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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, September 21, 2005

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Great White Joke

Nothing against whitey, but ...: Too funny. Run and hide to a renaissance fair ["Stupid White Tricks," Matt Smith, Sept. 14]?!? Classic. Perhaps these "Caucasians" you speak about can organize a neighborhood coalition, or maybe even host weekly community meetings about the importance of saving the poor animal victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Seriously, though, Matt Smith always seems to articulate what I'm thinking but can't say because minorities like myself who bag on white people's crazy actions are usually dismissed as reverse-racist angry Mexicans. Nothing against whitey, and not trying to instigate more racial tension, but people are dying in our public housing projects, and the real needs of minority youth and families are being swept aside to talk about leash laws and the "preservation of neighborhood characteristics" (i.e., keeping places like the Tenderloin and Mission low-income and drug-infested).

Ackerman being pushed out of her job didn't help anything either, and now the progressives are hollering, "This is the time to put aside politics and focus on the kids." Huh? Where were these people when schools in the Western Addition closed down? In our supposedly open-minded, "progressive" city of S.F., shouldn't we try to maintain diversity in high-level positions of government? I guess the answer is no, if diversity comes at the expense of initiating any real social change (i.e., Dream Schools, improved test scores, etc.).

Matt, don't let that liberal white guilt get you down. At least you're not a reporter for the Bay Guardian.

Manuel Rodriguez
San Francisco

Cloning Around

A letter that proves the existence of pet-cloning public relations: Our primary purpose is to clone pets, but contrary to Infiltrator's assumptions ["Send in the Clones," Sept. 14], we're also interested in the advancement of science. Pet-cloning research increases scientific knowledge of canine and feline reproductive physiology and gives us new tools for the preservation of the endangered cousins of the cat and dog.

Infiltrator is also too eager to give our money away; it's true we'll refund a client's money if his or her new pet has a cloning-related health problem or doesn't sufficiently resemble its genetic predecessor, but we won't pay double!

Sure, adoption would be cheaper, and many of our clients have adopted pets in the past. (In fact, some of the pets our clients want to clone came from animal shelters.) But people come to us for something that's not available in any pet shelter: the identical twin of a favorite pet.

Ben Carlson
Vice President, Communications
Genetic Savings & Clone
Sausalito

Lance, Strong-Armed?

The OJ defense, more or less: Matthew [Smith], you are missing the point ["Tour de Farce," Matt Smith, Sept. 7]. The urine samples being tested and claimed to be tainted with EPO: How do we know that they were properly stored and frozen? How do we know that they were correctly identified? How do we know they weren't conveniently tampered with at some point by someone who had a reason to do so -- to cause problems for Mr. [Lance] Armstrong?

There is also no second sample to test to be sure the first sample is correct -- i.e., an A sample and the B sample in hand.

And lastly -- what has happened to ethically and confidentially handling medical samples? If someone is out to get Mr. Armstrong -- and there are a few in France who are -- any kind of subterfuge is possible.

Your "follow the money" journalism is interesting, but the point is: How do we know that those samples weren't tampered with? Mr. Armstrong is the most tested athlete in the world and has yet to fail a blood test or urine test. His physiological parameters are what has enabled him to win his Tours.

Kitty Farago
Mesa, Ariz.

He jammed his leg into my dog's mouth. My dog never bites. My dog was muzzled. My dog is toothless. I didn't even walk my dog that day. I don't have a dog: I suppose that one could analyze the configuration of certain constellations, reconnect the dots, and come up with an image of Lance Armstrong with a syringe in his left gluteus maximus. Smith's column is horribly slanted, looking for scandal where there is merely a history of high-level financial support from a man who loves cycling to the point where he is willing to base and risk his career and livelihood on promoting it to a nation of NASCAR idiots.

Obviously eager to jump on the bandwagon of the cadre of American journalists vilifying Armstrong for perverted reasons, Smith glaringly leaves out that the tests performed on the 1999 samples are "prototypes." They have not been approved by any major sporting organization or sanctioning body. A new testing protocol was needed because the old test was yielding too many false positives. This new test yields even more positives. It isn't possible that the new test is faulty also?

Smith also leaves out that Dick Pound, the president of [the World Anti-Doping Agency] -- and a zealot, in my opinion -- spoke out in support of the "positive" findings, having little scientific evidence to support the findings other than the leaked information contained in one article in one newspaper -- L'Equipe -- with a history of denigrating Lance Armstrong. L'Equipe is in fact the financial backer of the anti-Armstrong book published in France and has one of the two "journalists" that wrote the book on its payroll. He also leaves out the fact that L'Equipe is owned by the same company that owns the Tour de France.

The last point that Smith twists are the [Union Cycliste Internationale's] and the WADA's investigations into the L'Equipe allegations.

The UCI is not looking into the validity of the doping allegation as Smith implies, rather [it's looking into] the behavior and ethics of L'Equipe, the WADA and its president, and the laboratory responsible for the tests (LNDD), asking many serious questions, most notably: Why wasn't the UCI informed that the new tests were taking place to begin with?

The UCI published a statement announcing their introspective investigation with clauses like "We regret once more, that WADA's President Mr. Pound made public statements about the likely guilt of an athlete on the basis of a newspaper article and without all the facts being known."

In the same sentence Smith claims that the WADA is also investigating doping at the 1999 Tour. This is completely false and can be verified by Pound's own comments. "If anything were found, we couldn't do anything because we didn't even exist in 1999," he said in an August 2005 interview. Any investigations into doping at the 1999 Tour would have to be initiated and conducted by the UCI.

The UCI confirms this in a Sept. 9, 2005, press release: "The UCI has not, to date, received any official information or document (regarding doping tests). WADA believes that they have no jurisdiction over this matter, given that it apparently relates to urine samples collected in 1999, before WADA was created. Moreover, WADA has told the UCI that on the basis of the reports of the research done and methods used in this case, no disciplinary procedure could be opened against the riders concerned and that in their view, the organization responsible for investigating is the UCI."

Lastly, Smith states nothing of the implications of people like Weisel not being involved in the sport at that level. I find the implication that Armstrong and Weisel are Johnson's boss to be laughable. As an active amateur racer, promoter, and fan, I shudder to think of the cycling landscape in the United States without the influence of people like Weisel.

It appears likely that Mr. Smith's zeal to denigrate the leading personality in a sport that he neither appreciates or understands has perverted any sense of journalistic integrity he may have had prior to the writing of his sadly misleading article. The big question to ask about the relationship of Weisel, Armstrong, Johnson, and their respective professional responsibilities is: So what? Is there anything in the article that implies any sort of corruption, cheating, fixing, or any unethical behavior? No. Just that the head of a nonprofit organization holds the same opinion as one of its largest benefactors. Gee, there's a scandal for ya ....

James Carrington
Haverhill, Mass.

Bang the Head Differently

From avid Airto with the undergraduate degree: It is with articles like yours that make me truly proud to have the common sense and undergraduate degree that would allow me to chuckle with humor at the way you describe the Christian rock ["Headbanging for Jesus!," Infiltrator, Aug. 31]. Cannot really think of anything else to spit out, other than the fact I look forward to reading more escapades, and how you pull out all the bullshit to reveal the truth!!

A newly acquired avid reader ...
Airto Smith
Oakland

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