The Legacy

Lemond3 Armstg4 @Ph-Sptsm

Some things in this world are unlikely. Finding Bigfoot is pretty unlikely. So is peace in the Middle East. Other things are just impossible. Finding Bigfoot eating dinner at a diner with Elvis, safe to say, is impossible.

Somewhere in the middle of these two poles lies the possibility that the suit Greg LeMond has filed against Trek Bicycles and their countersuit against him will be settled out of court. LeMond, for better or worse, seems to want his day in court.

In broad strokes, the cases are pretty simple. LeMond is suing Trek for failing to “exert best efforts regarding the LeMond brand.” In realpeople speak that’s, ‘They didn’t sell enough of my bikes.’ Following LeMond’s suit, Trek countersued and terminated its licensing agreement in April of this year. Today, the Lemond Bicycles web site is a single page allowing purchasers to register their bikes for warranty.

The real issue here isn’t sales figures, it’s LeMond’s mouth. It’s roots are in a report that LeMond read in 2001 that revealed Lance Armstrong’s relationship with Michele Ferrari. To LeMond, who was very familiar with Ferrari’s past vis-à-vis doping, that relationship could only mean one thing: Lance was doping. There was a certain sort of logic to it. Say your best friend is John Gotti. And say you tell a newspaper that he has a great mind for business and he has helped you with some of your business dealings, a reasonable person could understandably come to the conclusion that you, my friend, are a mobster.

Does that give anyone the right to accuse you of being a mobster in public? Not unless he is a prosecutor preparing to bring charges under RICO against you. To be fair, LeMond hasn’t actually said, “Armstrong is on dope,” but if you take the body of statements LeMond has made, his belief is clear. Consider: “If Armstrong’s clean, it’s the greatest comeback. And if he’s not, then it’s the greatest fraud,” and “In the light of Lance’s relationship with Ferrari, I just don’t want to comment on this year’s Tour. This is not sour grapes. I’m disappointed in Lance, that’s all it is.”

Would you say that about an athlete you thought was clean?

So LeMond thinks Armstrong is a doper. Newsflash: he’s not alone. There are plenty of cycling fans, competitors and members of the media who think so as well. The difference is, with the exception of a guy named Walsh, they all have the good sense not to accuse someone of something if they lack proof.

This was LeMond’s downfall. Word on the street is that Armstrong placed Trek CEO John Burke in the unenviable position of needing to mediate between the only two American Tour de France winners. Burke asked LeMond to temper his statements and confine them to speaking generally about doping. LeMond was unable to.

The case before Judge Richard Kyle has gone far afield. LeMond is notoriously unpleasant to do business with (an inside source pegs him as the downfall of the Clark Kent brand and the near failure of the paint and restoration company CyclArt), in part because he is unafraid of litigation. One former business associate who asked to remain anonymous used a single word to describe him: “Nightmare.”

Were the case really about the bikes, Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife, Kristin Armstrong would not have been deposed, nor would he have showed up at an Armstrong press conference to question him about his planned anti-doping program. In short, LeMond is attempting to make the case about Armstrong rather than his dissatisfaction with Trek’s efforts to sell his brand.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, LeMond attempted to cast his concern about doping in general and EPO in specific as a concern for athletes. He cited the deaths of more than 100 cyclists who are believed to have been taking EPO. However, LeMond never brought up his concern before the controversy with Armstrong. Put another way, have you ever heard LeMond mention the name of Johannes Draaijer, a Dutch cyclist on EPO, who had a heart attack and died in his sleep?

Trek claims it has done right by LeMond and that the relationship was lucrative for both. Since 1995, Trek reports it has earned more than $100 million, delivering some $5 million to LeMond’s coffers. LeMond points to a meager $10,393 in sales (possibly fewer than five bikes) in France between 2001 and 2007. Given the success of Bernard Hinault’s line of bikes in the United States, one can ask if LeMond could reasonably expect to do more in France.

What’s that you say? Hinault isn’t a household name in America? True, but nearly anyone willing to spend more than $2000 on a bicycle (only one bike in the LeMond line retailed for less than $2000) knows the Hinault name. And while LeMond may have had a large fan base in France, it can’t compare to the legions that adore Hinault in his home country. Fair comparison.

The point? LeMond’s case seems rather weak. I’ve written on this once before, for Slowtwitch. And while I’d rather see LeMond leave Armstrong alone—and addressed an open letter to him on Road Bike Action’s site—that’s really what this case is about.

But, you ask, what does Armstrong’s alleged doping have to do with LeMond’s bike business? LeMond will tell you it has everything to do with it. If LeMond can demonstrate to the court that Armstrong has doped, then he can demonstrate that Armstrong had motivation to have LeMond silenced. But what could silence LeMond? How about the threat of the shelving of his brand?

In short, LeMond will turn this case into an accusation of extortion against John Burke and Lance Armstrong. His legal team has already deposed Armstrong’s ex-wife; don’t think for a second that he won’t at least try to depose Mr. Seven.

The real question isn’t what LeMond and his legal team will reveal about Armstrong and his alleged doping but rather what LeMond’s actual motivation is. While it is conceivable that LeMond and his team could find a person or persons to allege doping on Armstrong’s part, finding definitive proof that Armstrong doped is as likely as finding Buggs Bunny sharing a slice of pie with Elvis and Bigfoot at our aforementioned diner.

Given the difficulty of the challenge facing LeMond, one must wonder what his motivation truly is. It can’t be exposing the danger of EPO, otherwise he would have been speaking out against EPO use more forcefully earlier. LeMond didn’t have a lot to say during the Festina Affair in 1998, yet just three years later, he had a lot to say about the second American to win the Tour de France three times.

That’s the rub: LeMond’s legacy. While this is pure conjecture on my part, no other explanation makes sense of the energy and money LeMond has sunk into this case. While the psychic toll this case has taken on his family can’t be calculated—it was enough, though, that Kathy LeMond sat across from Kristin Armstrong during her deposition (one wonders who was more unnerved by Mrs. LeMond’s presence)—the cost in legal fees can, and is said to be at or above seven figures.

If LeMond can impeach Armstrong and demonstrate a strong likelihood that he doped during his seven Tour de France wins, LeMond could win two things. First, he could show that in silencing LeMond and dropping his line, John Burke wasn’t acting in the best interest of the LeMond line. Second, by tearing down America’s most successful cyclist, LeMond will regain his rank as the best American cyclist.

But what’s the chance he’ll succeed, and even if he does, in whose eyes will he have won?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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60 comments

  1. Sophrosune

    One of the key elements of your argument here is that we need to consider what Lemond believed and not what he said. But from a legal standpoint (as opposed to a psycological one) what he said is all we are to consider.

    And to look at these two quotes again I don’t see anything slanderous: “If Armstrong’s clean, it’s the greatest comeback. And if he’s not, then it’s the greatest fraud,” and “In the light of Lance’s relationship with Ferrari, I just don’t want to comment on this year’s Tour. This is not sour grapes. I’m disappointed in Lance, that’s all it is.” He hasn’t made any accusation against Armstrong no matter how much we want to read into it.

    For this, he was asked (probably coerced) into keeping his mouth shut with the sabotaging of his business used as the stick.

    I am also not so sure that Lemond really wants his day in court. He probably wants to push this as far as he can to achieve a more favorable settlement, but an open trial is probably too risky for him, even if Lemond is the deranged egoist you portray him as here.

  2. Jan

    Padraig said (in reference to Lance and doping): …”they all have the good sense not to accuse someone of something if they lack proof”.

    Except for LeMond, that is.

    Really? No one else ever hinted at Lance not riding clean?

    You then go on to claim LeMond singularly speaks out against Lance’s (alleged) doping, apparently having no problem at all with doping in general.

    Padraig; these and several other claims are not even close to being true.

    It is abundantly clear you dislike LeMond. In your other pieces, you do evenhanded reporting without bias, not so with regard to LeMond. Maybe he is a topic you should just leave alone.

  3. randomactsofcycling

    LeMond is jealous and EVERYONE has their questions about L.A.. Even his supporters. Those are facts. If you try to tell me you don’t wonder how any athlete can so completely dominate his opposition without some out-of-body contributions, I will never believe you.
    I think Padraig has nailed it here. If Lance had only won two tours would LeMond ever have made so much fuss?

