A principled stand is bad for business. That's the message one can take away from Trek Bicycle Corporation's announcement today that it is suing Minnesotan Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France, because, basically, he won't shut up about the use of drugs in his sport.
According to the article on the MPR Web site:
(Company president John Burke) said throughout the company's relationship with LeMond, the cyclist would renege on promises, like saying he would curb his comments about doping and focus more on the brand.
But then he also said:
"Doping is a very important topic for our industry. We never discouraged Greg from speaking out about doping in cycling. We know there is a difference between attacking an issue and destroying reputations. Greg's public comments damaged the LeMond brand, and our reputation with retailers and consumers."
When it comes to juicy scandals, you can't beat this sport. And LeMond has been in the thick of it, accusing bicycling god Lance Armstrong of using drugs, and then saying Armstrong threatened him.
He also testified at a hearing over race winner Floyd Landis' two positive doping tests, despite claims that if he did, Landis' manager would reveal that LeMond was sexually abused as a boy.
On the brighter side of bike racing, I happened to catch in the latest SI that there's a young kid who's looking to make a name for himself in cycling generally & at this year's Olympics specifically. He rides for Team Argyle, which apparently has an anti-doping theme.
So I guess that when one signs a deal like this with a manufacturer, he/she is no longer entitled to his/her First Amendment rights. Seems reasonable enough to me...