Fallout

 The tribute to Armstrong’s ’99 Tour win at Trek Headquarters

When I was a boy, I had a thing for Porsche. I thought their cars were sexy in ways almost nothing other than lingerie models can achieve. I loved their engineering, their racing success, their emphasis on driver experience. At some point in high school I was confronted with a documentary that went into genetic detail on how companies like Porsche, BMW and Mercedes enriched themselves through their contracts with the Third Reich.

I found myself struggling with how I could admire a company that had prospered as a supplier to an empire that killed more than 10 million people. It had been my dream to one day buy a Porsche of some variety—a desire that has never left me—but that desire was upended with the moral dilemma that they had (perhaps unwittingly) aided and abetted the Third Reich as they did their best to exterminate all the Jews in Europe. How could I support that?

Fortunately, I’ve never had the cash at hand to force the question. I’ve told myself that more than 50 years have passed, that whatever punishment was theirs has been meted. Still, I’ve contemplated buying a used BMW wagon and the question bumped elbows with my conscience. It wasn’t comfortable.

I offer that as a prelude to the nuclear winter we are now entering following the release of USADA’s “reasoned decision.” The initial casualties were all the riders whose doping activity was detailed in the voluminous files released by USADA. They are tantamount to the initial deaths caused by a nuclear blast. Now, the fallout.

Already I’m seeing people bringing up the issue of boycotts of brands. Nike, because of their ongoing support of Lance Armstrong in the face of the allegations was coming off worst. Then, the news this morning that Nike has dumped Armstrong, at least publicly. Still, there’s the allegation reported by the NY Daily News that Kathy LeMond was told by ex-Postal mechanic Julien Devries that he heard that Nike paid $500,000 to hush up Armstrong’s 1999 positive for corticosteroids, that the money was wired not to the UCI, but to Hein Verbruggen himself.

It is the most damning allegation against Verbruggen ever, a charge that weighs like murder on the long rap sheet of an otherwise petty criminal. However, even though Mrs. LeMond testified to this under oath, she was not an eyewitness to the allegation, the way Tyler Hamilton was an eyewitness to Armstrong receiving transfusions. Put another way, her testimony qualifies as hearsay, something that is routinely stricken from testimony in court rooms. It’s not an allegation that appears to have been investigated by Novitzky or Tygart, at least, not based on the released documents.

The trouble for Nike is that the allegation comes sliding down a pile of so many other proven charges that many are willing to believe almost any bad deed claimed to have been perpetrated by Armstrong or his backers. Led by ex-pro and one-time Armstrong teammate Paul Willerton, people are mobilizing for a boycott of Nike; it remains to be seen if it will still go forward now that they’ve severed ties with the former seven-time Tour victor. Whether or not they’ve tossed Armstrong overboard, this could turn out to be the biggest PR black eye they have suffered in decades.

Also announced this morning, Armstrong has stepped down from Livestrong as its chairman. This is an obvious and understandable effort to save the charity; who knows if it will work?

As it turns out, Armstrong himself is proving to be radioactive. For better or worse, he’s poisoning everything he touched.

But the fallout doesn’t end with Livestrong. It extends to Trek. Riders are contemplating a boycott of Trek as a result of their unwavering support for Armstrong. I doubt that a boycott would be particularly visible, but I can see the possibility that some people simply won’t buy a Trek when they go to buy a bike. It might be enough to allow Specialized to finally retake that spot as the #1-selling bike brand.

The fallout also extends to George Hincapie and his company Hincapie Sportswear. People are wondering how they feel about doing business with his company, a company that wouldn’t be as big or popular without his success riding alongside Armstrong.

Then there’s Allen Lim, who Floyd Landis outed as having aided his and Levi Leipheimer’s doping efforts. Back when Landis was believed to be a lunatic running through the streets complaining that he was being chased by a purple unicorn, he was easy to dismiss, at least for those who wanted to dismiss him. Some of us didn’t dismiss him.

Lim denied Landis’ charges at the time and at that time, the weight of innocence was on his side. But USADA’s report has demonstrated that essentially everything contained in Landis’ confession was true; we have learned there were purple unicorns aplenty. It may not have proven every statement he has made was true, but I’m unaware that any of his assertions has been proven demonstrably false. And that’s the gray netherworld in which Lim’s denial resides. Nothing in the USADA documents addresses this and the affidavits by Landis and Leipheimer make not mention of Lim, so his ongoing denials are not rebutted by sworn testimony.

Conversely, people are asking questions about Chris Carmichael’s coaching company, Carmichael Training Systems, and whether or not they should support a company that was really only a cover for Armstrong. The charge is that Carmichael didn’t actually coach him. The objection here is that CTS’ greatest testimonial is built on a lie, even if it’s a lie of a different sort.

Of course, we need to consider bicycle racing’s retailer: USA Cycling. The sport’s governing body here in the U.S. has had a long and cozy history with Thom Weisel and his Champions’ Club, not to mention Tailwind Sports, the owners of the US Postal team. Indeed, two of Weisel’s cronies continue to sit on the USA Cycling board, David Helfrich and Matt Barger, who are both Development Foundation Representatives. Should they be immune?

It is likely that no company benefitted more from Armstrong’s meteoric rise to the top of the cycling heap than Trek, not Nike, not Oakley, not Powerbar, FRS or (more recently) Honey Stinger. They have the most to lose now. In a world where people vote with their dollars, they may well see a falloff in sales that registers in the fourth quarter of 2012.

But what of companies like Hincapie Sportswear and Skratch Labs? Should they take a hit? Their growth, their popularity, their products have hinged less on endorsement by Armstrong than their founders’ association with him. Should not those companies fair the storm better than Trek?

What each of these companies has in common—other than an association with Armstrong—is a product that is good by any objective measure. From good reviews to races won while using these products, not to mention the voluminous testimonials from Carmichael’s thousands of clients, each of these companies sells something that has been borne out in the market. However, there is a fundamental difference between the culpability of companies like CTS, Hincapie Sportswear and Skratch Labs (which didn’t even exist until well after Armstrong’s comeback began) and that of Nike and Trek.

In helping to build the Armstrong brand and support the US Postal team, Nike and Trek exerted considerable might. Without them, without their support, the Postal machine would have had fewer resources and may not have attained the level of success they did. In a way, what they did was help build a nuclear weapon. The more direct a participant’s knowledge of the situation, the closer they were to the blast. Those who worked for companies that benefited from Armstrong’s success are going to be in for a rough ride. And what of the riders who walked away from US Postal rather than cheat? They simply found the minimum safe distance. There are no winners in nuclear war, only losers.

 

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92 comments

  1. e-RICHIE

    Lance Armstrong has become the role model he thought he was all along. He’s a poster boy for how not to get it done. And I think more good can come from this example than all the wristbands put together atmo. His story touches all of us, not just those with a connection to cancer. The way he treated colleagues, team mates, and the public has been appalling. His sporting life and achievements will now be seen as coming from a walking, talking deception machine. It’s sad that it came to this, but he is to blame, not those who watched and commented as it unfolded.

  2. Adam

    What about SRAM? At one point, wasn’t Lance a co-owner/large-stake share holder of the company?

    I’ve been unwilling to propose the thought. Mostly because my recollection might not be accurate. Someone prove me wrong if I am.

