Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Big Interview

If you're interested in Greg LeMond, you already know that the big recent news about Greg is the interview he did with Paul Kimmage.

Though it's an interesting reading, where we can learn more about the timing, circumstances and consequences of Greg's sexual abuse, the full article is quite frustrating, blurry in its chronology, and giving the idea that Paul Kimmage is interrupting Greg. I'd rather have had more direct quotes from Greg.

It's a shock to realize that Greg was hiding such a dark secret for several decades. When the news came out during the USADA vs. Landis arbitration, I didn't expect that he told his family so recently only. It's impossible to imagine what he's been through all these years. Behind his huge smile on podiums, he was hiding a big load of fear and shame... and was carrying this all alone.

I wanted to be seen as a good person,” LeMond says, “and never wanted to let people down, but I found it hard to handle the fame or adulation. I didn’t feel worthy of it. I was ashamed by who I thought I was because I felt partly responsible [for the abuse] and I was never able to enjoy the stuff I should have been able to enjoy. My first thought when I won the Tour was: ‘My God, I’m going to be famous’, and then I thought, ‘He’s going to call’. I was always waiting for that phone call. I lived in fear that anyone would ever find out.
The statistics about coming out about abuse are terrifying. The average time span between the abuse and talking is 17 years... It's considered that about 85% of men who were abused never come out. That says quite a lot about the amount of shame victims are carrying. I hope that Greg's admission will help other people.

I find the link that Kathy LeMond makes between her husband's past and his view on doping convincing and quite fascinating:
We’ve done a lot of talking about this,” Kathy says. “Why wouldn’t Greg have gone to [Dr X]? Why not? I think Greg was carrying such a load of shame that, like he said, he couldn’t have survived a positive drug test, he probably couldn’t. He had to have something to hold on to that was pure and good about himself, and cycling was that.

It's a bit like hearing Greg say: "I rode clean, but I didn't have any merit, I couldn't do otherwise".
I think Greg's always shown understanding and compassion for riders who admitted to doping. I never heard him sounding judgemental. Pointing his finger to the system and the corruption, to the unethical doctors, but not to the riders (except one of them maybe...). I really don't think he is putting himself on a pedestal above other riders.

Finally, I'm not so happy to see Greg bitter about Landis, and wanting him punished for the infamous call, while it's not clear FL had actually anything to do with the call. But Landis' post on the Daily Peloton Forum was pretty clear and threatening, and I guess enough to trigger Greg's anger. Greg mentions having dealt with a lot of therapy about it, probably to accept that there was nothing to be ashamed of, to realize no one could judge him for that, or use it against him... Landis' post asserting he knew something about Greg that could "severely damage his character", and the threatening phone call by Geoghegan, must have felt pretty destroying. The interview with Kimmage shows that it was far from an easy task for Greg to come testifying.

On another note, Greg was interviewed on Open Source Radio not long ago, talks about doping, and about the recent admissions by Zabel and Riis, and you can see here once again that Greg seems to strongly believe in "The Truth will set you free". He's on from 25'23'' on.

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