  4. Sophrosune

    Randomfacts, I am not sure how you can state that it is a fact that Lemond is jealous of L.A. This is my point about Padraig’s piece. It seems to want take some ham-handed psychological profile of Lemond based on some quotes that neglect to provide any context to them (i.e. he was asked direct questions that led to these quotes) and pass it off as undeniable fact. I prefer my facts to be based on something beyond supposition.

    Now, to me the burden of proof for Lemond is not demonstrating that L.A. in fact doped (but proving that would certainly help his case) but that he was threatened that if he did not keep his mouth shut about L.A. Trek would torpedo Lemond’s bike company.

  5. grolby

    I think the none-too-original claim that LeMond is “jealous” of Lance’s status as America’s #1 cyclist or that this is about sour grapes is both bizarre and oversimplified. There is no doubt that he is right to speak out against doping. There is also no doubt that there is probably a lot to his motivations, much of it positive, some negative. He’s a man with a lot of confusion, and probably some damage. It’s not fair to reduce him to some one-dimensional caricature, but that’s pretty much SOP for many commenters. It’s a damn shame.

  6. JZ

    Good article. Certainly not everyone will agree with you and some will strongly disagree with you. I tend to agree with the idea that LeMond wants his day in court and settlement is unlikely. I am a lawyer and I have represented that type many times. However, I have also been surprised by some cases that have settled. Lawsuit take a terrible toll on everyone involved. As I would with any client, I would discuss that real costs of litigation and the benefit of just focusing on repairing the business. Of course business may not be Lemond’s strong point.

    I am curious to see if this is the end of Lemond bikes. One issue that I am sure Trek will focus on will be Lemond’s obligation to mitigate his damages, which would require him to do what he can to keep the bike biz going. You generally can’t just stand by and let your business tank to increase your damages. Any inside info on such efforts?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thank you for your passionate comments. Keep ‘em coming!

      Sophrosune: You say you think LeMond wants to push this as far as he can to get a favorable settlement. There’s a problem with that idea: LeMond wouldn’t be in this position if he had just stopped talking about Armstrong. As for the specific things he said, they didn’t have to rise to the level of slander because it wasn’t litigated. This was simply LeMond’s boss (John Burke) telling him to shut up. He couldn’t, for whatever reason, do that. And somewhere down the line he came to believe that Trek was doing a deliberate disservice to his brand. I just don’t see how he came to that conclusion; $100 million in earnings would have many bike companies salivating. I haven’t seen any quotes, though, where LeMond alleges that Burke ever threatened to torpedo his company; Armstrong may or may not have said that to him, but it would be easy for Burke to sit in the witness box and say, “Mr. Armstrong does not have that authority in my company. That decision would be at my discretion or the discretion of my board of directors.”

      Jan: I really don’t dislike LeMond. He is an absolute hero of mine on the bike. I still have the Giro print of him framed by the Arc de Triomphe hanging in a room of my home. I got choked up at his victory that day. However, what I see, objectively, in his business dealings is a train wreck. I wish it weren’t so. To your point, yes, many people have hinted at Armstrong being on dope. Short of David Walsh, I can’t think of another public figure or member of the media who has made more strongly suggestive statements about Armstrong. But that’s not really the point. This post is occasioned by the demise of LeMond’s bike brand and his litigation against Trek arising from that.

      Here’s a question for everyone to consider: Suppose for a second there was no Lance Armstrong. Do you think LeMond would currently be at loggerheads with Burke and Trek? It doesn’t seem likely to me, but there have been so many failed business relationships in LeMond’s past, I can’t say it wouldn’t be possible.

      Concerning LeMond’s envy of Armstrong: LeMond has in several interviews spoken of how he “should have” won six Tours, were it not for his hunting accident and his broken wrist and Hinault’s treachery. In his opinion, his unrealized promise—that he could have been an even greater cyclist that he was—is a matter of record. It’s very little stretch to get to envy of Armstrong’s achievements. Envy is a rather basic emotion. And it’s true, this suggestion that LeMond is envious of Armstrong isn’t original to me, but I don’t for a moment think it sums up the whole of his person. It may have, however, blinded him to what was best for his bike company and that part is just tragic.

      JZ: You bring up a point I have considered but on which I have little to offer: How does LeMond show that he hasn’t just let his company languish? I don’t know of any negotiations that might have gone on between him and any other manufacturers, and 2009 is a different era than 1995. Bike brands aren’t being bought and sold the way they once were. Sure, LeMond could go to Taiwan and purchase some open-mold frames and slap a decal on them, but he has no infrastructure and no distribution channel. He’s more than a year away from being able to resurrect his brand.

      And now a question to each of you: What would you have done if you were in John Burke’s shoes? I think I would have done the same thing he did: “Dude, shut up! Every time you point a finger at him you harm my company. If you can’t keep quiet about him, I’ll have to cut you loose.” Is that blackmail? Maybe. Is it justifiable? Absolutely.

  7. jza

    The thing about Lemond…..HE’S RIGHT. Just not particularly eloquent or tactful.

    There are several ways LA could conclusively disprove any and all doping allegations: revealing power stats, day of race HCT tests. He has passed at every opportunity. Preferring to game the UCI/WADA testing authorities, which he also has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to.

    Lance has a scorched earth policy when dealing with people he doesn’t like, and the means to bury them completely, personally and financially.

    Sure it could be construed as petty and bitter. But getting Lance under oath is the one way Lemond can prove that he is right. And he is, and he should and hopefully he will.

  8. Sophrosune

    To answer your question for all of us, Padraig, formed as it was, yes, of course. But there are other matters to consider. I am not a lawyer but I play one on blog comment boards so factors such as what were the terms of the contract between Trek and Lemond or what about corporate malfeasance of a corporate officer need to be considered.

    To address your direct point to me, I was refering simply to Lemond not wishing to bring this to an actual open trial as you predict. But in a lawsuit you must push it as far as possible before court to see how much you can get in the settlement. As long as we’re making predictions, I say that it will never reach open court and the witness stand pronouncements of John Burke, or anyone else will never come to be.

    Now I have not looked into the figures you mention, but $100 million in earnings (read profit) would seem more likely for the entire Trek company and not just Lemond bikes. Am I wrong on this?

  9. roomservicetaco

    jza:
    Wasn’t LA under oath during the trial/arbitration hearing for the bonus money he was owed and eventually paid? IIRC, a sponsor had promised him a bonus of a few $M if he won the tour 5x in a row. The sponsor took out an insurance policy against the bonus, similar to ones a golf course takes out when they promise a large bonus for anyone who hits a hole-in-one. The insurance co did not want to pay up, claiming that LA cheated to win the Tours. LA eventually prevailed. I may have the details wrong, but I do believe LA had to testify under oath.

  10. roomservicetaco

    Padraig,

    Regarding the claim of LeMond bikes sold in France and your analogy of Hinault bikes in the US, who was the maker/distributor of Hinault’s bikes in the US?

    Isn’t LeMond’s point that a company as big and powerful as Trek should have been able to get sales and distribution in France? If Hinault’s backers were a much smaller outfit, wouldn’t it help bolster LeMond’s point?

  11. Robot

    Greg Lemond is so fucking complicated to me, and, from where I sit (i.e. nowhere near close enough to know anything), he seems awfully disingenuous. Clearly, he’s done a lot of work on making cycling more transparent, admirable work, but then he’s undermined it by taking personal shots at riders he doesn’t like for one reason or another.

    When, during this last Tour, he published that piece in LeMonde casting doubt on Contador’s uphill climbing exploits, I lost a lot of respect for him. I think he’s lost perspective on what science can and can’t tell us. He has a lot of faith in his scientific research, but he’s not a scientist himself, and I don’t think anyone would tell you we know everything we need to know about physiology and performance. Better to test a rider’s blood and say he’s cheating than watch on TV, take out your calculator, decide you think something’s up and then splash it all over French papers.

