gran fondos & dopers: why we have to make a stand

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google ‘levi’s gran fondo’ – or click here – and check out the number of companies sponsoring this distinguished event.

26, i make it. 26 companies, from Specialized to Nissan to Francis Ford Coppola Winery to Smith Optics. what are they donating? cash? where is it going? charities?

do i care? no. the real question is what are they getting? and, if there is such a thing as an even realer question, why are they getting no sh*t for this?

hiding behind the ‘but it’s for charity’ veil has to come to an end. there are a million worthier fundraisers out there than Levi Leipheimer – whom, lest we forget, got busted last year for being a career doper. you remember that, right? he was stripped of all results from June 1, 1999 to July 30, 2006, and July 7 to July 29, 2007, the periods he admitted to being aided by illegal means.

i remember that.

you probably remember that.

seems though that Specialized, Smith Optics, Clif Bar, Zipp, Camelbak and Capo don’t, however. ah, the collective corporate memory, what a thing full of holes it is. seems odd to me though that Nike and Oakley dropped LA when news came out (definitive news that is, as many in those companies maybe kinda knew that he was on the juice all along) about his infractions, and yet these companies here are flocking to a man who cheated for large parts – if not all – of his own career.

and didn’t Omega Pharma-QuickStep  – who ride Specialized – drop Levi after he admitted blood doping? do Specialized America have a soft spot for California’s needle-loving bald eagle? can no one there see that this attachment, this association, might just maybe be bad for their own image?

well, guess what – no. they couldn’t care less. because it seems that cycling America couldn’t care less. now, that is a blanket statement, but look at how many people rode Levi’s Gran Fondo this year – seven thousand and five hundred.

yes, 7,500.

SEVEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED.

get it? that is a lot. if those 7,000+ folks were not turning up but were in fact staying away because heck, Levi seems friendly enough but he is after all a committed doper, think maybe that the companies might stay away too?

what do you get, in any case, for taking part in this event? what makes this so appealing? well, according to the website, you get “An unforgettable experience from a grand day on the bike with Levi Leipheimer, his pro buddies, and thousands of your new friends.”

first off, there should really be just one rider at this event, Mr. Leipheimer himself. and who are the rest of the people who pay cash to be in a ride orchestrated and overseen by Levi? and who are these ‘pro buddies’? one was Andrew Talansky, of Garmin. another was Luca Euser of UHC.

another of the attendees was Padraig of RedKitePrayer.

here’s how he prefaced his account of a good ol’ day in the sun:

“We’re at an uneasy place with our heroes. Even without the benefit of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the landscape of our understanding of professional bike racing in the last 20 years has fundamentally changed. For most followers of bike racing, doping went from this little problem in uncommon instances to a pervasive culture common to all but the rarest riders. While we beg for the truth about what occurred, as sporting fans, we’ve yet to embrace a single rider who confesses. As a group, we’ve yet to confer forgiveness to a single prodigal son.

“Some people would like to see Leipheimer and every other confessed doper shot by firing squad, or at least expunged from the collective memory of cycling. Truly, some of the vitriol is hard to fathom. But he hasn’t gone away, nor has his eponymous event. To evidence this drop in stock value, entries for Levi’s Gran Fondo sold at a slower rate this year than they did in previous years. But they did sell out.”

yes, it did sell out, and Padraig helped that happen. and this ‘uneasy place’ seems to be a way to justify feeling kinda weird about being at the event but having fun anyway. and ‘to confer forgiveness’ – doesn’t being there in effect do just that?

another who was there was Austin McInerney, “executive director for the National Interscholastic Cycling Association [who] was there with a full gaggle of high school riders from the NorCal league.”

high school riders. you mean, those impressionable kids who might just be confused with Levi’s name up there on all the banners and stuff and his doping past? confused by Talansky being in attendance? Specialized sponsoring? their own executive director smiling away on the start line?

those high school kids?

we have so little power as cyclists, whether or not you pay your UCI dues, that we have very few opportunities to make our views on doping heard. very few chances to register our disdain for people who cheat to win, who corrupt others around them and who, only when the gun is loaded and the hammer cocked, begrudgingly ‘admit’ to doping.

here though is one. it’s one thing to be out for a ride with a man who doped, to chat about how it happened, to hear his side of the story, to wish him well in his future (non-cycling) endeavors and to bid him on his way.