  3. ancker

    Seriously? You have issues with buying a car from a German company who had ties to their gov’t at a time when their gov’t was doing some things you don’t agree with?

    Do you not travel to the south due to their history with slavery?
    Do you boycott anything Chinese due to how they treat Taiwan?
    Do you ‘buy foreign’ due to America’s involvement in Vietnam?

    Unless there is proof that Trek/etc had any knowledge of Lance doping and/or somehow aided it, you can’t judge them. Hating Lance for what he did is one thing, but having issues with every company that’s endorsed him over the years is just foolish.

  4. Over_the_edge_much?

    Be careful what fingers you point…behind each one of those companies there are more innocent people that are stuck in the cross fire than you know. Take a company like Hincapie Sportswear, even though I would bet money that George has a fair bit to do with Hincapie Sportswear company it is his family (brother, aunt, uncle, etc.) that run and operate the business. George was more of a marketing tactic and R&D guy than anything else.

  5. Q

    Trek is to Lance Armstrong what Air Jordans were to Michael Jordan in the 1980s, and they have sold a huge number of bikes just based on that association. A cycling newbie presented with several options of similar quality will be influenced by this kind of branding in their decision. As Lance’s reputation takes a hit, Trek’s sales will take a hit, and Specialized, Cannondale and the other bigger brands are going to capitalize all they can. Trek has already fallen behind in product innovation anyway. Their Domane frames are a great idea, but 2-3 years behind the competition.

  6. A Stray Velo

    I think what you said in your last paragraph is key. The companies that directly benefited from LA’s success have the most to loose. That being companies like Nike, Trek, Hincapie Sportswear and Carmichael Training Systems.

    I’ve never bought anything from Nike or Trek, I didn’t like them before and I don’t like them now but that has nothing to do with LA. Unfortunately for them a lot of their success came from LA’s success and that will show in the year end figures I believe.

    Lim on the other hand has just started up his company within the last two years I believe and has built it upon the research he’s done. Maybe he helped and/or witnessed all the doping but I don’t see how his company has anything to do with that era of cycling. I buy his product because it works and I will continue do so. What’s going on now doesn’t change my opinion of him or his company as I don’t believe it has anything to do with LA.

  7. Ashley

    I’ve been buying/building Fuji bikes lately, mostly because of my friend’s shop which sells them, and his testimonials, but I remember growing up watching Lance and watching a Trek. That Trek was my first new road bike, a present for my 16th birthday.

    To this day I still ride it on occasion (it’s my bad-weather training bike) and the memories I have with Trek aren’t ones with Lance in the picture, but rather with my bike that I ride on.

    I have a sticker on it that commemorates Lance’s 6 wins (as of 2002 when the bike was new) and I suspect I’ll take that off.

    http://aerochick.com/2012/01/2002-trek-1000/

    I suppose what Trek may and should do is a media blitz on the folks riding Treks today, such as the Schlecks if they stay and of course Fabian.

  8. TD

    Lance is proving to be radioactive to retailers not just because he doped, but because he was also complete jerk and a bully. I think the other riders involved, like Hincapie and Leipheimer, who manage to maintain their images as reasonably nice guys will not become public relations poison. Plus, my Hincapie bib shorts are so comfy, hour after hour, it would take a lot more than doping for me to lose my enthusiasm for the company.

  9. michael

    Drawing a comparison between companies enriching themselves through the attempteed extermination of en entire race (you should also have mentioned Hugo Boss, who designed the 3rd Reichs uniforms…)and companies enriching themselves through a fake hero is too cheap and easy and shows a startling journalistic laziness that I am really sorry to have read on these pages.

    Especially coming from you Padraig, really disappointing.

    I understand the basic sentiment, but it is laid out in the wrong fashion and does not give your argument any merit whatsoever.

    As to the greater issue you attempt to discuss, you are painting with a pretty wide brush stroke good sir. Immediate companies, sure. Skratch Labs and Hincapie as some sort of guilt by association, using your first uncomfortable example?

    I find that to be a stretch and a half to say the least. People are entitled to an honest job no matter what they have done in the past. The companies themselves did not directly support said activities by senor (H)Armstrong, so guilt by insinuation is not merited.

    Does penalizing/persecuting these secondary and tertiary entities by means of a consumer boycott serve any meaningful purpose?

    I say no. I think it only propagates the omerta in an absurdly insidious fashion. Just like Omega Pharma kicking Levi to the curb.

    It is a valid discussion to be had of course, and there are so many personal ethics involved in these types of choices that this is a better conversation to be had over a few pints of beer somewhere ;)

  10. Rod Diaz

    At E-Riche:

    Mr. Sachs – I really enjoyed your post: “If I’m not an example to follow, I can at least be a cautionary tale”.

    Padraig is right – there will be far-reaching impacts, some justified, some not. I believe it’s plausible that Nike bribed Verbruggen, but this now is the definition of hearsay.

    As for the rest of the companies, we’ll see how much they can distance themselves and limit the damage.

  11. armybikerider

    How dare you compare the attempted extermination of an entire race of human beings to nefarious dealings within the sport of bicycling. And equating deaths from nuclear fallout to the tardy confessions of a few athletes is laughable at best.

  12. Les Borean

    If a company like Skratch deep-ends because of boycotts, then LA’s scourge continues to affect us seriously. We all lose, we lose access to an excellent product.

    To boycott is to keep LA’s scourge alive, keeps us mired in the past.

    On the other hand, if companies like Trek do not face public reaction, this could encourage companies in the future to act out of integrity for their own perceived good.

    Choose your poison.

    In the case of the dark universe created by LA, I choose to drink the poison of letting bygones be just that; and hope by God that everyone involved has learned their lesson.

  13. AC

    So, wait…does this mean I have to boycott *myself*? I mean, I’m a taxpayer, and a portion of my tax dollars end up in the United States Postal Service’s bank account, right?

  14. Picchio

    Without LA, Trek would still be Trek, though considerably smaller. Oakley would still be Oakley, though a bit smaller. Nike would still be Nike of the same size, more or less. Skratch Labs would still be Skratch Labs. Hincapie hitched his wagon to LA and EPO all those years ago and he is the company’s marketing face. Without him and his dope-fuelled palmares, there would be no Hincapie Sportswear (or whatever it’s called), this entire company is built on doping and deception. I’d say that other than Trek, he benefitted from LA’s — and his own — deceptions the most.

  15. Alex TC

    IMHO Nike dumped Armstrong in exactly the SAME WAY that Armstrong once dumped Dr. Ferrari. Let´s cut ties for the sake of appearance. Lance may everything but he´s far from a fool. He knows how the game is played in this league and this sure was discussed thoroughly before every step was taken.

    Let´s not forget Nike has been associated with slavery in 3rd world countries, as have other big brands recently. That´s also a big PR blow. But in this complex, globalized world it is sometimes hard for a big company to completely avoid such associations since the production chain is pulverized.

    To use a term widely common in the pro peloton, Armstrong is “glowing”. It´s hard to believe that everyone supporting him more directly knew about the schemes, but it´s equally hard to believe that the upper instances in these companies know nothing about it as well.

    We may be seeing the rise of a different ethos in our society. Unfortunately for companies who get caught in such situations, there are others who genuinely do their best to avoid it and at the same time offer quality. I may keep using my Hincapie bibs untill they wear out, but I sure will be looking elsewhere when shopping for a new one.