    So it seems to me that LeMond has spent too much time pissing in the punch bowl. I can tell you honestly that, based on my perceptions of him, I would be very reticent about buying a LeMond bicycle, and I too am a fan of Greg LeMond the racer. It’s just that he seems bent on tearing down the sport for some reason. I wouldn’t blame John Burke at all for making an independent decision that LeMond is bad for his own brand.

    And on the issue of Lance doping, I have to believe that it’s for the authorities, flawed as they are, to determine whether or not rules have been broken. It’s pointless to assassinate the guy in the press. It only hurts cycling. What helps cycling is developing a set of rules that penalize the cheaters and reward those who ride clean. That’s not Greg LeMond’s job. Greg LeMond’s job, I think, is to help them develop those rules, sell bicycles and inspire other riders, young and old.

    Right now, he’s doing a pretty crappy job.

  12. grilled

    Ego plays a huge part on both parties behalf.

    But at the end of the day, as a cycling fan first and foremost, if we leap over the personal paint jobs (LeMond – Jealous, Kristin – forgetful, Lance – egomaniac, ad infinitum) I am happy LeMond is stirring the shit pot. Anyone who has done their due diligence knows Armstrong wasn’t playing by the rules (neither were his 2-50th place finishers) and for the sport to turn around I invoke the snake complex – gotta cut off the head to kill it.

    If Armstrong goes down, we can truly rebuild the sport. This is mild deviation from Padraig’s main points, but I am taking the 40,000 foot view here.

  13. jza

    roomservicetaco, nope. Lance won because there was no clause in the contract regarding doping. Whether or not he doped was irrelevant to the case because it was not in the contract.

  14. jza

    Mr. Robot, Seriously? You believe Contador’s clean? Any decent physiologist can make the backwards calculations. Total rider weight (we know how much his bike weighs, easy enough to estimate body mass within a kg or two) -> We know how fast he went -> We know how steep the roads are -> We can figure out the power required -> We can estimate the physiological requirements to go that fast. Some of the numbers are debatable, but Lemond’s are not far off.

    Long version:
    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2009/07/tour-de-france-2009-contador-vo2max.html

    Lemond is quite possibly the most talented cyclist in the history of the world. 92/93 VO2 Max. He proved this by winning championships at all levels of cycling junior->TdF. It’s just not possible to be an average pro for the first 5 years of your career and then suddenly be head-and-shoulders better than EVERYONE. It’s just not physiologically possible.

  15. velomonkey

    Man, there is so much wrong here I don’t even know where to start.

    First, LeMond has always been a person who doesn’t handle himself well. His first tour win, he’s attacked by Hinault and when he and the north American contingent catch the guy on his failed breakaway the first thing he asks is if Hinualt is alright. This guy tried to slit his throat and Greg asks if he is OK. Best line, Grewal saying “you fucked up Bernie.” Not that is drama.

    Second, Pradig, this news conference that LeMond raided and rained on Lance’s parade. Back up? Where exactly is that public display of testing? Oh wait, it was canceled – seems the pomp and circumstance can come out for announcement but when it’s shut down before it even sees the light of day no one wrote about it. Even you, Pradig. I think this says something.

    Third, Simeoni. Done. This separates the fans of the sport from the fans of the man. Nothing LeMond has done, and I don’t agree with most of it myself, even comes close to LA and the Simeoni spectacle. Nothing.

    Forth, Robot “watch on TV, take out your calculator, decide you think something’s up.” The irony here is so thick. Please people, read more. This is 100% what Bruyneel did in 2000 when Pantanni attacked. They called Ferrari and said “can he hold it?” Ferrari did some math, while watching it live on TV and said “No.” People who know, this would be testers or admin of riders or previous pros, can tell a lot from watching an event unfold live. The rest of us have no idea no matter how much racing we do. The difference between 1st and 20th on a mountain stage is only time to us, their efforts are all inconceivable to us.

    I’ll deal more out late, but Pradig, this kind of stinks like it’s slightly one sided.

  16. Da Robot

    I think Contador may be doped. I think Armstrong may be doped. What I think doesn’t matter that much. And, frankly, what Greg LeMond thinks doesn’t matter that much. He’s a former champion. He’s not a scientist or a cycling official. I’m pretty sure the folks at the UCI still run the sport. They work with scientists and labs, and they enforce the rules. I don’t think they always get it right, but again, what I think doesn’t matter. Greg LeMond is lucky that what he thinks probably matters a little bit, but the UCI has never suspended anyone or nullified any results based on what a former champion wrote in a paper or yelled at a press conference.

    I would have a lot more sympathy and respect for Greg LeMond if he went about things differently. Anyone who’s married has learned that being right is not always the easiest thing to be. It’s important to be right gracefully.

    What I’m saying is that LeMond has a lot of valuable things to say, and there are people for him to say them to. There are channels. There are protocols and procedures. Calling guys out in public doesn’t help cycling, and it certainly doesn’t help LeMond himself.

    It tarnishes his legacy, sours his fans and loses him a lot of money.

  17. trev

    If someone shattered my record by cheating I would be jealous too. I think that is natural. I don’t think anyone should hold that 1 fact against Greg. Maybe how he vents it, yes. I think any sane cyclist can see that Lance and other great like AC, Der Keiser, MArco, Basso, Riis have etc… have cheated. I pray to the god of Karma that Lance, Bruyneel and there cohorts get caught this yr. But I think they are back in part due to the fact they have found a new way to cheat. If I were Greg I would be fuming. Out of support to GL I would buy another one of his bikes if he had someone good building them.

    VeloMonkey : keep writing.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Thanks for all the comments. It’s nice to know we still care about heroes.

      Sophrosune: The numbers I’ve seen reported were $100 million in earnings. Yes, that number sounds big. But it was followed by a number that served as a strong corollary: LeMond has been paid $5 million. Five percent sounds about right.

      RoomServiceTaco: (God that cracks me up) Hinault had two different distributors when I was contacted, both were small operations with zero penetration. You can have a marvelous product, but if you don’t understand the market, you’ll never make a dent. Anecdotally, I’ve never walked into a shop in France and seen an American bicycle. I know they get sold there, but I just haven’t seen a sales floor with a Trek, Specialized or anything else. Heck, I haven’t often seen Giant. I saw Cannondale in Italy a few times. The last time I was in the Pyrenees, the only bikes I saw were Orbea. The ONLY.

      Concerning the arbitration: Armstrong won because the allegations of doping couldn’t be proven. He would have lost had they proven he cheated and doping constituted cheating.

      For those continuing to struggle with the idea that Armstrong’s achievements hurt LeMond’s ego, let me pose another question: Why doesn’t LeMond care about convicted dopers like Bernard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher? He doesn’t have a word for them. And if you think his only interest is in exposing those who haven’t been caught then, yes, he ought to have it in for Contador. The message boards got quite a workout this summer when his VAM numbers were revealed. Yes, they were awfully suspicious.

      It’s true that LeMond was an extraordinary specimen. I believe I’ve read of three athletes who have had VO2 Max numbers above 90 and as JZA points out, LeMond was one. He seems to have exceptional insight into what a top level pro can achieve through proper means and what might constitute doping. The appropriate venue for his efforts would be to work—behind the scenes—with WADA and the UCI to examine performances and target suspects. Pursuing a single rider, one who happens to be American, and doing so publicly makes him appear narcissistic.

      Whether Armstrong has doped or not isn’t remotely the issue. I’d wager each of you have made up your mind on the subject; I have no business telling you what to think on the matter. LeMond, in the face of having no bike company, could have a third act helping the UCI to target suspicious riders and perhaps even refine how the biological passport is examined. Lord knows, he’ll have time on his hands and they could use the help.

      VeloMonkey: I’m not really sure what your point is. I agree that LeMond hasn’t always handled himself well in public. I don’t disagree that Lance didn’t live up to his promise of public testing, but what does that prove? Simeoni? That situation has always stunk, but I can see a clean rider being just as pissed off at him as a dirty rider.

      TV analysis, unless you are watching a live feed, is completely wonky. You can’t do any math that is reliable unless you are watching a live feed.

      To the degree that my analysis seems one-sided it is because Armstrong is holding a better hand than LeMond is.

      Trev: You have it exactly right. LeMond’s feelings are understandable, entirely. But how he chooses to act on those feelings is really the issue. He is losing a very successful bike brand because he was overly concerned about the doping he believes Armstrong is doing.

