyclingnews' coverage has been extremely sensitive to reporting the facts on the ground, rather than idle speculation.

The recent revelations in the French affair revealing only two riders' DNA in the sharps bucket are a wonderful example of the system working as it should. If only the rest of the world press were so careful to avoid casting aspersions without evidence, several Australian riders would have been saved a tremendous amount of mental anguish. Thankfully, those who are guilty appear to be on the road to punishment and hopefully, those who are innocent will not have an unjustified stain on their name in the future.

2004's rash of positive tests appears to be the result of a number of new tests coming into usage, and I fully expect more positive results at the Olympics, giving the recent arrival of a reliable HGH test. But that's unequivocally a good thing. While it seems as if many riders are testing positive right now, the actual percentage of positives is very low. The UCI, WADA and other sanctioning organizations appear to be weeding out the guilty, which can only be healthy for the sport as a whole.

Innuendo and insinuations about doping, while easy to voice, are useless as a way of preventing cheating. The only solution is to try to stay ahead of the dopers. Testing will never be perfect, but we must all to our best to fight the rot in our sport.

Matt Runquist
Tucson, AZ
Thursday, July 29, 2004

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David Millar

Let's put this story about David Millar into perspective. David Millar is obviously a very high level rider. But the same talent that puts him near the top in his profession also surrounds him with swarms of people that are a constant drain on his ability to cope. Everyone wants something from him. Sponsors want exposure. Agents want income. Fans want to see him win at any cost. That is until they see what that cost is. Then everyone wants to exclaim, "It isn't MY fault", which indeed it isn't but you certainly haven't helped have you?

It's easy enough for some Fred in East Sheep Central, NZ, (man will THAT get some letters) to criticize Mr. Millar when it isn't they with everyone continuously carping about how they aren't living up to their potential.

As for David: let's remember that he came clean. He has publicly confessed. This will certainly take away a major portion of his career and perhaps he will never again be in the pro peloton. But if he keeps his nose to the grindstone - if he really wants this second chance - he's still young enough to make a comeback just as Richard Virenque has shown us with his record breaking seventh Mountains Jersey.

As for me, I expect him to come back and stay clean. I really do want to see David Millar taking another Tour Prologue or another final TT. Good luck to you David.

Thomas H. Kunich
Friday, July 23, 2004

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Museeuw and getting doored

While politely asserting my right to the road in Boston and New York, I have been cursed at, deliberately struck by vehicles, had heavy things thrown at me, and received numerous queries regarding my sexual preference. I have also learned that it is easy to remove the side mirrors from almost any vehicle with a single firm punch. It's very satisfying.

In any case, my point is that Serge's assertion that politeness breeds politeness may hold true on the wide streets of California and the mellow backwater of upstate New York, but in many -- I'd say most -- urban environments, you've got to balance the dangers of riding in traffic with the dangers of the door zone. Keeping your head on a swivel, forcing yourself into the space you need, and above all taking no shit from aggressive drivers is the only way to stay even relatively safe.

Tim Heffernan
Brooklyn/The State of Paranoid Self-Preservation
Sunday, July 25, 2004