it’s quite another to pay money to an event hosted by an ex-doper, an event sponsored by massive companies, because that legitimizes what he did to get there, justifies the ends, and offers a rehabilitation of reputation that he does not deserve. it also confuses those with impressionable minds.

attending an event like this suggests that those clipping in have either not thought about the consequences of their actions or just do not give a f*ck any old way. both must be questioned.

and those companies? the ones with the heavy wallets? sure, sponsor cycling events and promote getting thousands out on two wheels. and continue to support an event that has become an established part of the calendar for amateur riders in the USA – but demand that Mr Leipheimer’s name be taken off it. it’s pretty simple and would be a great statement to make.

where’s Christophe Bassons’ Gran Fondo? Nicole Cooke’s? Inga Thompson’s?

the message currently being sent out is not the message that cyclists and corporations should be delivering. it is, in fact, the exact opposite.

101 comments

    • Grammar Cycling Douche

      Thank you Jay Jay. I was getting a nervous tick while reading the inconsistent capitalization. At least he capitalizes the proper nouns.

  1. crankpunk

    Jay Jay – so good they named you twice? haha! man it’s 2013, surely those of us who love the lower case don’t need to hide out in seedy backstreets anymore?

    • channel_zero

      Yup, ’96 for sure. That would make the latest sanction his second.

      But, USA Cycling does not see it that way. They are pretending they have no authority to sanction Levi. Which, is materially false if anyone bothered to read the rules.

      Did Levi spend time on Carmichael’s USA Cycling national team with Armstrong, Strock and Kaiter? You know the one that was sued for doping teenagers.

      Levi, and the owner of USA Cycling, Thom Wiesel desperately need lifetime bans. Since those two are such pals, that’s not going to happen.

      Good article, even with the grammar issues.

      • David Link

        USA Cycling is NOT owned by Thom Wiesel. USAC is a 501 (c)(3) corporation, run by a board of directors, of which Wiesel is not a member. You might do your homework before making such statements.

      • matt minard

        no..he wasn’t on the national team with them..i don’t think he was ever on the national team..as an amateur.

      • channel_zero

        David Link,
        You clearly don’t know what you are talking about. I’m sure you believe you do, but you don’t.

        Whatever you do, don’t read up on Les Earnest’s failed efforts to bring some transparency to the federation. And then read up on Gerard Bisceglia

        Wikipedia is remarkably thorough and has Levi’s positive. Wrong era!

      • David Link

        I was only taking the information straight from the USA Cycling website. Wiesel is not listed on the board of directors. The 990 tax returns they have available on their website, show that they have filed as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation. Would you like me to provide the URL to those??

        So, if you wouldn’t mind… would you tell me what part of my statements about USA Cycling is not true?? I’m willing to be educated.

      • channel_zero

        David Link,

        #1 a 501(c)(3) is not some paradigm of good corporate governance. It’s a tax classification.
        #2 You didn’t bother reading up on Mr. Earnest’s efforts or Bisceglia’s efforts on the tiniest bit of good governance.
        #3 Thom Wiesel is on the BOD of USACDF with the rest of his friends. USACDF is independent of USAC, is funded by USAC, and names at least three USAC directors.

        So, you don’t even understand how Wiesel’s USACDF controls USAC. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your beliefs.

  2. dan martin

    Im sure the USPS Reunion Grand Fondo is just around the corner. Ride with Lance, George, and the whole gang. Bloody Mary eyeopeners followed by an epic day on the bike with your heros. Pay a few extra bucks for a behind the scenes look on how it was really done. Enjoy stories of late night deliveries, seedy hotel rooms, blood transfusions and how doping can make a difference on YOUR next holiday ride.

    • channel_zero

      What portion goes to charity is always a source of some interesting maths and challenging ethical questions.

      Hypothetically, an event raises 100,000 and pays celebrity xyz 50,000 for attending, pays 20,000 to produce the event, pays a producer 25,000 for their talent. 90% of revenue deducted as “costs” leaving 5,000 for charity. Great way to make money!

      The charity angle is a great way to draw participants even though most of the revenue is not used for charitable purposes. Not all events are structured like this, but very many are.

    • channel_zero

      The site is claiming they are on track for raising $250,000 for 2013.

      They had 7500 riders paying about $100 each and the entry fees are not tax deductible is 750,000 and something like $250,000 going to charity.

      Let’s be fair, their production costs are not zero as law enforcement charges to be a presence at these events as a part of their event permit. Let’s call it 200,000.

