Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tornado Tom ... Indeed

If outrage or incomprehension was your reaction to news of Tom Boonen's positive test for cocaine, then you get the situation better than he does. To be fair, a cyclist of Boonen's stature in Belgium is a rock star, which is a sort of demi-god, and like other figures of mythical status can generally get away with acts that would be criminal by mortal standards. Think Apollo.

A Belgian King of the Classics. Yes, he's supposed to drive a Porsche. And yes, he's supposed to get stopped for speeding; he's a bike racer! But cocaine? That rock star comment was supposed to be metaphoric. Oops.

The situation seems no different than when Jan Ullrich was caught for taking ecstasy. It seems likely it was a "just this once" sort of mistake. Only Boonen had Ullrich's example to show what can go wrong. Imagine yourself in a club and you're the most popular guy there. I know, but try to imagine it. You're going to be offered everything in that club. Everything. There are at least a few of those things to which, as one of the world's great bike racers, you need to have the cojones to say , "No."

The problem here is that cycling is in such a tenuous state of credibility that the only way this situation could be worse was if Boonen had been riding for a team such as High Road, CSC or Slipstream that has taken great public steps to demonstrate it's riders are clean.

Drunk driving would be understandable; irresponsible, but understandable. Alcohol is an acceptable (at minimum) part of a meal. A fourth (or fifth) glass of wine or beer before getting in the car is a mistake that some folks make. But cocaine comes with the taint of party boy, which implies a different sort of recklessness. And because cocaine is a stimulant par excellence, if you didn't think, "Boy, I could make my bike go a million kilometers per hour on this stuff," we'd have to question your sanity, not your judgement. And there's the rub. For the bike racer, anything that can be construed as a drug ought to be seen as off-limits.

Perhaps Tom didn't get the memo. The memo came from the viewing audience. It was brief. It said, "Don't embarrass our sport anymore."

Under other circumstances, his apology would have been acceptable, applaudable even. He said, "Lately, my name has appeared several times in the news in a negative manner. I realise that with this I have hurt my family, my friends, my team and my fans. I wish to apologise for that. But I am not perfect. I will accept the consequences. You will understand that in spite of everything that has been written, rightfully or wrongly, I am not here to defend my conduct."

That wasn't good enough. Frankly, it smacks of Johann Museeuw's apology for not being "100 percent honest" during his days as a racer. Now, more than ever, we need someone caught red-handed to step up and say, "Yes, I did (insert name of drug here), and I apologize. I don't know what I was thinking."

Don't let the fact that his team is standing behind him obscure the gravity of the situation. Lefevre can be credibly accused of being one of the better architects of systemic doping in the peloton. To expect exemplary leadership from him is like asking a fifth grader to teach calculus; it's not fair because he just doesn't get it.

Which, is exactly Tornado Tom's problem. He can't possibly be seeing the issue through our eyes, otherwise such a gaff would never have occurred. And now that we have a clear illustration that his view of the "doping problem" isn't our view of the "doping problem" it calls into question his judgement as a whole. It hurts, because he's one of the last guys in the peloton we wanted this from.

Now we are faced with the ugly question of wondering what else Boonen may find acceptable on a "just this once" basis.


Photo courtesy John Pierce, Photosport International

48 comments:

steevo said...

No longer tornado tom.
Now blizzard tom

Chris said...

another solid post. i'm really torn on this one.

out of competition test, cycling hero in a cycling crazed country, immense pressure to not just do well but win, cry for help risky behavior

vs.

the greater context of doping within the sport, held to a higher standard because of his status as a star within the sport, has he used illicit substances at other times even within competition, possibly inadequate apology

Our Juicy Life said...

don't forget the 17 year old girlfriend (is she 17 yet?)
so lame...

Anonymous said...

i am not a fan of boonen.
but i think that this post is a symbol for what doping has done to this sport.(on the fan side)

certainly, cocaine is bad, but it is part of society, and cycling is part of society too.
we should' t be hypocrites. boonen has got more than a fair punition.
every sport which hasn't any "scandals" like this is a sport where these things are hidden.
i, on my side, am happy that this sport is not yet as "marketed" as many others.

roomservicetaco said...

To be fair to Boonen regarding his statement, I suspect he's been advised to be vague in public so that he does not incriminate himself should the authorities charge him with cocaine possession.

oompaloompa said...

does anyone else see a bit of irony in the timing of this announcement and the timing of the incident in question?

flanders was the beginning of april, so the night in question was almost 2 months ago. we are about a month from the start of TDF. test results in this day and age can be made available within 24 hours of being administered--as we have seen with riders being sent home during competition after giving a positive sample in the previous days tests.
so why release an out of competition test result that won't affect a riders ability to compete now?
this would be a perfect time to release some dirt on the 2007 green jersey winner and "clean" up the peleton in france so we have no riders in the race defending a points jersey--the yellow jersey hasn't been defended by its past years winner since lance rode off into the texas sunset in 05'--in this years edition of the race.
does anyone else wonder if the ASO is taking extreme measures to ensure that they can run event on their terms that has been so embarrassing to these organizers the past few years?

boonen has just been made a sacrificial lamb that is being offered up as an example scare the rest of the riding community, that riders aren't just expected to ride clean but also live clean.

if its out of competition then it doesn't carry sanctions, that much is black and white--this was a poorly executed campaign to create a headline and allow the ASO to run cycling for their non cycling interests and not for the riders and teams.

this is not a let boonen ride campaign.

