Endgame

Endgame

There comes a point in most chess games where the outcome is essentially assured. Even though the victory has yet to take place by way of checkmate, there are so few pieces left on the board, so few choices left to the trailing player that each remaining move is but a formality. In signaling that he will not engage USADA in arbitration, Lance Armstrong has essentially conceded defeat in his protracted match against Travis Tygart.

Make no mistake, to view this case as anything other than a mano a mano battle of Tygart v. Armstrong requires a willful blindness to ego. The strategies employed by Armstrong’s legal team, which were rebuffed repeatedly for lacking any legal basis, seemed to coast on the idea that somehow the sheer fact that this was, after all, Lance Armstrong, would be enough to shut down the legal process. It wasn’t. And Tygart’s pursuit of the case has left many to wonder if maybe there weren’t more pressing fires.

While Armstrong has not yet been stripped of his wins, his decision not to pursue arbitration means that USADA can follow that course of action, unimpeded by Armstrong or his defenders. In his statement announcing his decision not to continue his defense Armstrong gains two small benefits. First, he gets the chance to play martyr, as evidenced by his “Enough is enough” quote from his announcement. He’ll receive plenty of sympathy from those who have been unswayed by the evidence against him. Second, he avoids what would be a truly bloody melee had he pursued the arbitration. The sure knowledge that some of his most loyal friends would have been pitted against him must have cut to the core.

But what of USADA? What have they gained?

“It’s a sad day for all of us who love sport and our athletic heroes,” said Tygart. “It’s yet another heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition.”

Tygart’s devotion to this case makes his claim that this is a sad day ring more hollow than a drum. He claims that the win-at-all costs culture has the ability to eclipse fair, safe and honest competition. In that regard, he’s right. And that conditional—”if left unchecked”—that checks and balances system, how well is that working?

It’s that part of the process that I believe is most broken. Armstrong isn’t the problem. It’s that the sport’s testing has been woefully inadequate. The UCI was so derelict in its duty that once EPO infiltrated the peloton riders were faced with the choice of either being pack fodder or cheats. It’s a hell of a choice and for those who find it so easy to condemn those who buckled to the coercion, sometimes explicit, always implicit, please let us know how life in a glass house is working out.

If any good is to come of this situation it is that the UCI may be exposed for efforts to quash one or more positive tests by the seven-time Tour de France winner. And while the worst of the UCI’s alleged questionable choices happened before Pat McQuaid took over as boss, the fact that he instigated the jurisdictional fight with USADA as regards the Armstrong case means he is equally complicit in any previous coverup by attempting to quash a thorough investigation. Exposing the UCI as a body unfit to police bicycle racing is quite possibly the only helpful thing that could come from this. At least then, if the UCI were dismantled and replaced by a new governing body, we might gain some fresh confidence—a confidence we currently lack—that racing might be properly policed.

Again, what have we gained? Doping is a present-tense problem. If Johan Bruyneel is actively managing a doping program for some of his riders, then he should be banned from the sport, but this outcome doesn’t yet assure that. And those doctors? Their names are tarnished enough that it seems unlikely a team would hire them, though it would surprise few if they turned up in, say, swimming. A ban for them seems warranted.

Once the procedure this announcement sets in motion has run its full course, here’s what the Tour de France results will look like:

1999: 1. Alex Zulle 2. Fernando Escartin 3. Laurent Dufaux
2000: 1. Jan Ullrich 2. Joseba Beloki 3. Christophe Moreau
2001: 1. Jan Ullrich 2. Joseba Beloki 3. Andrei Kivilev
2002:  1. Joseba Beloki 2. Raimondas Rumsas 3. Santiago Botero
2003: 1. Jan Ullrich 2. Alexandre Vinokourov 3. Tyler Hamilton
2004: 1. Andreas Klöden 2. Ivan Basso 3. Jan Ullrich
2005: 1. Ivan Basso 2. Jan Ullrich Francisco Mancebo 3. Alexandre Vinokourov

Take a moment to consider the names that were elevated in Armstrong’s absence. With the exception of Andrei Kivilev, during their careers each of those riders tested positive for doping, confessed to doping in the Festina scandal or were strongly implicated in Operacion Puerto. Be not confused: This is not a fix for one simple reason: It does nothing to solve the doping occurring today.

Whether we speak of the 2012 Tour de France, the Gran Fondo New York or masters track nationals, there is plenty of doping going on right now, some of which—particularly the events open to amateur athletes—that has the ability to turn people away from the sport altogether.

When I think of the biggest problems that cycling faces, Lance Armstrong doesn’t make the list. Even if you despise him, on balance, he’s done more good than bad. He isn’t, as Greg LeMond would have you think, “the greatest fraud.” Bernie Madoff’s victims would laugh that out of any court you choose. Hope can’t really be cheated and he gave a great many people hope when they might otherwise have had none. And the bike industry has plenty to be grateful for. The increase in new road cyclists that began in 1999 is still paying dividends. I worked for the only all-road publication in the U.S. in 1998 and it died an emaciated, withering death even before Marco Pantani rode down the Champs Elysees clad in the maillot jaune. Today there are four different road-specific print publications; I have no doubt their emergence would not have happened without Armstrong’s victories.

The public wants cycling that is free of doping, full stop. The challenge we face is one of leadership. Adjudicating the past won’t fix today and attempts to cover up the past, no matter by what method, undermine the moral platform from which a governing body operates. More testing is required and better testing is required. To achieve those, cycling must be better funded. Given that the majority of cycling’s funding comes from outside sources, a dearth of sponsorship won’t get us there. And the public execution of Lance Armstrong has ensured one thing: That tens of millions of dollars that could have gone to sponsoring racers and races will go to some sport that’s less embarrassing to be a part of. A cleaner sport. Say, football or baseball.

Thanks Travis, we’ll take it from here.

 

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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114 comments

  1. Francesco

    “Exposing the UCI as a body unfit to police bicycle racing is quite possibly the only helpful thing that could come from this.”

    That is a MASSIVE “only”. In fact, it’s been glazed over all too often. Do you think sponsors are more worried about a past cheat being exposed over a governing body that is rotten and chooses who they will hang up to dry vs who they will let past?

    If anything I think it shows that there are organisations out there, like USADA, who will not pander to anyone – no matter their status – in the pursuit of a clean sport.

    Surely that is more comforting than discouraging for potential sponsors?

  2. Sidamo

    So what should have been done? Not prosecute due to perceived bad publicity? Just sweep it under the carpet? That’s the cycling of old, and no different from the UCI’s approach in the EPO-days.

    I’m glad this day has come. It’s like a catharsis. Only the most slavish followers didn’t know he was on the juice, and anyone with more than a passing interest in the sport would have figured it out in short order.

    Cycling has been moving in a new direction for the last few years. Going after Armstrong when the evidence was there* is a powerful sign that the old days are over and you WILL be prosecuted if you transgress. It draws a clear line in the sand, between the old way of doing things and the new way. If burning the past leads to a few bump along the way, that’s preferable to leaving the wink/nod system lurking in the background. A small price to pay as far as I’m concerned.

    *And let’s not believe his bullshit either; the evidence IS there. LA is not the type to back down from a fight if he thinks he can win, and the recent court case gave him ample opportunity to go back to the courts post-arbitration if he thought it was unfair.

  3. Sidamo

    One more thing, he did do good things for cycling and even better things for the cancer community. That still does not entitle him to a get-out-of-jail-free card.

    And I agree with you re: the UCI. I would have liked to have seen Fat Pat and Hein get taken down as well.

  4. ken hillier

    …its gonna be politics next .
    and he (armstrong)will just keep the lie going ..biggest laugh of the whole thing for me today
    armstrong calling someone or something (usada) a bully ..

  5. randomactsofcycling

    From Sydney, Armstrong is winning the PR war. He has managed to be the only other cyclist, Cadel being the first I know of, to make the front page of the newspaper. Of course it’s because he’s tired of fighting, not because he’s a cheat. I know, I know, he’s never tested positive, blah, blah….give me a break.

    But I’m with Travis.

    Society will never defeat all of the ‘bad’ guys. Ever.
    But if I had the chance to take someone bad down in my little part of the World, I would.
    Every little victory counts. If we all gave up fighting because the opponent was too big and the fight seemed too hard, where would we be?

  6. RobbyCanuck

    Make no mistake Armstrong;s capitulation is an admission that he doped and conspired to dope from 1998 to 2010. ANY attempt by Armstrong to parlay his cynical “enough is enough” comment into some sort of rationalization is disengenuous.