      Lots of people making good money in that ~ $300,000. No one is required to report who and how much and it’s all sold as a charity event. Nice work everyone!

      • David Link

        It’s not true that “no one is required to report…” Even as a 501 (c)(3), they are required to file a 990 tax return, which has to spell everything out. And as a non-profit corporation, they have to make complete financial statements available to anyone who wants them, I believe.

        One of the most venerable of cycling fund-raising events is the AIDS Lifecycle (SF to LA). Approximately 65% of the money they raise covers the cost of running the ride. For events of this kind, that’s pretty typical.

      • channel_zero

        Again David, you don’t know what you are talking about. Levi’s ride is not a non-profit.

        A 501(c)(3) is a tax designation, not the engine of virtue and management transparency you believe it to be.

      • sierracanon

        CZ… Levi’s Gran Fondo is owned by Velo Street, which IS a 501 (c) (3) corporation, at least according to their website. http://www.velostreet.org/ If you can show that they are not actually a non-profit, I suggest you contact the authorities immediately, and have it shut down.

      • channel_zero

        sierracanon,

        I wasn’t clear. Just because an org is registered as a 501(c)(3) does not mean it is not making money for someone, somewhere. This is not new or controversial. You just fail to understand how it makes money for others. It’s okay. You aren’t the first person who might be surprised how non-profits are used.

        The ride can donate money, a 501(c)(3) remains compliant, and riders can get appearance fees, consulting fees, fees, fees, fees. All perfectly within the law.

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  4. Ronny Koehn

    “judge not, lest you be judged”, may the god/gods you choose to follow be as merciful on you as you are to those you judge.
    And thanks for your opinion, because it’s just that. Last I checked this country is still a free one, and ALL are free to ride with who/whom they choose to and free to sponser who/whom they choose to.
    Sorry we can’t all be as perfect as you in life.

  5. Mike

    are we possibly overreacting about this? Yes, he’s a doper, but I’m guessing the vast majority of participants couldn’t care less if Levi was there or not (or any other recognizable ‘euro-pro’ dude). If money is raised for good causes, and that money does in fact get to those causes without ‘mysteriously disappearing’ then it’s a worthwhile event. Event sponsors will continue to advertise and market themselves, and do so more because of the good will it generates in the eyes of participants in the cause of the charity, as opposed to being a Levi love-fest. There are of course many other worthwhile fundraising events, given choices I enjoy those giving me an opportunity to participate on a bicycle, near my home. I try not to be too judgemental, the odds are that every time you do a group ride with hundreds or thousands of participants, you have people with criminal records participating, some far worse than using performance enhancing drug use to gain unfair competitive advantage.

    • 'zooka T

      The LiveStrong foundation is a “good cause” and they dropped Lance faster than [insert relevant cycling pun here]

    • channel_zero

      If money is raised for good causes, and that money does in fact get to those causes without ‘mysteriously disappearing’ then it’s a worthwhile event.

      What’s Levi’s cut before the charity? Maybe he’s clever and has someone paying a license fee to use his name so costs are well hidden. What’s the producer’s cut before charity?

      This “done so much good for so many” has been proven many times over to be a weak argument.

  6. Rich

    Great article. Thank you for speaking up & sifting through the fog that too many of us are blinded by. Best quote:

    “it’s quite another (thing) to pay money to an event hosted by an ex-doper, an event sponsored by massive companies, because that legitimizes what he did to get there, justifies the ends, and offers a rehabilitation of reputation that he does not deserve. it also confuses those with impressionable minds.”

  7. Baby Diego

    The Fondo is a great day out; a gathering of the (cycling) tribe, and really costs way too much money. Where does the money go exactly, I’m not sure. Sponsors of the ride/festival know they have a fantastic target audience there. I don’t believe Levi profits from this, so the parallel between LGF sponsorship and Lance with his sponsors doesn’t really hold up. Whether you like Levi or not (personally, I’m ambivalent), Levi helped get it off the ground with a little name recognition, but if next year it was just called King’s Ridge Gran Fondo just as many folks would sign up I suspect.

  8. Jen Charrette (@velomomjen)

    We are putting on a Charity bike ride this August in SW Colorado on the Million dollar highway. All proceeds will go to our non-profit to get kids on bikes. (www.axelproject.com). It seems that charity is not enough to draw riders and they want ex or current pro riders there. Same with sponsors it seems…need big names. Any tips for us? It’s going to be a beautiful ride and we do have some event industry experts helping. Right now we are just trying to decide… do we invite ex-pros or not? And if not what other angle do we take? Anyway, if anyone has ideas I am open.