Brooke Hoyer said...

You've pretty much hit my opinion dead on. The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard about it was the notion of the boys club of elite US athletes. Those guys who learn early on that not all the rules apply to them.

Shoot, we're fresh off the Tom Vannoppen firing and retirement for the same thing.

Boonen has to understand that drugs and cycling can't be linked. Saying no to the blow protects his paycheck and his health (need I mention Len Bias?).

I can think of many ways Tom can flaunt the playboy image without doing lines.

Anonymous said...

i have to say that the first thing i thought of when i read this was voet's book-the combination of the recreational drug use and the performance-enhancing drug use.

that, and the fact that cocaine is an ingredient in pot belge(right?)
-patrick

Tarik Saleh said...

Good post there Padraig. The just-an-out-of-competition-recreational-drug excuse is pretty lame. I think a mandatory firing from Quickstep with a short suspension would have been pretty appropriate. What the hell is the point of the code of conduct if they say, eh, no biggie. The rest of my thoughts are here

pieter said...

Good writing. Hard times for the cycling sport, hard times for Boonen as well.
It leaves me with a lot of mixed feelings.
The news did not come as a real surprise, knowing how popular coke is these days and knowing the party people in the Mol area. Boonen being known as a party boy,...it adds up to occasional recreational drug use.
But then I read in the newspaper that during interrogation by the police he said that he has been 'set up' by someone.
Why denying when the outcome of the tests is so clear.

Coach Curly said...

To be fair to Tom... Ullrich drove his car and landed it in of all places a rack full of bicycles. As stupid as it was to do, it only seems fair to nab the alcoholics and pot smokers as well...

Anonymous said...

Tomke needs to blame it on the dentist and spin it into a dental awareness program for Belgian kids.

Anonymous said...

i have seen some pro's train without helmets.
they should be suspended for 2 years

at least

Anonymous said...

I dont think what he has done matters. He wasnt taking performance enhancing drugs, he took something illegal, now he has to deal with it. It is really none of our business.

erikv said...

Amen, anonymous. Let it be. Not our concern. Nothing to see here, move on.

jza said...

What?
A millionaire athlete gets in a little trouble for partying a little too hard? Whoops.

Can't see how the word "incomprehensible" would apply here.
Maybe "unfortunate timing" with the tour around the corner.

It was too bad that Ullrich got a year out for doing the same thing.

For the best of the best, cycling isn't all suffering and sacrifice. It's "hey we're genetic freaks who can ride our bikes really far really quickly. Let's go get rich and have some fun."

And really, coke isn't going to improve cycling in any way. It makes you way too jittery. Even the good stuff.

brettok said...

If he had any class he would've drove his Porsche into a bike rack while his 17yo girlfriend snorted a line off his pecker...

erv said...

brettok

should read his lambo

marvo larvo said...

fabian on coke would've blown his doors off at roubaix

Joe said...

coke woulda dehydrated the shit outta most anyone at roubaix

marvo larvo said...

just thot that might help ignore the crmps, joe

Joe said...

and now I have accidentally commented about cocaine and bike racing from my work gmail. Whoops.

hope the filter took the day off

Roman Holiday said...

Coke adds life.

oldFonzie said...

Just to clear up some confusion, this out of competition testing took place before the Tour of Belgium not Flanders, a 5 day stage race not to be confused with the one day grand classic.

The test was conducted on May 25th and the timing seems plausible with the time it takes to do the B-sample, etc. It's a bit slow, but nicer that it didn't explode from a leak of the A-sample before the athlete in question was notified. That the allegations were made public, as noted by other posters, remains questionable.

Also, the ASO had nothing to do with the testing and can't be blamed for any sort of timing coincidence.

It does seem dubious that he would be caught the "one" time he did coke considering how quickly the drug is flushed from the system after use. However it is reasonable to believe he was under the impression he would not be tested out of competition for the drug as this is the stated policy of WADA and the UCI.

Cocaine is not a banned substance by either WADA or the UCI when used out of competition so why this info was made public is unclear. It seems an affront to the athlete. It is as improper as if they were to announce they discovered a female athlete to be pregnant from an out of competition urine test.

