Some interesting news out of Greenville, South Carolina occurred this past week. It is the home of George Hincapie, who was a Lance Armstrong loyalist during the U.S. Postal glory days long before the crash and burn. George, with his brother, owns and operates a successful cycling sportswear company and a junior development cycling team in Greenville. This past Saturday, George hosted his annual Gran Fondo. An 80 mile pleasure ride through the fall colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains with several thousand cycling enthusiasts. Certainly, no crime in that, other than any mention of the Armstrong name fires up a hornet’s nest of opinions these days.
George, wanting to have his old buddies partake in the event, invited several members of his old Postie squad including Lance. This is where things got strange to say the least. USA cycling sanctions nearly all of the mass group rides around the country where organizers can purchase the cheap liability insurance that USA Cycling offers. USA Cycling, then earlier last week, issued press releases to the various news outlets stating that since Lance is under a lifetime ban, he is prohibited from participating in any sanctioned event under the World Anti-doping Code.
Really, banned from a group charity ride supporting Meals on Wheels? I am certainly no apologist for Lance. I donated all my Lance-wear to Goodwill long before Oprah, took a hot shower and felt better for doing so. But seriously, banned from a charity ride? It was no secret that Lance acted as a maniacal bully during his tenure and destroyed any and all who got in his way. But USA Cycling seems at the very least, to be exacting some sort of or continued retribution to the embarrassment that Lance brought down on them. Or, that they may be sending a message to the International Cycling Union (U.C.I.) that their house is clean and they will enforce the rules.
Whatever the case, they certainly let everyone know that Lance is still under house arrest from the bike, saved the 1000’s of other riders from being exposed to his subversive behavior and successfully kept him at least hundreds of yards away from young minds that he may have been able to influence. To his credit, Lance declined to make this a bigger story than what it was and stayed home.
Funny, Barry Bonds tosses out the first pitch at the N.L.C.S. and is cheered by 43,000 fans. The NFL trumps up a drug testing plan accepted by the players union that is a complete joke. Read the whole report. Trust me, compared to cycling protocol, it is a joke. It has more holes in it than Sonny Corleone at the toll booth. The public seems ambivalent to it all. Certainly, ESPN won’t talk about it. It is their cash cow. But mention former cyclists, the bullets, arrows, rocks, you name it goes flying. Just read the twitter responses to any former cyclist other than Jens Voigt, and it is non-stop cyber bashing.
So congrats to USA Cycling for successfully getting your name in the headlines at Lance’s expense! I just don’t see how these spats benefit cycling and just keep dragging up the past. Did I mention that George Hincapie rode in the same fondo in 2012 while under suspension from USA Cycling? Funny, they did not have a problem with that. Who is the bulling who now? I just wish for the sake of cycling, these governing clowns would get over themselves and move on. There is ton of young talent out there and that is where the conversation needs to be focused on.
– Bruce McConnell
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