    • Finn

      Jen – not sure how big your non-profit is, but a little marketing will help. Define your audience. Figure out where they are and how best to connect to them. Tell them why your gran fondo is so important…include compelling stories about the kids (and Axel). Tell them how their reg fee will make a difference (details of what it’ll do). I wish I lived closer (Cape Cod) or I’d help you in a heartbeat. I’ll get in touch anyway to see if I can help at all.

  9. Derek

    who cares. your first world problems are silly. he is a human being first. not a doper then a human. look at this in a larger context, let him give back, and have a life.

  10. David Link

    Dude. If you don’t want to ride in Levis Gran Fondo, then don’t. But don’t make the rest of us look like buffoons, because we enjoy a good day out on the bike (which LGF is).

    Also, I am looking forward to your critique of people riding in Livestrong events, linked indelibly with a certain Texan’s name, regardless of the fact that he has left the organization. Come on… I dare you.

    • crankpunk

      as far as i know LS distanced themselves very publicly from LA. it’s quite a different cuppa. if you don’t see the problems associated with riding an event prefaced with the name ‘Levi’, then fine. however, there are problems with it, to deny that implies you either don’t care of are kinda ignorant…

    • Brian

      Ok, enough of your bickering David Link and crankpunk (no caps). You two go to your respective corners.

      crankpunk- You go to the corner where people make sense. The corner where people say what needs to be said. The corner where people have a conscience and a sense of sporting and civic morality. The corner where people are outraged by this ridiculousness and have the ability to see things as they are. The corner where people have balls big enough to lay the truth out on the line.

      David Link- You go to the corner of ill informed and moronic opinions. You go to the corner where the rest of the buffoons are. Say hello to Levi when you get there.

    • David Link

      Yeah, it’s too bad that those corporations who sponsor his Gran Fondo feel the same way about him being one of the worst brands in cycling.

  11. Andy

    So you want all ex-dopers to be expunged from the record books and to be expelled from cycling. I get that. And I don’t necessarily disagree. But what I don’t get is that the same level of vitriol isn’t expended towards Vaughters and his all ex-doper army.

    If Levi deserves to be exiled, what about Ryder & Christian and Dave Z and Tommy D? Signing on with Garmin is a “get out of jail free” card for anyone who once doped.

    And I might as well put this out there. Count me among those who don’t think Garmin is as clean as they pretend to be. Anyone who watched Ryder get dropped on the climbs by the sprinters in BC this Fall has to wonder if he didn’t stop doping this Summer and not 10 years ago.

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  13. Ramona d'Viola

    I couldn’t agree more, and even more astounding was he announced his “transgressions” just a few days after sponsoring this farce. I wanna know how these people can face themselves, or the people they blindsided and duped for so long. Indeed – where’s Inga Thompson’s Gran Fondo. I’ll tell you – she’s wrangling cows up in Oregon, and living a mighty fine life.

  14. Grant Anderson

    Your obsession with “ex-dopers” is a little excessive. People like Levi have obviously gone through far more life experience than folks like yourself who claim to know so much about an event that you didn’t even attend… Or DID you? If you did, that runs counter your entire rant which could have been summed up in a tweet and saved us wasting our timing listening to your nonsense.

    If someone has something good to offer the world, they should offer it regardless of past successes or mistakes. Meanwhile, people like you should can it, take note and find something more constructive to do than yell pathetically from the sidelines with your pessimistic view of the planet earth and the reality of being human.

    Loser.

      • David Link

        The sponsors are making a business decision. They evidently think that being a part of the event is good exposure for their brand. And it must pay off, since they return year after year.

    • crankpunk

      Grant, thank you! I’ve been in need of a laugh! yes, i did attend. i bought the t-shirt too.

      er, no, not really.

      loser, huh? well, i ride my bike, i race, i never doped, i win from time to time, i never had to apologise to family and friends and never had to appear before a court, a federal investigation nor WADA, etc. so, i kinda feel like i’m winning, cos i ride for the love of it and never doped to win.

      and pessimistic? the fact i am still here writing about this stuff should signal loud and clear that i am too full of optimism for my own good…

      • Grant Anderson

        You seem to be pretty adamant about making sure everyone here knows that you never doped. Good job. We’re all very proud of you.

