Tweets of the Week Extra: Amnesty versus the hard line

The USADA report into Lance Armstrong and US Postal continues to bring new revelations and ramifications, with fervent discussion taking place in the court of public opinion every day. To keep up with the tidal flow of debate, we’ve decided to ask the Twittersphere (and our Facebook fans) for their thoughts in response to specific questions we’ve been puzzling over ourselves.

Our question for today (Monday) was:

Opinion varied quite a bit on this one, demonstrating what a difficult issue this is for those who want to strike the right balance in their attempts to clean up cycling. On the one hand, many people thought the sport should do everything it can to eradicate doping even if that means extreme leniency for some – while some felt that fear of reprisal would prevent many from ever coming forward.

And even given the opportunity, there were some who feel sceptical that we will ever hear the whole truth from riders who volunteered information under the terms of an amnesty:

Over on Facebook, views were equally polarised. For some the idea of an outright amnesty was a step too far, leaning more towards less draconian penalties for those who voluntarily break the omerta.

It’s clear even from just this snapshot of views that there are as many different opinions and potential solutions as there are fans. But the one thing everyone had in common was an agreement that something significant – maybe even drastic – needs to be done if the sport we love is to shake itself free of its less than salubrious past.

Thanks all for your responses! Be on the lookout for more questions as new issues and revelations arise.

Happy Birthday to Tom and his magnificent Boonens

There’s no doubt about it – when Tom Boonen is good, Tom Boonen is great. Great Tom is the only cyclist in history to win the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the World Championships in the same year (2005), the only cyclist to win the Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double twice (2005, 2012); and the only cyclist to win the Flemish Four of E3 Harelbeke, Gent–Wevelgem, Flanders and Paris–Roubaix in the same year (2012).

But when Tom is bad, Tom is so, so bad. Bad Tom used to live the glamorous life in Monaco. Driving (and crashing) fast, expensive cars. Cavorting with girlfriends who were, frankly, far too young for him. And testing positive for cocaine three times in his career, narrowly missing criminal proceedings. Add to that, he wasn’t up to much on a bike during that time and you’ve got Bad Bad Tom.

This year, however, it looks like we have Great Tom back. He’s set up household in his native Belgium again, seems to have a girlfriend of a sensible age and has been on cracking form, completely dominating the spring Classics and playing a part in his compatriot Philippe Gilbert’s successful World Championship bid.

Another thing that makes Tom great is his bonhomie, his willingness to pose for pictures that, frankly, are thought up by nutters and his gracious nature whether he wins or loses. So Tom, we salute you!

The multi-faceted Tornado Tom

Tom dreaming about Kitty … while doing his duty to his sponsors

Tom trying to steal Spartacus’ thunder … while doing his duty to his sponsors

Tom re-enacting the cover of The Who Sell Out album … while doing his duty to his sponsors (we hope)

Tom stepping proudly through a portal to another dimension … while doing his duty to his sponsors (and his female fans)

Tom getting a massage … while thinking about his duty to his sponsors. (So, um, how do I get a job like this? Training, connections, bribery? Whatever! Just tell me! Dear God just TELL me!)

Enough sauciness … let’s see Tom in action

Tom tore up the cobbles this year, proving he is King of the Classics (and stealing the crown of the King of Belgium from Philippe Gilbert, who has since been promoted to King of the World). Here’s how he won Tour of Flanders and his magnificent solo effort to ride into the velodrome alone at Paris-Roubaix, his early days as a power sprinter and one of the most popular adverts during the cycling season this year.

Boonen is back …

Playing cat and mouse in the final kilometres of Flanders

Doing a Cancellara at Paris-Roubaix

The reaction from the car when Tom went away on his own …

And remember when he could deliver on the Champs?!

(sorry for the dodgy quality …)

And when he bossed it at the World Championships in Madrid?

(sorry for the dodgy quality …)

And as the subject of one of the best cycling adverts EVER