  18. velomonkey

    So while we’re on the topic of LeMond and how he’s the bad guy here, let’s turn the tables a bit and expound on some items.

    First, Padraig (and sorry for mistyping it prior), you state what is stated in the complaint “exert best efforts regarding the LeMond brand.” Then you translate it to “they didn’t sell enough bikes.” This is wrong, what they did was they didn’t TRY to sell LeMond bikes. This is a distinction with a huge difference and anyone in a business partnership knows that these things are paramount.

    Second, and this really is poor judgment on your part, you say how LeMond only has circumstantial evidence to point to Armstrong and doping. Without real evidence he should keep his moth shut. Then you go on to point out that LeMond is a poor business man and is, and this is what you said, “a nightmare” to work with. What do you use to substantiate such claims – wait for it – circumstantial evidence and hearsay. Are you following me here? I think it’s time to possibly make a retraction.

    Let’s move on to Armstrong and why LeMond might have a case. Anyone who has ever crossed LA gets pounded into oblivion and basically loses their job. Hamilton. Thought for himself and busted for doping. Landis. Thought for himself and busted for doping. Maybe his tales of no TT bike while at Postal might have some merit, eh? Frankie. He and his wife talk, dude loses his job as DS almost overnight. Heras. Thought for himself and busted for doping. To stick to the mafia analogy that was laid out earlier: you want to see what the Don of pro cycling looks like, look no further than LA. You cross the guy you go down. It’s that simple. I’m not talking Boonen wanting to go to quick step, I’m talking legit GC riders (and BTW, the way Postal setup tour riders and everyone else Boonen might as well have been on a different team from Landis et al) thinking, hey, why pull for this guy when I go be number one somewhere else. Think like that and it’s light out – do you need anymore proof. LeMond says something, Trek shuts him down and belittles the brand but then like a phoenix it rises again this time with Gary Fisher name (the only person in pro cycling who looks more idiotic than a real life clown). Christian VDV, the guy does well while LA is retired and he gets bad put down in the press. Come on people.

    Yet somehow the guy who made American cycling and made pro cycling a sport where riders could earn a real salary and introduced numerous technologies and advancements and won without question the most exciting finish to the tour – well he, he is somehow the loser here. I look a little deeper and I just don’t see it – but I guess I”m a Lance “hater.” Marginalize the messenger and the message doesn’t matter. I agree LeMond needs to edit his approach – big time, but this situation is a little more nuanced and I love the sport too much not to look a little deeper. I thought you did too, but I guess I was mistaken.

    LA needs some serious questions asked and no one is asking. He hides behind cancer and is untouchable. Oh also, Walsh wasn’t the only one – Kimmage asks the hard questions too and well we all saw the fiasco that esued, except maybe not, cause velonews just somehow managed to edit the video where Kimmage spoke back and told LA to his face he doesn’t hold a patent for cancer and he’s a fool for not understanding the analogy. But oh, LeMond, he is just killing his reputation. Whatever.

    BTW, I met both of them, at the same time. It was around 1995 and it was the end of the Fuji World Tour I think it was called, where a bunch of riders with disabilities finished riding around the world and they finished in DC. Yup, met them both at the same time, though I had met each separate before and after, but this was cool cause it was at the same time (but not together). A lot of people I know are impressed with Lance – as was I. I can say, though, I don’t know one person who hasn’t met Greg and hasn’t thought him to be anything but a standup and great person. I say that only as an end note in as much as I think the guy just doesn’t have a mean streak in him and well sometimes that mean streak can serve you well. But, as you say, at what cost?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      VeloMonkey: Hmm, lots to respond to here. I’ll try to keep it brief.

      It’s hard to quantify “try.” In lawsuits you have to stick to objective data and actual sales numbers are the point they work from.

      “Nightmare” isn’t my word; that came from a source. Also I don’t have anything to prove; this is an analysis piece that allows me the freedom to work from inference and circumstance, and I’ve clearly delineated between what is fact, what has been reported by others and that which is solely my opinion; I’m not hiding anything. I’d need a lot more if I were headed to court, though. No retraction.

      LA and retribution: You’re on the money. Call it what you want, but never, ever cross the guy. So endeth the lesson.

      LeMond the loser: that wouldn’t be the case had he not also crossed John Burke. To the degree that we are watching the demise of LeMond’s cycling brand it owes as much to crossing John Burke as it does to crossing Lance Armstrong, maybe more.

      I think people are asking questions of Armstrong, but no answers will ever be forthcoming. He’s not going to say what people who are suspicious would most like to hear. Impossible; Elvis wants another slice of pie.

      I’ve interviewed both riders and each time I felt I was in the room with greatness. Definitely peak experiences. They are both complicated individuals. Bottom line: LeMond believes Armstrong has doped and can’t let go of making sure everyone else believes it too. It’s a crazy mission, one that has extolled a terrible price on LeMond and seemingly none at all on Armstrong. I wish this situation were anything other than what it is.

  19. velomonkey

    Padraig, just saw your response after I submitted my second response. You keep sticking to the “what does that prove.” I find this funny given that all your reporting of the doctor case you said had the guy not gone on record with the two gems of telling the 911 operator and the traffic cop about teaching them a lesson and stopping suddenly that he might have gotten off. Does that make him any less guilty? No. It’s a fine line between preponderance of evidence and not.

    If you can’t see what making a big deal out of announcing your drug program and then suspending said drug program and citing, and I’m not making this up, money – well, then I can’t help you. Let me be clear though, it proves nothing, but it says everything.

    Simeoni, again, can’t help you there. You really, really think a clean rider has just as much right to be mad at him as a dirty rider, a dirty rider who uses the same doctor he testified against. Add that this perhaps dirty rider is supposed to be a champion and not just any rider – well it seems like you give out some hefty free passes.

    The TV thing with Pantani – are you saying it didn’t happen or are you saying Bruyneel was a fool to call Ferrari and then NOT have LA chase down Pantani (which is what happened). Seems like some Monday morning QBing.

    Lastly, Pradraig, do you know if anyone has asked LeMond about Schumaker? As for Kohl, maybe he’s not saying anything cause the guy is coming clean or maybe no one like you asked.

  20. Sophrosune

    Padraig, I think you have the $100 million figure a bit mixed up. Here’s the story from the NY Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2009/11/11/2009-11-11_lemond_open_to_trek_settlement.html and here’s the pertinent information from the story: “Trek, which had earnings of more than $100 million over the life of the partnership ($5 million of that, reportedly, going to LeMond himself), claims it suffered along with independent bike dealers because the comments made LeMond bikes harder to sell.”

    You see Trek earned $100 million and from that Lemond received $5 million. Earnings and revenues are an important distinction here. But in any case, if we extrapolate that revenues matched earnings then Lemond bikes accounted for about 5% of Trek sales revenues as well as profits.

  21. velomonkey

    Padraig,

    I appreciate the fact that you don’t delete comments that happen not to agree with you. That’s commendable.

    My problem with this is there is hardly any cycling media and no one is asking the hard questions sans one or two european based people. Add to that the demise of professional journalism and news outlets like this become more relevant and prevalent. This worries me and I think for good cause. This article you have penned worries me and for good cause.

    This will be my last post on the topic, but there are still some items that need to be brought to your attention.

    We have two issues before us – Greg LeMond as a poor bsiness man and cry baby and Lance Armstrong as a doper and a jerk. You used a unnamed source to buttress the view that LeMond is a sub par business man. What carriers more weight, an unnamed source, or a former pro like Frankie who goes on record in the New york Times – the paper of record and says Armstrong is a doper. He also testified to the same.

    The “try” in the lawsuit that you attempt to undermine is a very common item and one that can weighed with tangible and intangible actions. Did the doctor “try” to hurt the cyclists and did Trek “try” to get out of their obligation to LeMond. One and the same, Padraig – you can’t like it on second and not the next. The key here is intent and obligation -one in the same with both cases (albeit different outcomes).

