<b>Levi's choices</b>

EDITOR: What a thrill to have Levi Leipheimer speed past me while pedaling up one of the steep climbs in Sonoma County. He is a hero and an inspiration to a huge number of local riders.

I agree with columnist Bob Padecky's recent comments about seeing the gray in Leipheimer's decision to dope ("Put yourself on Leipheimer's bike," Oct. 18). Padecky accurately notes that we are all flawed. I would agree that developing the ability to see the gray in situations makes for a much more honest conversation, allowing us to learn about tolerance and pointing us down a path where we can begin to forgive our fallen heroes.

There is a world of gray dialogue out there that we all can have around what we would have done if we came eye to eye with a challenge similar to that confronted Leipheimer. However, the decision to put a prohibited performance-enhancing substance into your body is a very personal choice.

Leipheimer wants to be a mentor to young people and a resource for young cyclists. I believe that he can be a powerful voice. However, I also believe that his message to these young people should be crystal clear: We are responsible for the choices we make.