21
Dec
09

British Cycling Press Abandons Journalistic Integrity

With that headline, it sounds like I’m accusing the British cycling press of something, doesn’t it?  It’s crazy how a few select word choices can slant the story from impartial reporting to unnecessary opinion.

I’ll start with my open confession: I’m inspired by Lance Armstrong.   To reference the CTS ad, I’m a 38 year-old father attempting my own comeback.  I lost my mother to cancer and found his foundation a source of inspiration for those living with cancer and those who support them.  What I am not is an exuberant fan wrapped in adulation.  Lance, like any sporting icon, has faults far worse than that dating-an-Olsen-twin thing.  Until this last year, I found him a cocky Texas arrogant ass that you had to respect despite that glaring alpha behavior flaw.

But, as Peter Griffin would put it, what grinds my gears is the continued thinly veiled accusations and slander that the cycling press continues to level against him.  Give credit where credit is due, cyclewriters; if he didn’t come back last year, your readership would be 25-30% less and the status and growth of the sport would not be described as having ‘an upward trend.’  If you’re hanging on to anger believing that he previously doped during his 7-year reign or hold a grudge due to your inability to expose him, take a step back and look at it philosophically.

My least popular argument would be the anti-LeMond theory.  Paraphrasing LeMond’s ranting – if Armstrong is clean, it’s the greatest comeback in sports history; if not it’s the greatest fraud.  Conversely, coming back from the abyss as he did, if you superimposed Lance’s head on Lee Majors and make him bionic, fine with me.  Cut away his skin and expose Terminator-esque hydraulic pistons in his thighs; given the depths of cancer hell he came from, it’s still the greatest comeback.  If he was doping, history has shown (and most believe) that the rest of the peleton was equally guilty.  If so, he did that better, too.  He was tested more than others and came out clean.  All those caught have attempted to challenge methods or dispute evidence and lost.  Believe that he did and acknowledge they were all cheating and he beat them in a cheater’s race.   Or, the possibility exists that through his single-minded focus and methodical ruthlessness, he won clean.  Just for fun, mix in the theory that the cancer actually changed his physiology and muscular makeup and made him better.  If you don’t like the guy, just come out and say it.  But, put all this aside for now…now being the operative term.

My gears started grinding December 18th, when the cyclingnews.com headline read “Armstrong abandons independent testing, publication of blood values.”   The headline alone reeked of bitterness.  The wording and presentation of the article made it seem as if Armstrong was backpedaling and needed to justify his individual actions rather than being in sync with his team.  In the end, once you waded through the slant, Radio Shack wasn’t going to use Damsgaard because of the strength of the UCI biological passport and the conflict of interest with Damsgaard working with the UCI in the upcoming year.  Publishing the blood values in the interest of transparency resulted in any quack being able to say “highly suspect” and get news coverage.

I immediately twittered, challenging cyclingnews.com that if Saxo Bank announces the same separation based on the same principles, will they be equal opportunity offenders?  Of course, I’m nobody, so cyclingnews.com refused comment.

When Saxo announced their parting with Damsgaard a day later on the same principles.  The headline read “Saxo Bank ends independent testing.”  They didn’t “abandon” but in the headline and story language, reached a logical conclusion after a “three-year cooperation.”  The story continues as a love-fest of how happy each other was with the partnership and how “without Bjarne (Riis) vision…the fight against doping would not be as successful as it is today.”  For the record, this program was started in 2006.  “Mr 60%” didn’t admit his past indiscretions as in May of 2007, after almost everybody else on his Tour-winning* team and the doctors had already admitted to the systematic doping.

It’s likely I just don’t understand the British press.  Their tabloid ways and patriotic sensationalism take journalism to a different level.  Maybe they all still have that 1950 World Cup loss in their collective consciousness and are worried about losing next year.  Maybe that lack of a Tour winner is a real sore spot.  I guess if my hopes were pinned on a rider who looked like the missing member of Oasis, maybe I would lash out at the more successful, too.

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