An interesting read to continue a debate
Well, it was a very busy week last week, and a slow weekend so far. My apologies...
I am off to Dubai on Friday for the Sevens Rugby World Cup, where I will be traveling as a consultant and scientific advisor to the South African Team. Preparation for that trip has taken much of my time.
However, for the "slow weekend", no major opinion piece from me. Rather, there has been quite a lively debate in the comments section of our last post, which was the preview of the Amgen Tour of California (the irony, by the way, of having a cycling race sponsored by a company that makes EPO is quite unescapable. Thanks to Mike for pointing that out!)
There have been some interesting and divided opinions on this matter. Without doubt, one's opinion is very much a function of your starting belief (as most things are, of course). And when that belief does not match the opinions here, what has been frustrating for me personally is that the default response from those who disagree has been to whip out the "stick to science" insult, as though we discard our evidence based analytic approach simply because we express opinions that oppose doping in cycling and on Lance Armstrong's own doping past.
So to confirm what many of you have written - we are not objective about anything we write about, and nor do we intend to be. Just ask Oscar Pistorius, or Gatorade, or Usain Bolt, or Sammy Wanjiru, or Pose runners. Our opinions on all those matters was equally 'black and white' - the evidence demands an opinion in all these cases, including that of Armstrong. But opinion based solely on belief is different from evidence-based opinion, and doesn't, in my opinion, contribute much to the useful debate. It is isolated opinion, and is not what we are about, despite perceptions. Nor is the purpose of this site to sit on the fence and dryly translate science for you - read our Vision and Mission to see what we actually are about.
In any event, in doing some reading on the debate, I came across the following really interesting pieces, which I personally found to be excellent reads:
An excellent viewpoint on the scrapping of the Don Catlin anti-doping programme
The second is the letter below, written by a reader to VeloNews. You can read the original here. It doesn't deal with doping, it doesn't accuse anyone of doing drugs, but just puts out, very eloquently, an opinion on the Armstrong-Kimmage exchange.
Re: The Armstrong/Kimmage exchange
Speaking for myself as one of the many "around the world affected by (cancer)," (In my childhood, cancer claimed my father, and later on, my sister as well.) I hold nothing against Mr. Kimmage for his recent characterization of Mr. Armstrong, and I surely do not appreciate Mr. Armstrong assuming the authority to speak for me — especially with such intolerant, hateful words telling someone that they are "not worth the chair they are sitting on."
Indeed, if even half of what has legitimately been alleged about Armstrong is true — the numerous firsthand accounts and sworn testimony of former teammates and associates, the undisputed test results, his conduct towards those who have spoken out about doping within cycling — then Kimmage's metaphor (and that’s what it was, not any sort of insult to those affected by cancer) is appropriate, perhaps even understated.
Armstrong has never credibly addressed these charges, choosing instead to respond with public displays of hostility that have now descended to the level naked aggression with his brutal verbal assault on the very worth on another human being. However unwittingly, Armstrong makes Kimmage look like a prophet in alleging revenge as the motive for his comeback, since we have just seen the first score being settled.
At least in his exchange with Greg LeMond last September, Armstrong insisted that the press conference would not "go negative" since he meant to "talk about the global cancer campaign, the comeback to cycling, and the credibility in and around that." At that point, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but any "credibility" he could have commanded is now gone, not only as a result of his treatment of Mr. Kimmage, but also his having reneged on a public promise to subject himself to "the most advanced anti-doping program in the world," which would be conducted in a "completely independent" manner because "ultimately…we as fans must get back to enjoying the race and respecting the riders and their performances." (Perhaps the drama of Armstrong’s press-conference "performance" is intended for the public's viewing enjoyment.)
This time, he did not even try to conceal his contempt, which he had the gall to wrap in self-righteous outrage on behalf of those he professes to represent and care about, but whom he is all too willing to exploit for advantage in his personal feuds. Such conduct is beyond the pale from a public spokesperson (even a self-appointed one) for any sort of worthy cause, and it lays bare the dark forces at work in this man – forces that may now be said to constitute an ugly blight not just upon cycling, but the fight against cancer itself.
Some of the comments in our previous post are also well worth reading, particularly those that disagree, just to get a spectrum of opinions on this one. People obviously feel very strongly about it. And it's no co-incidence that there is a very strong divide in opinions with many on one side of the Atlantic tending to have one opinion, and the majority of those on the other a completely different view (as Ron points out below, the other "watershed" in opinion seems to be the depth of involvement in cycling, which is really interesting - the more involved you are, the less likely you are to buy the media opinion)
Olmsted Falls, Ohio
That's not a judgment on the people, but rather a comment on the power of the media to mould our opinions. Now you need to ask who is controlling that media? Who is winning the public relations battle? Fueled by Nike, Oakley and the LAF, objective opinions are in short supply here. In the excellent words of bianchigirl, some of the journalism is nothing more than "fawning obsequiousness". I'll take Paul Kimmage's writing any day - it might be as biased as the other side, but it's closer to the truth.
I'm hoping to squeeze in a post on the aging and exercise series this week, time-willing!