  16. tinytim

    I think that you bring up a very valid point Padraig. The companies and people that worked with Lance and US Postal were obligated to do their research and find out if there were any lapses in professional integrity that might affect these companies down the road. All of these companies ( nike, trek, oakley, power bar, ect) made heaps of money and therefore they should be held accountable (yes, they may lose consumer support and consequently sales) for their indiscretions. For everyone that works for these companies that are caught out in the cross-fire, sorry, but thats what happens when management is not responsible for ensuring credibility. A lot of the innocent people, like the family of Hincapie, wouldn’t even have a job with Hinacpie sports wear if Hinacpie didn’t turn pro, dope and win classics and a complete a record amount of tdf’s. I dont think that there needs to be proof for that companies knew that Lance was dirty. The fact that many of these companies built their wealth around the man means that they may as well go down with him. ( I do think taht using the 3rd reich as an analogy weakens your central argument. Remember too many cases in the base…)

  17. Steve

    Trek needs to start with an apology to Greg Lemond. We know now who was the better man. You won’t see me buying a Trek without it.

  18. Fuzz

    Trek needs to start with an apology to Greg Lemond. We know now who was the better man. You won’t see me buying another Trek without it.

  19. punkture

    Trek needs to start with an apology to Greg Lemond. We know now who was the better man. You won’t see me buying another Trek without it.

  20. gmknobl

    I think we have to be careful of the guilt by association type argument here. But I do think corporations AND the top people who run them throughout all of history have a deservedly bad reputation for putting money ahead of ethics, which is what you really are complaining about here. Yes, Porsche and other companies have obtained great ill-gotten gains and the people who orchestrated this should have been punished. You can go along way back and see this. Look at our own history and you’ll see problems with corporations back in the revolutionary war days (from England). But let’s go further. Shall we look at how much of the Kennedy family’s wealth was gained? They ran liquor during prohibition (not that that was a bad thing in and of itself but it was illegal). What about the Bush family? Didn’t they gain much from Stalinist Russia? What about Romney? And let’s not forget all the corporations that benefited from Apartheid.

    The fact of the matter is there are many people in power now that have rather close ties to some illegal and some very unsavory practices. So did the Robber Barons. We shouldn’t think kindly towards any of them nor give them the benefit of the doubt when we have facts that show them as gaining from such practices.

    But that’s not our society right now. We laud the successful no matter how they got that way. And if someone claims “I did it my way!” defiantly, they pretty much have to murder someone to be brought down in the eyes of the public watching them through the media companies that are owned by immoral (or should I say unimoral) corporation many of which they run!

    Sure, we need much tighter controls over corporations, the larger, the more and stricter controls (and the corollary to that, the smaller, the lesser rules and regulations). And we should have greater restrictions on the amount of money any one group or person can amass. Hey, this country was a pioneer in income redistribution from the incredibly rich to the rest of society either directly or through government taxes. It’s not any more and that is one of the problems. But of course, we don’t have those checks and balances on the amassing of such power and that’s what money is, power.

    So, what we have here is a system where people got lots of power by getting and passing around lots of money. This IS history repeating itself on many levels. Can we disrupt this corrupt situation? Only by redistributing that money to as many “shareholders” as possible, including the teams, their management, employees, including mechanics, doctors and riders. And it needs to be distributed fairly too. If it were up to me, I’d say the top guy can’t earn more than ten times the lowest paid worker. Unions should be formed for the riders and other employees and they should be guaranteed the right to strike. There needs to be a real whistle blower law and there needs to be independent checks on what each group does, including independent drug testing, independent labor relations overseers. And I think that is a start. The UCI? They and the IOC are jokes for the most part. Scrap them like we did the League of Nations.

    I’m done, for now.

  21. peter lin

    I’ve been using scratch products the last month and for my money, it’s better than most products out there, so I have no plans to boycott or stop using an excellent product.

    All of this finger pointing is counter productive. In my mind, the best way to help clean up cycling is to have their full backing towards improving testing technology and testing all riders at all races. Trek makes a lot of money and they benefited greatly from their association with LA. They made a mistake, so they should own up to it. Put their dollars where it matters. Donate money towards improving testing technology and help fund tests at races and random testing.

    If the company doesn’t put their money where their mouth is pointing, then don’t buy their products. All of this boycott drama to me is silly. Look at all the products we buy that use child labor and exploitative practices. To single out Trek for backing LA is just as hypocritical and no better.

    We should remember, humans are flawed creatures trying to best we can. Often times it means making gigantic mistakes we wish never happened. It’s better to learn from it and move forward.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thank you for your passionate comments. This one seems to have touched a nerve. In some ways, rightly so; in other ways less so.

      To the degree that anyone thinks this was a call to action, that I am suggesting that any of these companies should be boycotted, you’ve misread. I anticipate that there will be blowback, but I am definitely not advocating it. Big difference.

      For those, like Armybikerider and Michael who think I’m equating the actions of Armstrong, et al, to the Third Reich, you’ve also misread, though more thoroughly. The ruined cycling careers of even dozens of riders don’t begin to compare to what the Nazis did. I offered that prelude as a way to frame considerations that go into buying decisions.

      And to Ancker: I grew up in the South and the attitudes that made slavery possible and the 1960s a time of violent upheaval still persist with some people. It’s part of why I left. I don’t do business with them when I’m back. I make an effort not to do business with people I don’t believe in or trust.

      There are a great many fine people working for the companies I named in my post. They do good work; it would be a shame if they or their employers suffered due to the fallout from what is turning out to be the biggest scandal ever to hit cycling. I personally think good work should stand on its own merits. The market thinks differently.

      Joe said it well: “The world would be a worse place if Honey Stinger went away.” Fortunately, I think they’ll fare just fine. I do love me some lime chews.

  22. Wsquared

    I doubt any of this will significantly effect most of these companies. Maybe Carmichael because he so closely identified with LA, but Nike? Not at all. Trek mentions Tour de France victories, but their marketing isn’t built around LA. Unlike their Lemond brand, their has never been a Trek Armstrong line of bikes.

    IMO, the opinions expressed by a self selected, passionate, but relatively tiny group of fans in cycling forums don’t reflect the world at large at all. For that matter, I don’t think they necessarily reflect the opinions of a lot of cyclists who never read them. Sometimes on the Internet if you spend time regularly with a group of like minded people, it’s easy to start thinking everybody thinks that way. That ain’t necessarily so.

    By all means, if you don’t like the role that any of these companies played in L’affaire Armstrong, don’t buy their product. Buying a bike is a highly personal choice. But IMO, talk of national boycotts that amount to anything is a well intentioned fantasy.

  23. redcliffs

    1) tantamount |ˈtantəˌmount| adjective [ predic. ] ( tantamount to) equivalent in seriousness to; virtually the same as.

    Similes are great literary devices and you use them well. As others have already said, however, similes are only as good as their ability to describe through plausible comparison. WWII-era atrocities and EPO-era doping are not even in the same galaxy in terms of order of magnitude.

