Ride the Puddles

Cycling Journalism

Posted by bikezilla on April 9, 2011

Here are two articles by Joshua Hunt (JH), aka Autofact, about,”The Problem of Media in Professional Cycling”.

Part 1

Part 2

I link to them because they address an issue that’s been swirling around in my teensy brain for the past couple of weeks pretty steadily, and for a year or more before that occasionally. Also, because Joshua is an authority on this issue and what he says is more relevant than what I say.

Reading them is not required to follow this article, but I enthusiastically recommend it.


I have a perpetual gripe vs cycling journalism: too much of it is empty and weak.

You get story after story that is straight facts, but less than that.

I say, “less than that” because cycling journalism typically plays to those it is meant to report on, and to the money.

You’ll read an article that any schmo will clearly find obvious points requiring, even demanding follow up and investigation, yet there is nothing of either present, nor coming

For instance, inconsistencies, or seeming inconsistencies and changes to the explanations in the Jonathan Vaughters accounts of the Matt White / Trent Lowe stories.

Or what about JV’s lack of direct answers about his own history and association with doping?

The vast majority of cycling’s “real journalists” make no attempt to investigate and follow up. JV said X, ok, X it is; JV was vague, ok a vague answer is all that there is.

Time after time after time this has left me frustrated and saying, “Are you fookin’ kidding me?”

Or what of John Wilcockson (VeloNews) and Bill Strickland (Bicycling Magazine)? What if they had each taken Lance Armstrong’s testicle out of their mouths and actually reported on him? What if they had pushed for real answers? What if they hadn’t pretended that they had no knowledge of his history and his teams’ histories with organized, systemic doping? What if they didn’t allow their fear of not being allowed to shelter beneath the umbrella of his majesty to form their judgements?

Cycling’s “real journalists” don’t so much as mention areas where they have concerns about the truth. They pose no questions, offer no explanations, dig no deeper than what the subject gives them.

To do that may be good journalism, but it’s bad business.

Because of their greed and their fear, they have made themselves complicit in professional cycling’s mafioso culture of doping.

A quote from the above JH articles (henceforth marked simply, “JH”):

“However, the refusal of cycling media to fulfill its role as a critical ‘fourth estate’ not only abetted the doping problem, but helped it to achieve new heights.”


“Even in sports journalism, with its strong emphasis on entertainment, a broadcaster should be expected to show some level of reserve and a modicum of critical thinking.”

But why do Wilcockson and Strickland knowingly promote the myth of Lance Armstrong as truth? Why do “real journalists” shy away from pursuing inconsistencies, alterations and innuendo from Jonathan Vaughters? Why do they refuse to go after guys like Jim Ochowicz, John LeLangue, Bjarne Riis, Johan Bruyneel, Bill Stapleton and Pat McQuaid? Why?

Well, damn, what if they lost access to JV and Garmin? Or what if Lance retaliated against them by shutting them out? What if UCI suddenly cut off their access to this race or that race? What if Ochowicz and the others didn’t return their calls within fifteen minutes?

This wouldn’t even be a factor if the current system wasn’t so ethically bankrupt and completely void of journalistic integrity from top to bottom at media outlet after media outlet.

And is it not utter insanity that cycling’s “real journalists” live in fear of Lance Armstrong and others? Shouldn’t it be exactly the other way around? Shouldn’t it be Lance and Johan Bruyneel and UCI and Bjarne Riis and Jim Ochowicz and John LeLangue and Bill Stapleton and guys like that, living in fear of the journalists and their drive to find, expose and present the truth?

Instead we have journalists, or those pretending to be journalists, terrified that they’ll lose access and connections to their cash cows.

Or, in the case of Lance Armstrong, simply scared shitless that if they dare say so much as a single word that he does not approve of, that he’ll come after them, that he’ll hurt them in some way.

That HE will come after THEM? Again, are you fookin’ kidding me?

Is that seriously to be left up to schlubs on Twitter and to pissant bloggers ::raising hand::? Shouldn’t that fact alone embarrass and even humiliate every “real journalist” out there?


“When the media are not critical, and base their reporting on anything other than hard facts, attributable statements and investigative research, they fall into the loathsome category that H.L. Mencken said were responsible for making newspapers “a device for making the ignorant more ignorant, and the crazy crazier.””

Is that not a spot on statement of Wilcockson, Strickland and the media in general and how they’ve coddled, shielded and promoted Lance Armstrong until almost every “fact” you think you know about him and his career must now be subjected to a complete reevaluation?

But, money, access and fear always trump truth, ethics and integrity.

So instead we have guys like Wilcockson and Strickland posing as journalists for years, greedily sucking in all the cash that their connections with Lance and his myth provided them, yet neither was ever more than a storyteller, selling fiction they falsely presented as biography.

I have nothing against storytellers. I have a great deal against storytellers posing as journalists, knowingly presenting falsehoods as truth, willfully deceiving readers and fans, in an effort to enrich themselves.


“. . . ethically suspect journalism during the critical era of EPO, and years of myth-making have conspired to create a new faux-journalism.

The lesson in this is clear: in the world of professional cycling, we must be as critical and demanding of our media as we are of our favorite athletes. One should not support ethically suspect media anymore than one would support ethically suspect athletes.”

Cycling News, VeloNews and all the others need to be held responsible for what they write, for what they refuse to write, and for their involvement in promoting and endorsing professional cycling’s mafioso culture of doping.


One Response to “Cycling Journalism”

  1. Christian Carlqvist said

    As easy as it is to damn Strickland, Wilcockson, and the rest of them, they are small fish in the fetid, scum-filled muck-ponds of modern sports journalism. When was the last time you heard a sports reporter ask why it is that NFL linemen weigh 50-100 pounds more than they did in the 1960’s and 70’s? There are still baseball players taking half hearted swats at high heat and hitting line drive home runs, and soccer players can sprint up and down the field for entire games and still give post-match interviews without breathing hard, and yet when was the last time Sports Illustrated or ESPN did anything but masturbate furiously over the seeming brilliance and impossible athleticism of the players?

    What I’m getting at is that, like everything, as long as there’s money to be made, the media is going to chase it, and there’s a hell of a lot more money to be made hiding the drug issue in almost all sports than there is in exposing it. Follow the money, indeed.

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