We have to remember that while we idolize athletes, they are still basically young kids frequently doing dumb kid stuff even though they sacrificed their childhoods to pursue sport.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for an effort to curb doping in sport. I am relieved to finally believe that race organizers and teams are no longer encouraging doping (and loved the line about a five year old teaching calc). Still there needs to be a line between ensuring clean sport and intrusion into private matters that may lead to a backlash.

Maybe it's the American in me that thinks they should be requiring treatment for drug abuse, not just some questionable public shaming. Even the lame NFL anti-drug program requires this much. To me it seems like the guy is on a bender and needs to be straightened out before he becomes a VH1 documentary cliche.

Finally, as a rider who has lost too many companions to drunk drivers, I am more disturbed by his drunk driving and the general dismissal of this transgression than his partying. Out of respect for my fallen comrades, I will not get behind the wheel after even one drink. I see drunk driving on my part as a graven insult to their memory not just an honest mistake.

rmckittr said...

I don't agree with you at all. The use of performance enhancing drug has tainted the sport, not recreational drugs.
If Tom uses an illegal, recreational drug on his own time (while not training, racing or attending team events) it is his business. If that usage happens to be illegal in the nation where he uses it, he should suffer the legal consequences if caught. vft
As far as his cycling career is concerned, it is a non issue. The TdF has every right to exclude him from racing, but for you to condemn him is overly harsh.
Many of us have made the same mistake as Tom (I am in no way condoning illegal drug usage) and have not lost our jobs or been excluded from the profession that we have trained long and hard for.
No matter what you say, Tom Boonen is one of the fastest bicycle racers on earth and he should race his bicycle as long as he obeys the rules of the sport while training for and participating in the sport.

Toast Ghost said...

gotta agree with the "live and let live" side of the coin on this one. he's enjoying the fruits of his riches (can't believe the anarchist in me let that one slip out!), especially the party-boy lifestyle that comes with being a young famous athlete. when i read the news, my first thought was "whew, just cocaine." the fact that it's a stimulant is pretty much a red herring, considering that it hasn't been used for serious performance-enhancing doping within the last thirty years, nor is it obtained through the same medical channels as EPO or whatever kids do these days. guy just went to the club and had fun, probably felt like shit the next day and maybe even stayed off the bike. can't begrudge him a little party powder on his off time.

Anonymous said...

enough with the self-righteousness... he's a young guy in his twenties doing some stupid sh#t. i don't know that he ever claimed to be a pillar of virtue. and all the whining about what doping is doing to the sport! i hate to say it but you can't have it both ways. the big-name sponsors, the live television coverage, and the adoring fans all come with a price -- just like in every pursuit. all that said, if big tom would have thrown back one too many vodka tonics and buried the porsche in a blind corner in the french maritime alps it would probably have been more acceptable to many which seems kinda crazy... lamenting the poor choices of uneducated young athletes with newly acquired wealth and status seems pointless. look the bar is quite low: i'm just pleased as hell that he wasn't running a dog-fighting operation out of his basement.

Brian said...

Chill out self-righteous, sanctimonious, anti-doping crusaders! The man was just livin' it up a little and got caught. Ya'll just jealous you're not a young Belgian superstar.

6:55 pm, you're on the money.

I'm just glad that he's finding a way to enjoy himself, despite the fact that the sport is in the can. The cycling public doesn't need role models, it needs to pull its head out, think for itself, and get back to focusing on the ACTUAL RACING. Now let's all get back to the racing and quit worrying about what athletes do in their private lives.

Amen, 3:27pm.

Colton said...

I agree with OldFonzie ,Brian, Rmckitr, etc...

This is personal matter. It has nothing to do with doping. Cocaine would probably be more detrimental to his performance than beneficial.

Although I doubt Boonen has a drug problem, the mention that there should be avenues for professional athletes to receive help with drug/alcohol issues is spot on. I mean, these guys have million dollar salaries and are treated like celebrities. It would be ridiculous to think that they aren't going to go to posh nightclubs and be exposed/do this kind of stuff.

It's not doping. It's not a big deal. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

There is no doping issue here and it is a matter he will have to contend with both personally and publicly through the Courts. I really hope it doesn't have too adverse an impact on his career. While I can't say I'm sorry for him, I can say that I am disappointed in him.
Aussie Joe.

Ed O'Shea said...

First off, great post.

Brian and all the Boonan taint lickers, see if you can extract your heads from your asses for a moment. Boonen wasn't smoking a fatty, he was doing COCAINE! Seriously what a bunch of obtuse morons we have commenting on this saying it's no big deal. It is a big deal, and if you don't think so ask Marco Pantani, oh wait a minute, you can't because he's DEAD! Great rider, with snakes in head and died a base-head! Are you kidding me that some of these newbie-Fred-like cycling fans think that this is exceptable, just because he is a Cycling star and was out of competition? Get out of here with that weak BS.

