I make it my business not to write about sports in Sonoma County. The Press Democrat has fine writers who cover the 707, and my job is to write about Bay Area Sports. I don’t even live in Santa Rosa. But I just read an astonishing article online at the PD website, an article which makes me sad and angry.

It says Levi Leipheimer, a local hero in Sonoma County, may have engaged in blood doping. He also may have rolled over on Lance Armstrong to reduce his own suspension. I have no idea if any of this is true.

What if it is true? Well, I write regularly about drug cheaters in major sports. I was critical of Barry Bonds last weekend, who I believe cheated. If sportswriters are critical of Bonds why should Leipheimer get a pass — if he did these things?

If he cheated, he’s just another rule breaker and a liar — like all the rest. Hardly a hero. And the fact that he “told” on someone else makes him a snitch. Certainly, his dropping out of the Olympics is fishy, as in it smells.

It’s all a very ugly picture — if it’s true. I sure hope it’s not true.

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  1. Stan

    It seems the regular way to handle charges is to deny..if convicted ,deny some mo.
    And really,any common sense tells you to win seven of biking’s Super Bowls must take the best doper Dr’s and science that is out there. That was Lance’s greed…like hitting 90 HR’s in a year.
    There isn’t a shadow of a doubt to me Lance cheated better then any other. He could win an award for that.

    July 5th, 2012 4:51 pm

  2. Kathy

    I’m with ya on everything except what you term “snitching.” I’m starting to believe that using PEDs and PE-techniques like blood doping is so terribly prevalent in professional sports, and beating the testing seems to be terribly easy (Armstrong took hundreds and hundreds!), maybe the only hope is for pro athletes who aren’t cheating to publicly call out those who are.

    July 5th, 2012 4:52 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    But, Kathy, Levi apparently cheated, too.

    July 5th, 2012 5:28 pm

  4. MJ

    Its funny, all these other cyclists cheated…and got caught. If Lance cheated, why was he never caught? Is his method of cheating and covering that much better than the entire industry? Was he able to do what no one else in the entire sport could do, and for 7 straight years? Please.

    Its also very funny that the only times, that I can remember, that he’s been accused by a fellow cyclist is when THEY GET CAUGHT. Why should anyone believe a person of that moral character? Credibility is key, and a proven cheater and liar has ZERO credibility.

    I take it back, its not funny. Its sad and pathetic, and if you believe them, well, I can’t do nothing for ya.

    July 5th, 2012 5:51 pm

  5. Tiburon Dave

    I put it in a different context…I’m getting on a plane tomorrow and I’m in a NY state of mind…

    2 guys hold you up on the A train and get popped by the transit cop…

    Is the guy who rolls on his partner for a reduced sentence any less of a crook?

    Certainly not when he was pointing a gun at your face…

    July 5th, 2012 5:59 pm

  6. CohnZohn

    Tiburon Dave, The Q Train stops near my old apartment — it’s the Avenue M Station; we lived on Avenue L.

    July 5th, 2012 6:04 pm

  7. Kathy

    Yes Lowell, Levi seems to be a cheater also, based on this latest report. I’m just saying I don’t fault him additionally for snitching–although to be sure I don’t give him points for that either. He made a deal to help himself.

    So all in all he’s not coming through as a great guy.

    I guess as a cancer survivor myself, I would’ve hoped Armstrong would’ve had more respect for his body than to take PEDs. I don’t believe blood doping is all he did. That is a real disappointment to me. Live strong, my foot.

    July 5th, 2012 6:22 pm

  8. Casey

    If Levi cheated it is a disgrace that he is racing in the tour

    July 5th, 2012 6:39 pm

  9. John Sousa

    we really, really need to evolve on this issue. The war on drugs is killing us more than the actual drugs.

    July 5th, 2012 7:42 pm

  10. Jack Hammer

    Levi is a cheater…

    July 5th, 2012 8:48 pm

  11. Johnc

    There is no proof that Armstrong cheated ..so why are some so eager to slander him?

    July 5th, 2012 11:39 pm

  12. John

    Leipheimer has already been nailed once before for being pumped full of epedrine and had a win taken away.

    No surprise at all that he will be smacked again.

    July 6th, 2012 1:30 am

  13. bill

    In the early days of Sonoma County biking, I used to host cyclocross on my ranch in Healdsburg. Now the sport has taken on a dimension that rivals its counterpart in Europe. It seems we like to ape European culture in Sonoma County.

    Leipheimer is both to answer your question. What he did is outside the rules of professional biking. By his recent admission he brings out the truth of what bikers do to compete.. ugly but true non the less. The doctors who assist them should be held accountable. All of them should lose their awards.