    2) That said, I think you raise an interesting question, but I find myself uncomfortable in the opposite direction. Assuming that Nike, Trek and other corporate sponsors did not, in fact, have knowledge of Lance’s doping activities, then how much blame can actually be set at their door? Yes, their money supported his activities, but they didn’t know that, and while they absolutely had a responsibility to follow-up on allegations and assure themselves that the allegations were false, consider the anecdote of Coke described in the USADA report: Coke expressed great concern in the lead up to possible sponsorship lest their brand be tainted; presumably, companies already in bed with Armstrong, such as Nike and Trek, did the same and more.

    But what about individuals who have parlayed their association with successful cyclists into businesses, specifically Carmichael and Lim? It’s almost impossible to imagine that Carmichael didn’t know about Armstrong’s doping given the latter’s statement (and I paraphrase) that the only people who really knew what was going on in his body were Bruyneel, Ferrari, Carmichael, etc. And as Padraig argues here, Landis is looking more reliable all of a sudden, calling Lim’s denial into doubt.

    So these are individuals who were complicit in doping, helped cyclists achieve success through doping, and then capitalized on that success. Although I am a fan of Skratch and want to support independent businesses whenever I can, I strikes me that Carmichael, Lim, et. al., are in a far more suspect position than corporations whose best interests lay in being associated with a highly successful, *clean* athlete.

    Caveat lector: this argument is obviously skewed substantially if Nike did, in fact, bribe the UCI. And it should also be said that I have absolutely no love for Nike — they, at least, have plenty of other ethical problems that would prevent me from ever buying their products.

  24. The_D

    Call to action or not, my mind is made up…

    Due to their unspeakable crimes against sport and brewing, I shall forever boycott Michelob Ultra.

  25. MDS

    Let’s give Padraig the benefit of the doubt and recognize that it’s highly unlikely he equates professional athletes doping and lying with the atrocities committed by the Third Reich. It sets the stage for thinking about the companies we buy products from beyond just the products themselves. You may not like the analogy, but the outrage in the comments is a bit dramatic.

    On the topic of how these companies benefited from their relationship with Lance, in some cases the mutual benefit is clear, particularly for those that directly sponsored him and the team (Nike, Trek). But with others it’s speculative to say that they wouldn’t be there without the Lance effect. Skratch labs is making an impact because the product is better than the other stuff out there. And to my recollection, none of the marketing has linked back to LA relationships. It started as secret drink mix and the marketing was pretty sparse.

    The notion of boycotting a company due to an association via sponsorship is silly. Regular people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake and the cost is high just for the sake of being righteous. If you want to boycott Nike, do so because of their manufacturing practices. But if you want to boycott a company for sponsoring a lying, doping athlete, don’t limit it just to cycling. There are all those companies that sponsor football, baseball, etc. that deserve to lose your patronage.

  26. Full Monte

    Regarding Trek and the comparison to Nike (that Nike may have sent a half-million dollars to Heinie V to help make Lance’s corticosteroid positive go away). A similarity between the two corporations may not be that far-fetched in their special treatment of Lance….

    By now, everyone’s heard of MotoMan (The Secret Race). MotoMan also appears in USADA’s Reasoned Decision. On Twitter recently, the identity of MotoMan was apparently revealed: Philippe “Philou” Maire (see Cyclismas).

    Further investigation shows that this former Armstrong gardener/handyman/drug mule now owns a Trek dealership in Nice, France. That’s quite an achievement. A rather coincidental achievement, is it not?

  27. redcliffs

    Your post and mine may have overlapped, P., but it is less the comparison of Nike to BMW that concerns me in that regard than the use of nuclear holocaust as your framing metaphor. I grant you that your use of the word “tantamount” may have just been a particularly poor choice of words, but your use of the metaphor extends beyond that one word.

  28. Full Monte

    Oh and PS: Padraig, you are more than welcome to drive my old Porsche 911 any time you’re in the Chicago area, just to see what it’s like. Take it for the weekend. It’s yours. Seriously. (Full disclosure: No A/C, the radio sometimes doesn’t work, and my cat loves to nap in the driver’s seat, so if you’re allergic to cats, this might not be the best 911 for you. That said, your boyhood instincts were correct: Driving an Ye Olde Oil Cooled 911 is a full mind body driving exercise in awesome.)

  29. Alex TC

    Nike can step away from cycling and (I´d guess) it won´t change much for them. Their cycling clothing line is small, not that super, clearly much smaller than their Livestrong line of products.

    But Trek and others can´t, so I think there´s a bunch of suits now sitting on a big table somewhere scratching their heads trying to figure out “what do we do now”. That´s heavy.

    As for Honey Stinger, it has lots of qualified competitors, as good as or better. But we only have one Greg LeMond. The world would be a much worse place without him, that is for sure. Who cares for waffles, I´ll have a banana thanks.

  30. Alex TC

    “The notion of boycotting a company due to an association via sponsorship is silly.”

    MDS, the notion of SUPPORTING a company due to association via sponsorship is the very principle of sponsorship, endorsement and association. Why would the opposite be silly?

  31. Josh

    Ironically, Nike is hardly a cycling brand. I know they’ve made a cycling shoe or two, but I’ve never seen anybody wearing them. Aside from LiveStrong jerseys and T-shirts, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody wearing Nike bikewear. I’d bet that Lance runs marathons and triathlons in Nike shoes, but as far as cycling goes it seems that their isn’t a strong product connection. Which means that the connection is primarily one of image. All the more reason for Nike to distance themselves from Armstrong as his image takes a dive.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      And the other shoe drops …

      I just got this from the Media Relations folks at Trek:

      “Trek is disappointed by the findings and conclusions in the USADA report regarding Lance Armstrong. Given the determinations of the report, Trek today is terminating our longterm relationship with Lance Armstrong. Trek will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation and its efforts to combat cancer.”

  32. Chris L

    @Adam:

    You’re thinking of Adidas and Puma, not Reebok. Adidas was started by the Dasler brothers and were around well before the Nazis. The brothers despised each other and at one point Adi tried to have Rudi sent to the Eastern Front during the war. Puma was started when one of the brothers, Rudi, split off. The name Adidas didn’t come about until after WW2 ended and after Rudi had left.

    Not buying from a company because of an association they may have had in the distant past is stupid. I know people who have refused to buy German cars because of the association with the Nazis but these hypocrites then turn around and buy a Subaru. Subaru was known as Nakajima in WW 2 and were a major provider of combat aircraft to the Japanese who in turn used them to slaughter millions of Chinese and Koreans to say nothing of directly attacking the US in Hawaii and Alaska. There’s as much innocent blood on their brand as their is on Porsche or BMW. Same is true for most other Japanese auto companies and many large Japanese conglomerates who contributed heavily to Japanese imperialism in the 30s-40s.

    To those who would boycott Nike because of their factory conditions, did you check the record of the company which made the computer or mobile device you just used to post your message? It’s nearly impossible to buy any mobile phone or computer that is built from 100% ethically sourced components. Why hold Nike to a higher standard than Samsung, Apple, Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, LG, HTC, etc, etc?