I can, as every other rational and logical thinking, upright walking cycling fan appreciate Toms cycling abilities, but, COCAINE????? C'mon, he needs to take a break from his team and racing and get help, then come back and take the higher path. And don't give me this "he's a big star and under so much pressure" bullshit, that is some weak ass shit. Try doing a job where you might have to save or take a life in a split second and having have done both, I can tell you that that is some pressure!

And no it's not understandable to get in your car and drive while your cocked after 20 beers. Anyone who thinks that in this day and age (not that you guys at BKW think that) needs to sock their parents in the mouth for raising a complete tool! There is to much education out there today to not know any better.

And the issue about him and the 16 year old girl....WTF????? I saw that a while back and was in shock that Tom couldn't find a girl out of high school to date? I have a 16 year old daughter and if some jackass Boonen's age, Rockstar, sports star or man on the block was attempting to have relations with her??? That motherf&%ker would be a heavybag with eyes! I would loose my professional objectivity and plant that moe.

Boonen has much to contemplate, straight up admit too and take on the chin. As for Quickstep, that teams weak ass leadership is now even more suspect than before.


I used to have so much respect for Boonen and the way he won races and carried himself. Now, not so much. I am shaking my head ant how jacked up my sport has become.

Anonymous said...

Someone's panties are in a bunch.

"Try doing a job where you might have to save or take a life in a split second and having have done both, I can tell you that that is some pressure!"

Are you a doctor?

"I am shaking my head ant how jacked up my sport has become."

Your sport... Are you pro? What gives you the credibility to call other people "Freds" and claim a sport as your own...

Idiot.

Anonymous said...

could we please get back to talking about whether or not white tape is PRO? or whether ASSOS is overpriced or tubular v. clincher? the current trend of writing/commenting on cycling like it is the zenith of human achievement is nothing short of pathetic. abject drivel. has anyone picked up a newspaper lately? this just in: cycling still *just* a sport, a pursuit; most still go unpaid...

the moralism and romance-writing is just plain bizarre. so big tom did coke. robin williams did coke. pres. george bush did coke...

"Boonen wasn't smoking a fatty, he was doing COCAINE!"-- hmmm... translation: weed isn't as bad as coke.

"used to have so much respect for Boonen and the way he won races and carried himself. Now, not so much." -- do tell what you respected. in particular, how was it different than say any other pro sprinter in recent memory.

"There is to much education out there today to not know any better...." -- translation: *too* much education.

please, please someone start a thread about peak wattage inaccuracies in his/her SRM crankset....

Anonymous said...

I feel Padraig's message is a bit simpler than some may be reading.

It is a trying time to be a PRO cyclist.

Any behavior shy of perfect casts further doubt on the individuals at the top of the sport and drives current/future sponsors/fans further away.

AJ Velo69 said...

I think a few of the comments regarding Tom are harsh. After reading the inteview with Boonen in Cycle Sport Magazine (April, 2008)it clearly suggests that Tom is an an introspective man who gaurds his privacy and is sick of the intrusive nature of the media and fans in his very public life. The drink driving and cocaine use are clear indications of a man asking for help.

How many of you who have been under immense pressure in your own life have had a few too many drinks or had other drugs to ease the pain of what you are experiencing? I know I have

Unfortunately many sports stars have everything available to them apart from what they probably need most, good guidance and coping strategies in life (think Pantani, think Ullrich).

I think Tom needs support and not to be seen in the same light as Landis, Hamilton, Vino etc etc etc.

I wish him well and hopes he finds peace within himself

AJ Velo 69 said...

Hey ed'o'shea

maybe you should read that article that I mentioned as Tom talks about the 16yo girl, maybe you should search for the truth rather than believing the gossip columns.

As for the life and death issue most of my medical colleagues understand their responsibilities without the "hands of god" complex.

oldFonzie said...

Was riding down this road yesterday, rolling hills into the wind and all of a sudden my heart rate monitor spikes up to 260! Couldn't believe it.I wasn't even breathing hard. So I tap the display and it goes back to just under 120 where I wanted it.

The Fonz still has it.

Think their was some weird interference from the tractor parked in the field I was passing. I know the use sat nav these days. Anyone else notice HR interference from farm equipment?

Anyways, I hear what Ed is saying. From his grammar and spelling you can see he's really stressed out by it. I too have had a job where I had to save or take a life in a split second. I worked in an abattoir for seven years, and I tell you it was stressful being on a tight quota and getting bitten by horses all day long. But at least you got to shoot 'em. Still I don't think it was as stressful as the life of young Tom -- he can't shoot the press, just drugs.

Ed is right in making the association to Pantani and it underlines what I was trying to say: we need to address drug use, but we also need to take care of the athletes, especially the dumb kids. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Tom's a good guy, I'd hate to not have him racing anymore.

