The Leipheimer Smack Down: 19 year old “disappointed” with former hero

cyclists lined up around the block when they saw this sign
cyclists lined up around the block when they saw this sign

you know Levi right? that super talented bike rider who juiced for years then got busted – sorry admitted to doping cos it was EATING HIM APART, where’s the Kleenex? – but we should remember that he stopped cos’ he knew it was wrong but, miraculously, STILL won races godblesshimandhisslipstreamedhead – the one who then ‘retired’ with that stain of The Doper on him but who still has a fabulously successful gran fraudo and who is still winning races around the USA?

phew… yes, that one.

well he put up a race ride on Strava called Crusher in the Tushar and a bunch of Grown Men Who Love Levi came and – well, they just came, more Kleenex please –  and he got a huge moneyshot load of Kudos except for one little, tiny, cheeky comment that somehow slipped by the RespectYourCheatingElders Police.

Reese Levine, 19 years old, wrote this:

Reese Levine

Levi, I was that 13 year old kid who grew up watching you race in the Tour de France, and because I started riding in 2006, I looked up to you more than someone like Armstrong. When you admitted to doping in 2012, I won’t say I was particularly surprised, and I don’t blame you personally for participating in the culture of your time.

I don’t doubt that you raced clean in the last couple years of your career, and I believe that the top level is much cleaner than it used to be.

However, I am a little disappointed to see that instead of quietly and gracefully retiring, you continue to race.

And not only are you still racing, but you are also beating riders who took the high road and raced clean their entire careers, riders like Jamey Driscoll who deserved the win today a lot more than you did.

I’m not naive enough to think that a single Strava comment is going to stop you from racing, which you have every right to continue doing. But I would ask that you step back for a moment and think about how it looks to up and coming riders when they see self-confessed dopers still racing and still beating clean cyclists who are the role models that cycling really needs.   Thank you, Reese Levine

polite but to the point. one you can’t really argue with right? (well, except that to believe Levi was clean when he said he was takes a leap of faith that would require, for me, a safety net, full body armour and life insurance that would see my family sorted for the next 50 years, and that I do believe that Levi has no right to still be racing – pop the cover on that vial and, in my opinion, you lose your seat on the bus).

but anyway. Reese is spot on, and his words echo my disappointment with the guy who got me into cycling, Stephen Roche.

frankly, we need more young guys like Reese out there, making their voices heard.

but not everyone agrees, shock. here’s the very next reply:

Joe Feyder

Reese is definitely entitled to his own opinion, but I see it exactly 180-degrees differently. To me I am blown away that the clean-Levi is still blowing professional racers away today. When Levi was training with Peter Stetina in and around Lake Tahoe a couple months back, Levi was schooling Stetina and setting KOM’s everywhere! What this proves to me is that a clean racer can compete at the highest level. I have to believe Levi would be very competitive in the TdF, I would also have to believe this is what Levi is paying back to profession, that clean can win. Good luck to you Reese, I’ll keep an eye out for your name at races in the future.

genius. i mean that seriously, what a genius for obfuscation Joe has.

Levi was next in:

Levi Leipheimer

Reese, thank you for the thoughtful and respectable response. I actually agree with your sentiment and it wouldn’t make sense for me to show up to national level races and compete. But please understand that the Crusher is a timed, mass-participation event with all ages and levels of ability, and it’s all about pushing yourself in a spirit of fun. It’s an event unlike the races that Jamie, for example, gets paid to do.

Furthermore Burke, who created and runs this event, is one of my best friends, we’ve known each other for over 20 years and I want to support him and the passion he brings to the Crusher. I met and spoke to a lot of people today that were happy to talk about the day, their experience and even my past in this sport. I was able to talk to people about what happened in the sport and my choices, which I hope provides some context for them.

I wouldn’t be able to have these conversations if I stayed at home and rode by myself. The people I talked to after the Crusher weren’t opposed to my presence because today isn’t about winning and losing, it’s about sharing a great experience on the bike, which is what sets this event apart from traditional racing. That being said, today was full of super strong guys pushing each other to excel and it was by no means easy for any of us.

ok, so the fact that the guys involved aren’t pros make it ok for dopers to turn up. the fact that he did nothing to make the sport cleaner but in fact only exacerbated the problem is not mentioned. And why he has to come along, race and win to be able to talk about his ‘choices ‘ – don’t quite get that one either.

there’s a similar – even exact – thread running through the continuing narratives of these guys who doped when they were pros – and it is this – leave us alone.

they’ve been bending reality and breaking rules for so long that they have become their own enablers, allowing themselves to continue to be blinded to the damage that their ‘choices’ have wrought.

even the use of the word – choice – sounds like it came from some image-rebuilding agency, some guy in a teal suit and an Italian silk tie, advising the Armstrong Gang to get the word out there as much as possible as it detracts from what really was going on – a daily, weekly, yearly and career-long decision to cheat.

‘my choices‘?

my cheating‘ would be a little closer to the truth.

there was another dissenting voice, that if current pro rider Matt Cooke, who said:

You all must enjoy having your lively hood stolen from you because that is what you are encouraging. 1996 positive drug test [ephedrine – cp.] people, open your eyes.

but as usual, the following comments reveal that knuckleheads are in the majority.

you can check out the whole thread by clicking here and going to ‘comments’.

i’ll leave you with this not-at-all-ironic comment by Bradley Williams:

It’s NOT about winning at all.  You’re a one-in-a-million inspiration Levi.  Congrats!



thanks to Chuck Hutcheson for sending me the original link





Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

12 thoughts

  1. Doesn’t seem to touch on the “Doping gives you wings for the rest of your life” argument…

  2. Not to mention he stole money out of the Pocket (at Crushar in Tushar) of one of the coolest racers out there Jamey Driscoll.

  3. I was one of the early dissenting comment on that thread. Just chipping in here CP to say I admire your blogging, blowing the horn for honest competition and against cheats and hypocrites. Keep at it! (I also like your non-doping-related posts).

  4. The funny thing is Lee that the more you write about this the more successful these events become. Seems like you’re on the losing side in this, as usual.

    1. so, if i stop writing about this, it’ll stop? wow. same with religious fundamentalism? or ebola? i’ve never really written about those topics, so what do you suggest? i start and, then later stop? seems so brilliantly simple, NAC, that some might consider it idiotic – the fools.

    2. “Not A. Cyclist” – I wouldn’t attach my real name to that statement either. I am sure these events are not growing because of the logical public outcry against dopers, they grow because people selfishly turn a blind eye to cheating and stealing. I don’t understand how people like you fell asleep on this issue, but it will not go away until everyone wakes up.

  5. Levi – I know you read this stuff. Why don’t you weigh in and tell us all about the first time you got busted for doping back in 1996 in Grandview, Ohio at the USA Crit Nats, I think it was. My guess is you doped pretty much your whole career and not just when you turned pro or when you joined USPS. Leave the sport to the next generation now.

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