      • matt minard

        i can’t believe how many people are quick to defend levi in here. it’s not just that he made 1 bad choice. he was on the go juice pretty much from day 1. it’s him and all the other a-holes that doped during that time that made it next to impossible for any of us clean riders to get a break. whatever though and if you’re doing a gran fondo anyway..that says enough about you.

    • mythbuster

      Sorry. I am just too annoyed by your comment.

      “Reality of being human” Really? Humans are capable of just about anything, good or bad, from amazing altruism to genocide. According to you this is all within the spectrum of “reality of being human”. Thus it follows that it is all about letting bygones be bygones.

      Forgive the mass murderers, worship and laugh with genocidal maniacs and reminisce about the one time they helped an old lady cross the street, ride with and sponsor ex dopers who ruined others’ careers through cheating.

      No.

      As crankpunk wrote, supporting and sponsoring the dopers legitimizes their wins, their place in cycling history and present. Dopers would NOT be famous nor would they have, using your words, “something good to offer” to the world had they not cheated. They would be nobodies. They are only (in)famous because they cheated and ruined someone else’s legitimate claim to fame and fortune.

      Defending and sponsoring the cheaters sends exactly the opposite message to everyone in cycling. It basically says: “Dope and cheat all you can and make sure you win as often as you can. Make sure you are not caught during your career peak. It does not matter if you get busted afterwards as you will already had made it and a future in bike industry, media, or bike affiliated businesses awaits you. Groupies and apologists are part of the deal.”

  15. David Link

    Well, I truly hope that you don’t ever do anything wrong/unethical in your life. I’d hate to see you be subject of someone’s angry blog.

  16. bigair77

    Levi was at a local 8 hour mtb race this year and teamed up with 2 junior racers to make a team. What a role model. The way to make this all work is to shun the dopers and make it uncomfortable for them to be at cycling events, not to open up your arms. Let them crawl back into the hole they came from and stay there.

  17. the cycling fan

    Not only Levi but also Hioncapie, who do people keep supporting these guys while there are some many other charities worth supporting….

  18. Jeff

    I won’t ride Levi’s “grand fiasco,” mostly because the thought of riding on those narrow, poor roads with 7,500 squirrelly riders is terrifying. I can, and have, risen that beautiful route with two other riders and enjoyed, I’ll guess, a lot more as a result. But I do agree that another great reason not to ride it is that you’re participating in the instant rehabilitation of that cheater’s reputation. What are you thinking people? So glad I never made it down to Texas (which was a mental obstacle in and of itself) to ride for the roses either.

  19. Ramona d'Viola

    If you take a gander at Lance Armstrong’s page on FB, you’ll see the world is still full of deluded sycophants who will insist the sky is green because Lance told ‘em so. Levi Leipheimer is doing exactly the same thing as Lance—wrapping himself in the cloak of charity, while lying and defrauding sponsors and supporters to enrich their lives.

    Bernie Madoff gave MILLIONS to charities – but now we know it wasn’t his to give. And, those charities benefitted mightily – at the expense of people’s retirement funds.

    Levi might be a “good guy” but he’s a cheat. He would have never been afforded his lofty platform to do “good” had he not cheated. Role model – I beg to differ…

  20. dougwithdog

    You’re damed if you do and damed if you don’t. As a past member of a 7000 person GranFondo on a closed lane highway in Canada that doesn’t rely on star power to have a successful event, I see this and laugh. Getting good sponsors for an event not under the flag of an ex-doper or even someone that was a pro is tough. It was a constant battle to try to keep the costs to riders down but when you close one lane of a major highway down for a day so riders have safe place to ride thing get pricey.

    So good on GFL but as Jeff says “poor roads with 7,500 squirrelly riders is terrifying”. I will stick to GranFondo Whistler, so I ride safe without the star power or the 26 sponsors paying these “Pro’s” to ride. I will continue to have a great ride without the though of who doped and who didn’t.

  21. Terry

    I’m sure none of my fellow commenters would never watch or buy from a sponsor of ANY sport that is full of dopers, like the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Pro Golf, Pro Tennis, Soccer, Boxing, Swimming, Track and Field. Lets not forget the sex DRUGS and rock n roll, so no music. For that matter, would any of you even deal with someone who drove 1 mph over the speed limit or “fudged” a tax return? Not me, I’m not that perfect. I love riding with Levi, George, watching NFL…..

