DCSIMG

Letters to the Sports Editor: No, Lance, you are not the ‘victim’

Discredited cyclist Lance Armstrong appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. Picture: AP

Discredited cyclist Lance Armstrong appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. Picture: AP

DISGRACED cyclist Lance Armstrong compares his life-time ban from cycling to “a life sentence”. Don’t you just feel sorry for the former seven-times Tour De France cycle race winner?

No. It has taken him a mere 24 hours from his confession of systematic and prolonged drug cheating to him portraying himself as the victim.

Lance Armstrong, you are not the victim. All of the cyclists and cycling fans involved in the disgraced races are “victims”, all of your supporters and sponsors are “victims”, the population of France, whose premier cycling race you have irrevocably stained, are “victims”. So no, Lance Armstrong, you are not the” victim” you are the “perpetrator”. Please just shut up and go away, unless, of course, you wish to name all of the other cyclists and cycling support staff involved in this doping scandal. Personally, I think that a life sentence for Lance Armstrong would be far too lenient.

NEIL SINCLAIR

Clarence Street

Edinburgh

After years of denials and omertà that kept the lid on his cheating conspiracy, it appears as if Lance Armstrong admitted his doping past to Oprah Winfrey. I doubt many people interested in the Tour de France were in any doubt that dear old Lance “stacked” the whole pharmacy. The question is whether he has implicated cycling’s governing body in the cover up because that could lead to the sport being removed from the Olympic programme.

DR JOHN CAMERON,

Howard Place,

St Andrews

Cycling undeserving of pariah status as a sport

This is the second time Tom English has used a feature-length article (17 January) to vent his spleen against cycling in general, and Bradley Wiggins in particular.

It is becoming a tiresome habit. Is it so strange to think that in spite of the cheats and the dopers, Wiggins might actually still love his sport; that he might regard the writing-off of any particular era in the sport’s history as a matter of regret? I’m quite sure that there are those (including myself) who continue to love and follow sports such as football, rugby, cricket, and golf in which cheating, including doping, is also commonplace. Lance Armstrong was a poisonous bully who lied to, manipulated and cheated those around him, and who did his best to destroy those who sought to discredit him. He was also an incredible athlete who inspired a generation of cyclists, elite and otherwise, and gave hope to countless cancer sufferers.

Even Armstrong’s arch-enemy, Dick Pound, the former President of Wada, a man who Armstrong constantly trashed, has acknowledged that Armstrong’s is a mixed legacy. We must acknowledge the damage that Armstrong, and others, have done to the sport, but it is unreasonable to expect those steeped in its history – and its enjoyment – to adhere to the sort of party line that Mr English advocates.

We should condemn the lies, and the damage done to individuals, including those athletes who felt obliged to dope in order to succeed, or survive. But we should not be “eaten up” by them as Mr English suggests; at least no more than football fans should be eaten up by the (scandalous) extent of diving and dissent in the game, or cricket fans about spot fixing.

Wiggins and the Sky team have no more reason to feel guilty about their sport than any other professional sportsmen; they have no reason to rend their garments or beat themselves with birch twigs. They are entitled to have mixed feelings about a generation of great but flawed athletes. For Mr English to suggest otherwise – at least without putting cycling’s problems in their proper perspective – smacks of wilful blindness at best, bullying at worst.

David Sheldon

Inveralmond Grove

Cramond

Hearts should be grateful they finished with ten men

I WOULD humbly suggest to Ian McCallum that, instead of concerning himself with a fictitious “SFA-sponsored witch-hunt” (Letters, 14 January) against Hearts, he might pause to express gratitude that the referee at the time deemed the Ryan Stevenson tackle (which has attracted the retrospective punishment) a legal one, rather than the red card offence any objective observer would surely

acknowledge it to have been.

Had the referee taken the correct course of action, then Hibs would have held a one-man advantage for the majority of the match and the eventual outcome may well have been entirely different.

I could cite other recent examples where referees (in the employ of the SFA, of course) have made questionable decisions in derbies to the significant benefit of Hearts, but would prefer to leave the paranoia to Mr

McCallum.

STEVIE BURNS

Stenhouse Place West

Edinburgh

Scotland’s top teams must look towards England

A THOUGHT struck me midway through the first half of the miserable draw with Dundee at Easter Road on Saturday. I felt that these days in the SPL, excluding Celtic, you could change and chop players and no-one would know the difference.

A common pot of defenders, midfielders and attackers could be dipped into and assigned to each team each week. There are so many ordinary journeymen, so much of a muchness, no-one can afford to pay for players and class, and now with a vengeance it begins to show.

Rangers and Hearts have learned the hard way what buying “success’’ costs in the long term – the very existence of their clubs. Hibs bit the bullet of reality years ago; rivals and others now follow. A total reconstruction is required. The best teams in Scotland should beg, cajole, persuade, plead, using every diplomatic and media tool available, and have our top clubs absorbed into the English leagues. Years ago, Graeme Souness said for this to happen all that was required was for Sky to want it to happen. We in Scotland who love the game should do all we can to start this ball rolling.

ALEXANDER McKAY

New Cut Rigg

Edinburgh

Buck stops with Bradley and it is time for him to go

IT is concerning that, in some quarters, the view seems to have taken hold that all Mike Bradley needs to do to

secure a further period of tenure as

Edinburgh’s head coach is mastermind a few wins from Edinburgh’s remaining fixtures. The reality, however, is that Edinburgh’s form this season has been matched only by the weather and, for Bradley, Back et al, it is time to go.

Edinburgh supporters have had to endure a team that has lost its way with its own brand of “heads down” rugby combined with a worrying failure to be able to execute the basics consistently.

Against Munster last weekend, it was frustrating to have to acknowledge that Munster were worth their win because they were faster, stronger and better drilled, not only in the basics, but also in the darker arts, gamesmanship and playing the referee. But I would suggest the problems for Edinburgh (and Scotland) go wider than that. How’s this for an Edinburgh line-up: Greig Tonks; Mike Penn, Ben Atiga, Sep Visser, Chris Leck; Piers Francis, Richie Rees; John Yapp, Andy Titterell, W P Nel; Perry Parker, Izak van der Westhuizen; Netani Talei, Sean Cox, Dimitri Basilaia.

Not a bad scratch side, some might say. OK, Chris Leck’s out of position but spot the Scot? Throw in Glasgow’s non-Scots qualified players and, by my calculations, over 25 per cent of the contracted professional players with Edinburgh and Glasgow, excluding elite development players, are not qualified to play for Scotland. When we have only two professional sides and lack of real game time is a serious problem for young aspiring professionals, this is unacceptable.

Unless the SRU is serious about embracing the matter of a third professional side, the case for which is surely unarguable, we need to maximise the use of existing resources and that does not seem to be happening at present.

Back to Mike Bradley, with whom the buck must stop. Unless Edinburgh can conjure up another Andy Robinson, surely the time has come to give serious consideration to bringing in deserving Scottish coaches such as Bryan Redpath, Carl Hogg, Craig Chalmers or George Graham, all of whom have been round the block a few times. Edinburgh (and Scotland) do have some very good players, but unless the potential is harnessed properly, I fear rugby in these parts will be destined to stay in the

doldrums for some time to come.

ALAN W SHARP

Strachan Road

Edinburgh

 

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