    LeMond is a loser because he crossed Burke. I’m sorry, you are 100% splitting hairs and reaching for stuff that isn’t there. He didn’t “cross” Burke – cross implies an intent to do malice. He simply didn’t oblige. Did LeMond have a contractual obligation not to take his grievances public? Maybe. If he did, he gets what he deserved. The point is, you don’t know and you should let it play out in court before you make slanderous statements like that. What he didn’t do, though, was “cross” Burke. Journalism does have it’s boundaries, they seem to be nonexistent on the web and this site is no exception.

    LA retribution. Let me get this straight. LeMond acts like a baby and you pen an entire article on it. LA, by your own admission, pummels people into the ground simply for thinking for themselves. BTW, I take by my use of cross earlier – the people in question never “crossed” LA, they simply stopped working 100% only for LA’s benefit and instead their crime was thinking for themselves. LA has done this for ten years now, and that’s only in what we know, and he has done this to over a dozen people and LeMond interrupts a press conference for something that was later canceled for bogus reasons and you chose to say LeMond is the one who is souring his rep. Come on, buddy, this seems to be weighted for one guy and against the other.

    Therein lies my issue with this. You have numerous fact pointed to you on the dangerous and vindictive attitude of LA. There is a literally a mountain of circumstantial evidence that he dopes, but you chose to to attack the tactics of the one guy who is standing up to him. Wow. I guess the church of LA is a very real thing.

    I agree LeMond’s tactic are childish and ineffective. But that doesn’t change all the things about LA. After reading your previous articles I expected more. For what it’s worth I will go forward with the opinion that you hold about as much weight on either LA or LeMond as Sean Hannity does with Bush or Obama.

  22. Adam

    I loved Lemond, so his fall from grace makes me sad.

    Having said that, he bit the hand that fed him and his one man army is simply never going to win. You cannot blame Trek for cutting off somebody damaging their brand.

    I agree that he’s (justifiably) angry that he’s been eclipsed by somebody that he suspects cheated. But, Indurain found himself in a similar position – the end of his reign co-inciding with widespread drug use – but he stepped back and chanelled his energy in more productive places. He remains a legend in my eyes because of it.

  23. Adam

    Velomonkey,

    This may be one of the most innane comments I’ve read.

    “LeMond is a loser because he crossed Burke. I’m sorry, you are 100% splitting hairs and reaching for stuff that isn’t there. He didn’t “cross” Burke – cross implies an intent to do malice. He simply didn’t oblige. Did LeMond have a contractual obligation not to take his grievances public? Maybe. If he did, he gets what he deserved. The point is, you don’t know and you should let it play out in court before you make slanderous statements like that. What he didn’t do, though, was “cross” Burke. Journalism does have it’s boundaries, they seem to be nonexistent on the web and this site is no exception.”

    I just can’t wrap my head around the business sense of the statement. To me, the only analogy I can draw is Goldman Sachs hiring Michael Moore to head their PR department and then Moore getting annoyed when he finds himself sacked.

    Your distinction between “crossing” and “not obliging” are cute, so I’ll just say that Burke didn’t oblige Lemond’s rants that were negatively affecting his business.

  24. Robot

    I hold the line that whether LA is a doper and an asshat (he may be one, he is probably the other) is immaterial. What’s important is how LeMond has gone about his business. Trek wants to sell bicycles. I don’t think they care whether those bicycles say Trek or LeMond on them. They want to sell. When your brand’s spokesperson and namesake spends his time in public lambasting your other, and obviously more effective, spokesperson, you have to make a business decision.

    From Trek’s point-of-view, and I think this is the one that matters in this instance, the decision to shut LeMond down is a no-brainer. You’re concerned with selling bikes, not sorting out legacies.

    So LeMond needed to decide: Did he want to sell bikes? Or did he want to sort legacies? The two turned out to be incompatible, and it appears he’s failing on both fronts anyway.

    LA may be proven to be a doper one day. If he is a doper, then I surely hope he’s caught. But, Greg LeMond has to realize it’s not going to be his privilege to solve the crime, standing in the back of a hotel conference room, brandishing a jar of urine and holding forth on the vagaries of VO2 max.

  25. Rick Vosper

    Wow. I am truly impressed with the quality both of Padraig’s piece and with the quality and quantity– not to mention passion– of responses. I hope we can keep the discussion going.

    There are three as-yet unexplored points I’d like to toss into the mosh pit:

    1. Velomonkey is exactly right in his observation about Trek’s sales of Lemond bikes. The Lemond bikes *never* sold well, for whatever reasons. Consequently neither party was ever happy with the relationship. I point this out for two reasons:
    1.1 Both parties have strong incentive to end the relationship, and have had for years. Trek wants out from under, Lemond wants a big payday.
    1.2 Lemond stands to make far more profit off a favorable judgment in the trial or settlement than he ever did from the sales of his bikes. This is consistent with other Lemond business enterprises.

    2. Whatever Lemond’s personal reasons may be for turning the legal proceedings into a referendum on Lance’s doping, and whatever the outcome may eventually be, it is undeniable that he is putting huge pressure on Trek and the value that company derives from their association with Lance. If Trek sought to pressure Lemond by threatening to end their business relationship, that’s only the tiniest fraction of the pressure Lemond has already brought on Trek by turning the tables. The specter of Lance showing up in a Minnesota courtroom to be savaged by Lemond’s attorneys is only slightly less distasteful to Trek than the prospect of him not showing up and being savaged *in absentia*.

    3. GL and LA are both great champions in their chosen discipline and very complex men. So, for that matter, is Trek’s John Burke. Between the three-way clash of these titans and the huge ethical, financial, and personal consequences at stake, I submit that the working-out of this trial may well prove to be the single most profound event in US cycling history. And its potential shake the worldwide foundations of our entire sport is comparably enormous, and only slightly less probable.

  26. velomonkey

    Adam, are you really confused by the term and difference between crossing someone and failing to uphold your obligation? I already said that if LeMond failed his obligation then he gets what he deserves. Done. I agree. Let it play out though, but to color it that he “crossed” the president of Trek just isn’t the case. The analogy oh Moore and Goldman makes zero sense, sorry if this is too nuanced for you.

    Robot, I agree. Trek was given a choice, LA or LeMond. From a business perspective it’s LA every time and twice on Sunday. Maybe they broke a contract maybe not. Whatever this is going to cost them in fees or broken contracts will pail in the money they make selling bikes off lance. It’s a no brainer. On that point too, it’s in their best interest to shut LeMond down and hope that LA and doping never sees the light of day and paint LeMond as a poor business man and a tainted and jealous former champ who’s been eclipsed.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      All: I will never censor comments. Without dissent there isn’t much conversation. Thanks for the recognition.

      VeloMonkey: I’m not out to disparage LeMond, Armstrong or Burke. The piece, as I’ve written before, was occasioned by the lawsuit that is likely to go to court shortly. I understand you see a double standard in how I treat LeMond vs. Armstrong. The piece was never really about Armstrong though. You already know that Frankie Andreu has said Armstrong doped; there’s enough information out there alleging Armstrong doped, you don’t need me to report it here. However, because LeMond’s business relationships are at issue here every bit as much as Armstrong’s doping, it is relevant to report what others have said to me that hasn’t been widely reported. LeMond is the real subject of the post and that’s why the heat is on him, not Armstrong.

      My use of the word “cross” is very relative. I don’t think too many people have done things to Armstrong, but it seems any time he senses disloyalty, he arrives at feeling crossed.

      As I see it, the current state of affairs is that LeMond will let his bike company belly up just to go after Armstrong’s doping. I’ve got no malice for either guy, but for LeMond to choose this course of action seems crazy to me.

      Rick is right that LeMond has never been satisfied with Trek and while I haven’t known Trek’s feelings about the relationship before LeMond started talking about Armstrong, you have to wonder just what LeMond’s goals for the company have been. How big did he think an all-road bike company could be? Did he think his name could be used to sell mountain bikes and kid’s bikes as well?