  22. montanagirl

    If you’re going to criticize someone so harshly in such a public forum, you should be able to capitalize your sentences. I’m actually bummed I clicked on this and gave you the trafffic.

  23. David McQuillen

    So glad to read this. The other day, Wwe sent out a few tweets looking for some clean riders to organise Gran Fondos and said we wanted to be a sponsor if they did! Offer is still open!

  24. Noel

    keep saying it crankpunk – you are 100% right.
    I have a teenage son getting into rowing. For a sport that requires strength and aerobic ability, it concerns me that I see little if any attention paid to the likelyhood that ped’s are going to be a temptation dangled in front of impressionable, ambitious juniors at some point (it would be naive to think otherwise). But when was the last rower dinged for a ped imfringement?. Looking at the history of cycling, this tells me not that the rowing is clean, but that they aren’t looking hard enough (and maybe don’t want to look hard enough?).
    The best protection we can offer upcoming juniors in any sport is a deep fear of getting caught, and the consequences of getting caught. Lionising a guy like Levi sends the opposite message – Cheating pays, it may be a bumpy road, but it still pays….

    • crankpunk

      I agree absolutely Noel, and to anyone who talks about just letting everyone dope, the question that first arises in my head is: ‘so when do parents start doping their kids?’ these people who defend Levi and the rest are either too jaded to care, too lazy to think or just do not understand nor love this sport, that is the bottom line.

  25. ET

    I rode in Levi’s Gran Fondo this past year for one reason, because if was a great well organized ride and event. I could care less if it was Levi’s name that helped this ride become a reality. I have heard that a good chunk of the profits for this race help fund the Tour of California stage that comes through Santa Rosa. Even if the ride organizers are making a lot of money, what is wrong with that? Have you ever tried to put on and event? Try to pay for Porto-potties, food, law enforcement, etc. If they put on a good event, it is worth it for me to attend. I know that the topic of your article is not to support dopers but in my opinion, I would rather have promoters and yes, even dopers, who can help perpetuate the sport. Would you rather that none of us even jumped on a bike?

    • mythbuster

      Yes, crankpunk clearly desires for all bike riding to be abolished. Also it is clear that the only alternatives that are available to anyone even considering riding a bike is either to ride with dopers and dirty money, or cower in a cupboard.

      The reality is that it is people like you who make the dopers and their schemes acceptable. It is up to you to attend non doper sponsored events instead. You can make the choice, as you do now, who and what you support and stand for.

      Apathy is not a choice, so if that is your position do not defend it.

  26. Mike

    I guess some people are so perfect that they continually have to remind themselves by writing articles as worthless as this one. Levi “was” a doper but that doesn’t mean that he has ever been a bad father, father or friend. We are human and make mistakes and I for one could never cast the first stone for my own imperfections. It appears that 7500 riders agree and have forgiving Levi. It also looks like the sponsors have done the same. These riders all spent the day with Levi and have found what a great friend he can be. He will move on and prosper for the simple fact that he admitted his guilt and his conscious is clean. Bravo to you and Lance both. Because there are still dopers racing and a lot of them when they were doing it. They still have to live with that or let some guy remind them by these articles. Your the one that is a dope. Admit it and move on.

    • mythbuster

      He admitted it after he got caught. How is that noble? Do you truly believe that all the “evil” people in history of sport and humanity were eating babies and pillaging villages 24/7? No, they are all nice guys (and gals), a lot of them with families and friends and their version of honor.

      They were still cheats, murderers and…cyclists because self interest was stronger than their ethics, morality and love of others. Self prevailed.

      Also since Levi is such a nice guy and you seem to know him well, ask him to explain the “Let Levi Ride” campaign after Astana was banned. I’d love to hear how it was honourable for Levi to abuse his fan base by lying to them directly about his doping, and attempting to influence officials through public support based on that lie. Is his conscience clean about this too?

  27. EJ Fuentes

    There are no second acts in American lives…or are there? Redemption is not only a basic tenet of most religions, it is also a deeply held and cherished part of American life. I am less interested in what Levi confessed to doing, I am more interested in what he will do from this point in life on.

  28. sierracanon

    Amen, brother. I totally believe in redemption. If a family member I cared about had a problem with drugs, and finally admitted it, and made steps to stop using… I would support them in any way I could, and would help them look to the future.

