Readers get it DARN straight on Boonen

The Mailbag is a regular department on Write to Please include your full name, hometown and state or nation. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Writers are encouraged to limit their submissions to one letter per month. The letters published should not be viewed as reflecting the opinions, policies or positions of, VeloNews magazine or our parent company. Stagnation Nation Editor,

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The Mailbag is a regular department on Write to Please include your full name, hometown and state or nation. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Writers are encouraged to limit their submissions to one letter per month. The letters published should not be viewed as reflecting the opinions, policies or positions of, VeloNews magazine or our parent company.

Stagnation Nation

No new letters since June 3rd? What happened to at least once, often twice, per week? If you’re not going to keep that section updated, then just get rid of it, but don’t just leave it stagnant. Bad publisher! 🙂 I hope you keep it though, as I enjoy reading the readers’ points of view on things.
Ryan P. Fonkert,
Manitou Springs, Colorado

Editor’s response: Ryan, we’ve just been waiting for one more letter to fill out the page. Thank heavens you finally wrote, because we have some good ones. 🙂

Barry’s Columns
re: Michael Barry’s column

Pure. Exactly what this reader wants, the human aspect and the physical and emotional description of just what it means to be a professional rider. Were it not for Michael and VeloNews I don’t think any American would ever get a chance to read such meaningful insights about a life very few ever experience. Thanks to you both, that little article took me away.
Whit Faulconer
Charlottesville, Virginia

Another Barry fan

Since when did Michael Barry become such an interesting author? It has been happening so gradually that I did not really notice it until this year. His articles have gone from being interesting, anecdotal comments on the life of a pro rider to poignant and insightful commentaries on why we all started riding in the first place …
Geoffrey A. Mar,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Boonen v. Petacchi

So let me get this straight …
Pettachi, who took one to many hits of an inhaler to treat asthma — which it may be pointed out is an ailment suffered by a not insignificant number of other professional bicycle racers — admits to his mistake and gets suspended for a year, has not just the Giro stage he won while doped up on asthma meds but everything else he won in that same race nullified for an infraction that is laughably minor.

And yet superstar/rockstar/next-Belgian-cycling-God Boonen gets busted snorting cocaine and only gets a slap on the wrist and un-invited to a race? No wonder this sport is becoming a parody of itself.
Martin McCreary,
Atlanta, Georgia

Another writer tries to get it straight

Okay, let me get this straight: Boonen gets tested in an out of competition test, for a drug that is only illegal IN competition. So there will be no suspension. Can someone please tell me why they were testing him for a recreational drug if he couldn’t be suspended for it? Do athletes have any privacy anymore?
Brian Boyle,
Littleton, North Carolina

Another …

So, let me get this right: Cycling desperately needs to clean up their doping image and claims their athletes are the most tested in the world. Yet, they will not take action in this case because it is “out of competition”?

Wow, I bet there are some NFL players that would love to be able to use that excuse! I regularly have arguments with co-workers about the cleanliness of cycling compared to the NFL or MLB, I guess I will eat my words on this one.
Victor Lutan
Carrollton, Texas

Astana v. Quick Step

I suppose Prudhomme thinks he’s being consistent by keeping Boonen out of the Tour after his out-of-competition cocaine positive. But why isn’t the whole team being banned?

After all, Boonen hasn’t been sanctioned by Quick Step, despite the positive.

And wasn’t Paolo Bettini suspected right before the world championships last year? And wasn’t there recently a police investigation that involved a Quick Step trainer? Did Quick Step do anything about that? It sounds to me like they’ve had plenty of strikes. I’d say Quick Step is at least on a par with Astana, except that Astana kicked its offenders off the team.

The fact is ASO is acting without a clear guiding policy and they look just plain dopey.
Brian Jung
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

The Boonen Situation: Laughable

I find it incredibly laughable that Quick Step has taken the position that Boonen’s cocaine use is not sporting-related, when it is common knowledge that Pot Belge (a mixture of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, caffeine, and possibly other stimulants) has been abused by cyclists for years as a performance enhancer.

Nice to see that many in cycling still like to stick their heads in the sand. At least ASO is stepping up and banning Boonen from the Tour.
Jason Grech,
Atlanta, Georgia

The Boonen Situation: Ironic

I find it ironic that if the UCI follows through on its threat to sanction riders who participate in the Tour because it is being conducted outside the auspices of the UCI, about the only ProTour riders that won’t end up with sanctions include (1) anyone on Astana, the team that most scandalized the Tour last year, and now (2) Tom Boonen, banished from Tour due to cocaine. Hmmm. Makes you wonder if the ASO’s belligerent stance isn’t finally starting to backfire.
Jeff Downing,
Denver, Colorado

The Boonen Situation: Amazing

It is absolutely amazing that Tom Boonen can use cocaine (a violation of law in itself), and earn a DUI level blood alcohol result, yet face no sanction at all, while Ale Jet is suspended for an inadvertent overuse of a legal asthma medication for which he had a waiver. Doubtless, WADA and the UCI will figuratively extend their collective arms, point their palms upward, cant their heads to the side and say, with faux sincerity, that the regs are “that way”… but they made the regs.

The UCI is the same cheerful bunch that wants to keep riders out of races for merely being “under suspicion” and bullies teams into not signing riders based on very questionable evidence, yet lets this go right by the board. Amazing.
Walter Nash
Tucson, Arizona

Levi’s comments
Dear Editors,

Levi’s comments about Cadel Evans’ racing tactics were quoted in’s superb article about the La Toussuire stage of the Dauphine.

First Levi criticized Evans for attacking the Joux Plane stage for some reason other than to win the stage race outright. Apparently Evans screwed up because he couldn’t dispatch Valverde, and the gospel according to Levi seems to read that an attack for any other reason than ultimate world domination is futile and not worthy of support. (Ever raced to secure a podium spot, bub?)

Then, inexplicably, Levi justified his refusal to work with Evans on the next day’s La Toussuire stage, when they had race leader Valverde on the ropes, because Evans was “attacking to win the race … So there’s no reason for me to work.”

That’s funny enough, but how about this one: “People who win the Tour de France don’t race like that.” Is that personal experience, slow legs, or just sour grapes? I know who I’ll not be rooting for in the Tour. Wait, what? Oh yeah.
Vanessa Minor,
San Antonio, Texas

Critical reader

Is Andrew Hood a fan or a journalist? His interview with Johan Bruyneel was pretty weak. Johan was talking about how clean his riders are based on extensive tests. Why didn’t Andrew ask Johan for a copy of these tests?

Additionally, VeloNews can take these tests and have experts evaluate them. Without teams sharing these tests results nobody can say for sure if their riders are clean.
Frank DePasquale,
Charlotte, North Carolina

Happy reader

Great article on Contador going for the grand tour triple.

It may be worth mentioning that Merckx (1973) and Giovanni Battaglin (1981) pulled off their double when the Vuelta was before the Giro. Alberto would be the first with the new grand tour order.
John McLeod,
Brecksville, Ohio

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.