    He had an opportunity to show the public he was clean and his failure to take up that opportunity is an abject failure of moral character on Armstrong’s part. Armstrong’s ego, hubris and arrogance remain his only legacy. The man was a fraud from square 1 and he should return every penny donated to his two Livestrong businesses based on his fraudulent promotion based in turn on his Tour de France “wins”

    The sooner this phoney fades from the cycling scene the sooner cycling gets better.

  7. lfx

    Please, will this somehow see an open courtroom or hearing.

    Somewhere that the accusations, evidence or lack thereof, extent of the alleged (now unchallenged except for Bruneel) ‘USPS Conspiracy’ can be aired and measured, sorting the wheat from the dross. This is bigger than Armstrong, and i’m almost glad to see the focus may come off him and back to the whole investigation if the case continues. Armstrong’s name on the list has clouded the issues, and i think people’s reactions to the case in general would be very different if it only included ferrari, JB and the rest. The closed hearings, suddenly cancelled investigations, verdicts are just fuelling the mess.

    The repercussions of a fully proven USPS case go well beyond a few happenings in the past. aside from JB and the doctors still involved in the sport, it is patently obvious that LA is a hero to many, and thus he is very relevant to the here and now as he colours many people’s perceptions of cycling.

    I’m all for a truth and reconciliation commission on this with full results amnesties if thats what it takes. get it out and get it over. I don’t care about changing the results, just get the truth out and move forward.

  8. Cyclo Cross Guide

    My concern is that because of his cheating ways over the years other team managers who are doing the right thing are going to struggle to get sponsors on board now. If he’d have done the right thing years ago quietly we wouldn’t be in this mess now. Yeah thanks a bunch Lance.

  9. DB

    Two things:

    First, everyone seems to forget is that this stuff happened a LONG TIME ago.

    And yes, friends, that matters in the legal sense. Only murder has no statute of limitations.

    Less serious crimes have to be prosecuted reasonably close to the time of the event. Usually not more than a handful of years.

    For darn good reason. Time can muddle lots of things; physical evidence, memories, records, loyalties, vendettas, etc. etc.

    Yet we are stripping a guy of victories in events that (some of) go back over decade?

    Second, and really more important, this guys truly deserved those victories.

    How do I know that?

    After 3 years of absence, at the age of 36, he places a drug-free 3rd in the tour.

    He was ridding at the absolute heights of human ability at 36!

    Whatever he did or did not take, he is without question the most gifted cyclist EVER.

  10. Hank

    If your only mission as an agency is to police doping and evidence falls in your lap of doping on a massive scale you pursue it. Unless that is you are corrupt or incompetent. Tygart is doing the job he was charged with and fulfilling the responsibility he accepted when he took the job. If McQuaid and his predecessor were as honest and responsible Armstrong would have been banned long ago.

    This is just the beginning -with Bruyneel, Marti and the questions raised about the UCI still in play. All this ‘it’s dragging up the past’, ‘Tygart is obsessed talk’ is pure rubbish. This is all about the most powerful players and the pervasive corruption in cycling today.

  11. Maryland

    My problem is this: Vaughters admits he doped…where is the investigation and the righteous indignation? Are all his results being stricken? Why is he still a DS? Why the lifetime ban for Lance and not Vaughters? Because Lance is a polarizing individual? Because Lance was better and he won? Why isn’t USADA more involved in U.S. professional sports? Because of player unions and collective bargaining agreements? Why didn’t they get involved in the Roger Clemens debacle? I want an equitable enforcement of the rules across all sports and all athletes…otherwise this is a farce and simply a witchhunt.

  12. e-RICHIE

    >>> The public wants cycling that is free of doping, full stop.
    >>> The challenge we face is one of leadership.

    Agreed atmo.

    And to that end, I think the last thing we need to read about, as well as the least important issue in this saga, is who takes the top step in races that no longer list Lance Armstrong as a winner.

  13. Owen

    Even if it will be bloody, part of me hopes Johan B will choose arbitration so we get to hear the testimony of Armstrong’s former teammates, who–I hope–can shed some light on the situation with the UCI. If the UCI is as corrupt and dirty as we’ve been lead to believe, all cycling events should be banned from the 2016 Olympics, no exceptions, and WADA should take over drug testing in pro cycling events immediately. This assumes we live in a perfect world, but I do believe it would go a long way to reestablishing some credibility for the sport.

    And to e-RICHIE, you’re right on, atmo!!

  14. Adam

    Padraig, I couldn’t agree more.
    I’ve just read a Rolling Stone article on the lack of prosecution of anybody mof any importance being prosecuted for the financial crimes committed in the last 10 years (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/ag-eric-holder-has-no-balls-20120815#ixzz23nUtvrZP).
    This paragraph rand so true to me about our misplaced priorities over things: “But the Holders of the world do not want to be creative when the targets are politically influential rich people. Instead, they use their creativity against Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, immigrant housekeepers, and guys who knock over liquor stores.”
    RadomFacrs, you write, “But if I had the chance to take someone bad down in my little part of the World, I would.
    Every little victory counts.” This comes off to me as moral absolutism, and I can’t help but think that if the actual big and important structural crimes were addressed more fully, there wouldn’t be as many little crimes leading to little victories.

  15. Randomactsofcycling

    @Adam: I agree with what you have said and my point is more that we all should do what we can, regardless of how insignificant our efforts may seem in the grand scheme.
    Mr Sachs refers to Leadership and to combine it with your point, if our Leaders, in whatever part of society, actually had a moral compass that was not swayed by the magnetic field of opinion polls, perhaps they would indeed display Leadership.

  16. Jesus from Cancun

    Padraig, I agree totally with you. And your last paragraph says it all.

    In a couple years we will see the consequences of this public execution. I don’t believe anything good will come out of it. I hope I am mistaken and cycling gets better after this, cleaner, with more sponsors jumping into a more transparent sport… I just don’t see it going that way. I really hope I’m wrong.

    So, now then… who won those tours?

    And I have to say again, I don’t like Armstrong at all. I did a few of the same races he did in the US, Italy and Mexico, I met him, and other than a big respect to his achievements, I never felt any simpathy for him.

    I understand that it is morally right to accuse and pursue him and his escorts. I can see the point in many of the opinions I have read, both ways. It’s just that… what a mess. Was it really fair to single one guy out when he was actually competing against a doped out field? Is this really what cycling needs to grow? Is this what we need as fans, as a cycling community and as a sport to have a better future? When are we going after Merckx, Longo, Coppi, Anquetil, Fignon? Has LeMond been the only clean TDF champion in history? Did this need to go this far?

    We will see.

  17. joregensen

    When I woke up to the NPR story this morning advising that there would be no contesting the accusations, I immediately thought of who would move up the podium positions. From memory I knew Jan would get a few victories, the fleshing out of the list here is a sad comment on that era of bicycle racing. The more unfortunate concept is that it is probably not over.

  18. Debbie in Alamo Heights

    Padraig, your peice is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, this case will be a disincentive to current and future cheats. But more importantly, you are wrong because your argument is based on the premise that bad thing that yield good results, on balance, are OK. Sure, we have more roadies today than we did in 1998, and Trek stayed out of bankruptcy court. But the means to that end are foul.

    I wonder whether if you would have reached the same conclusion had you written this piece as a prospective … Hmmm. Would it be OK for Johnny Junior to dope if his dope-fueled palmares will bring more people to the sport and establish a cancer resource call center?

  19. Duffy

    “But if I had the chance to take someone bad down in my little part of the World, I would”

    The problem, as I see it, is that LA isn’t a “bad guy.” His prosecution might be perceived as analogous to the American War on Drugs in which thousands of young, minority men who have few to little legitimate options given the socio-economic and racial barriers with which they are confronted “buy into” an illegitimate (from the purview of the state) system that will allow them some respite. It’s literally the drug game or no game. Eventually, these small time dealers and users are rounded up one by one and sent off to jail. Great. You and I feel safe because we know these “bad guys” are in jail. Meanwhile the system of structural inequality from which they were born lingers on. So long as there are dogs and ponies involved, it seems, there is little impetus to tear down the system, itself, because (continuing with the analogy) the capitalist system that creates such blatant structural inequality disproportionately among a single group of people (young minority males) allows the rest of us to sit pretty, ride fancy bikes, and shake our heads when we hear about all the “bad guys” incarcerated in overpopulated prisons.

    Going after LA is not equivalent to “changing the system” because he didn’t make or design said system; he was, rather, a very successful product of it. So long as that remains unacknowledged and the system, itself, is not irreparably altered (ie: torn down and rebuilt) the dog and pony show will simply continue.

  20. Kev

    “Tygart’s devotion to this case makes his claim that this is a sad day ring more hollow than a drum. He claims that the win-at-all costs culture has the ability to eclipse fair, safe and honest competition. In that regard, he’s right. And that conditional—”if left unchecked”—that checks and balances system, how well is that working?”