His test shouldn't have been announced publicly at least not the first time -- although Tom's been embroiled in this coke conspiracy for some time with a lot of public allegations and guilt by association. Hopefully Tom will get his shit together and not become a cliche introspective poet who offs himself as a martyr. Yuck.

The sport needs to evolve from a reactionary stance to doping to a proactive one. It appears this is the direction we're heading with biological passports(and yes as a long time race fan I can include myself among the pro cycling culture for without fans there'd be just a bunch a guys riding around the countryside).

The questions we face now is how can we protect cyclists from themselves? Tabloid interventions are not the silver bullet.

As we move toward the higher good of a drug free peloton, we need to start figuring out why we are doing it -- is it for the sport's image or is it for the athlete's well being and can both interests be met more efficiently?

And I'd just like to point out to Ed, why would you punch out a nice guy like Tom for dating your daughter? By your logic she should be the one beating you for raising a complete tool by your standards. It's not the fifties anymore no matter how much we miss 'em. It's a different culture over there where 16 is not that young. She's a Van Vliet for cryin' out loud, I am sure her family raised her to take care of herself not to mention knowing that her family has her back.

Who knows, and this is purely unsubstantiated speculation, maybe the Van Vliets are behind this 'press leak', after all he's not dating Sophie anymore. He's back with Lore, or at least that's why the police searched her house for drugs and not Sophie's.

Ain't bike racing grand? Anyone else experience unexplained spikes in their heart rate monitors?

Ed O'Shea said...

ah velo.... Never said I was a doctor and don't think I am anywhere close to God. Me in those situation, I have only been lucky and had someone upstairs watching out for me. I was only illustrating a different significant pressure as compared to making millions of dollars to race a bike or catching a ball.

"As for the life and death issue most of my medical colleagues understand their responsibilities without the "hands of god" complex."

That's refreshing to know that a "Doctor,?" has no problem popping some pills, slugging some beers and hopping behind the wheel of a car. WOW.

As for the 16 year old girl comments made. Check the end of each sentence, I believe there were question marks ("?") placed there.
And NO I have never taken drugs to ease the pressures of life. And again, to then insinuate that you got behind the wheel of a car and that many do? How obtuse and careless!

Anonymous # 1......Yes it is MY sport, I've been racing since I was 7 years old, spent 18 years in the business and have spent more than my fair share on bicycles and equipment in the past 40 or so years. Never said I was Miguel Indurain but who are you Mayor Marion Barry? Jackass! This is our sport, and if you don't think so, get back on the bench where you belong.

Anonymous # 2..... I was not insinuating that smoking a "fatty" would have been OK. I was assuming that, by the tone of some of the responses, some of these guys and gals have been smoking copious amounts of marijuana before they opine. And a dead head, doesn't necessarily equate to cocaine use, but c'mon. Also this is a blog and I had no idea that spelling and grammar were so important TO you? If so please retract and rewrite your posts to include capitals at the beginning of your paragraphs and sentences. That would be just TOOOOOOO splendid.

Oh and your right with Obama and Bush admitting to cocaine use, I guess that makes it just fine?! What ever was I thinking. And no your SRM isn't broken, your just glass cranking single digits.

This BS is why cycling is circling the drain. I will say that websites like BKW area great, because they write thought provoking posts, and let us vent and opine.

As for Boonen I hope he gets the help needed.

ed O'Shea said...

I cannot argue with the Fonz on most things, but c'mon, Fonzie step out of the 70's kid! A guy in his mid 20's comes knocking at your door to take out your daughter and that's ok with you? Wow, you sound a little less like Fonzie and a little more like Ralph Malph. By the sounds of it, you could give a shite about your daughters well-being, you sound like a champ. Good job.

Great job with those horses. How ever did you deal with that? Or are you suffering from PTSD. Check with aj velo69 for some stress relief and instructions.

And thank you for the Inquirer read about Boonen's relationships, that was just smashing.

I stick to my position. Some guy 25+ years old comes knocking for my 16 year old, yes there are going have some problems right there at the door. If you wouldn't then that says boat loads about the stellar job your parents did. If your worth your salt then you might want to rethink that one. Unless your just looking to live off the backs of your kids? If so then march on Mr. Spears!

Now back to the topic at hand, I hope Boonen get some help and quick. His decision making is definitely off coarse and needs correction.

Bluenoser said...

Good Post.

David Millar manned up when caught and continues (I hope) to fight the clean fight for our sport.

Boonen has to realize that young people look up to him and want to emulate.

As for the pressure. It's like Super Chicken says, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it Fred." (Side kicks name just happens to be Fred)

-B

S

Anonymous said...

Some of you seem to have some difficulty with proportion but it's entertaining to read BKW, your posts make it more so and can be enlightening. I got a Gr8LOL from brttok.

Boonen is indeed like a rock star in many aspects, yet unlike a rock star he's also paid very well to be a professional representing a flooring corporation. Leave out the words "bike racer." He gets paid to carry a billboard across his chest.