  33. MDS

    @Alex TC, apologies for not being more clear. I was speaking in terms of an organized, mass boycott of a brand that negatively hurts employees of said company. There are many reasons to boycott a company. I just don’t feel that paying a dbag at the top of his sport to hawk your goods is that big of deal. Bribing an official (as has been alleged in the case of Nike), or supporting inhumane manufacturing practices, or even making crappy diet-beer (kidding) are all reasons to mobilize the people. To me, putting Lance on waffle packaging just isn’t something to get up in arms over. I don’t buy products because of people who get paid to use them. But I also won’t stop buying a product because someone I don’t like, or don’t support, does get paid to use it. Now if that product is a fraud, or the company producing it acts immorally, that’s another story.

    Anyone is free to exercise their power of moral purchasing and let those companies whose sponsorship you don’t agree with know in a way that hurts them most…their top line. If the facts shake out that some of these smaller companies actively contributed to committing fraud, I’ll join in that fight.

  34. Steve

    These comments reveal some serious overthinking.

    To my mind, Nike’s sin isn’t endorsing Armstrong all these years. It’s the allegation they bribed Verbruggen. If that turns out to be true I’ll personally avoid their products until they atone. Hamilton, Hincappie et al have apologized, and that’s to their credit; I see no reason to punish them further. Trek’s failing seems to me to be mainly gullibility.

    I think the point Padraig is making is that, as not everyone agrees with my moral code, certain companies may see drastic changes in profits. In this he and I strongly agree.

  35. Benny

    The situation poses fundamental questions that few of us have total confidence that we will make the correct ethical choice if placed in a similar position.
    What would I have done – taken the drugs and secured my position, my income, my life as I am currently living it?
    Here is a link to an interesting article by Daniel Coyle (co-writer with Tyler Hamilton of The Secret Race) drawing parallels with the financial sector and the global financial crisis of 2007- http://tinyurl.com/d4n9ge6
    The outcomes will be similar I suspect, lingering less than optimal outcome for some, business as usual for others.

  36. Alex TC

    MDS, got it and I agree with you on that ;-)

    My grip with Nike is that as a company they seem to frequently slide on the ethical side of athete support and on more than one occasion the business side of things too. It’s like they’re over-opportunistic and at the same time have a bad ethical and moral radar, or compass. There must be limits, and once I know a company have been involved in some level of dirty business such as this UCI deal to back up a criminal like Armstrong, or a sick man like Michael Vick, I feel compeled to take a stance and act within my short reach.

    I know it’s a cold world and what it takes to keep our society’s way of life. I’m not trying to be righteous or act saint but some things I just cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye.

  37. Seano

    Touched a nerve, did you?! Yeah, they all are piling on… Fact is, all those companies supported the sport I love, continue to do so in most cases and many have pledged continued support of Livestrong – all very cool. But I get where you are coming from… I definitely make purchase decisions in part based upon my perception of the company.

  38. e-RICHIE

    Hey Patrick –

    On the heels of some of my comments re JW both here and via email, I want to add this gem atmo. Please don’t ever, EVER forget that you cats serve the public first. I just read this page and can’t help to think that some cats holding the mics, or asking the hard questions, and who tell us what’s really going need to grow a set.

    http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/39875782/

    It’s a case of “you either are writing for us, or you are writing for them.” This Madden cat needs to sit with a Kimmage or a Walsh or a Pelkey for a few moments and hope that some integrity rubs off on him.

  39. Trev

    in the late 80’s or early 90’s when is was shown that Milli Vanilli were fraudsters, thousands of people returned their record, tapes, cds demanding a refund. Did that mean the music was any less listenable or enjoyable? People still returned that stuff. I don’t see why people can’t return their bikes, especially if their salesman used LANCE and the TDF wins as a selling point.

    I for one think I am all for a boycott or whatever else is proposed for those companies like Trek, Nike, Oakley etc…….

    I personally don’t like Trek bikes, their ugly paint jobs or stupid name.

  40. randomactsofcycling

    I enjoy all of your posts Padraig because they make me think. And so do a lot of the comments.
    I am glad that Mr Sachs got in first. His comment is intelligent as are many others.
    I can tell you that the only thing I am NOT going to do out of this whole sorry situation is to boycott cycling.
    Ironically, someone once said that we should “believe in these athletes”. I still believe in cyclists and cycling at all levels. I may boycott a product or two but not if I think it will be detrimental to the overall picture.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Trev: You bring up an interesting point with Milli Vanilli. I recall friends going back to record stores for refunds on their CDs. I laughed because it wasn’t like either the record store or the record company didn’t deliver the promised product: they got a CD (or cassette) with music on it. What made the situation so laughable was when the backstory delivered to all the music magazines and MTV didn’t line up with reality and people got upset. The music hadn’t changed. But for those who purchased based on the backstory alone, it was an illustration of just how shallow the public can be.

      A boycott of the companies that supported Armstrong is quite a different matter, and based on the fact that both Nike and Trek chose to distance themselves from Armstrong, there seems to be a fear of exactly that possibility. Trev, you are an example of the consumer they fear: one they’ve alienated with their support for Armstrong.

      If you just don’t like Trek, no matter the reason, that’s fine. There’s Cervelo, Seven, Look and dozens of other brands, one of which will resonate with you. That’s the promise of the free market. Thank heaven.

  41. Rod Diaz

    An opinion on an opinion….

    Padraig and I have discussed our differences RE:Armstrong, but in this case the outrage by some to his association of Porsche with Nazi Germany seems unfair.

    Not because of the possible relationships the car company might or might not have, but because that is his PERSONAL association between a desirable product and a negative historical event. I don’t think at any point he stated “don’t buy German cars, you support the nNzis”.

    Which is relevant to Armstrong’s ex-sponsors… your Livestrong t-shirt now will evoke “I stand against cancer” as much as “I believe in cheating to win” in the grand public eye. Therefore, a marketing asset becomes a liability and the former Midas touch of Armstrong’s endorsements turn poisonous. So whoever can do so with minimal loss of face, dumps him. It’s business, baby.

    Fair or not, this is the risk of getting a celebrity spokesman for your product… I do find it a bit surprising that he was dumped when Woods and Bryant weren’t, but shows how much the Armstrong myth was based on the perception of clean by his employers.

    Very interesting stuff, from a marketing analysis perspective.

  42. Evan Shaw

    With respect and understanding saying being Jewish is a race is a common error as a Jewish person whose family was murdered in the holocaust

    Jews of a religion but NOT a race as hitler tried to assert as his tactic of hatred and prejudice. Jews are from many races ethnicities cultures and countries. Just as being Catholic is not a race.

    Thanks for considering this.

  43. Evan Shaw

    Trek is responsible for knowing for many years the mounting evidence against Armstrong. And they contrary to recent misinformation absolutely wrongly comply with Armstrong wanting to use them to destroy Lemond.

    These companies choose not to look in order to ride the gravy train. Only until they lose more than gain do they get off. Shame.

    The workers of Trek must bear a boycott with the understanding that they too by the companies actions benefited wrongly. If I worked for them I would quit.

  44. Evan Shaw

    Trek and Nike have considerable power. They could pressure Livestrong to remove Armstrong from the board and change their name. Then end the boycott.

  45. AMR

    It is all PR, no doubt. Which of the companies associated with the LA brand didn’t know about his drug taking habits? In fact, what cycling association or organisation didn’t know about his and his mate’s win at any cost startegies? And that of half of the peloton.

    Hey, this is all about money. And it is not going to change (unfortunately). People just decided to turn a blind eye and (in this case most of us) supported the whole system for our own benefit and/or entertainment.