    The only person in this who is reflecting the win-at-all-costs culture here is Tygart himself. He comes off as a small-minded, petty, corrupt bureaucratic bully with a vendetta against someone who has done more for his sport than anyone in history.

    Do I want clean cycling? Absolutely. Armstrong never failed a test in his entire career, but Tygart just won’t stop. Who’s going to stop him? As Lance said yesterday, enough is enough.

  21. MCH

    It may (?) be the endgame, but I have a feeling that the game is far from over. Armstrong and his legal team made it clear that they don’t believe that USADA has the jurisdiction in this matter. These statements help to build LA’s martyrdom, but could also portend additional legal fights in other venues. Blood still may flow. As far as the UCI, I seriously doubt they’ll go down quietly either. Should be entertaining to watch. In the meantime, cycling will continue to suffer.

    One myth that I’d like to see killed off as a result of all of this, is the myth that “they all doped, therefore it was a level playing field”. As a result of the myth, many question the need for the investigations and prosecutions. The statement that, “the results would have been the same with or without doping”, is often used. The problem is that the myth is complete, absolute BS.
    1. Every human body responds differently to drugs. Therefore, those at the top who doped were the ones who were genetically predisposed to respond best to doping.
    2. Not every rider / team had access to the best illegal preparations.
    3. Some riders chose not to dope.
    The point here, is that one of the biggest obstacles to overcome in this fight is simple ambivalence. Many prefer to believe that doping isn’t a big deal, that it doesn’t change the results, that it’s not harmful, etc., etc.

    So, while I hope that it truely is the endgame, there is still so much to be done and, many obstacle to overcome. I’m still hopeful, but it’s really hard not to be cynical.

  22. Wsquared

    From what I am hearing and reading, not a whole lot has changed. Those who believe Armstrong is a fraud and a cheat feel vindicated. Those who believe he is innocent, don’t care if he doped, or that “it’s ancient history just move on” haven’t changed their opinions either.

    What I am hoping is that this particular mind numbing, rancorous, endless and often poisonous “LA the doper” discussion thread will gradually fade from the public forums. Yes, there is a real and important issue there, but the whole thing has taken on a life of its own and turned into a recreational blood sport for some participants who use it to vent their daily frustrations. Yes, doping is an issue that should be discussed, but I am sick and tired of this particular manifestation.

    I agree that the best antidote to doping is frequent and rigorous testing with stiff penalties. I support giving riders a second chance, but not a third, fourth and fifth. As it stands, cycling is way ahead of the big pro sports in the US in standards and enforcement and has been for a very long time. It rankles when a baseball fan dismisses cycling as a “dirty sport.” Warts and all, our sport is still light years ahead of theirs, but it will always be a work in progress. As JV pointed out in his article, the biggest reason EPO use went crazy in the 90′s was because testing to verify its actual use hadn’t been invented yet.

    I don’t think LAs announcement will make a wit of difference in PED use in amateur sporting events. That horse left the barn a long time ago. Juice in softball “beer leagues” has been around for decades. Testosterone is advertised, legal and more available than ever and HGH is not hard to get. Like pro sports, unless you test often in the off season, it’s easy for amateurs to build a solid base and then taper off before competition. And many amateur sports and events don’t test at all.

    It’s gotten to the point over the past year where, when I see grey hairs as old as me who have bodies cut like 30 year old sprinters go chugging by out on the road like the energizer bunny, I’m wondering what they are on. And if they are on something, it may be from their doctor. Which raises an interesting question for sportsman who don’t compete, “should I take PEDs that are banned in the pros but that I can get legally to improve my performance, speed recovery or turn back the clock?”

    Teach your children well.

  23. LS

    Well, seeing what the Tour de France results will look like after deleting Lance’s wins, I would say that you can continue deleting people for a while. Who is really clean?

  24. seven ever grateful

    I think I’ll zip up my Mellow Johnny Jersey, get on my bike, flex my thigh muscles I didnt have a few years back, ride up the little hill near my house and again dream I’m riding through frenzied crowds crushing in around me to to a mountaun top finish I hadn’t heard of before Lance and his fame took me there.

  25. Hank

    Maryland: As to Vaughters and the others, I expect sanctions will be announced. They cooperated so that probably got them some consideration but it should not get them a free pass. Floyd will be repaying every penny he collected for the Floyd fairness fund. So there will be consequences for all involved.

  26. peter lin

    Frankly, USADA looks like a freaking joke to me. They are wasting time, money and energy on something that isn’t going to measurably catch doping. I seriously doubt those doping are going to be scared by it. Only way I see it getting better is to have more random testing and much better testing. Without that, those doping aren’t going to “I could get caught.” Clearly, those doping think they can beat the system due to the poor testing.

    Tygart’s claim to superior morality is just complete BS. If he really wants to fix things, go fix UCI, invest more in testing, improve the tests and work with everyone in the cycling industry to clean things up. No one wins in this case. It’s just one ugly mess.

  27. Barry

    Padraig, I never thought I would see such an Omerta-ish article at RKP. The message is that it is better to have lots of money in the sport and let the big fish swim freely so long as they stay under the (PED) radar? I don’t see what your problem is with LA being chased down for his transgressions. Ullrich got suspended, Vaughters is not done with yet I think/hope and we have yet to see the body of evidence that LA ducked out on. It seems one of the big levers in this case was blood manipulation evident in the glorious comeback. Should that go unpunished?

    Tygart did his job. If you don’t like his job then hire fabiani to preach that USADA should be dismantled. But if you think that the US should not have a national WADA affiliate, then you should state that explicitly rather than complaining Tygart acted on evidence in front of him.

  28. Jack

    To me this demonstrates that USADA drug testing is useless/worthless and the USADA should be remade into something useful. Perhaps USADA should become the ceneter for new macarthy type hearings where anyone can make allegation and have those allegation considered fact. This is the first time an athlete is convicted without any postive test. So why test? It was clear that because the case is built entirely on testimony of those offered “deals” that armstrong by falling on his sword has given a gift to all those who might have otherwise been similarily punished for thier own admissions.

    It will be interesting to see how UCI responds (I am thinking they don’t).

  29. Mick

    Jeez…in what dream did Christophe Moreau NOT get implicated in the Festina Affair…then admit to doping…(?)
    Also…Who in there right minds is going to reassign the 7 Tour’s in question…
    The Title will be stripped but not reassigned…
    This will last for a yr or so (ala Riis)…then LA’s name will reappear as the winner…

  30. Steve

    None of the TDF podiums were clean. We must either throw out all the results or none of them. This was a witch hunt, not because LA was clean, but because he alone was targeted.

  31. hackintheback

    @Maryland: the penalties will differ for Lance because he’s not being penalized for doping (which would carry a 2 year ban). You’ve fallen victim to the idea that this was about Lance failing a test, when in reality it has little to nothing to do with that.

    He and the 4 other named defendants are being penalized for the 1) possession of controlled substances, 2) trafficking of controlled substances, 3) administration or attempted administration of those controlled substances, and 4) covering it up.

    Essentially, he’s charged with overseeing a systematic doping program and functioning as a drug dealer (recall that he was a member of USPS team management).

    Penalties for such an offense are a minimum of 4 years with a maximum penalty of a lifetime ban. USADA felt that the doping offenses were so egregious that it warranted lifetime bans for the 5 named defendants. Those charges could be contested via arbitration (Bruyneel & Marti went that route), but if you did not contest you were accepting that lifetime ban (del Moral, Ferrari, and now Lance).

  32. Chris

    “With the exception of Christophe Moreau and Andrei Kivilev, each of those riders tested positive for doping”

    HUH??? Check your facts. Moreau was suspended. Tested positive for steroids at the 98 Criterium International, admitted to EPO use, and was suspended for 6 months.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Chris and Mick: I moved through my comments regarding the Tour podium a bit too quickly; my meaning was that Moreau, surprisingly, stayed clear of doping allegations during the Armstrong reign. You’re right that he wasn’t without a doping past.

  33. Rod Diaz

    I am disappointed at Padraig’s conclusions that bad publicity is bad for sport, and that is paramount over fairness. What is the difference between this and the old UCI (or other sports agencies previous to independent testing) position that doping wasn’t a problem, but being caught doping was?

    But hey, paraphrasing the “tens of millions of dollars” better used to promote races and attract sponsors, we can start by eliminating doping tests and the biopassport. That would save some dough in costs, and I guarantee you that if you don’t test for doping you would get zero bad publicity from it. Lets go back and call it suspensions for health reasons. And maybe make the omerta part of the rider contracts, like the UCI has done with its antidoping and biopassport personnel. If you confess or “rat” someone out, you don’t get paid.

