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Social/Political Expressions & Cycling

Mar 10, 2009
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Borrowed from Alpe, another thread. I hope you don't mind me using it...

Alpe d'Huez said:
It's usually a cause I can give to with zero hesitation, regardless if I've been personally affected by it or not. This is why when I give it's usually to a real, true blue American cycling hero, Freddie Hoffman's cause for Leukemia and Lymphoma. I don't have to wonder for a second about his aspirations, and have no questions on his intentions for even one second. Or I give to the Davis Phinney Foundation, as Davis was my favorite cyclist, and still deeply affected by his illness. I haven't seen one shred that Davis is trying to profit, or has at all, from this foundation.

Not criticising your contributions or your motives for making donations, but an honest question with your charities in the back of our mind.

Does anyone understand why or how it has become possible that Lance Armstrong's foundation, the fight against cancer, and cycling in general, the TdF in particular, have become so intertwined?

(I put this in the Clinic, since it is a Lance sensitive issue. And, just to make sure, I couldn't care less who does or does not donate to the Livestrong Foundation, I am trying to dig a little deeper in the connection between "Yellow" and "Livestrong" and how that is being promoted through "Official Cycling Races")

If I remember well, the IOC have rules that aim at preventing 'social/political expressions' (Rule 51.3 provides that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or areas).

Mostly athletes respect those rules, although with some notable and visible (Tommie Smith 1968) exceptions. More recently, I think UEFA (soccer) did not want athletes to show support for 'social/political' issues on the pitch (pulling up jerseys, showing under shirts with support for x, y, z). After Iranian elections, soccer players wore a green wrist bands around their arms to show support for the opposition. Others, I believe, have included protests with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Then there is FC Barcelona with its longstanding history to refuse a logo/sponsor on its jersey - which of course has made the ad space all the more valuable - while it has 'donated' the empty spot to UNICEF so as to raise awareness for that cause. Granted, in this case it's not a high profile athlete, but a club as an entity supporting a cause.

What I am trying to get at, do people find the conflation of 'celebrity political/social expressions' acceptable in sports? Or more/less so for some causes, some sports, some events? Or is it something unavoidable - like sponsorships and logos on shirts - that we just have to get used to?

To illustrate further, what if Michael Phelps, after collecting each and every gold medal, starts backing his hypothetical foundation against obesity. Usain Bolt, who turns out to show support for Palestian autonomy on the podium. Cadel Evans, who repeatedly calls for better protection of Koalas, after every stage? Di Luca who uses pink wrist band, as well as the Giro to raise money for victims of the earth quake?

*try not to guess my motives, there are none other than that I am interested in seeing what people's opinions are on the theme of social/political expressions in sports, and in this case cycling*
Mar 19, 2009
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Cadel has been known to wear a "Free Tibet" shirt under his jersey, a cause he's been outspoken about.

May 13, 2009
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It is an interesting question.

Of course, the IOC would have such a rule. Otherwise nothing would go. 1980 and 84 were bad enough. Olympics and this kind of politics don't mix.

Personally, I don't think I let myself influence very much so I might be the wrong person to ask. There are certainly people who look up at celebrities of any kind. When say a cyclist supports a cause and tries to get his fans on board as well, he has in a sense become accountable for their contributions. As long as celebrities accept this responsibility, they can support whatever is near and dear to them for all I care.
Mar 18, 2009
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Cadel's bike is also custom painted yellow, red and blue to reflect his support of the "Free Tibet" cause.

It's a good question, Bala Verde. I don't really care to be honest. Its good that athletes can use their standing in the community to raise funds for causes they're passionate about. However, there are now so many athletes pushing their cause that the effect is becoming diluted. As a result, I find that unless I am personally passionate about their cause, then I tend to largely ignore that cause. There are only so many causes you can support and ultimately the cause an athlete supports does not tend to influence me.
Jun 15, 2009
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Bala Verde said:
Does anyone understand why or how it has become possible that Lance Armstrong's foundation, the fight against cancer, and cycling in general, the TdF in particular, have become so intertwined?

I not only understand why, but i also do know why :)

Because the King does not have to follow the rules, he establishes them.

I.e. Lance-I-Never-Doped-Armstrong, the King of Cycling, is not liable to rules, if they interfere with his work at the office. Thus Mr. Armstrong is allowed to:
1.) destroy careers w/o being penalized (Bassons, Simeoni, Lemond),
2.) call pipo liars who have sworn affidavits against him (the Andreus),
3.) suspend Anti-Doping-Rules (if Mr. Armstrong is positiv he is a.) allowed to fake a prescription, as happened during the TdF-99. At any costs a 2-Year-Ban is to be prevented, b.) allowed to call the official Doping-Labor a bunch of manipulators, if they have positiv EPO-Tests of you. At any costs a Life-Time-Ban is to be prevented, c.) allowed to bring his hct down to normal levels; if this procedure takes longer then 20 mins, the official controller has to wait, as happened in the spring of 2009 in france. At any costs a Life-Time-Ban is to be prevented)
4.) suspend the UCI-Dress-Code at any official UCI-Event
5.) suspend the terms of applications for UCI-Events (Tour down under)
6.) break unwritten Cycling-rules, existing for 100 years: you humiliate your opponents by telling the whole world when you "give" a stage (Pantani), by attacking when your opponent plays fair (Ullrich-2003), by using your team captains domestiques for your own advantage, later you accuse this captain for not following non-existing tactics (Contador)
7.) denounce the sponsor of your team
8.) boycott the press any time you want, if they are not with you
9.) discharge a team from an UCI-Event if its not to your liking (Ceramica Flaminia - Bossini Docce)

If any rules not applicable to the Last King of Cycling, you are invited to write them down here :)