Open Letter to Pat Forde of ESPN.com

In response to Pat’s article on ESPN.com about dopping and sports, I sent him the following email.

Hi Pat,

Your article that’s on ESPN.com right now is spot on and in light of the recent events has a reserved amount of skepticism. However, I want to invite you to see a hundred or so clean “professional” athletes competing in Utah next weekend (Aug 5 - 6). Next week is the 6th race in the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) at Brian Head, Utah.

There will be a hundred or so athletes competing in the Pro and Semi-Pro fields that are technically competing as professional athletes, though the majority of them earn their paycheck from some other source. These are people who are professionals because they love their sport, not because that’s how they’re making their millions. In the mountain biking world, it’s considered a pretty good deal if you’re getting your bike for free, and you’ve got to be one of the top 5 to even think about getting any money from sponsors. The national level in Pro events don’t even pay the winners. These pros put in the long, hard, and often times, lonely hours in the off season preparing their bodies to be pushed to their absolute limits when that A race comes along.

So you want a few clean athletes? Show up in Utah next weekend. Talk to people about Ryan “Treefarm” Trebon’s attack at the national championship. He went so early that everybody thought he was suicidal. He held it, though, to be the first person to take the national championship away from Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski in four or five years. Find out about Georgia Gould, who after only 3 years of racing as a pro became the wearer of the stars and stripes in the women’s pro XC. Talk to Travis Brown and Chris Eatough and how their nearly 5 hour marathon race came down to the last five miles of a 60 mile race.

Better yet, come talk to the people who weren’ standing atop the podiums. Dara Marks Marino and her fight back from 10th place to 4th after she flatted while in the lead on the first lap of the women’s pro XC. Or Jennifer Wilson who works as a teacher during the school year and every summer travels the country with her husband doing the NMBS. She had her career best finish, 6th place. Talk to the dad in the feed zone who’s there watching his daughters race for only the second time this year because “he’s going broke trying to help her reach her dream”.

So yeah, there are a lot of dirty athletes out there, but for everyone one of them, there’s a dozen that would die to have their talent and their opportunity, but would do it cleanly. A lot of them will be in Utah next week. Sometimes you just have to look past the L’Alpe D’Huezes and manicured grasses of the AT&T Parks of the world.

-Travis