    We do need better leadership, and we need better antidoping systems. But putting the image of the sport above fairness transforms this into the WWE. I would argue that having Lance or another “hero” or famous name winning any race is better than a no-name guy with limited international appeal, like Hesjedal. Maybe, in the name of the image of cycling and to attract sponsors, all the races should be won by the already famous and rich. Or, failing that, races should be rigged to favour the local teams and riders. Imagine how happy and how much great press would have come if Cavendish had won in London! That would reach the front pages of the newspaper and attract the much needed funding, no?

    The reality is that cycling’s leadership (and most of us fans) have let it devolve into this mess. I would rather have a smaller, credible sport than needing to be skeptic and cynical every time someone wins a race. The current system, especially the UCI, have dug the sport into a big manure hole. Trying to get the sport out of this while keeping everyone smelling like a rose is unfeasible.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Thanks everyone for your passionate comments. I respect that not everyone agrees with the conclusions I’ve drawn. However, I’m always dismayed when a conclusion I didn’t draw is attributed to me. Case in point: Rod Diaz’ comment that I have concluded bad publicity is paramount over fairness. I’ve said nothing of the sort.

      Anyone who concludes that I would argue for anything other than clean sport really hasn’t been paying attention and does a disservice to the conversation.

  34. todd k

    +1 with what e-Richie says above regarding who takes the top step of the podium being the least relevant item of this entire saga.

    Padraig, you say: “Exposing the UCI as a body unfit to police bicycle racing is quite possibly the only helpful thing that could come from this. At least then, if the UCI were dismantled and replaced by a new governing body, we might gain some fresh confidence—a confidence we currently lack—that racing might be properly policed.”

    That is the underlying reason why USADA must follow their mandate regardless who the suspect is in question. I would argue that this is even more essential when those charges include conspiracy.

    If they don’t follow their mandate then we simply have ungovernable sport in which rules have no meaning. Competitive cycling would cease any appearance as sport and become only farce.

    And hey, if folks prefer farce over sport then lobby to do as Tygart says “If people don’t think it is important and we shouldn’t do our job, then shut us down.”

  35. Big Mikey

    The question isn’t whether Lance doped; the evidence, both direct and circumstantial will prove that he did.

    The question, instead, is whether USADA/WADA needed to publicly pursue LA and the rest of the gang, for a public lynching. I think it was a waste of money and resources to chase retirees from the sport. You want to chase current cheaters, have at it, but this reeks of someone’s political agenda. The rest of the TdF podium is filled with dopers, and nothing is gained by taking LA’s name away.

    Finally, this won’t do much to change the way doping is done in sports. Any adjustments have already been made. There will always be PED in sports, especially cycling.

  36. SteveP

    This is the hangover following the party.

    Parties are usually the memorable part and that’s what I generally prefer, but I’m betting this cycling hangover will be the lasting moment this time around.

  37. Souleur

    Tygart and the USADA…yawn….has done nothing, absolutely nothing to the contribution of cleaning up anything. Nothing to serve any sense of justice. And tomorrow, I couldn’t care less if Tygart had a job or not.

    Tomorrow, we ride on, Lance will still be Lance, those of us in favor..he will continue to be in favor. For those who disagree, will disagree.

    This whole spectacle has been nothing more, nothing less than a cheap date on MTV’s jersey shore. Sure, he did it, nearly everyone would conclude that. So did Ullrich, Basso, Beloki, et al. Are they next in line for the same microscopic analysis? Or oh…I thought Basso has been, well, convicted and now rewarded???

    Confusing..as usual

  38. Just a cynic observer

    OK, so now the majority who were hoping for this are happy. Maybe not satisfied, because there might not be a public disclosure of the arguments against Armstrong and *we all wanted to hear the details*.

    Lance the cheater, the bully, the guy we all wanted crucified put his arms down. He won’t fight anymore. We take it as an admission of guilt, and all the people who have spoken and written opinions against him are happy. They were right, after all. Oh, great, WE WON, is what they say.

    Right?

    I guess they won’t mind when they are pedaling on the road, and they are attacked by a bunch of rednecks who throw shit at them as they drive past and yell “doper!”
    They will probably not mind when the annual ride they used to do gets suspended for lack of sponsorship. They won’t mind when their cat IV team disappears because there are no more new riders joining in and the sponsor walked out.

    They won’t mind when they tell their friends that they are cyclists and they will be given this look, as if they had said they had fun at woodstock back in the day. They won’t mind at all that the general public, all the Freds who drive in the same roads they ride, have lost all respect for anyone who rides a bike.

    All these Freds who used to see a cyclist on the road and think of that guy who won the biggest bike race in the world 7 times, and maybe give you a few more inches because cycling sounded to them like cool and impressive, they will probably not give you the same room now after they hear in the news that this American cyclist has embarrassed his sport because he cheated his way to win.

    The media and the general public don’t care to understand the complexity of doping in cycling and all the good that is done when you strip winners of their titles. All they will know is that cyclists cheat. Cycling won’t be cool anymore. And companies don’t sponsor un-cool activities.

    I hope the haters are happy now. We all should. The truth is out, evil never wins. This is what we all wanted, right?
    Yeah, now let’s go out there and ride

  39. Fausto's Schnauzer

    Nice piece. ‘cept Greg didn’t surmise that in light of his association with Dr. Ferrari Lance could be the “greatest fraud,” Greg said that Lance could be the “greatest sporting fraud.” Big difference. Yeah, it pales in comparison to Madoff, but what sporting figure duped the world more than Lance?

  40. Picchio

    A good citizen that he is, by foregoing arbitration, LA saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. Dopers’ apologists often complain about the government wasting money on these prosecutions. Thanks to LA, this argument does not apply.

  41. Wsquared

    Not sure why, but this whole thing keeps reminding me of the opening scene with the apes in “2001 Space Odyssey.”

  42. Heinz Doofenshmirtz

    You guys are crazy if you think that there is not dooping in cycling now, or in any other sport for that matter – track & field, swimming, football, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, etc, it is just more sophisticated. Funny someone said the “EPO days” dude what are you smoking – In my opinion nearly everyone still does that stuff and others stuff now, just under the limit for what is the maximum level, 700 testosteron, 50% hemotocrit, etc, or will not show up on a drug test, even many in ametuer masters racing where money is not involved. http://www.muscleweek.com/is-usain-bolt-on-steroids

  43. the editor

    There goes Patrick again, if you draw logical conclusions to his words then you aren’t helping the conversation. Such journalism, Patrick!!!!!

    Lance is a cheat. Period. Done. Patrick is someone who didn’t think doping was going on in the amateur ranks – it’s right there in his own words! Now we have two of four people busted in a gran fondo!!!!! Any statistician will tell you cycling has a big, big problem.

    You want to clean up the sport- start at the top and that is what USADA is supposed to do – christ, people, Lance’s agent helped make their rules!!!!!

    Anyone want to argue Lance didn’t dope? If not, then it’s all smoke and noise.

  44. Ralph

    This is an excellent article and the statement about Tygart’s “sad day” comment if very important. This was just a personal obsession with Tygart that has nothing to do with sports in general. Tygart should be stripped of his title.

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  46. Rod Diaz

    Padraing,

    I apologize for failing to interpret the original entry properly. Upon a second (and third) read, plus your comment, I think we have more in common than apart.

    The source for me, in all this, is not LA. I don’t care that much about his victories in the sense that the whole era is tainted. I thoroughly support the idea of prosecuting the doping enablers, and to disclose how it is possible to dope for so long undetected. As such, the onus is on the UCI and WADA. We seem to agree on those points.

    Are the tests terribly insufficient? Can the gaps be filled by the biopassport? Should the UCI completely leave antidoping to a third party to avoid conflicts of interest (this is the part that makes me irate – of course the champion of the people is untouchable, who’d kill the goose of the golden eggs?)? Has the UCI colluded to hide previous positive tests, like it allegedly wanted to do with Contador’s clebuterol positive?

    All these things deserve an answer. Adjudicating the past doesn’t fix the future, but leaving past transgressors unpunished undermines the credibility of the sport. If it is unfair to “cascade” the wins to Ulrich because he doped, it is also unfair to let Armstrong keep them for the same reason. But who “won” doesn’t matter that much – I could argue that Pantani “won” the 1999 Giro before being stopped for a health check with an Hct. of 52. But what we remember is that it was all screwed up. Keeping a cheater’s name in the win column legitimizes doping. Strike it, and lets move on to solve this.