Will most cycling fans forget about his 2008 version of a screwup in the future when he's hopefully still grinding out the cobble climbs? Yes, most will, although it'll be another asterisk to his palmares, hopefully the last one Tom 'cause you still give us that drug-free rush every time you raise those arms (oops, not every time).

But if I chaired a corporation that sinks millions of Euros into advertising, would I want it to result in being labeled "Quick Sniff?" Do people make a subconscious (or conscious) negative connection to my company if it's linked to cocaine?

So while those posting to this site try to one-up each other by discussing how many angels can dance on a headset cap, somebody somewhere is wondering how to deal with some very public cocaine use by a highly paid ambassador for their corporation, on a financial level. How do you quantify the prospective financial detriment of Boonen's loss of mojo?

With all the unwarranted detrimental "journalistic" coverage cycling gets these days, and the fact that for a lot of non-cyclists and cyclist-haters, this is all they need for reinforcement, Tom could be out of a job-- he would be if I ran a huge flooring company.

Maybe what we need is to Let Tom Ride-- for Colstrop or Topsport for a season or two, in search of regaining the edge he showed so well in years past and just last April.

P.S: Can any of you "real" cyclists tell me the difference between Astana and Quick Step? I'm waiting patiently to find out which team is excluded from le TdF.

oldFonzie said...

Okay we're getting way off topic but in some ways it is relevant to Belgian culture. Mr. O'Shea, you completely missed my point on the hypocrisy of the old fashion morality you assign to genders. Calling me names isn't going to score you any points. If I were in Belgium no I wouldn't protest if a a man in his twenties dated my sixteen year old daughter. However it wouldn't happen in the US since I would raise my daughter to understand the mores of society.

You seemed to believe that boys whose parents didn't teach them the moral aspects of drunk driving should "sock their parents in the mouth for raising such a tool." yet girls in your opinion are so devoid of moral backbone that they need to have their fathers beat up men they've inappropriately flirted and exchanged digits, with little apparent consequence for their misdeeds.

By your reference to Brittany Spears, I imagine you have some idea of what young American teen girls are like these days. Personally I pity the 25 year old man who thinks he can deal with that sort of snot nosed thing. Even more I doubt the father that would let his little girl turn into such a monster would have the backbone to confront one of her many suitors.

I never had a daughter, but I did raise my niece since her mother was a self absorbed idiot that let the kid run wild, fail school and generally screw up. All she wanted to be was the kid's "best friend" not parent.

When she moved into my house I laid down the rules and explained what was expected of her. My wife and I provided structure and spoke openly with her about the things she needed to know and what we expected of her. She never had a problem with any older men pursuing her because she knew about the age of consent and its consequences. She knew there were protocols that were expected of her if she were to date any boys.

Sure, she tested the limits. The worst she had was some Christian boy who was after her. He came over one of the first times we allowed her to be home alone(which she knew was against the ground rule of nobody in, nobody out when home alone). I figured it out right away because I noticed foreign tire tracks on my driveway. She was impressed and relieved that I was watching out for her and we didn't have any of that again. Her grades went up and she was on the honor roll. She dated appropriate boys after we met them and their parents. She's become an upstanding adult and is married now.

However, this is America not Belgium. The whole world doesn't have to be strip malls and Mc Donald's morality. There can be differences. Frites et Moule is not wrong because it's not served as a Happy Meal with a toy.

It's a different culture over there. A much older and more stable culture I might remind you. This is why bike racing is big, not baseball and why the age of consent is 16 not 18. An older guy dating a 16 year old is not that uncommon in Belgian society nor in many older and stabler societies. It makes sense that an established male should be able to chose the most fertile females. This protracted adolescence is a uniquely American phenomenon.

When I lived over there I had a 28 year old team mate who was dating a 16 year old. Her parents were happy with it. These things are not uncommon. Last I heard they were married and happy. Merckx married the young daughter of his trainer and it was socially acceptable.

Belgium is a lot like an extended farming community. Everyone knows everyone and watches out for everyone. They are a devout and pious people not a bunch of child molesting perverts. However, they aren't a bunch of puritans either.

On the odd day the sun comes out and it's warm it's not uncommon to see naked women sunbathing in the park. For crying out loud, the symbol of Brussels is Manneken Pis, a statue of a little boy pissing -- something that would be criminalized as child porn in the US.

You're looking at the picture all wrong. You see a daughter of MTV being pursued by some guy with a corvette she picked up at Applebee's. Sabine Van Vliet didn't just have Tom Boonen coming to her door one day after 'hooking up' at the mall. Leo Van Viellet is not some bad parent who should have beaten up Boonen.

