Friday, May 18, 2007

My Last Word on Competitive Cycling

by Ken Houghton

So the Court of Public Opinion is swayed more by "a legally ill-advised and personally vicious phone call" than by the preponderance of evidence?

But wonder no more about privileged treatment for athletes; the next time someone at ESPN preaches about its evil, feel free to point out this:
The ironic consequence of Geoghegan's action was that it gave LeMond's statements greater impact. Without it, LeMond's other testimony would have boiled down to an ambiguous he-said, he-said about his original chat with Landis last August.

Landis called LeMond to chew him out for making publicly critical statements after Landis' positive drug test was confirmed. LeMond's recounting of that dialogue, while intriguing, hardly constituted a smoking gun.

"I would hope and encourage you to come clean," LeMond said he told Landis.

"What good would that do," LeMond said Landis replied. "If I did, it would destroy a lot of my friends and hurt a lot of people."

The potential problem with that testimony, as spoke-heads know, is that its essence so closely resembles a similar conversation LeMond said he had with Lance Armstrong after the Texan won his third Tour de France in 2001.

How believable is it that LeMond had the ability to induce veiled admissions from both of the other American Tour winners, when a battery of lawyers and investigators and journalists have failed at the same task for the past eight years?

Right. Because athletes tell fellow athletes the same things they say to journalists, and only that. And journalists always reveal everything true they are told.

UPDATE: See Nate Fowler's perspective here, especially:
The more I raced and the more I followed professional cycling, the more I began to become aware of the dark side of American cycling and the deep personality conflicts that existed. The mainstream media has never covered that side of the story, but like the family next door that appears to be perfectly normal until the day it all falls apart in a huge dazzling public display of whackiness...

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