  47. punkture

    Armstrong has admitted he is guilty of doping. This apparent megalomaniac who thinks he is bigger than the sport and for years has got away with things most others couldn’t because of the money he attracted to the sport has finally got his moral comeuppance and possible financial reckoning as he relinquishes his titles and pays back the prize money that he stole from other riders.

    This new money that he attracted to the sportnow reads as Armstrong effectively encouraging and devising modern cycling as an utterly corrupt, amoral sport (Hein and the UCI…) which consequently allowed doping to go so unchecked that on occasion it has done so much damage as to result in deaths (Pantani, Vandenbroucke etc etc), has lost as many sponsors as it gained (T Mobile, Festina etc) and crushed the dreams of many sportsmen who were unfairly cheated.

    Armstrong was not the cause but he sure was a vehicle that not only actively and publicly encouraged doping (brooking no dissent anywhere by bullying the press corps and entire peloton e.g chasing down Simeoni, apparently [according to these allegations] supplying his team with EPO etc). Vaughters has dedicated a large chunk of his life to actively fighting doping so there is little or no outrage as he has atoned for his transgressions so to speak. That is no double standard. Armstrong has not once spoken out against doping at all, even if it had nothing to do with him.

    Frankly Padraig, shame on you for saying that Lance Armstrong has done more good than bad for the sport on the day he admits that he doped his entire career (because thats what he has done despite his calculated words and action). I usually read your blog because it is a bastion of good, common sense and even handed, relatively unbiased journalism. This article stinks.

    Weak

  48. randomactsofcycling

    Wow, how about we not get fixated on the last couple of paragraphs but we read the entire post?

    And to speak of the future, for a change, I don’t think potential Sponsors are going to take much notice of this. It all comes down to investment and return. Look at Nike: it’s my understanding that they dropped Marion Jones like a hot potato. She has never tested positive.
    Yet Nike are standing by Lance. Is it because he is still making them lots of money? Selling lots of yellow stuff?
    Dollars and cents, people. It’s what turns the World.

  49. The_D

    Does any good come of this? Well… if by good you mean a reduction in the price of TdF videos from the early 2000′s, then probably. I guess that’s worth WADA getting final say over who has final say.

    Other than that, I cannot get very worked up about what is fundamentally withdrawal of a demurrer rather than the uncovering of any new material evidence. The merits have not developed one iota . Frankly, the lack of fundamental protections such as preservation of evidence, limitations periods, and double jeopardy have reduced this to nothing more than a jurisdictional turf war within a poorly organized sport.

    The substance of this investigation has been the subject of at least two other investigations and two other private actions. While none were decided on the merits, they certainly each justified further investigation and discovery, which, if fruitful, would have justified prosecution to conclusion. The key evidence is no different than it was two years ago, other than that potential witnesses memories are that much worse.

    Is there some evidence against him? Should a reasonable person harbor suspicions about him? Absolutely. But other than innuendo, what establishes the ’99 sample as LA’s? Other than the accusers’ conclusions, do we have much to support the alleged “new evidence” of results of the ’09 and ’10 tests? What do we make of the lack of positives by LA in the interim, particularly in light of the multiple positives by vanquished competitors in that same span? What do we make of the fact that nearly all of the eyewitness testimony will come from people who were granted immunity in exchange for testimony? Has anything happened recently that would make any of us more likely to convict?

    Look, LA is no saint. He’s been a bit of jerk toward people who challenged him. His single-minded focus on the most visible race made him seem like he was always playing to the broader crowd than to our insular little cycling world. He probably was. I don’t know if this was for laudable reasons (cancer foundation) or not (fame, of itself). I suspect it’s a bit of both. But none of that makes him more likely to have engaged in the very specific acts on which he is, once again, accused.

    He hasn’t been able to leverage his now seven-year-old sporting triumphs into new direct endorsements for years. He’s defended repeated accusations for the past eight years. He’s got a foundation, a young family, and amateur sporting goals ahead of him. Is it really so hard to believe that LA is “done” with protecting past glories from tarnish?

  50. armybikerider

    If anyone thinks that this absurd mess will deter future drug users, or be a “disincentive” to use PEDS for future athletes, IMHO they are sadly mistaken. Did the death of Tom Simpson on Ventoux in 1967 change anything?

  51. Eric

    e-RICHIE says “The public wants cycling that is free of doping, full stop.” What public? Other racers or fans? What fans? Those in the USA or Europe? I’ve tried to keep up but I see the hysteria coming from those in the US.

    Also, what does “atmo” mean?

  52. Harold Woodley

    “…he should return every penny donated to his two Livestrong businesses based on his fraudulent promotion based in turn on his Tour de France “wins”…” This is brilliant; let’s fuck over people with cancer more. To whoever wrote this (I don’t care enough about you to check), I hope your knee jerked high enough to smash you in the face.

  53. westridge

    If this brings us a bit closer to the truth, there is some good in it. It should be taken in context with that period of bike racing, when doping was pretty much a requirement. And yes, it causes embarrassment, shame, anger, and monetary loss. But it works out best in the long run. Success in the future depends upon understanding and correcting mistakes in the past.

  54. punkture

    No, Ulrich has already been banned.

    This case is not just about Armstrong. His admittedly brilliant PR and lawyers have made it seem so to the more casual viewer but this case is also about Bruyneel, Del Moral, Ferrari, Celaya and Marti who are all involved in cycling today. Armstrong was included because he was such an obvious and apparently major part of the incriminating evidence that was quoted to have stretched up to 3 years ago. So actually pretty recent. Travis Tygart has done his job well, nothing more. He is prosecuting drugs cheats with the available evidence. This is much more than about Armstrong

  55. dwar

    A coworker who knows I ride came up to me today and summed the whole thing up.

    He told me…..”What a pathetic little sport. And I don’t mean Armstrong.”

  56. Lachlan

    I don’t have any particular love of the UCI – and like probably anyone else reading this blog, long since made the educated guess that Lance was far form clean – but I do find it odd that the UCI is constantly blamed for drugs testing that didn’t catch the cheats. Cycling if anything has surely been at the forefront of pursuing more agressive, newer procedures, from EPO tests to blood testing to bio-passport… those may not have been perfect, but they were vanguard actions are still today no where near being implemented in many other sports (including those with more money and public visibility). Now those were not all UCI efforts of course. Nor should they have been – As the detractors are keen to say they UCI should not govern testing by itself. But then, given that reality, we cant’ say on the one hand that the UCI cant be trusted because of self interest – hence why WADA and national agencies also test/control testing, while at the same time saying that the UCI (and not the others) are solely culpable for the testing protocols having let dopers get away with it.

    Regardless of who you like or don’t, believe or doubt, it just doesn’t make any logical sense.

    However, if someone can finally bring the proof that the UCI somehow circumnavigated the lab/wada protocols and covered up a positive test – that is a whole different story….

  57. Lachlan

    But regarding the Armstrong case… it really should have happened years ago. Shame on all involved that it did not.

    Ultimately though, making sure cheats know they can be caught years down the line is no bad thing.

    But equally it makes USADA look like they dint / couldn’t do their job in the past and now have some sort of testosterone-fueled (I’m not saying synthetic or not!) personal grudge match to play out.

  58. e-RICHIE

    @ Eric says:
    August 24, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    +++++

    Hey Eric – those were Patrick’s words, not mine. I simply pasted them in and added my point of view atmo.

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  60. Travis

    I think USADA and WADA must for the sake of our great sport go through the record books and interviews etc. from cycling’s past and retroactively, and in some case posthumously ban and strips titles all who are suspected of doping. I mean even Eddy said it couldn’t be done on bread and water. Banned, stripped! Next…. And so on and so forth. USADA and WADA et al, need to apply their efforts to cleanup sport…great…go do it, didn’t the tea owner manager of Garmin, the great Jonathan Vaughters just admit doping publicly…boom stripped and banned…good by Garmin Barracuda. I’ve no love for Lance, but for the love, be just and be swift in rooting out cheats. 10 years ago is well…10 years ago. Meanwhile I will just get shelled by a bunch of 50 yer olds who take testosterone and HGH for low hormones, or get caught for “doping” because I took a steroid from from my dentist for dental work and then rode my bike. I truly think congress needs to up the anti and get USADA hunting soccer players, American football, baseball, basketball, etc. I bet Bonds wouldn’t have walked out of that trial unscathed.

  61. Peter Kelley

    Armstrong didn’t introduce PEDs to cycling. They were waiting for him when he arrived. The anti doping authorities are tilting at windmills if they think they can clean up the sport by tearing down its icons. It’s like trying to cure acne by popping zits.

    Practically the entire peloton is on dope, and USADA is trying to crucify them one at a time. It’s dumb. Why is Lance any different than any other rider? Because he had the audacity to try to achieve more and different kinds of success?