Over there, that's just not how it's done at all. I am sure their families were longtime friends. Boonen isn't some sleazy sex tourist who's after anonymous sex with little girls, he is involved in relationships that are appropriate for his culture. He's a young, eligible Belgian bachelor; it's his prerogative.

Ed O'Shea said...

Well, there's no MTV in my house.....we don't eat at McDonalds or Burger King..... I never point to Europe as a bastion of morality of which Americans should emulate (we have our own problems but were not as back ass as europe, that's why most of us left our native countries, for this, The greatest Country on Gods green earth).....the only reason I know the name of a pop singer who's family is morally bankrupt is because I live in Los Angeles and not under a rock and she's in the news every other day...... I will say I'm glad you have taken the bull by the horns regarding your niece, that is very commendable. I will also say that my 17 year old has always been involved in multiple sports and is an "A" student all of her suitors meet Mom & Dad first, as do all new friends that she is going to be hanging around with. And yes my job, as it happens, keeps my pugilistic skills sharp, so the day a 28 year old comes knocking at the door for one of my young daughters, you can bet your ass that I will beat his ass right there on the spot! Call me a Neanderthal, but that is precisely what will occur. And any father that says he wouldn't, doesn't have a teenage daughter. As for Boonen being a suitable and eligible bachelor? Says who? His actions demonstrably prove that to be false. Cocaine, and DUI??? If he's not careful he'll end up like Marco Pantani. Then we will have a darker post to be commenting on. Hopefully Boonen doesn't have a bunch of "yes men" around him like Michael Jackson. Speaking of Mike, he seems like a nice enough guy, but I'm not going to bring my young son over to his house for some trampoline time and Jesus juice. But judging by some of you Boonen drones, that might not be a bad idea to you. After all he's really nice, rich and considered a suitable suitor in some European countries.

"On the odd day the sun comes out and it's warm it's not uncommon to see naked women sunbathing in the park. For crying out loud, the symbol of Brussels is Manneken Pis, a statue of a little boy pissing -- something that would be criminalized as child porn in the US."

C'mon, lighten up Francis!

I find it a little ironic that Boonen, gets named as the guy who supplied Tom Vanoppen with the cocaine that he got busted with. These guys need to clean up their act, straighten up and fly right. There are children looking up to these guys! Cycling is getting to be like the NBA, NFL and yes MTV. Unreal, but time will tell. Hopefully for the kids, the fans, OUR sport and Boonen he gets his act right.

BUMP!

Ed O'Shea said...

Perhaps someone could get this 32 point Personal Pledge to Boonen. He needs it, and so do the excuse makers and defenders of his immoral behavior. But then what do I know, I am just some guy who actually cares about his family and my contributions to the World. AAAAAAAAAAAA Fonz?

1. There is no excuse for lack of effort.

2. Although I may be unhappy with my circumstances, and although racism and sexism and other "isms" exist, I know that things are better now than ever, and the future is even brighter.

3. While I may be unhappy with my circumstances, I have the power to change and improve my life. I refuse to be a victim.

4. Others may have been blessed with more money, better connections, a better home environment, and even better looks, but I can succeed through hard work, perseverance, and education.

5. I may be a product of a single- or no-parent household, but I will not hold anyone responsible for my present, or allow anyone to interfere with my future. Others succeed under conditions far worse than mine.

6. Some schools and teachers are better than others, but my level of effort, dedication, curiosity, and willingness to grow determine what I learn.

7. Ambition is the key to growth.

8. I will set apart some time each day to think about where I want to go, and how I intend to get there. A goal without a plan is just a wish.

9. "Luck" is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

10. If suitable role models are not nearby, I will seek them out.

11. A role model is someone who, through hard work and a positive outlook, has achieved.

*12. A role model may be a parent, relative, friend, church member, judge, doctor, attorney, businessperson, or someone I’ve read about in the newspaper or seen on the local news.

13. I will contact role models and seek their advice, guidance, and counsel. People remember when they were my age and are eager to help.

14. I will seek out recommended magazines, articles, books, biographies, videos, and motivational and how-to books, and use them for education and motivation.

15. The light is always green. You cannot go full speed with one foot on the brake.

16. I am always "in school," and I will not waste my summer by failing to read about and speak to people who can inspire me.

17. I will avoid friendship with people who do not share my goals and commitments. Nonsupportive relationships waste time and energy.

18. I will not seek immediate results, as I understand life is a journey and not a destination.

19. I will read a newspaper each day.

20. I will entertain myself in ways that challenge and expand my mind. As someone said, a mind once expanded never returns to its original size.

21. I will pay attention to my diet and overall fitness, as they are the keys to a healthy and productive body and an enthusiastic mind.

***22. Drugs are stupid. People who believe in drugs don’t believe in themselves.

23. I understand that jobs of the future require more preparation and training than ever, and I am determined to obtain the necessary background.

24. A well-rounded, competent student studies math and science.

25. People are not born "deficient in mathematical ability." Through hard work and dedication, the subject can be mastered.

