Open Letter to Scott Simon

Mr. Simon,

I know you are currently on Vacation, which started on Saturday, and as I gather will be a couple weeks in duration, but I was hoping I may disturb your R & R for a moment.

I listen to your voice every Saturday morning before I head off to my job at Seattle area bike shop. In all honesty I probably listen to the show at least twice through every week, as I sometimes miss the finer points of a story through the buzz of bacon cooking and the sputtering of the teapot telling me the water is ready for the French Press. What I did not miss this past Saturday was you referring to my favorite past time’s biggest race as the Tour de Steroids.

Leaving aside the fact that, for the most part, professional cyclist tend to stay away from things that add weight – like steroids do. Those that do flout the rules tend toward substances that increase blood oxygenation or aid in recovery (which I suppose could be a mild steroid). It may also be worth noting that what passes for a banned substance in cycling is taken like candy by Football and Baseball players who later go on to be considered heroes (see cortisol use.)

To be fair, you did cast a hint of suspicion on Miguel Cabera. Though you did in a way that made it easy for Mr. Goldman to say Mr. Cabera is clean. The Tour however given no quarter.

I can understand your skepticism. After all, the only professional cyclist you know of (one Mr. Armstrong) recently admitted that his run of Tour wins was off the back of pharmaceuticals. I will admit to leaving cycling for a while after Floyd Landis was popped. However I find this sport so beautiful that I could not help but be pulled back. It is still true that there are people out there who are still dirty, but the fact that they are getting caught is a sign that cycling is committed to actually testing its athletes. Unlike say the NFL, MBL, MLS, or professional Tennis. Where there are always suspicions, which of course rarely bear out because there is little or no random testing.

Your implication that cycling can never be clean bothered me (obviously), but what really rubbed me the wrong way was that the failings of other sports heroes, which go far beyond cheating at a sport rarely go mentioned. At least not in a way that tars the whole sport the way you painted cycling with one dirty brush.

For instance. Over 600 NFL players have been arrested since the year 2000. Those arrests have been for offences that make decent human beings squirm (dog fighting, murder as examples), yet I have never once heard you refer to the NFL as the “National Felon League” . Please know that I respect you as a journalist and a writer (Norman Mailer owned one of your books after all) and this is not meant as an attack on your journalistic integrity. I just ask for a little bit of objectivity.

I understand that cyclist don’t fit the athlete stereotype of big arms, massive pecs and six pack abs that Americans expect from their sporting heroes, but that does not mean they are all cheaters.

I know that cycling is a difficult sport to grasp. Harder than football, baseball or soccer, but that is part of what makes it beautiful. Perhaps if you had someone on the show who was capable of explaining how it all works you too could see that beauty.

 

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