    Professional sport will NEVER be clean. It’s in our DNA to win at all costs. We should turn our efforts to keeping the athletes safe and healthy. Hell – I’d take my chances with cycling PEDs before I put on a football helmet and subjected myself to multiple sun concussive head trauma.

  62. NZlander

    After reading about this from tons of sources and going through hundreths of comments and opinions, I still don’t get it.

    It is as crazy as if the Belgian antidoping agency went after Eddy Merckx and tried to remove his wins. Or as if the Kazaks went after Vinokourov. Or the French after Bernard Hinault.

    As much as it might be “the right thing” and “justice has been done”, it sounds simply stupid.

  63. Jesus from Cancun

    Now that I think about it, Lance’s biggest mistake was to not apply for Spanish citizenship while he lived in Girona.

    The Spanish defend their riders with knighty courage. Had he been Spanish, this would have never happened.

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  65. Ralph

    Some very intelligent comments here that USADA and others should pay close attention to. I especially like the comment about Lance arriving with PEDs already well established. Many years ago, I got into an argument with that writer for the London Times who was after Armstrong. His argument was based on Lance beating guys who were guilty of doping. There are good arguments against that, but what I thought most important was that if there were all doping, then it was a level field. I believe that Armstrong was doping and riding in a level playing field. Given that level playing field, his accomplishments were/are fantastic. He did far more than just dope. He worked hard and sacrificed a great deal to achieve what he did. He deserves praise and what he really deserves is for obsessive fanatics like Tygart to do the right thing. Attack the whole sport and everyone in it. There is no one to turn Armstrong’s titles over to. They all “cheated.” After Tygart cleans up cycling, he can go after American football, baseball, and other sports. Unfortunately, he has neither the testicles nor the money and power to do that. The team owners would crush him like the gnat he is.

  66. Glenn

    I had learned in the past that there is no level playing ground when it came to PED’s. PED’s act differently on the indiviual taking them, so one person may get a better “boost” than another. It also depends on who and how the drugs are administered.
    There were also many in the peloton that were not taking PED’s and many of these, especially the ones who spoke out against PED’s, were shunned upon by those who wanted to keep omerta.

    I find it odd now that I hear aguments that if the boss was taking them, it was only because he was playing on a level playing field. Prior to this, he/it was because of superior training methods and just more dedication.
    The UCI etc.. opened up Pandora’s box years ago by ignoring the problem. The monster became too big to fight. Too much money, reputations, ego’s on the line to clean it up. There were people who spoke up and were then threatened, sued etc.
    People shut there mouths when that happens. Those people did not want to risk their careers or lose a ton of money and/or did not have the power/money to defend or prove themselves.
    Everyone saw the problem, especially starting in the early to mid 1990′s, with riders previously not noticed become GC contenders.

    Funny, I listened to a radio show yesterday which the question was “do you feel Lance’s reputation is now damaged”
    Many people called in and said that he was a hero and that since his drug tests came back negative, then he remains a hero. Have those people seen the drug test results. Neither have I, but I suppose the evidense will eventually come out. Some callers evenmentioned the “level playing field” and that who cares if he took the PED’s, everyon did it.
    Wow, I guess with arguments like that, those people should tell there kids to cheat in school, steal et.. as long as you don’t get caught and because hey, alot of people do it.

  67. Ralph

    Two things, first Mr.Glenn, people react differently to training regimens. People eat different foods and react differently to them. Certainly, people react differently to PEDs, but when everyone is using them to gain competitive advantage, how can you single out one, especially the one who wins, and only punish him. Your argument is fallow.

    Second, this is one of those two wrongs don’t make a right cases. Tygart is wrong, really wrong. Note this from Miguel Indurain: ‘Indurain also calls the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s case against Armstrong “strange,” claiming its pursuit of the American was “without scruples.”‘

    You, Mr. Glenn, have no proof that Armstrong cheated.

  68. Glenn

    Your’re quite funny Mr Ralph. I love the “Mr”
    I did not say I had proof. Did I? Read again. I indicated that the evidenzse would most likely come out.
    So you, as I said, no level-playing field then, correct?
    I love the work fallow too. Did I make an argument, challenge? That word fallow. I guess you mean false and hollow? How so?
    I also did not indicate that EVERYONE was taking PED’s now did I?
    Do you know that? where is your proof?
    I singled out one person, well, because, what who was the article referring too? Who’s picture is at the top of the article? Who’s name is first noted in the article? I was commenting on the story, What story were you referring to?
    I am both glad and dissapointed for all the cyclists and other sports pros when I hear of doping being invloved with their careers. It seem though that when LA is mentioned, people go into a frenzy. Why? He is just another cyclist. I don’t get it. Let the case be proved. LA should have gone into arbitration if he wanted his name cleared. I don’t buy the excuse that he was just tired of it. After the case prior to the latest, LA indicated that he would not challenge any other case against him. Then this one came along and he fired up again. Good on him. What happened then? Was he worried of the cival suits that I imagine would surely be brought against him, especially by all the people that he threatened and sued himself.
    Many people like yoursself Mr.Ralph seem to think that everyone is picking on LA. How so. He is just the biggest name because of the 7 TDF’s. If he had only won one TDF or two or even three, would it be different. Why are people so offended when LA is mentioned with PED’s but when it’s another athelete, everybody yells cheat, doper, ban him for life. I do feel sorry for LA in some way because he is/was caught up in the same system that has allowed other cyclist to dope. It really is not that difficult you kmow. It’s not the testing, it’s the method(s) of testing, thresholds etc..
    Let’s wait and see what happens, the evidense will come out, then we will all see. I was wishing for years the LA was innocent. I’ve followed cycling since the early 1980′s and when the 1990′s came along, much changed, everyone knew.
    Still though, why is it good when other cyclists are accused but when LA is accused, people and yes I will say this, Americans get up in arms?

  69. Paul

    I could not care less about Armstrong, first-class a-hole and 0-time winner of le Tour. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I hope they don’t retroactively adjust the podium, better to just say “no winner”.

    Looking forward to Bruyneel’s comeuppance.

  70. Ralph

    Tedious at best, but here goes.

    He is just another cyclist. Really? Really? Just another cyclist? Hah. But then why?

    He is just the biggest name because of the 7 TDF’s. Oh. Just another cyclist?

    why is it good when other cyclists are accused but when LA is accused, No one is saying this. Other cyclists have been PROVEN to have cheated. I said that Tygart should investigate all cyclists and prove who cheated. He hasn’t proven anything with respect to Armstrong.

    that everyone is picking on LA. No, the UCI isn’t picking on Armstrong and Nike and quite a few of his supporters are doing just that—supporting him. Not everyone is picking on Armstrong. And what the USADA is doing is not “picking,” it’s persecuting—obsessively.

    When you stand up and support investigations into MLB, NFL, all cyclists, Usain Bolt and all track and field, then … well, who knows, Mr. Glenn…

    You can respond, but I am done. I am sure that I would not like Lance Armstrong personally, but he really has accomplished a great deal in his life and I am willing to bet, more than you or me. Tygart persecution of him is unfortunate and not good for any sport unless he really follows up on it.

  71. Glenn

    tedious :)
    The proof though, was offered to LA if he had chosen arbitration. Please wait for the evidense to play out. That “Mr” again!
    The UCI. Oh boy the UCI. What can be said about them.
    Sure LA has accomplished alot. Again, I was only commenting on the article but you seem to take it personally. I di not mean to offen you. Why do people lurk and wait to pounce on anybody that does not agree with them. I don’t get it.
    If/when the evidense comes out, however the “verdict” we’ll all know, correct?
    I just cannot understand why all the witnesses that the USADA has (OK I don’t know who the witnesses are) would be lying just to save themselves or have some vendetta on LA. Nike etc.. supports him because of $$. His friends support him because they are his friends right?
    When I stand up? Yes, I support ALL investigations into ALL sports figures, always have, always will. I never said that I did not. Some of the other cyclists I loved to watch competing were caught for doping. I almost expected many of the riders at the top during the 1990′s-early 2000′s to be nabbed. I thought oh well, nothing to do with me. I did not take it personally. I still watched cycling though.
    I really hope that yes, the USADA follows up on this. I guess we’ll wait for them to finish with Johan Bruyneel, since he is challenging, for the evidense to be aired. If the evidense is crap, I will send you an appology for offending you Mr Ralph

  72. Alex TC

    So, at the very bottom Tygart had USADA trading a DOZEN proven/confessed/caught dopers for ONE that was never proved/confessed/caught. That’s some way of cleaning up cycling. I must be stupid to really miss the point here, trying hard as I am.

    Reminds me of a certain landlord once imploding the entire building to fix a leaking toilet on the 17th floor. Really.