  27. Larry T.

    BigTex is like OJ. Lots of evidence points to guilt but so far no conviction. The 1999 EPO positive remains (like the ones MLB gathered) only for research purposes so no sanctions can be meted out. He’s different than OJ in that “The Juice” became a pariah while the Teflon Texan just keeps getting richer and more popular. Greg LeMond’s been screwed by his own family, both sexually and in business, not to mention various friends and managers over the years. LeMond is too nice a guy for his own good it seems. Trek told him to stop talking about doping allegations against BigTex in the same way a pharmaceutical company would tell an employee to ignore phony research data showing their latest product to be a winner while in reality it kills people. LeMond resisted and is sort of a whistle-blower whose (so far) allegations have yet to be proved. Should Trek pay him a bunch of dough for canning him and his bike brand or at least willfully failing to promote it as they would their own Trek brand? Only the settlement or trial will decide. Meanwhile, I will never purchase another bicycle with the name TREK on it, but would possibly buy another one (I currently own a Poprad) with LeMond’s name on it.

  28. jza

    Before this horse dies……..
    The issue that is going to trial, as I understand it, is Lemond saying Trek violated a contract to sell bikes with his name on them. Did Trek give a good faith effort to execute the terms of the contract?

    -Is Lemond speaking candidly about a Trek sponsored athlete in violation of the contract? Probably not?
    -Is Trek in violation of the contract by letting the brand languish because of Lemond’s comments. Maybe?

    Because Trek will say Lemond was damaging his own brand by disparaging Lance, the court will probably want to know if what he was saying was true. If it’s true, then it makes it a lot harder to argue that his comments damaged the brand.

    Important to remember the case will be about a contract, not ongoing grudges.

    And thank you Velomonkey for nailing this stuff in a much more concise manner than I ever could. Okay, I’m done now.

  29. Robot

    @jza

    When you enter into a good faith contract, you agree to work toward mutual benefit. That’s at the basis of contract law. Disparaging another of the company’s spokespeople, regardless of what that person has or hasn’t done, violates the good faith nature of the contract.

    I believe Trek has every right to sever ties with LeMond. Whether they went about it the right way or not remains to be seen, but I can’t imagine why a judge would admit evidence about a third party’s alleged doping into this case.

    I might want to know the answer to the question, but it’s way outside the purview of the case. In other words, whether or not LeMond is right is not pertinent to the case, since the case is about the nature of the contract between Trek and LeMond.

    It seems to me that both LeMond and Trek went about things the wrong way. Trek should have put more energy into pimping LeMond’s rides, and LeMond should have refrained from attacking his business partner’s most valuable endorser.

    I said it before, and I’ll say it again. It is not for Greg LeMond to convict Lance Armstrong of doping. It is neither his business, nor is it in the best interests of his business. It will only be when the UCI or WADA sign him as a consultant to develop a comprehensive screening program that he’ll have the impact he seems to want to have. Until then, he needs to think harder about how he is developing the LeMond brand.

  30. velomonkey

    Padraig – you should be commended on not censoring comments. You write well and you treat your audience with respect regardless of their view. Keep it up.

    I hope that one day you write an article as well done and as long about Lance and his business interest. The livestrong for profit and not for profit vagueness. Folding up a perfectly good north American team, letting it die and then coming in and completely dismantling another team. Yea, Astana is far from a perfectly good team, but let’s recall Bruyneel was unemployed until they stepped up. Write about how riders like Hamilton and Landis are utterly ruined for thinking of themselves and, as you said, by doing that the man feels “crossed.” Where are those two – one is literally living in a cabin and the other is reduced to a state where he cried for help and DHEA – both are divorced and have little to no money. Hamilton has been overt, how about someone dig. What about riders not getting TT bikes or training plans or test results getting skewed to show LA was the best. Just on LA’s business practices alone there is enough for you to write a great piece and I never, ever read much of anything in the big north american cycling media about LA and his practices.

    I hope you do this and I hope it’s good. LeMond has been piled on enough – he doesn’t need an article to point out that he acts like a baby and his tactics are flawed. He shows us that and we all see it for what it is without the need for outside editorial. Piling it on LeMond is like piling it on Hamilton – both are just a shell of their former selves.

    As for LeMond the brand. Look, this is guy who rode a parlee carbon bike in the early 90s as in 1990 and 1991. His technical contributions to the sport are second to none. His bikes were never as good – if Eddy can’t do it well then LeMond can’t either. Since he sold to Trek, though, those things have stunk – big time. As for Trek the brand, the ones who went kicking and screaming into sponsoring pro road cycling – I worked in shops all through college and even back then they might as well have been selling washing machines. I don’t buy them not cause of LA or LeMond, but because they have no soul and no essence of the sport it’s all about the mighty buck and while that’s fine, there are a myriad of companies who make a buck but have much more of the sport ingrained into their product.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Should Lance or Livestrong wind up in court, I can assure you I will follow the proceedings and offer my analysis. The turns that Hamilton’s and Landis’ lives have taken are tragic and that’s all I will say on the subject for now. I wrote plenty on Landis’ appeal for BKW as it was unfolding.

      A few final words on the bikes that Trek produced for themselves and LeMond. The original OCLV bikes revolutionized the carbon fiber bike market. The guys at Kestrel were afraid they would go out of business when Trek introduced the OCLV, but instead their business grew because Trek raised the tide. I didn’t like the ride quality of the OCLV, but the bike brought carbon to the masses; it deserves credit as being a game changer. Oh, and LeMond rode a Calfee not a Parlee and he did so in ’91, not ’90. As for the quality of LeMond bikes, I can say from having ridden/reviewed four of them, they were indeed good bikes. The ti/carbon spine bike was dynamite and was one of the best bikes I rode the year it was introduced.

  31. Michael

    This is slightly off topic but thought some of you would find this table interesting, there are many athletes world wide with outstanding, tested VO2 max scores. And how many more genetic freaks are out there who do not participate in high performance activities who are never tested?

    As far as pro cyclists go, how often do they divulge their own testing data? So infrequently you would think the lab they get tested at was related to the Lockheed Skunkworks!

    Athlete’s Vo2max Scores

    The following are the Vo2max scores for a selection of the top female and male athletes.

    VO2max (ml/kg/min) Athlete Gender Sport/Event
    96.0 Espen Harald Bjerke Male Cross Country Skiing
    96.0 Bjorn Daehlie Male Cross Country Skiing
    92.5 Greg LeMond Male Cycling
    92.0 Matt Carpenter Male Marathon Runner
    92.0 Tore Ruud Hofstad Male Cross Country Skiing
    91.0 Harri Kirvesniem Male Cross Country Skiing
    88.0 Miguel Indurain Male Cycling
    87.4 Marius Bakken Male 5K Runner
    85.0 Dave Bedford Male 10K Runner
    85.0 John Ngugi Male Cross Country Runner

    73.5 Greta Waitz Female Marathon runner
    71.2 Ingrid Kristiansen Female Marathon Runner
    67.2 Rosa Mota Female Marathon Runner

    As for the whole Lemond V Trek thing….Lemond is shooting his gift horse in the mouth and is also pissing in it’s cornflakes to make it worse for himself. Great athlete, poor businessman and downright sad individual. A sad story all around.

    Michael

  32. jms

    Padraig,
    -=gushing praise of padraig=-
    there is genuine humility coupled with amazing eloquence in your writing. i always enjoyed the posts you contributed to BKW the most, and i was glad when you started RKP and began to post more frequently. i also really enjoyed your coverage of the trial on velonews. thanks for the wonderful work and please keep it up.
    -=/gushing praise of padraig=-

    now, on the topic:
    it’s funny, because every piece of news on this trial that i see tends to have this anti-LA, big guy sticking it to the little guy, go lemond kind of vibe to it. your post here was the first one i have come across that i didn’t read and just think enough with the hate of LA already. it just seems so fashionable for people who consider themselves interested in cycling to bash LA any chance they get. i personally don’t know whether he doped or not and i tend to root for sprinters (go Thor!). the first thing i find interesting is i hear a lot of people trash LA for suspicion of doping any chance they get but no one says anything about Anquetil admitting he doped or Merckx actually get caught doping three times (only one of those he actually admits to and blames it on being too trusting of a doctor). these guys are lauded over (rightfully so) by the cycling community, yet everyone hates “Mr. Seven”. the second thing that intrigues me is how a failed business deal between a bike company and a former champion turns into a trial for whether or not LA doped. the facts are that GL made a comment that Trek felt disparaged the company. whether the content of the comment was true or not doesn’t make a difference. if GL said that Trek’s latest track bikes were too technologically advanced and he was disappointed in anyone who used them and then trek first tried to censure him and then after he continued trashing the track bikes fired him, would his lawyers subpoena the ex-wife of the person who developed it and ask if she ever saw him building bikes that broke the UCI rules? ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch for an analogy, but come on. this is about GL and Trek having a disagreement over GL’s outspoken nature and whether or not Trek tanked the GL brand on purpose because of said nature, not a trial to unmask the doper in the room. to even bring questions of LA doping or not doping into the court room is irrelevant IMHO (apparently the court does NOT share my opinion) and just shows GL’s bitterness.

    and why is everyone so crazed about the possibility of LA being subpoenaed and having to testify under oath? do you expect him to drop the bomb and say he doped because his is under oath and somehow magically swearing on a bible and promising to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god” will have an effect on what his answer has been any other time he has been asked if he doped? do you think he will really care about being caught lying under oath if he gets caught doping after saying he didn’t in court? if he ever gets caught, his life is ruined, so a few years in jail most likely won’t make a huge difference to him.