    IMHO, these companies should work out how much they profited from the LA brand phenomenon and sponsor charity organisations around the world. Simple and good PR!

    What about YOU CHANGED, WE’VE CHANGED! for a Nike ad?

  46. Randall

    +1 to substitutes in the market. People might not have bought Trek because of Lance, but many must have bought because they had heard of it. The brand awareness that was created has an incalculable value.

    There are too many bikes, there is no way to test them all, and this makes an easy differentiation for me.

  47. Pete

    I work for a company that builds power plants. Hypothetical: Let’s say my company comes up with a new plant design that is the best in the industry and raises the bar for all future designs, but maybe we stole some ideas from competitors along the way and we got caught by industry watchdogs and it was all made public. In the end however, the world of power production benefited.

    The Discovery and its predecessor teams came up with a winning strategy that involved new training methods, new bike designs, wind tunnel advances, introduction of meticulous route recon methods, TT helmet and skin suite advances, and perhaps other programs I am not recalling. But they also had advances in doping that may or may not have been better than the others teams back in the day. Can we say they raised the bar in competitive cycling? I guess all I am saying is that I hope their legacy will not just be “about the dope”.

  48. Robot

    Boycotts aside, the bigger issue of sponsorship is, I think, that there are real false equivalencies created when we associate people with products. The tacit message is that, if the sponsored athlete is so good, he/she must be using the best product, when in reality all of these people are paid to endorse the products. They are not actually endorsements, which can only be given freely, in my opinion.

    So, for me, the whole affair underlines not just the peril of associating your products with a person whose behavior you don’t understand and/or control on some level, but also the basic fallacy of pro sponsorship at its root level.

  49. Dave

    Well…. it’s a question of how far you want to follow this line of logic. Henry Ford was an extreme anti-Semite and during the 1920s the Ford Motor Company newsletter was filled with anti-Jewish propaganda. Should this stop us from buying a Ford today? I don’t think so. Likewise, after WWII many German companies responsible for aiding the Nazis paid millions to survivors groups, though granted they didn’t have much of a choice. Most in time acknowledged their rolls in collaborating with the Third Reich, the glaring exception being Swiss banks who laundered millions and didn’t admit anything until the 90s when the truth came out only through international investigations.

    How does this relate to Shitstorm 2012™? If, in the coming weeks, Trek, Nike, Oakley, and everyone else come clean and admits WHAT they knew and WHEN, then they deserve our support. If they sit on their secrets until they all come out in a courtroom then I say boycott boycott boycott.

  50. peter lin

    I’ve enjoyed reading the article and comments. Advertising is a necessity of business, but often “we” the consumer get taken in by it. Some people buy Trek because someone famous rides it. I tried Madone, but didn’t like the feel of the bike and didn’t get it. Advertising definitely played a part in the selection process for me. I didn’t really consider getting a giant until a friend recommended it. Ultimately I chose the bike that fit me.

    Speaking for myself, when I feel I’ve been lied to by a company, it makes me furious. Once I cool down, what I want from myself is to not fall for the lie again and to ask the company to “do better.” For me, pushing for improvement with a positive message is easier medicine than “you suck and your company sucks.”

    If there was a campaign to encourage Trek to sponsor anti-doping research, that is something I would whole heartedly support. As spike lee would say “do the right thing.”

  51. Evan Shaw

    Padraig would you please write a short correction regarding my prior post? Thank you in advance

    Prior post

    With respect and understanding saying being Jewish is a race is a common error as a Jewish person whose family was murdered in the holocaust

    Jews of a religion but NOT a race as hitler tried to assert as his tactic of hatred and prejudice. Jews are from many races ethnicities cultures and countries. Just as being Catholic is not a race.

    Thanks for considering this.

  52. KF

    I grew up in south Texas, and Trek is absolutely favored by roadies in Texas because of LA. Trek dealers are #1 in Texas because of LA. For a long time, it was difficult to find anything BUT a Trek in Texas because of LA, if you wanted a road bike.

    I sympathize with the inner battle with one’s conscience. But my cynicism leads me to feel resigned to the issue of companies riding the wave (capitalism, right?). I lean toward assuming most major companies don’t “represent my values” and willfully engage in dubious practices to some degree, whether it’s treating workers poorly, putting crap in our food, evading taxes or lying to us in advertisements. Will I give up my MacBook? No way. Can I afford to speak with my wallet and buy organic food from local companies 100% of the time? Nope.

    There’s no truth in advertising, and the myth of LA is just another one of those untruths when it comes to selling bikes. His story just has a more personal twinge to cyclists than finding out that Taco Bell’s taco “meat” is actually mostly not meat.

    I’m not demeaning the gravity of the situation. I worshiped US Postal as a teenage roadie. I’ve watched countless hours of old Tour footage while sweating it out on the trainer. But as an adult, I also learned that superstars, advertisements and the gear companies themselves have nothing to do with my experience of going out and riding on a bike.

    The courts and the media can have this one. I’m going for a ride.

  53. Debbie in Alamo Heights

    Instead of attacking the quality of the evidence (hearsay/not hearsay), couldn’t some enterprising investigative journalist just make a call? Anyone have Julien Devries’s number?

  54. Debbie in Alamo Heights

    Same with “the Motoman.” We know who he is. Why hasn’t anyone dropped a dime and got his take on this thing?

  55. PMAC

    Specialized, like Trek is now a wealthy corporation. If there is a resemblance to the small, homey operation that was the bike builder each corporation grew up from, it now exists pretty much only in the logo or name. Before the currently hot issue of Trek’s sketchy history with the Lance, Specialized effectively crushed a much smaller company, Portland’s Mountain Cycle, over a name dispute of MC’s “Stumptown” cyclocross bike. There are certainly other examples of predatory or murky corporate behavior in the bicycle industry.

    So as an alternative, although it’s difficult to go to a LBS and find more options than either Trek or Specialized in most cases (oh there might be a Cannondale dealer somewhere), I find myself drawn more and more to small builders or, honestly, any other company besides Specialized or Trek. They make great bikes, but there are a lot of companies making great bikes. The last straw for Trek in my book came upon learning that a college riding buddy who’d worked loyally as an engineer at Trek for the past 14 years, was “downsized” this past spring. I reckon my next frame at least, will come from a company employing one person; the one who’s name is on the frame. So unless I later find out that that person is a scumbag, my conscience is clear.

  56. Khal Spencer

    Its a long and winding road between a company supporting doping in cycling vs. German or Japanese firms that built war machinery to wage aggressive war and therefore engaged directly or indirectly in war crimes.

    I’d hold Nike and Trek accountable if they were pulling a Captain Renault, to the extent that they put the entire peloton into disrepute by supporting doping, and take my business elsewhere. I really want to know what Trek and Nike knew, and when they knew it.

    On the other hand, given the trouble I had with my Porsche 951 over the years, I wondered if it had been built by German workers who had a grudge to settle against we Yanks.

  57. Evan Shaw

    Khai,

    Actually, Germany, has in all fairness, made huge strides to atone and give restitution for their war crimes and for the holocaust. If anything they are not holding grudges overall. Amazingly, other countries has not come as far. So no, attributing one car’s problems to the whole group in jest is not backed by the state of things.

