Some of you may be aware of the mysterious 'men-in-black': the professional cyclists who allegedly trained in non-descript bike clothes (ie. not their team gear with all its sponsor logos on it) to avoid undue attention from fans. (That was how Team Astana put it; skeptical elements in the UCI assumed it was to avoid undue attention from random drug-tests.)
Seems we have a few 'men-in-black' in the media, too.
I was just reading the International Herald Tribune's opinion piece by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, titled 'The Tour de France in mourning.' Now maybe I should know better and not read the IHT (or anything that comes out of Greg Lemond's mouth, for that matter). Wheatcroft's third paragraph reads as follows:
"Even so, Christian Prudhomme, the Tour director, sounded optimistic when he said, 'The departure of Rasmussen is the best thing that has happened to us these past few days.' To others, it merely confirmedwhat the IHT's veteran Tour correspondent Samuel Abt had written some months ago, that bike racing now possessed all the credibility of professional wrestling."
Hmmm. Now, I know that the IHT and the NYT are different editions of essentially the same journalists' work; I know that such journalists often don't get to title their pieces. But Sam Abt (who I will credit with a little less hyperbole) didn't write the piece comparing pro-cycling with pro-wrestling. I know because I singled out that author's drivel for some ridicule in late May here on The Regal Vizsla. Now maybe these are all noms de plumes: Sam Abt is George Vecsey is Geoffrey Wheatcroft (and presumably could be 'Birillo,' as well). This makes me wonder whether the mystery men at these staid paragons of journalism are who they say they are and can stand the test of random fact-checking.
I'll be fair and say that Wheatcroft's essay has an element of style and a nice optimistic upswing to its close -- but as much as guys like this whinge about cyclists cheating, it'd be nice if they got their own house in order.
Incidentally George Vecsey's article titled 'A Sport Can No Longer Peddle Denial' appeared in the old-fashioned print edition of the NYT on Sunday, May 27th, 2007. It was in the final late edition, Section 8, Page 5, Column 5, 884 words. If you have the on-line subscription you can find it here.
I since found another blog entry by Alex Massie that's far more detailed in its critique of the entity called Vecsey-or-Abt-or-Wheatcroft. Will need to read more of The Debateable Land.