A personal view of Knowlton, Quebec, the Eastern Townships most beautiful village.

Bessette Could Have Been A Contender
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Lyne Bessette in action. Photo courtesy of an unknown photographer. Thanks for the great shot of a hard working athlete in action!Lyne Besette is one of Knowlton's most well-known athlete of the modern era. For years the Olympic cyclist has proudly represented Canada and especially the small town of Brome Lake where all of us were particularly proud to see her hard work bring her to the top of her athletic profession. Not only has she sacrificed much of her life to her athletic dreams she has also been a strong advocate of cycling and helped focus attention on the need for good bike trails in the Eastern Townships. Lyne Bessette, born in 1975 in Lac Brome, Quebec, is a professional bicycle racer. A two-time member of the Canadian Olympic team (2000 and 2004), she has twice won the prestigious Tour de l'Aude Feminin (1999 and 2001) as well as the 2001 Women's Challenge.

Now we have learned that our hometown hero Lyne Bessette could have actually reached the summit of her sport and won even more races if she hadn't been competing against cheating drug users like Genvieve Jeanson! Genevieve Jeanson was a cyclist who often competed against Bessette on the cycling circuit and who had a winning record that brought her some very good sponsorship money from such local Quebec businesses as Rona. Now it turns out this Jeanson wasn't such the stellar athlete we had been led to believe; she was in fact boosted up on artificial performance enhancing drugs! She had be hailed as a superstar for winning race after race and now she has admitted that she couldn't have done it without her regular dosing of EPA (a performance enhancing substance banned in racing).

Genevieve Jeanson has disgraced the sports world. Not the first time nor the last that athletes cheat to win...but still it is sad to see another former champion being suddenly reduced to a mere pillar of salt.Yep, another case of a young athlete going down the wrong path and trying to cheat all the way to the podium. No wonder she won so many races without breaking a sweat! Jeanson admitted during a recent interview that she was doping from the age of 16, a decision she says was the result of pressure by her former coach and husband Andre Aubut. Her husband, Aubut denied the charge, which would be expected. But she has to take responsibility for her actions and there is no excuse for jacking yourself up on illegal substances to win a race...it is beyond comprehension!

"I didn't really want to do it," she (Jeanson) said. "However, I did not have the courage to say no, so I just didn't say anything." OK...admitting such things merely proves you are in denial and bordering on being crazy...at least that's what I learned listening to Don Cherry!

This syndrome to win and be number one at any cost is not new but it is always disturbing; as parents we try and instill ideals of "doing the best we can" into our children but it is sad to see how these kids can lose sight of this and resort to lying and cheating in order to get what they want. Maybe this is the human condition to just take the easy way out. It is just sad to see Lynn Bessette now being forced to put on a brave face and try to put the past behind her.

Bessette could have been a contender if not for the cheating actions of Jeanson and those who knew what was happening. It is sickening to think that our hometown girl could have been in the spotlight more if it hadn't been for this self-indulgent Jeanson and her pathetic cheating. Winning several races and world championships by using illegal drugs is not very "winner"...it's cheating plain and simple and if I was a lawyer I would be reclaiming payouts and prizes for reasons of Jeanson's blatent cheating! I guess she and her husband coach can enjoy the fruits of their disception and then just shrug their shoulders and disappear into the sunset!

Some people think that performance enhancing substances should be permitted and maybe this is a good idea. The Tour du France is constantly scandalized by toothpick-necked chaps with thighs as big as Popeye's forearms who somehow manage to cycle for 8 hours at 30 km per hour and wake up the next day ready for more. Is this pure training or just the wonderful advancements in the latest genetic growth hormones that some scientist in the former Soviet Union has developed that has yet to be detected by testing?

The new prize winners are the drug companies and the sponsors of sport...But if you are going to give all sports competitions an "anything goes" policy relating to performance enhancing substances then are we going to expect the great un-washed masses to idolize these sports heroes? If Joey Couchpayate knows that everyone on the Olympic swim team is mainlining bovine blood prior to the race do you think he will be so eager to care considering that the other team is being sponsored by Pfizer and their latest cocktail of muscle manipulators?

Sport has historically appealed to us regular folks because it brought the best athletic citizens to the forefront where they competed with other top-achievers on the public stage. When the big corporate sponsors got involved the big bucks suddenly turned mere sport into a huge business where huge sums of money could be earned by an athlete and the supporting crew who work with them. If you tell some poor slob that he can coach an athlete and actually make a living and that poor schmuck knows that he could make more money if he can make his athlete a winner and he can do that just by giving the athlete a regular injection of "Acme Winning Juice" then some desperate people might do that!

Many of these athletes start young and are trusting of their coaches. A 15 year old cyclist who is told to take a pill or get a shot in their left buttock before a race might be naive enough to do it...then comes a gold medal...then a $40,000 Rona sponsorship and then...the sky is the limit!

What a shame that the honest players are always the ones who suffer. Today's elite athletes are given such special treatment that often they live in a gilded bubble. Just look at Myriam Bedard, she looks absolutely psychotic on television and seems to fall into the same category as a naive athlete whose life is being run by a controlling "coach" or husband or combination of the two!

Knowlton is home to a very healthy and athletic population who participate in many sports locally and provincially; while Lynn Besette may be one of our most notorious exports there are many folks who play rugby, soccer and baseball at the local level who should be acknowledged.

There is also one of the finest fitness centers in the Eastern Townships right here in Knowlton. Brome Lake Fitness is the local gym where more than 200 locals regularly go for weight training and cardio workouts. The friendly staff at the gym are always ready to help and we are lucky to have such a place in Knowlton where the goal is personal development and being number one...naturally!

My sympathies go to Lynn Bessette who had the misfortune of being involved in a sport at the same time as a blatant cheater but in the end she comes out the real winner because she has her reputation and pride intact. Sometimes what you stand for and your integrity is your invisible Gold Medal.

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