In blaming the media messenger Johan Bruyneel takes anunfortunate detour in order to buttress his argument for a unifiedsport.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

In a blog post
that otherwise makes some very important points about the organisation
of the sport of professional cycling Johan Bruyneel takes an
unfortunate detour in order to buttress his argument for a unified
sport.

According to Bruyneel, an important reason for bringing
all of the sport's stakeholders together is to present a unified face
to an allegedly hostile media intent on bringing the sport into
disrepute via it's reports on doping issues.

"Why do doping rumors about cycling appear first in the media and not in
many other sports? It is precisely because we are not organized. As we
have no defense mechanism, we are an easy victim. It is easy for some
media to attack cycling. How many names were associated with a doping
affair via the media in the past two years while there was never any
evidence?

Look how "Le Monde" was tackled by Real Madrid and
FC Barcelona. The French newspaper had a story about the Spanish
football clubs being clients of the blood bank of Eufemiano Fuentes. I
have lived for several years in Madrid and I know how these clubs hate
each other but... they are smart enough to support each other when
their same interests have to be defended. Together they attacked "Le
Monde." A claim of 300,000 euros was imposed to the newspaper. I am
convinced that the media will think twice before they will again attack
some Spanish football clubs."


Talk about shooting the messenger. And talk about bad timing, this being written only a week prior to our latest doping scandal.

One
would think a more important reason for organising the sport would be
to ensure that riders who reach the highest level are able to do so
free of the temptations to dope - putting in place an effective duty of
care that will be observed by everyone - not burying the bad news under
a flurry of writs.

Interestingly, Bruyneel also asks us how many names were associated with a doping
affair via the media in the past two years while there was never any
evidence.

I'd like to turn this around - exactly how many of these rumours have turned out to be false?


There sure seems to be a large number of
cyclists that were rumoured to be doping and were eventually suspended
due to testing or through their own admissions.

Where should we start? How about Ivan Basso, whose involvement in Operation Puerto
was rumoured then finally admitted. Or Tyler Hamilton, who recently
fessed up to taking a banned substance two weeks after it was rumoured
he had failed a doping test at the Tour of California.

The issue
isn't the media, it's the lack of due process and confidentiality by
anti-doping authorities - and quite often sporting bodies.

By the way, Twittering every time the testers show up at your door doesn't help that process much either.

I understand that sport is the toy department of life, a fun distraction from
the daily grind, a back page respite from the bad news headlines, but
this is starting to get serious because it involves the bigger issues
of society and culture.

Things like money, power, ethics,
responsibility, transparency and fairness. We expect media to look
critically at these in other areas of society, why not sport?

We need a
(cycling) media that can fearlessly ask the tough questions of our
biggest names and to expose those who don't have the best interests of
the sport in mind.

Or is it that everyone prefers a daily dose of hagiography and fawning admiration with their morning tea? I don't, do you?

Doping
is eating cycling alive, we're all fed up, but it's not the media
forcing the cyclists to dope or the teams to turn a blind eye to it,
it's the people within the sport that are doing it to themselves.

I have an absolute respect for what Johan Bruyneel has done in the sport of cycling, but I think he's wrong in shooting the media messenger.

Like art, media is a reflection of society and right now it is only reflecting the sport back to itself.