    So in the interest of cleaning up the sport we must thank Levi for telling the truth. All sports have a dark side. We have seen problems in all of them and biking is no different.

    July 6th, 2012 2:09 am

  14. Tommy CostaRica

    It’s a tough call drugs in sports. I say the first step is keep the government out! That’s a no brainer. Our bodies are our temples and nobody can tell us what to do with them. If athletes want to use the latest science and explore and test how they can refine their bodies to the ultimate machines, that’s what sports is for. Let em do it, that’s why they make all those huge bucks. Finally a reason to justify the salaries. I quote Skip, “A Barry Bonds at bat was the most electrifying moment in sports” And things won’t go overboard, the doctors, trainers, the Balcos, those organizations are all professional and accountable and not only do they have the legal responsibility to monitor the client’s health but also the moral responsibility.

    July 6th, 2012 8:55 am

  15. Kathleen

    Nothing has been proven in regards to Levi in relation to the Lance case. Let’s not pass judgement and take a wait and see approach. The Dutch story just sounds fishy.

    Why leak it now during the Tour and not the lead up to it? Who ever did it had the intention of causing blow back against Levi, George, Dave, Christian, and Johnathan.

    Why shouldn’t Levi be at the Tour? He is allowed to race by his team, USADA, the UCI, and the ASO. If there were formal charges against him, one or all of those groups would have stopped him. You know what, I am rooting for him to win. I hope he has a great tour.

    Also just because Levi may have testified does not mean he copped to doping. If he was subpoenaed he had to appear. We don’t know what was or wasn’t said.

    Oh and in regards to the Olympics, Levi said about a month or so ago that he shouldn’t be considered for the Olympics because he is dealing with coming back from a broken leg. He said guys like Taylor Phinney were better choices.

    July 6th, 2012 8:50 pm

  16. modman

    Many other guilty cyclist never failed a test .they were caught in other ways or admitted doping.passing a test means very little.according to some cyclist who failed test said it was due to carelessness

    July 10th, 2012 8:30 am

  17. Jeff Bodean

    I began reading your article with interest, Cohn, but was dismayed when I reached the end. The first paragraph details your lack of interest in writing about sports in this area. The next paragraph describes an article you read in the PD. The next two paragraphs describe how terrible the accusation is and the final sentence tells us how you hope it’s not true. Is this really all one needs to do to be a sports writer? I think I’ve missed my calling. This seems more like a clubhouse conversation than a story and it barely qualifies as an opinion piece. I’m sure you’re an excellent writer and can do quite better than this. But all that aside, if you really hope that Levi is innocent and it turns out that he in fact is innocent, how do you feel about adding yet another disparraging and immortal google hit to his name?

    July 10th, 2012 3:06 pm

  18. CohnZohn

    Jeff Bodean, You need to understand what you’re discussing. I did not write an article about Leipheimer, an article that might include research and interviews. I dashed off a quick blog entry giving my thoughts, off the top of my head. Blogs are different from articles. Now you’ve learned something.

    July 10th, 2012 4:18 pm

  19. Jeff Bodean

    Thank you, sir, for your efforts to illuminate my naive vision. I am in complete agreement with you. You did not write an article. However even for a meager blog entry, it contained very little substance. That is other than to create yet another negative google hit for someone who is still innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps you’ve heard the term, “repeat a lie often enough and it will soon be considered truth…” As a respected journalist, I would trust you would not add more weight to a guilty verdict in court of public opinion simply by repeating another journalist’s speculation. That is, without doing the “research and interviews” you wisely cited earlier. You might be disparaging an innocent man. Perhaps now you’ve learned something as well.

    July 11th, 2012 1:05 am

  20. Joyce Lodwick

    Thank you, Jeff Bodean, for bringing intellect to the discussion. I was incensed yesterday when I read this public trashing of a man who is indeed innocent until proven guilty. Our local hero brings thousands of dollars in tourism revenue to Santa Rosa every year, contributes additional thousands to charities through Levi Leipheimer’s King Ridge GranFondo, and has put Sonoma County on the map for cyclists and cycling fans. Let’s give Levi the benefit of a doubt instead of calling him ugly names.

    July 11th, 2012 1:16 pm

  21. Johan K.

    Re “Lance never failing a drug test”–most cyclists didn’t–their trainer or relatives are stopped at the border with a car loaded with “stuff,” or the local veterinarian is wiretapped. David Walsh write a good book, including Court testimony & interviewing Lance’s former trainer, and former teammate/ friends about Lance’s drug use–we’d slam any baseball or NBA star with the same evidence.

    It’s incredible, fans hold most of our pro athletes under the microscope but Lance gets a pass.

    July 12th, 2012 10:02 pm

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