  73. randomactsofcycling

    OK, something a lot of people are forgetting (and Armstrong’s Lawyers are doing a great job to avoid addressing) is that Armstrong is not being banned for merely taking PEDs, but for being a co-conspirator in a PED ring. Sourcing/supplying is a lot different to just taking the stuff.
    And all of these people who for so many years have said that we shouldn’t just punish the Users, but the Doctors and Coaches and Soigneurs etc…. well guess what, Armstrong is also one of those. He is a Drug Dealer
    USADA are not stupid. They would have gone over this 100 times. No one else has made it stick, but more importantly no-one else has gone at it from more than one angle. The evidence will come out if Bruyneel continues to Arbitration. What’s a bet he quietly drops his opposition to the charges and accepts a ban?
    So, the reason “USADA trading a DOZEN proven/confessed/caught dopers for ONE that was never proved/confessed/caught” (have you seen the proof against the DOZEN?) is akin to closing down the Importer of the illicit drugs rather than just locking up the users. What would you prefer: cut the snake off at the tail or closer to the head?
    Sorry Padraig that this has gone so far off topic, regarding your excellent Post. This guy is such a polarising figure!

  74. Alex TC

    randomactsofcycling,

    no I have not (yet) seen any proof against the dozen. But then I have not (yet) seen the proof against Lance either. Has anyone? Did I miss something or we´re just seeing re-cycled accusations plus a lot of hysteria and polarized opinions? I´m speculating that USADA pressed them (whoever they are) harder than Lance so they´d sing in case this went to arbitration or whatever. Lance knows that, of course USADA is solid. If he should go down, and I´m OK about that, I´d rather it was based on harder, undeniable proof. Just that.

    In all honesty I´m not a “Lance lover”, but I haven´t changed my mind much about him. To me he´s neither a saint nor the son of the devil. If he somehow made everyone take stuff, covered for everyone, bough/bribed the rest, bullyed the peloton, whatever… These guys would do it all the same I´m sure. They always have. So it´s still a dozen for one.

    And let´s not forget: they got their share while the Lance train was in full steam. For almost a decade everyone made lots of money, got a lot of recognition, won a lot, partied a lot, sold a lot of bikes, soft goods. Everyone got a lot of fun, huge TV revenues, millions of fans, packed races, lined roads, trips, magazines, everything. Back then it was “thanks Lance”, now it´s “f*#ck Lance”. The snakecharmer, the bully, the cheat, the dope, The Head. IMHO they´re giving him too much credit in both instances.

    I think it´d be fair to bring everyone down but since it´s impossible they thought nailing Lance would be easier and perhaps set a huge example. I don´t agree, and find it quite naive to think that cycling will be cleaner once Lance is dust. But we´ll see that, and we´ll see about the price paid X return to the sport. Everything is speculation at this point. I´m keeping my fingers crossed, honestly, but I´m not very hopeful in face of the mess made so far.

    To finish my contribution to Padraig´s post and to this debate, I may get flack for saying that but in the end he´s the only one not willing to blow the whistle in return for anything. He sure ain´t doing this but for himself, but still. So far not a name, not a fact, nothing. For the haters that´s another reason to hate him and I understand, really do. But me, I respect him for that, say whatever you want. That´s a guy who can take some serious pressure and call it to himself.

    That´s my opinion.

  75. Ralph

    Mr. Glenn, I said I was done but I couldn’t ignore this statement:

    Why do people lurk and wait to pounce on anybody that does not agree with them. I don’t get it.”

    You have a way of saying things that are very offensive and that carry all these overtones. You don’t get it, because you are making it up. For you information, I do not “lurk” or pounce on anything. Disagreeing with someone is a fairly legitimate behavior. It’s too bad that you feel everybody should agree with you, that everything you say is some sort of gospel.

    Oh well…

  76. Travis

    I think we need USADA to go after all the bankers who crashed the economy next. Since the federal government couldn’t convict LA and it seems they have no interest in prosecuting the bankers at all, perhaps if we just give USADA ten or so years they will retroactively get like one bad guy. Maybe it will be Madoff or something. But I’m sure it won’t happen because in tenders they will be convicting and stripping Cadel or Wiggo/froome in the years.

  77. Harold Woodley

    I was formulating a post to address some of the more ridiculous (not to mention pretentious) comments here when I remembered an old truism; someone who has arrived at an irrational opinion will rarely if ever be swayed by a rational argument. Thank you RKP for yet another thoughtful article.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I respect that not everyone agrees with me or with the other commenters. Despite the number of new commenters and the strong emotions this topic stirs up, I’d like to thank everyone for keeping the opinions civil. That you can disagree without resorting to idiotic drivel means a lot, not just to me, but to a great many readers who don’t even comment. Without you, this blog would be noticeably less interesting.

      Thank you.

  78. James

    You asked the question “What have they gained?”
    The answer is simple. The point was made to every American Olympic athlete who is thinking of doping that “EVEN LANCE GOT CAUGHT. SO, HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR ODDS FOR GETTING AWAY WITH IT NOW!?!?
    Surely you can see value in that?! Consider the guy considering doping for the first time.

    This article brings up some excellent points, but misses on some as well.
    How do you know what level of devotion Tygart had for this case? Did Lance tell you? Tygart was doing his job. USADA’s job is not to fix all of cycling. It exists to police US athletes (read their mission statement on their website)… even the sanctimonious famous ones. They did the very thing they were tasked to do. Nothing else. If you don’t like that, or feel that they should have made exceptions then that is a completely different discussion about whether they should exist at all.

    Lance cheated and those in the Business are scared of loosing their jobs or sponsorship dollars. That is such bullshit. If the fans tune into cycling the sponsorship dollars will follow. Guess what… the sponsors are not stupid, they already assume some riders are doping. Some prospective sponsors, possibly assumed that Lance was guilty and were waiting for a time when cycling appeared to be more clean. Seems a bit cleaner now.

    And finally, we cyclists love to forget that Triathlon is a sport. Tygart didn’t pull Lance Armstrong out of retirement to ban him. He stopped him from present day competitions.

  79. Glenn

    Ha
    I knew you would not be able to contain yourself Mr Ralph.
    Tell me what I typed was/is offensive and carry overtones?
    I don’t recall any offendings feelings when I was typing. I belive u=you called a London writer a “gnat” and that Tygart “has no testicles”. I’m offensive?
    You say that disagreeing with someone is legitimate behavior. Yes you are correct. Is that not what indicated. Everyone has thir opinion, you do, others do, and hey so do I.
    You asked for prooof about LA doping. I did not say he doped, you did! Read your comments, it’s there. In fact you say “they all cheated”. Mr. Ralph where is your proof?
    Thanks for the fun Mr.Ralph.
    Slide back into that armchair

  80. Alex TC

    “You asked the question “What have they gained?”
    The answer is simple. The point was made to every American Olympic athlete who is thinking of doping that “EVEN LANCE GOT CAUGHT. SO, HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR ODDS FOR GETTING AWAY WITH IT NOW!?!?
    Surely you can see value in that?! Consider the guy considering doping for the first time.”

    James, do you REALLY believe that? Deep inside, do you believe that ANY athlete will think twice before engaging in ANY performance-enhancing activity jut because Lance was brought to his knees? How many have been caught since the dawn of times, and we only saw it all escalating and/or becoming more sophisticated. No, doping won´t go away. It will change to survive but it´s intrinsic to human nature and makes a lot of money to a lot of people.

    I´d agree that the era of organized, massive, coordinated doping that ruled cycling in the 90´s/early 00´s is gone for good. No more Festina or Puerto affairs. But it has for some time now. That can-all-do-all doped-to-the-ears craze that killed a few riders and built into what we saw, it´s in the past. But at the individual level it will never disappear. Just look at the situation of doping in amateur sports to have an idea where the tide is heading.

    If Lance & Co. (Bruyneel, Ferrari and others) had been caught at the height of their carreers and the USPostal “conspiracy” had been derailled with undeniable evidence a few years ago, then maybe we´d see the effort paying up in more ways than just “sending a message” or “making a point”. But I have a feeling that somehow that train has passed free and now the price to stop it is too high to the point of diminished returns. And some lines have been crossed to reach this point it must be noted.

    Ever felt like arriving at a party way too late, when the DJ was gone, the booze finished, the promoter too wasted and the crowd has moved on to another gig? This whole hysteria is just because Lance is… well, Lance. But riders and teams – and cycling in general – are on another vibe, so the strenght of the message is somehow lessened.

    As I said, maybe I´m wrong.

