Wednesday, April 9, 2008
At left is Greg LeMond (in the yellow jersey) poised to win his third Tour de France. In 1986, LeMond became the first American to win cycling's most celebrated race. In 1987, he was nearly killed in a hunting accident. He and the 37 shotgun pellets still in his body, including two imbedding in the lining of his heart, returned to racing and won the Tour again in 1989 and 1990. Needless to say, he is a great hero to American cycling fans, and unlike the strangely omnipotent Lance Armstrong, LeMond was appreciated by European fans as well.
Greg LeMond was one of the first riders to speak out against doping in the sport. You would think that any company associated with the sport would kill to have such a distinguished and squeaky clean spokesperson. Yet, as the AP reports, bicycle-maker Trek is suing for permission to breach its endorsement contract with LeMond. Apparently, the estrangement between LeMond and Trek is a product of his anti-doping comments, including comments directed at Armstrong, who is reported to have close ties to Trek.
According to the AP, Trek president John Burke accused LeMond of reneging on a promise to curb "his comments about doping in cycling to focus on the brand." Burke claims that LeMond continued to speak out against doping and that LeMond's comments resulted in a decline in sales in the brand. Hmmm. I wonder what could have hurt the brand:
a. The fact that doping scandals have ruined the last two Tours and are threatening to keep the top team out of this year's race;
b. The entry of new manufacturers into the high-end bicycle market; or
c. Greg LeMond's principled stand against doping in competitive cycling.