  58. David

    I am not so sure Trek as a company can be held responsible for “knowing” that Armstrong was engaged in unethical behavior up until the recent deluge of hard evidence. Sure, there were lots of allegations that were very credible, but is it really the responsibility of a bike company to make a reasoned judgement on that from an ethical (rather than business) perspective? I think the comparison of a company that sold more bikes because of a racer that used EPO and blood doped to companies that not only profited from, but aided and abetted, the Nazi killing machine, is quite farfetched. BMW manufactured engines for military aircraft in concentration camps using slave labor (you can see photographs of this at the Holocaust Museum in DC). I don’t think- and I know that you don’t, either- that Trek is in the same league. (and for the record, Porsche was started after the end of the war and did not contribute to the Nazi war effort , although, of course, the eldest Porsche designed the VW and engineered engines for Panzer tanks.)

  59. Reid N.

    First, Trek had to know that the rumours were all true, at least as of 2005-06 when LA Confidentiel, the SCA arbitration trial evidence and Le Mensonge Armstrong were made public. They are cyclists. they know what is going on. They are not morons.
    Second, Trek’s treatment of Greg Lemond was simply shameful. Lemond sued (or countersued) after Trek sued him and terminated the business relationship for Lemond’s bikes. [Great decision BTW–“Let’s replace the Lemond brand with a ‘Gary Fischer’ road bike line. How did that one work out for you?] Go back and look at that Powerpoint slide show that Trek distributed explaining that it had to sue Lemond and terminate his contract because Lemond continued to make negative commens about their drug dealing dope fiend spokesman. Trek knew the score, and decided to go all-in by supporting Armstrong over Lemond and the truth. It is funny to look at the slideshow and see the slides where Trek cites complaints it has received from customers and dealers that they will not longer be buying Trek or Lemond products because of Lemond’s public citicism of Armstrong. Of course, those e-mails were all generated indirectly by Lance’s publicity machine and his millions of lemming-like followers. When Trek terminated Lemond’s contract was the time I decided I could never buy a Trek bicycle.
    My undestanding is that the lawsuit between Lemond and Trek settled on a confidential basis. I would love to know the terms. Most interesting would be the e-mail traffic between Armstrong and his camp and the people making decisions at Trek. How much direct pressure did Armstrong put on Trek to terminate Lemond? Or was direct pressure not necessary because, even without being told, Trek knew it had to take steps to protect its meal ticket and silence the meal ticket’s ctitics. The case settled before Lemond ever got the chance to depose Armstrong. That would have been really fun. That might have been why the case settled.

  60. Just Sayin

    Not condoning the doping, cheating and lying, but how many of us would have had the courage to say no to performance enhancing drugs during that time?
    Imagine if you were a young and up coming rider with hopes and dreams, would you have done it if you were in that same situation or would you have walked away?

  61. Dave J

    …. just a slight alternative perspective on this whole boycott thing:

    My dog recently ate my suunglasses, an old pair of very muched loved Oakleys that I’ve had for almost 7 years. Now that I need to replace them, I’ve looked into alternative brands, becuase as I also wish to stop supporting brands that have helped perpetuate athletic doping.

    In my investigations I’ve discovered that Oakley sunglasses are made in the USA, while almost every single other competitor makes their glasses in China. Furthermore, as far as I know, Trek also still manufactures their top-end frames in Wisconsin, while their competitors exclusively manufacture in Taiwan and China.

    Although everything about PED’s, LA and livestrong makes my skin crawl, If I have to choose to support a company that supports doping, or one that supports the Chinese economy (in lieu of supporting manufacturing jobs in NA), I will choose doping in a heartbeat.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Dave J: Thanks for what you shared. Your point about American manufacturing is a perfect example of the emotional calculus that goes into every significant purchase we make. My point is not that it is right or wrong, but that in using our personal values to inform or purchases gives the stuff that makes up our lives legitimate meaning. It’s a concrete demonstration of what we believe, that we’re living our values. And in that, there’s no bad. But I gotta add, when you wrote “My dog recently ate my sunglasses” I flashed on those “dog ate my homework” stories from elementary school, and that gave me a good laugh. Thanks.

  62. Evan Shaw

    The sole reason I am sharing this is because it matters greatly. It is a common misunderstanding of how the Nazis came to power and the nature of guilt and complicity for the holocaust to think most people did not know or participate in it. The German people have shown exemplary compassion and have worked very hard to face these very things and to establish a new way of living. However, in other parts of the world these ideas are part of the lingering anti-semitism that still exists today by many people. Not criticism whatsoever intended here! Just the importance of correcting this. Thank you. Evan

    Inaccurate depiction of VW/ Porshe in otherwise wonderful piece where stated they may unwittingly aided and abetted the Nazis. it is documented thoroughly that they knowingly and with malice of foresight exploited and profited from slave labor, including the very worst things that the Nazis did by embracing the ideology and extermination practices of the Nazis.

    Volkswagen’s history of forced labour

    http://mondediplo.com/1998/01/11volkswag

  63. Petros

    I read some of the comments this morning, and I thought about them during my ride. A boycott of TREK sure sounds great. However, such action has an unintended (and innocent) victim: the local bike shop that sells TREK bicycles. In our economy in a prolonged recession, small businesses (like an LBS) suffer each and every time their main sellers suffer a set-back. I personally think that TREK chose wrong to side with LA and push aside the one true american cycling hero/stud, Greg LeMond. However, the guy that owns the local cyclery sells TREKs. A lot of them. A boycott could very well put him under.
    I stop by and pick stuff there occasionally because I want the small guy to stay in business and be around for a long time. Small businesses ARE the engine of the economy…
    Think deeply and for a long time before you act. The person you’ll hurt may not be JUST a manufacturer that you disagree with…

  64. Evan Shaw

    Petros consider this difficult but important learning. What the world realized in Nuremburg with regards to responsibility and complicity in structural evil is that it is not morally nor legally acceptable to say I followed orders I was a mere pawn etc. all people at all levels bear responsibility for being a part if a corrupt fraudulent and criminal operation or worse lie this article refers to the nazi regime.

    Trek rode the gravy train. They helped kill Lemond’s business and reputation as well. All those employed by trek and who sell it rose this train as well

    As a former bike employee I would gladly stop selling trek and apologize profusely to my clients. There are many fine brands.

    I trek sees this happening the muscle of this will bite hard. Ey will magically see the light and issue an apology to Lemond and the public and redress these errors.

    Boycott over employees fine.

  65. High Plains Drifter

    First of all, great summary and breakdown of the moving pieces.

    I submit, however, that there are numerous distinct categories here, each of which deserves its own discussion.

    Nike, for one example, was a heavy promoter. Like Dr Frankenstein, they might have had noble intentions, but they helped to create a monster. If they knew all along, that’s one thing, but even if they were as surprised as everyone else (big if), there’s a negligence factor.

    (Similarly, negligence and not conspiracy is good enough to demand the removal of the entire UCI leadership. At this point, it really doesn’t matter if they were in on it. Your store gets robbed, it doesn’t matter if the night watchman opened the door for them or was merely asleep when they broke in.)

    CTS, on the other hand, was born of the Big Lie. That’s a completely different problem than Nike is facing. Every customer deserves the right to reevaluate the goods received in light of a possible placebo effect.

    Cheers!