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  83. James

    Alex. What I do believe is that it sends a message that no one is above the rules, and that to me is the most important. If the Dalai Lama punches a monk out, he should be punished. The amount of good you do should not be considered a checking account used to offset the bad things you do. Lance had a rather active account. I don’t want any individual deciding for me what the “Greater Good” is…. nobody is qualified, nobody.
    But, the other point I was trying to make is this (using your party analogy, which, by the way, I really like):
    The party did move on. It moved to Triathlon. A sport that USADA is also tasked to police/protect. If USADA did have evidence that Lance doped/was recently doping, they owed it to that sport to keep him away. It is their only job.
    If we don’t want them to do their job then we need to all write our Congressmen.

  84. Wsquared

    USADA has made many allegations against Armstrong. Until they release everything they’ve got in the way of proof for public scrutiny, I’ll reserve my judgement on how much of it I believe. YMMV.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Glenn and Ralph: It’s time to cool it. I won’t allow this to get personal.

      James: Given the number of riders who raced the Tour de France, weren’t clean, have kept their results and prize money, it can be said that the single most obvious message that USADA has sent is that you don’t want to be an American winner of the Tour de France.

  85. James

    Padraig,there have only been three American winners. Landis eventually admitted his guilt (so evidently USADA did it’s job, if it did anything). Lance has to keep denying it and I certainly understand why.
    USADA was conceived after LeMond, so even if he was guilty, they were not tasked to do anything about it.
    I’ll say it again, but you can read it in all of their rather transparent information and statements. USADA is there to protect US Athletes = Keep the Ferraris and Johans away. USADA enforces WADA code = Evidence against Lance needs to be pursued. USADA protects clean athletes = Lance kept from triathlon. Where is the vendetta evidence? Is the system perfect? Absolutely not, but USADA is not at fault of doing anything wrong as far as I can tell.
    The other winners were not American. Shame on whoever their USADA counterparts were, if any. But USADA has no jurisdiction over that.
    Again, if we don’t like USADA because they did their job, then we should ask to remove them.
    I’m advocating simply asterisking the Armstrong years. I don’t have a vendetta. At the top, they were all likely cheating. But Lance does not deserve special treatment.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      James: I think where you and I may differ is not just on whether or not USADA did their job, but also on just what USADA’s job is. Given their limited resources, I think the incredible expense of the Armstrong case has setback our current efforts to eradicate doping going on today. As I’ve written before, you can’t fix the past, but by focusing on today, we can make a cleaner cycling.

      Glenn: No worries. I’ve got to try to be even-handed about keeping these comments on track. Thanks for reading.

  86. Alex TC

    James,

    I’m not saying he or any other racer is above the rules and should not be punished, only that maybe, just maybe, the opportunity has passed in regards to cost X benefits and effectiveness for the work against doping in cycling . In other words, it’s a matter of timing rather than merith, and that this aspect has huge implications in the perception – and maybe even character – of “the message” and the price for the sport.

    And the triathlon argument, although logical, doesn’t quite stand or apply IMHO. Not only it’s an individual sport, but also you just can’t compare the impact of the so-called “doping conspiracy” in cycling (mostly the Tour de France) by an entire team for almost a decade during the decade of doping conspiracies, to what could possibly happen if he kept winning in tri or marathons or mtbiking at age 40.

    Again IMHO, USADA went after Lance Armstrong the man but ended up destroying his legacy instead, completely and IMHO unjustly obliterating everything he conquered and not only his wins in the Tour. some call it karma, I’m still looking forward to see if that was worth it and by how much, all things considered. Again, and just for the records, I’m not a big fan of Lance but I feel something’s not right here.

    I apologize for my way of expressing but english is not my native language and I’m a bit out of practice in writing.

  87. James

    More to my last:
    Is there any evidence that USADA has ever gotten it wrong? I don’t know, but surely the LA people would have brought it up if they had.
    I don’t think you don’t want to be an American TDF winner with the USADA around. I think you don’t want to be a Doped American winner. That should be a good thing. We should be proud of that.
    Perhaps Taylor or his generation will do Americans proud.

  88. James

    Alex, First,your English may be better than mine and it IS my first language.
    I understand your point. We’ll have to wait and see what happens now.
    I think you assume the worst because Lance is gone… again. Lance was gone and cycling seemed to be okay without him. For many, his legacy was always in question. Now we are just a whole lot closer to confirmation. Time will tell how this all plays out.
    P.S. I almost had to look up IMHO, before I figured it out. Your English is more …advanced than mine.

  89. James

    Padraig, I respect your opinion and I would agree with you. Except, if only half of what David Walsh wrote was accurate, then Lance had victims. Not just riders that he helped cheat but the Emma O’Reillys in his saga. People who wanted to do the right thing.
    A Cat 5,4,3,2 or 1 rider who cheats most likely cant make a positive test go away, so what more can USADA do there other than test more? If there is money left over I’d want to go after the guy with real victims. Maybe this is where the “Vendetta” comes in. I don’t know. And I haven’t seen USADA’s budget.
    All IMHO. Thanks for the discussion.

  90. e-RICHIE

    >>> As I’ve written before, you can’t fix the past, but
    >>> by focusing on today, we can make a cleaner cycling.

    I have read words to this effect here before, as well as in other places. The case can be made that the present has always focused on itself and the future in order not to repeat the past. I have read accounts from several pros who say the sport is cleaner now than it has ever been. Heck, when would we ever get a quote in real time that reads otherwise? “The sport is more filled with PEDs now than it was in _____ .” You’ll never see that printed anywhere atmo.

    In the recent weeks we have had several examples of former heroes (Tyler with the book, JV with the puff piece in the NYT, and the Lance/USADA “thing”…) whose accomplishments are now tarnished as a result of hindsight as well as the testimonies of those who were part of the ruse. I say the working press should examine and dissect these stories and make the findings required reading for anyone who considers himself a student of the sport or even a part of its future. You want to help the present and the future? Then crucify those found at the core of all the bad that’s being uncovered. No second chances. No careers in the sport. Nothing. Cheaters and dopers should be left in the margins.

    In life, or in the judicial system, second chances have value. Not so much in cycle sport. There’s a culture of accepting doping, and of allowing former dopers to further administrate the sport after their racing ends. It has to stop. The press needs to be an integral part of this paradigm shift.

  91. JM

    Thanks for the article. It’s the only one that gets to the heart of the matter. When the doping agency looked the other way, it opened the door for everyone to cheat. Did Lance cheat? Apparently. But stripping his titles only means that other cheaters now hold his titles. Undoubtedly they were just as guilty, but not the subject of a Tygart witch hunt.

  92. Travis

    I love that this thread remained civil. Thanks to all who commented. There is hope for humanity (at least on the Internet) now.

  93. Todd

    Love him or hate him, but there is no denying that Lance revived road bike sales for the US. In the 90′s, pre-Lance TDF victories, sales were 90% mountain bikes to 10% road bikes at the shop I worked at. After Lance won a few, it flip-flopped in favor of road bikes. Also, our customers were not interested in “boring” Trek’s until after Lance became a superstar.

  94. Gary

    We live in a time when the use medical means to correct our natural deficits is common. In most cases this is a good thing. We can take insulin to correct our glucose metabolism, we can have surgery to correct our vision. If our concentration is failing we can take Ritalin. In the latter case, one of the highest impact journals in science argued that scientists should take amphetamines to fully realize their potential and increase the value of public funds spent to finance basic research. In this culture I have a difficult time finding fault with an athlete, whose employer demands he/she meets a 6-7 watt/kg power figure, doing what they feel they must to meet that demand. As a scientist should I be doping so that I can better compete for grant funds [only about 5% of NIH grants are funded], keep my lab’s staff employed, get tenure? Doping in athletics is truly the tip of the iceberg. The real question, in my mind is, at what point does correcting our deficits, even marginal ones, with medicine become unethical. Please understand, I do not think that cyclists should dope or be free to, but before you grab your keyboard in outrage, check and see if you’ve done anything ‘unnatural’ to ameliorate any flaws you might have to better compete in your world.

  95. joecaboose

    How about no drug testing…let them all load up on whatever they want. If they are all taking the same stuff, the “best” guy will win…sounds fair to me. I don’t care if their body parts fall off 10 years from now. That’s their choice/problem. I just want to see a great race.

  96. David

    Gary, I don’t think anyone can compare sport doping to taking insulin for glucose or even to scientists on amphetamines. Sport is governed by explicit rules. By contrast, there’s no law or rule against taking insulin.

    In science, there’s another big difference that you’re missing. Sports is a zero-sum game: if you win, someone else loses. But science is not a zero sum game. If a scientist discovers a cure for cancer, we’re all better off. I certainly don’t know anyone who would vacate a cancer cure just because the discoverer used meth to help them do it.

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