  33. roomservicetaco

    “I hope that one day you write an article as well done and as long about Lance and his business interest. The livestrong for profit and not for profit vagueness.”

    This has my vote for an article topic as well. Especially interested in who gets what salaries and payments from each entity, what % of Livestrong charitable contributions go to actual research, how the money gets doled out and to whom.

    There would certainly be a resident of Austin, TX who felt ‘crossed’…

  34. velomonkey

    Yes, I stand corrected – it was a calfee not a parlee (an innocent enough mistake). However, it was 90 and 91, just as I saw pictures of George on a BMC just the other week.

    I presume we wont see that article unless someone takes livestrong to court. Too bad, but no giant surprise here.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      VeloMonkey: LeMond raced a TVT in ’90. You can see the polished aluminum head lugs in photos when they aren’t obscured by the Delta brake. Even Calfee himself will confirm that LeMond only raced what was then called Carbonframes rebadged as a LeMond in ’91. I’m not really interested in quibbling about the point, but I don’t want other readers receiving incorrect info.

      To all those of you have have praised my work, thanks much. Respect is a powerful motivator; I appreciate your respect and I have the utmost respect for you as a readership.

  35. trev

    Padraig: Your articles are fantastic.I am envious of your command over the english language as well as your ability to convey your points in a very enjoyable to read manner. I hit this site directly after I check my email everyday. I agree with lots that Velomonkey said and he seems to be a worthy adversary……but I would love to see you use some of your knowledge and connections to dig a little deeper on some of the afformentioned topics. Lance, and even his business dealings, and in particular Tyler. I think your writing is intelligent and insightful but I look forward to a few peices where you really dig and get us something we can’t get ANYWHERE else.

    Nice work.

  36. Guy

    I’ve asked this many times and never received a considered response;
    When Lance rode away from Marco Pantani, the same Marco Pantani that it turned out was heavily doped on most medications known to mankind it seems, including the performance enhancing ones required to win the Tour, how was it that LA was able to outclimb him? LA would have weighed at least 5-8 kilos more and if clean should have know way to keep up nevermind beat Marco up a climb. LA had no scientific business being up there with a lighter and drugged to the max climbing exponent like Pantani. An yet…?!

    I really like to know what you all think.

    Greg Lemond is what he is. I think his era of riding was terrific and his contributions were huge. Every man is entitled to do and say whatever he wants. It doesn’t diminish what he achieved. Let’s face it, if he wants to do something that might be poor strategically from a business POV so be it. I don’t see that as damaging to his legacy at all.

  37. Pingback: The Top Ten Bike Business Lies, #10: Bad News Is No News. « RVMS Blog: Welcome to Bike 2.0

  38. Brian

    I am not a lawyer, but I was recently involved in litigation over a performance clause.

    When you sell or license a brand to another party you typically lose control. Performance clauses are added to agreements to make up for this loss. While “best effort” clauses in agreements are often (though not always) enforceable, they are notoriously vague, thus subject to interpretation, especially as compared to performance clauses with clearly identified metrics. One must prove damages in order to receive an award on the claimed contractual breach, which is difficult to do.

    We don’t have the luxury of viewing the various documents between LeMond and Trek to see (and interpret) what the exact wording is, nor know what non-disparagement clauses are in place. Breaches by one party in one aspect of a contract does not typically justify the other party breaching another area of the contract. Well written contracts often call for a cure period for breaches, whereby if breaches are not cured in a specified manner or time frame, the agreement is nullified, with consequences to either or both parties.

    All of this said, I tend to agree that LeMond’s problem is his mouth, whether he is speaking the truth or not. While I respect his abilities as a rider, I do not respect his actions in regards to doping cases, be it LA, Floyd or others. This has caused me to lose a great deal of respect for the man as a whole. Is he jealous? Probably, but does it matter what his motivations are? Again, he might be right, but the ends don’t justify the means.

    LeMond seems to be in denial of the doping that took place during his era. EPO hit started hitting cycling in the late 80s or early 90s. In the early 90s dozens of Belgian & Dutch cyclists died during their sleep of cardiac problems caused by the sludge creeping in their veins and arteries. Doping existed long before the current era, and will continue long after. So why does LeMond have such a targeted campaign? Maybe he is going after what is essentially low hanging fruit (in terms of visibility). The problem is he has allegations and beliefs, but not proof.

    LeMond’s mouth does make it difficult for a company to support the brand bearing his name. I can believe Trek might reduce support based upon his anti Lance comments, considering Lance is their cash cow. It is quite possible that both parties are in breach of their agreements, for distinct but intertwined reasons.

    As cited previously, regardless of the result of the case, litigation typically harms both parties, and settling out of court is often the best option. A friend who is an attorney once told me (in terms of billing), the best client is one who is “wealthy, principled, and wrong”. I can potentially see both LeMond and Trek fitting this description. It probably isn’t a stretch to view LA in this manner as well. While justice is supposed to be blind, the litigation process isn’t about being fair; often it is a matter of resources. David doesn’t often beat Goliath.

    But if you were a dealer, whose train would you want to be on? Greg’s name doesn’t sell like Lance’s brand of choice; yesterday’s news doesn’t match today’s headlines.

  39. Robot

    @ Guy

    The Lance to Marco comparison doesn’t do much good, because you have no way to factor out nutrition, hydration or fatigue from the equation. I think the most reliable (though I question exactly how reliable) measure is watts necessary to sustain a certain speed at a certain incline.

    The problem I have with ad hoc analyses of rider performance is that they tend to disregard inconvenient factors like, oxygen availability at altitude, adrenaline input, wind conditions, etc. etc. There are very few clean environments for assessing performance. And while I would certainly never discount the relationship of VO2 max, which seeks to establish a top end for performance, I don’t think it tells the whole story yet. The science of top level performance is ever-evolving, and I remain suspect of people who talk about these things in terms of black and white. I just don’t think we’re at that point yet.

    I agree with your points on LeMond and his legacy. I admire Greg LeMond the rider. I still watch replays of his win on the Champs E’lysees and feel genuine happiness for him. I still watch the videos of his escapades in Paris-Roubaix and respect what he did.

    For me, it’s as if that LeMond and this one are two different people.

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  41. jza

    Ohhh, here I go again.

    Brian, Lemond did experience doping in cycling. It was when a ~82 kg rider went from 17th on gc, @31:17 to winning the whole damn thing 5 years in a row. And suddenly, in ’92 when one of the most talented men to ever ride a bike (which is inarguably what Lemond is) could no longer stay in contact with the front group.

    Before blood doping, most drugs were stimulants with bad side effects, the biggest gains were simply placebo effects. Blood doping was a game changer. Overnight power gains of 20%, or more.

    Yes, ‘mitochondrial myopathy’ was a cop out. but only because Lemond didn’t know, or wouldn’t say how these guys experienced these performance gains basically overnight.

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  43. Brian

    JZA- I know Lemond encountered doping, but when he talks about “my day”, he usually speaks about things being clean, which we all know is hardly the truth. Maybe he is speaking on relative terms, but that hardly seems accurate either. Let’s not forget that perhaps the biggest blood doping (I always hated that term) scandal came courtesy of the 1984 US Olympic Cycling Team, though in their defense, it wasn’t illegal at the time.