    And at the end of the day, I think that a good majority of the citizens of Sonoma County have a positive attitude towards LGF. It brings millions of dollars into the local economy, and contributes to the image of the community as a excellent cycling destination.

    • crankpunk

      doping to win and becoming an addict are two completely different things. and the LGF will still bring in the cash – if not more – if his name was not associated with it. and EJ – second acts? sure, go for it. but not in public, not in a way that brings you further success and plaudits, and not in the sport you helped to ruin, as every doper has.

      • sierracanon

        So Cranky… why does this whole thing tick you off so much?? What did L L do to you personally, that has made you so angry??

      • EJ Fuentes

        Second acts, if they are to mean anything, must be out in public because “secret” redemption loses its value as a lesson. Levi cheated and he was punished for it by being forced to relinquish his palmares. You want to continue punishing him by shutting down an event that many enjoy…that is just un-American. Time to move on and let Levi continue with his rehab.

  29. Regis Chapman

    So, here is another fairly angst filled post with little in the way of solutions. To actually become human is the suffer greatly to do the right thing. Inga Thompson and all the other clean pros from that era had to suffer! Results from 15 years ago- that’s a trophy in the attic Levi doesn’t even look at anymore. We want video of him taking down his leader’s jerseys from his house and giving them to who actually should have won those races. It is a human healing that is needed here, not angst. Angst is impotent anger against something we’re powerless to change.

    We cannot go back and change how the race unfolds, but those people who are truly repentant must create a bridge between themselves and those who they have harmed. Think of it as the AA process. Why do

    What I desire is a human exchange between doper and those he gipped out of their result. For example, if I saw and heard a series of exchanges between, say, Levi and Steve Hegg whom he beat in the 1999 National Championships time trial (who know if he was doping by then- but Levi would now). I want a podium exchange, where Levi himself talks to Steve and apologizes publicly for that, gives Steve Hegg the prize money and hear the human aspect. What we have now SUCKS. Stripping someone of results does NOTHING. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

    Let him pay a human cost. Let him look the guy in the eye. Let him look us in the eye. let him apologize to us, and let him hear us until we’re done. He must SIT THERE and listen.

    I need something specific, concrete and actionable. I want a organization to be formed that would help dopers to complete the cycle needed to come to compassion about them, not random angst-filled posts. Angst comes about because we, as humans, participating in sport aren’t finishing what we started. We aren’t completing what we need to move on. Levi, look Steve and all the other athletes you cheated in the eye, give them a check and then apologize to all of us. You need to do it over and over again until it’s DONE. THIS is what a TRC is supposed to do- create the human connection again between people who were wronged and those who wronged them. What we have now is a joke and doesn’t help, leaving us with angst.

    I say this to EVERY FORMER DOPER. Even Jonathan Vaughters and David Millar. David Millar made money on his book. He should give that money to the people who finished behind them. If there is a former pro who quit (let’s say, Inga Thompson) the Genevieve Jeanson and her dumbass former coach should have to personally apologize and make a payment plan to Inga for lost wages and prize money. Surely that is possible! Wouldn’t EVERYONE feel better? Including Genevieve?

    Former dopers, you have a debt that is greater than the prize money you won, greater than sponsorships you gained from the ill-gotten results- you have a human responsibility. Lance isn’t really a human anymore. He’s been FORCED to become more human because he was caught, but narcissists don’t really learn, they just shift their focus. Lance still isn’t paying that cost, but he’s at least paying lip service to it.

    Writing a book isn’t OK, unless you state in that book that the proceeds are going to go to those whose money you stole from them. Donating some of that cash to anyone who took a stand against doping- I can think of, again, Inga Thompson here. State in your afterword about how you traveled at your own expense to give back jerseys and money and medals to those you stole from. I WANT TO READ THAT BOOK. The rest is a half-measure.

    I just don’t get it. Paul freaking Newman started a food company and gave millions and millions to charity for no good reason. Seeing an act like that from Levi or Lance TOWARD CYCLING ITSELF would go a long way toward healing. SPEND THE REST OF YOUR LIFE MAKING UP FOR IT.

    Not a narcissist’s “tour de redemption” but an authentic human connection. This is the only thing that will stop the bleeding here. The IOC, nor WADA nor the UCI can give that to us.

    • Regis Chapman

      To complete my sentence in paragraph two: Why do we not let them go through an inventory of who they have harmed by their addiction to results? Why not let them go through the whole gamut? Why not show us that?

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