  66. High Plains Drifter

    Dave J:

    Just splitting a hair here. Amongst the top brands, yes, Oakleys are made in the USA. (Only their sunglasses. Some Rx models are made in China.)
    But most of the rest (Smith, etc) make their performance frames in Italy, with the Rx frames also made in China.

  67. Les Borean

    Tifosi sunglasses. Tifosi sunglasses: Made in Taiwan. Not USA, but not Red China either.

    I think we should bring back that name: “Red China”

  68. ChrisC

    Gotta add this: Oakley is owned by Luxottica, a Milan, Italy based company who also owns Ray-Ban and Revo, among other brands. Oakley might still make their stuff in the USA, but it’s no longer truly an American brand.

  69. Burnt

    Despite the doping, Lance still had to train, right? I could stuff my self with EPO and T to the gills but I ain’t winning the TdF. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that CTS gave Lance his non-doping training regimen and he just topped it off with dope and stranger blood.

    My initial thoughts were of Trek. LA really built the brand into the monster it is today, but that monster has a life of its own. They are the generic “quality” bike out there. Everybody who doesn’t read RKP knows Trek. Specialized? A distant second in mindshare even though sales are probably not that far off. I think Trek will take a hit, but not as big as some would want.

    Honestly, I think cycling is going to take a hit across the board. It used to be that the guy in the pickup honking at you would say “get outta the road you Lance Armstrong wannabe!”, now he’ll just say “get outta the road a**h*le!” For potential recruitees to the sport, “Lance Armstrong wannabe” can be appealing, nobody wants to be an a**h*le.

  70. bob

    @Evan Shaw:

    “Actually, Germany, has in all fairness, made huge strides to atone and give restitution for their war crimes and for the holocaust. If anything they are not holding grudges overall.”

    Actually I’m not sure why they would hold any grudges because, in a sad irony, Hitler and his party started WW2 partly due to holding a grudge for being disarmed after WW1.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: While this has stayed really civil, and I’m willing to allow comments to run ad infinitum, at least in theory, these comments aren’t really germane to the larger point of the post. My bringing up Nazi Germany was a relatively minor point to illustrate my purchasing calculus. Regardless, we need to leave the discussion of German reparations now. Let me hasten to add that this comment isn’t directed at any one reader; it’s simply a response to the ongoing discussion. This, after all, is a cycling blog. That said, I will at least take a moment to praise the enlightened conversation.

  71. Lars

    Padraig,
    Respectfully, I think the moral quandary over whether to buy German cars or not is a superficial and somewhat naive one. After all, there were also american companies which contributed to/collaborated with the Nazi effort and therefore one should also consider boycotting. Below is a short list. Sadly however, your sentiments are paralleled by many and unfortunately well-preserved only by a self-righteous and myopic existence. I wish you had been more careful about selecting a more appropriate analogy.
    Thanks,
    Lars

    American Companies having contributed to Nazi Germany;
    J.P. Morgan/Chase
    Kodak
    IBM
    Ford
    Coca-Cola
    Random House Publishing


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Lars: You can make sport of the example I used (it was not an analogy, I might point out) and call me self-righteous and myopic, not to mention naive. It’s a kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking that depends on the assumption that I was unaware of the companies you pointed out (you didn’t mention any of the tobacco companies that profited). The reality is that some companies profited more than others and I occasionally wince to think about how some companies grew by order of magnitude thanks to the Nazi war machine. Coca-Cola did not profit the way that Mercedes-Benz did.

  72. Pat

    My first Specialized was an Allez steel road bike and made in the USA. It was a 105 groupo made in Japan. My how things have changed. But, I just sent an email to Trek telling them I would buy a premium 520 touring bike if the frame was made in Wisconsin from Reynolds 853 and with a XT drivetrain and hubs. Their reply was that it was an interesting idea, and the email was passed to marketing. Maybe their is hope. Maybe companies will understand the head badge is only a small part of the picture. And maybe I could actually afford it! But even though it is a Trek, I would still buy it, Postal or not.

  73. Lars

    Fine. Let me raise a question; we were all aware (to some extent) of the prevalent doping in the peloton during that era and beyond. The Europeans are so accustomed to having one of their own caught that they are almost desensitized when it happens nowadays. They pick up the pieces and move on. So why are so many of us now up in arms during the fallout phase? Is it because we were so emotionally invested in the LA story; young world champ, stricken with cancer, comeback kid, unprecedented tour dominance, etc. that we were blinded? No, I don’t think so. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt and therefore attribute the rampant LA bashing to hypocrisy; the same shameless hypocrisy that is alive and well at for instance Team Quick Step where a committed doper Patrick Lefevre fires Levi Leipheimer. I am not by any means an LA supporter but who am I to bash the man’s character particularly when I (as we all have) at times acted dishonestly and unethically. The critics and cynics alike can cry foul and they tend to be the biggest hypocrites, but that is there privilege. However, it doesn’t change the fact that we always endure the bad with the good, no matter how good ‘it’ initially is. I was 17 when LA won his first tour and I attribute that event as one of the main reasons why I bought a road bike and still am immersed in this beautiful sport today. Am I now in tears like many who “had their dream shattered” and start earmarking which LA-affiliated companies to boycott? Does that encapsulate me as an individual passionate about the sport of cycling? I think people need to get over the sensationalism of the LA Affair, be a little more introspected and show some resilience…try reciting the positives of cycling rather than analyzing which company to boycott. (Vino doped, oops, guess no Speciazed and BMC for me, and Ulrich too? Yep, no Pinarello or Bianci either). It’s unrealistic. No one is infallible; not your or I, not our fearless and intrepid political leaders,…not even professional cyclists. If folks want eto xcessively criticize and over-analyze the notion of boycotting, have at it. Just know that if one looks at these things in granularity they almost always tend to be a zero sum game.
    For the record Padraig, I enjoy your content and contributions. I did not call you naive and myopic but I see how it came across; so I am sorry for that as I should have chose my words more carefully.

  74. Martin Casson

    It’s a cultural thing to a certain extent. I hate TREK bikes. Always have done. (Secialized too). For me they epitomise faceless, bland giant corporations that have as much connection to cycling as my mother-in-law. I started cycling in the era of bespoke frame builders who measured you up and built exactly what you wanted, Harry Hall, Neil Orrell, MKM (Metcalf Kitching Mason). I had frames built by all of them. The italian builders were just the same, except they sponsored teams and grew because of the publicity.
    And here’s the thing. Trek grew to become a huge bike company because of the legend of LA. (I lost count of the hundreds of Lance clones I saw riding around on team OCLV or whatever dressed head to toe in matching Postal livery.) They only sponsored one pro (road) team to the best of my knowledge. Lance and TREK were inextricably linked. Man, bike. Bike, man. To see a picture of Lance riding a different bike would have been inconceivable. He wore other clothes however. He didn’t exclusively eat Powerbars or wear Nike. Though he may have worn no eyewear brand other than Oakleys, they did also sponsor other teams, like now it’s nearly the whole peleton. So to my point, by riding a TREK bike you identify with Lance far more than if you wear Oakleys or Nike. They have many fingers in many sports and many famous athletes. Brand LA is a small line in their annual accounts. Over at TREK, it’s a different thing altogether. Now where’s my De Rosa?

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