26. It is essential that I learn to speak and write standard English. This is not "acting white," but acting smart.

27. A strong vocabulary is the key to communication, and I will read books on vocabulary enrichment.

28. I expect sometimes to be teased, even ridiculed. This will not stop me; it will only make me stronger and more determined.

29. I control my body and will not create a child until I am spiritually, psychologically, educationally, and financially capable of assuming this awesome responsibility.

30. Life is difficult. I expect setbacks and will learn from them. Struggle creates strength.

31. Every day is precious, and one without growth is squandered.

32. There is only one me, and I’m it!


Wrinse, wash and repeat. Also happy Fathers day to all the fathers out there.

bikesgonewild said...

...dear tommeke...weren't you a world champion a few years back ???...i guess you were too busy being admired by a relatively small group of glad-handers & ass-kissers to notice that "your" sport & profession was being viewed by the general public & also by the corporate world of sponsorship, as something less than wholesome & honest...

...i guess that wonderfully absolute focus & drive that allows you to achieve the results you do kinda keeps you from seeing & understanding that some of those young cheering fans now assume that "if tommeke's down w/ the drugs, then i can handle that shit too"...

...i guess the fact that you're surrounded by a support system of folks who won't let you slip too far, blinds you to the fact that those kids, those fans of yours, could end up dead or in jail but hey, that's their choice, right ???...

...i guess the fact that so many folks just pass this little "recreational drug" affair off as basically nothing tells me that there are a lotta people in the cycling community who are clue 'fucking' nada when it comes to understanding drugs & their effect on society...

...i guess the anal/cranial inversion i see out on the roads really is indicative of the greater collective consciousness in the cycling community...

...i guess i can't blame you too much, tommeke, because it seems we're both surrounded by a lotta uninformed selfish people...

...& i guess i hope ya get some help w/ 'that little problem' most folks don't seem to think you've got...

...good luck...i guess...

Anonymous said...

To Oldfonzie, my HRM regularly receives interference. I, purportedly, had a heart rate of 320 once. My eyes nearly popped out of my head and the shock of seeing that number almost gave me a heart attack.

As to the debate in question, look guys, cocaine abuse is not good for anyone. It has personal costs and imposes tremendous costs on society as a whole. We all know that.

Bashing Tom for all of his other perceived failings or indiscretions seems to me to be a little unfair. He will get what is coming to him in the usual way that society deals with these things, but hopefully only for his substance abuse.

The overwhelming sentiment seems to me to be that we are all disappointed in Tom. Fair enough. It does not help the fight against illicit social drugs to have high profile people as users. In Australia recently we had one of our best ever football players (and this guy was a god) busted for cocaine and other substance abuse. He was arrested, sent to rehab. He received the largest public hammering and the public essentially demanded his AFL contract be rescinded, which it was. He is no longer a pro footballer. His livelihood has been ruined. I see him running in my neighbourhood and have chatted to him on occasion. He's friendly and a well meaning bloke whose own opinion of himself was out of proportion to what other thought of him. His association with drugs and all that carried with it was ego. I have no doubt he regrets every line he ever did. It's a shame because this guy was an absolute champion. In my view, his fall from grace was just as much a travesty as his drug taking. He was lynched because of who he is, not what he did. That is the travesty I hope Boonen evades.
Aussie Joe.

oldFonzie said...

Aussie Joe, I hope you're right. I ride in dairy country and experience little to no interference beyond this new tractor.

Also, I agree with you on your footballer mate. Hope he can find his way back to the sport. Pantani got similar treatment and look what good it did him. Fortunately Boonen didn't test positive in a race so he's not going to be shunned from racing for too long.

If the belgians can forgive Johan Museeuw they won't crucify Tom.

Hopefully the whole thing will work out well in many ways: Devolder will have a great Tour with having the whole team working for him, not divided between defending green and yellow. And if we're lucky, Boonen will get his act together, and really he can't be that off course, and he makes a solid comeback in Beijing. That would be sweet.

Mind you I am still hoping for a Schleck arriving in Paris wearing yellow. Although a first Australian win by Mr. Evans would be acceptable -- I just don't want to jinx him by betting on him, plus betting on the Schlecks doubles my odds.

brettok said...

Aussie Joe, I'm an aussie too, and I thought at first you were referring to Joey Johns, another high-profile footballer from a different code, who was busted for ecstacy use. He is rated as the greatest footballer ever, and even with his indiscretions off the field he is still held up as a god. He is in fact a commentator and on all the footy shows. It shows that sportspeople are human, can make mistakes, and be forgiven for them. Boonen is no different.

I can't believe how pious some of the comments on here are, get off your high-horses people, it's just a sport, we don't own it, these riders are entertaining us, just like your favourite bands or movie stars etc... who are all smashed out of their minds too.