I noted in January that I was on the Lemond side of the Lemond v. Armstrong debate. Someone tweeted a recent speech by Lemond. This was in the context of a blogger who had some fun cherry-picking what he thought — erroneously in my view — made Lemond into an “embarrassment.” He claims that to Lemond “there’s something wrong with everything except him.”

That’s not the impression I had, but it’s a speech worth watching in its entirety. Importantly, Lemond notes the interest taken in cycling by his son but that given the state of affairs of pro cycling, he wouldn’t want his son to get into it. He speaks of how this wonderful, dramatic sport has been ruined by robotic participants.

He notes that Trek, which manufactured the Lemond brand of bikes until it terminated him for disparagement, never had a problem with his speaking out against drug use until Lance Armstrong won the Tour. He says that the hopes that the Tour de France would act independently of the corrupt UCI — the sport’s governing body — were dashed when Armstrong announced his return and the people fighting for change were gone.

And his last line, to the question of whether Armstrong would admit to drug use — throughout he makes it clear that riders who came clean should be given a second chance and embraced by the sport but that the code of omerta hangs over the peleton — he syas no, “he has no conscience.”

The video, from PlaytheGame.com.

Also, here’s a recent interview with David Walsh by Andy Shen. In his speech, Lemond makes reference to an earlier Shen interview, with Michael Ashenden, to which I made reference to a bit ago.

Edited to add: A little exploring on Twitter shows that Lance Armstrong sent the following Tweet yesterday: “Some Bike Snob NYC perspective… http://tinyurl.com/kulk7g,” with the link being to the blog I mentioned at the outset. No comment on the substance of what Lemond had to say, however.

Edited to add II: I came upon a further, negative review of Lemond’s speech, at the site Of Bikes and Men. As I note in a comment I made, I don’t think he makes his case.

And there’s a thread about it on CyclingNews.com.

Edited to add III:

There’s a recent thread on LetsRun, on which I posted some of the above. “Darkness” made the following comment:

This is misleading as you are just rehashing what LeMond has said. His son is not in any way able to pursue pro cycling because he is not good enough. His son went to Northwestern and raced at MSU a few yrs ago, he was not even one of the best that day in that race.

And Trek asked Lemond to stop trashing Lance Armstrong. They gave him many chances to stop attacking LA specifically, but he kept doing it and that just isn’t good for business. I don’t think they had a problem with him being a voice for change in pro cycling, but Lemond kept at it after LA had retired.

Lemond is well known for having bad judgment on what to say and when to say it, and for not having any “filter” on what is appropriate to talk about.

This is well known by people who know Lemond and know cycling. You guys coming on here and talking about it is just like cyclists trashing Paul Tergat and Daniel Komen (long since retired and probably dopers) … it doesn’t prove anything, it doesn’t help anyone, it isn’t entertaining, and you don’t know enough to talk about it.

Think about this: Lemond turned pro at 19 and was immediately successful. He rode the Tour at a young age and finished 3rd in his first try.

After being shot, he returned to win two more after taking two yrs to recover. He also had a miraculous return to better form in the ’89 Giro after lagging way down on GC and his soigneur gave him a “B-12 injection” and he finished the long TT in second and 39th overall in the Giro.

Next month he wins his second TdF after being out of racing for two seasons. The guy that he beat (in one of the most exciting Tours ever) was Laurent Fignon. Fignon has admitted doping and is now suffering from stomach cancer and has commented that “the doping he did” he doesn’t think contributed to his current cancer.

So, I have no dog in this fight, I am not particularly a fan or a detractor of Lemond or Armstrong or Fignon or Landis … or any of the riders that so many like to trash as if they were really tight with them and know just what they are doing every day. But think about this: Lemond won the biggest races in an era when there was just as much drugs (and blood doping by transfusion was legal and cannot be tested for) and testing was definitely at a much lower level than post-Festina-Affair. He also beat riders that were caught for doping or admitted to doping later.

Then he came back from a gunshot wound that nearly killed him and beat everyone in two tours. Sound much like another great American’s pro career?

Not saying he doped or that he is full of shit or that he is correct about the stuff he says today, but I am saying that it is fashionable to say that Lance has doped for his nearly 20-year-career or to vehemently deny that he has. Very few people in the world really know whether he has or not … and Lemond is NOT one of them.

To which I responded:

I don’t know why I should be taken to task — “misleading” — for rehashing what Lemond said when I said I was rehashing what Lemond said.

I further admit to being an amateur in this and stand ready to acknowledge my limitations and the limited information that I have and that I don’t know what happened. That said, you make valid points. The only point I’ll make is that Lemond began as a top stage-race rider and Armstrong did not and I think that his suddenly becoming one raises a red-flag.

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