    On a different level, EPO, Blood Doping, living/training at altitude, and sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber all yield the same result (though perhaps to different extents); a higher concentration of red blood cells, yielding increased oxygen carrying capacity. I find it interesting that 2 are legal and 2 are not. In this particular case, it seems to be a morals issue more so than a performance enhancing issue.

  44. fausto

    “Short of David Walsh, I can’t think of another public figure or member of the media who has made more strongly suggestive statements about Armstrong.”

    I like your blog. I thought your coverage of the trail in LA for Velonews was very good. But when you write stuff like this you just lose me.

    The media (mostly European) covered extensively when Armstrong tested positive for Cortisone. There were also many stories when his team was caught dumping 160 syringes and bags of dope. They were not surprised when it was learned he was working with the most notorious doping doctor in the sport. By the time it was learned that Armstrong had tested positive 6 times for EPO the media siad what most in the sport already knew, that Armstrong was a doper.

    As for Euros not buying US bikes, I am not sure where you are riding but I lived in Europe and have spent 2-4 months a year in Europe for last 10 years. You see US bikes everywhere. Cannodale and Specialized are huge.

  45. Kevin

    Well the poster never said anything about the Armstrong VO2 max, 72 after he won the TDF and never being over 80? There is no doubt that he tried to have LeMond silenced. There is too much evidence that he doped…..

  46. Alex Torres

    Soo…

    …the conclusion is: if Greg had worked on his bicycle business, developing and perfecting his bikes and products and image, instead of going to open war against doping on cycling, Armstrong´s Tour wins and Trek corporate interests, everyone would be in a much better position…

    Sounds fair to me! :-p

  47. Alex Torres

    I think it´s a bit of a stretch to credit Landis and Tyler´s ruin to Armstrong. I mean… people who dislike Armstrong for being so powerful are the ones I see giving him too much credit and power. I admire the guy but come on!

    Maybe another way to look at it: the people who “crossed” him may have benefited from being at his side while being at his side. And once “thinking for themselves” started acting wrong and ended up burying themselves. Some people just screw up without external assistance, it happens all the time and has nothing to do with athetical talent.

    Whereas Lance is able for whatever means to stay up and moving forward, despite strong oposition (or should I say due to strong opposition?). It certainly takes some mental strenght, and not everyone has it or handles the pressure the same way. Some fold and crack; Lance thrives, and understandably that doesn´t go well for some.

    Take note everyone: if Contador ends up 10th in 2010´s Tour or get caught doping, Armstrong will be to blame. After all no one “crossed” Armstrong worse than Beto hehehe… He “dared” to beat Lance in “his” race!!!

    That´s sounds like pure conspiracy theory fantasy to me.

    It also seem to me fantasy to assume that Trek would start a business partnership with LeMond only to ruin him, or worse yet, with malicious plans to ruin him. Putting in perspective, I love the guy and he´s god to me but LeMond has a bad business record as good as his racing records, and that´s a fact.

  48. BBB

    Padraig- your comment at 10.32pm on 18 November concerning the arbitration is, as I understand, flat out wrong. The arbitrator made a decision or award that the promotions company was acting as an insurer. This had the effect of exposing the promotions company to a greater level of damages should it lose the substance of the case. It then made a commercial decision and settled the matter at or around half its level of exposure. The question of whether or not Armstrong doped was never decided by the arbitrator. Armstrong won on a point of law and no findings were made on the doping front. If I’m wrong on this, please let me know.

  49. Larry T.

    Disclaimer: I’ve been a LeMond fan since the time he first went to Europe as a pro. The other fellow in this discussion has never created any sort of similar feeling though he’s certainly a great bike racer. So I tend to see things from Greg’s perspective — his career wound down due to age and the problems from the shotgun pellets still in his body and perhaps by the doping widespread amongst his competitors. His own father treated him badly through his original, non-Trek bike company. he was plagued throughout his early career with “endorsements” he was never paid for by all kinds of bike industry folks. He tried to get back into pro level cycling with a team but got screwed again by Wordin and Co. Meanwhile, other friends and so-called managers managed to line their pockets at Greg’s expense. He finally sells the bike deal off to Trek in hopes they can revive it as a product line designed and endorsed by America’s greatest cycling champion. Then along comes this Texan on a team riding Trek branded bikes. Once the Texan wins the TdF a few times it seems the bikes of America’s greatest cycling champion are no longer branded LeMond, but Trek. The more the Texan wins the more rumors swirl around about doping — to the point many think he’s like OJ, guilty as hell but unconvicted. Trek treats the Texan like the cash-cow he’s become, indulging his every whim while LeMond gets little attention. His brand slows in sales and interest as Trek’s goes up with every TdF victory by the Texan. LeMond feels he’s getting screwed again. This is a guy who’s literally been screwed by a member of his own family though it’s still a secret at this time. The Teflon Texan tells LeMond to shut up about doping allegations, “or else” at the same time LeMond branded bike sales and interest from Trek seem to be slumping. LeMond doesn’t shut up but sees the more he talks the more his bike brand is affected and not just in the mind of the consumer. Trek tells him to shut up, “or else”. Meanwhile the Texan goes on to get richer and more famous despite the doping allegations that Greg feels are true but can’t yet prove. LeMond’s never been one to shut up and take the cash to my knowledge, whether it was selling a race or a bike company. Trek, like the Texan, seems to have a serious “don’t mess with me” attitude that borders on bullying. LeMond won’t be bullied. Who knows who will prevail in the lawsuit or arbitration? I hope LeMond prevails even if he fails to prove the Texan is a doper. I’ll most certainly never own another bike with Trek’s name on it after the way they’ve treated LeMond.

  50. Cozy Beehive

    Room service taco said : ” This has my vote for an article topic as well. Especially interested in who gets what salaries and payments from each entity, what % of Livestrong charitable contributions go to actual research, how the money gets doled out and to whom.”

    Dear Roomservice Taco,

    I have done what little few want to even imagine doing, that of analyzing the consolidated dollars from Livestrong’s financial statements for the past 4-5 years. You will find my detailed analysis on Cycling News forums : http://forum.cyclingnews.com/showthread.php?t=5425

    See you there.

  51. A Cady

    I’m curious if the author has considered revisiting this particular piece in light of the recent revelations of October, 2012. I’m not being facetious. With Armstrong’s tactics now laid bare and Lemond’s unwavering stance I find mind-boggling – disgust and admiration, respectively.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      A Cady: The revelations from USADA don’t really change anything. Fundamentally, LeMond’s suit against Trek was a business dispute that came about because of LeMond’s criticisms of Armstrong. The issue was never whether or not those charges were valid. The issue was that Trek told him to shut up and he didn’t. LeMond claimed that Trek didn’t support his brand as they should as retaliation due to his criticism of LeMond. The USADA “reasoned decision” doesn’t change that a bit. There’s nothing illegal about Trek supporting Armstrong and LeMond really didn’t conclusively show that Trek didn’t support his brand. Even if he had managed to show that they didn’t properly support his brand, that’s still not the same thing as not supporting his brand as retaliation for his criticism of Armstrong. That’s not to say that didn’t happen, just that there’s a difference between alleging it and proving it.

  52. Kelly

    Do you still believe this, Padraig?

    “If LeMond can impeach Armstrong and demonstrate a strong likelihood that he doped during his seven Tour de France wins, LeMond could win two things. First, he could show that in silencing LeMond and dropping his line, John Burke wasn’t acting in the best interest of the LeMond line. Second, by tearing down America’s most successful cyclist, LeMond will regain his rank as the best American cyclist.”

    Also, do you believe Betsy Andreu now?

    “Her affidavit also revealed Armstrong’s reaction to being told ex-cyclist Greg LeMond had criticised his links with Michele Ferrari: “Lance said: ‘I’m going to make one call to John Burke and f—— shut him up.’ I asked who John Burke was and was told he owned Trek, the bike company that sponsored Lance as well as made Greg LeMond’s bikes.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/lancearmstrong/9603254/What-the-USADA-doping-report-said-about-Lance-Armstrongs-entourage.html

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