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Recent letters pages

  • July 23 Tour letters - Most inspiring ride of the Tour, Fan behaviour, Le Grand Bornard, The power of a team, Scott's diary, Sandbagging, A sad day for Hamilton, CSC tactics, Rabobank tactics, Mountains, TdF blood bath, Ullrich and T-Mobile, LAF Bands, Virenque's nationalism, Robbie McEwen and sprinters
  • July 16 Tour letters - The TdF saved my life, A sad day for Hamilton, T-Mobile's choices, LAF Bands, Mario Cipollini vs. Jaan Kirsipuu, Playing by the rules of the game, Robbie McEwen and sprinters, Ullrich v. Riis, Stage 3, Stage 4 TTT, Stage 5 - 12 minutes?
  • July 16 letters - Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Museeuw and getting doored, Human evolution and cycling, David Millar, The French affair, Why thank Lance?, Canadian TV
  • July 9 letters - Drugs in cycling, David Millar, Cadel Evans, John Lieswyn, Human evolution and cycling, Museeuw and traffic, Canadian TV
  • July 9 Tour letters - Stage 5 - 12 minutes?, Stage 4 - The team time trial & those rules..., Stage 3 - Should the leaders have waited?, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong
  • June 25 letters - Chris Horner & US Olympic Trial, The French affair, Cadel Evans, The battle for the commentary podium, Tour contenders, Will stage four decide the Tour, A thank you letter for USCF, USADA, AAA/CAS, Museeuw doored - his fault?, Beloki's allergy medication, Discovery Channel kit, Green jersey dog fight, Iban Mayo's uphill TT bike, LA Confidential, Tour-Giro double, Why thank Lance?, Searching for Bill Clawson
  • June 18 letters - A thank you letter for USCF, USADA, AAA/CAS, LA Confidential, Green jersey dog fight, Iban Mayo's uphill TT bike, Museeuw doored - his fault?, Why thank Lance?, Will stage four decide the Tour?, Beloki's allergy medication, Discovery Channel kit, Does Zabel go?, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, Rochelle Gilmore, Tour-Giro double, Cycling and hip replacement
  • June 11 letters - Will stage four decide the Tour?, How Ulle will win this year's TdF, Climbers' Jersey, Rochelle Gilmore, Simoni and "the impossible", Cycling among top five tested sports, Rousseau's au revoir, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, Giro, Does Zabel go?, Days of racing needed to prepare, Cunego's Giro victory, Chris Horner, Robbie McEwen, Cycling and hip replacement
  • June 4 letters - Giro, Cunego's Giro victory, Damiano Cunego, Cunego in stage 18, Team tactics at the Giro, Simoni trying the impossible?, Robbie McEwen, Pavel Tonkov, Jan Ullrich, Chris Horner, Cycling among top five tested sports, Cycling and hip replacement
  • May 31 letters - Au revoir Lance, Cunego's Giro victory, Pavel Tonkov, Serguei Gontchar, Dr Ferrari's Giro stage 13 analysis, When the boss has to go..., US Postal makes waves?, Robbie McEwen, US Postal stops sponsorship, US Postal sponsorship replacements, Jan Ullrich, Iban Mayo & the Tour, Tour de Georgia, Chris Horner, Orbea Orca
  • May 21 letters - US Postal sponsorship replacements, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez - persistence pays, Donuts. Is there anything they can't do? , McEwen's sprint, US Postal stops sponsorship, Soooper Mario, Jesus Manzano, Jan Ullrich, Orbea Orca, Trying to contact John Auer
  • May 14 letters - Tour de Georgia, Chris Horner, McEwen's sprint, US Postal stops sponsorship, Seating requirements, Aero Helmets, A different Wheaties box, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Skip Spangenburg, Cycling and hip replacement, Afscheids Criterium Johan Museeuw, indeed, Timing, Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat, Orbea Orca
  • May 7 letters - A different Wheaties box?, Afscheids Criterium Johan Museeuw, Jan Ullrich, George Hincapie, Doping and team doctors, Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat, US Postal stops sponsorship, Top 5 at TdF 2004 - not Mercado!, Two Men and a Dog, UCI Pro Tour, Cycling and hip replacement, Timing
  • April 30 letters - Doping and team doctors, Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat, Spring Classics slam, Mercado - the time is now, USPS stops sponsorship, UCI Pro Tour, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Jan Ullrich, Harmonic motion, Tour de Georgia, Cycling and hip replacement, Timing
  • April 23 letters - The rainbow curse, Verbruggen is the problem, Gilberto Simoni, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Questions on doping, The doom of doping, Floyd the future of USPS?, Dope testing, Magnus Backstedt, Roger Hammond, Gear ratio chart
  • April 16 letters - Floyd the future of USPS?, Magnus Backstedt, Jan Ullrich, David get outta there!, Cofidis and the Tour, Michelin Tubeless at Roubaix, Manzano, Vale Muur van Geraardsbergen, The Doom of doping, Hincapie, Javier Oxtoa, U.S. Excitement, Radios, Roger Hammond, England or Wales?
  • April 9 letters - Vale Muur van Geraardsbergen, Manzano, The Doom of doping, Amore e Vita, Boonen, Two Speed Cycling?, A welcome end to pro cycling?, Stripes, Karma, Wesemann's setup, Roger Hammond, USPS sponsorship, Javier Oxtoa, April Fool's, UK to Geneva route?
  • April 2 letters - A welcome end to pro cycling?, Manzano & doping, Finding the right team?, USPS sponsorship, WADA and Armstrong, Karma, Bjarne Riis, Is Tobias Steinhauser a real person?, Javier Oxtoa, Max number of champions in a TdF, Radios, Stripes, Chamois: real or synthetic?
  • March 26 letters - A cycling fan's prayer, Manzano, USPS serendipity, UCI statement post Jesus Manzano, Jonathan Vaughters doping response, Moser comments about "updating" the MSR, WADA and Armstrong, Parsimony, Drugs, Genes, US MTB racing, Bjarne Riis, Iban Mayo, O'Grady & Milan Sanremo, The 'World' Cycling Series, Javier Oxtoa, Max number of champions in a TDF, Radios, Sean Kelly and the 1992 Milan-San Remo, We're not sprinters, Is Tobias Steinhauser a real person?, An old cycling top
  • March 21 letters - Bjarne Riis, Radios, US MTB racing, WADA and Armstrong, The "World" Cycling Series, Doping, Iban Mayo, Armstrong's brakes, Fixing Cipo's problem, Max number of champions in a TDF?, Sean Kelly and the 1992 Milan-San Remo, The most fashionable men of the peloton, We're not sprinters, Jame's Diarrhea, Bobby Julich Interview
  • March 12 letters - Radios, WADA and Mr Armstrong, Speculation about Genevieve, Doping, Aero helmets, Brad McGee, Chubby Lance?, How many more have to die?, Iban Mayo, Lance's Performance, Marco Pantani - who is guilty?, Rabobank and U. S. Postal, There's more to life than sprinting, Tour without Kelme?
  • March 5 letters - Speculation about Genevieve, Brad McGee, Doping, How many more have to die?, Tour without Kelme?, Aero helmets, Chubby Lance?, Climbers and sprinters, Fixed gear, Mt Wallace climb, Stage 3 of di Lucca, TdF04 travel itinerary?, Tour de France 2004
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