Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hypocrisy in the sport - those who were left out in the cold

Those happy days...

Photo by AFP, downloaded here.

Today I woke up to the news that George Hincapie allegedly has talked to the grand jury, exposing that Armstrong did use banned substances. The story from Velonews can be read here.

Now, it doesn't take a Nobel prize winner to guess what today's story will be about, both cycling fans, bloggers, analysts and every media outlet keep hammering their keyboards at a frenetic pace all day, keeping everybody up to speed.

My perspective will be a bit different. Not that I don't want to discuss if/when/how/what Armstrong doped, but there are others who can write better than me about that subject. Instead, I want to comment on those who deliberately were left outside in the cold. Not only by Armstrong, but by the cycling industry as a whole.

The good, the bad and the ugly
Over the years Armstrong's reputation as the patron got bigger. In addition to ride everybody off his back wheel, he drew attention to the sport back in the US. Road cycling became very popular, not that it was unpopular before, but Armstrong really brought cycling back in spotlight. He was the American hero, surviving cancer returning to the sport taking seven consecutive Tour de France wins. His market value is one of the greatest in cycling, due to his own personal history and his achievements on the bike.

Everybody who mattered, or who wanted to be something in the sport could be seen wag their tale and went along. Armstrong was known to be harsh on people not supporting him 100%, so it was important to stay on his side. What these people didn't know, is that by doing so, one automatically puts Armstrong in that position and actually reinforce his position, whether he had it or not.

What happened to those who crossed Armstrong? Where did they go?

More importantly, who out there supported Armstrong openly in putting people out in the cold or even worse; those good people who did nothing but witnessed it all take place over two decades.

There are quite a few out there now, people in powerful positions who deliberately closed their eyes when others were thrown out. For what reason? How do these people see themselves today, knowing what they "know" now? How do others see them now?

Tough questions, but are they fair? Everything is easy in retrospect, we all know second guessing is an art. Perhaps is it a lesson about human nature, that we need to stand firm in our believes on what is right or wrong. And to appreciate second opinions for what they are and what they could be. For the likes of
Frankie and Betsy Andreu, Emma O'Reilly, Philippo Simeoni, David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, time has gone by, giving at least some of them a kind of compensation. Not as much as it could have been, and maybe not as much as they deserve.
British cycling fans, bloggers and analysts have been critical to Armstrong and co for many years, giving credit to Walsh and Kimmage. Those stuck in the US, like Emma O'Reilly and the Andreus, have probably suffered more. I'm not addressing who of the parties lying here, just to make that clear.

Armstrong and Andreu -  Motorola Team

Perhaps I shouldn't mentioned those above, there are probably others out there who do not have a voice today. If you know any, please feel free to comment on that.

Cycling needs to get it all out in the light. This is the chance to give all of us who believe in a clean sport a helping hand, address the problems - move on. Only then can cycling regain trust amongst them who need it the most; the fans.

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