An Open Letter to Lance Armstrong

An Open Letter to Lance Armstrong

Armstrong_Lips

Dear Lance,
Let me begin by saying that I bear you no malice. I am not someone who’d like to see you dragged through the streets of Paris so that crowds can do to you what crowds are wont to do. I am not someone who has forgotten that you have done real good in the world and am well aware that in guys like Mike Ward and Jeff Castelaz, there continue to be genuine acolytes to the north star you provided those navigating the perils of cancer. I’m okay with that.

I am not someone who has forgotten the hope you represented to cycling here in the U.S. back in 1996, that you began to fill the void left by the retirement of Greg LeMond. I’ll never forget hearing Jim Ochowicz say at the final press conference for the Tour DuPont that it was time to start grooming you to win the Tour de France. I wrote this as you began your comeback, and when you did win the Tour in ’99 I thought myself prescient, rather than duped.

And while I doubt you even remember me, yours remain the most entertaining interview I ever conducted. It was a truly fun afternoon.

In previously writing about cycling and you, I struck a pragmatic tone, differing with the likes of David Walsh and Paul Kimmage. Walsh classified dopers as either draggers or the dragged; I reasoned that fundamentally, every cyclist of your generation was either dragged into doping, or quit. I’ve learned the truth is otherwise, that Walsh was right, that the lengths you went to exert influence over not just your team, but the whole of the peloton included wire taps and private investigators—tactics too coarse for sport. It’s easier to understand now why you accused Greg LeMond of using EPO—you simply thought that everyone did.

What you don’t seem to understand is that your interview with Oprah was never going to serve the purpose you desired. It was both too soon and too late. It was too late in that the horse hasn’t been in the barn for ages. The collective weight of the documents released in USADA’s Reasoned Decision dethroned your myth as the prevailing world view. It’s often said that history is told by the victors. Your story proves exactly that. Your version of events stood for a decade, but game, set and match have gone to Travis Tygart. By giving an interview to Oprah that fell short of what we learned from the Reasoned Decision, you failed to meet the minimum level of confession required to help your image. We didn’t need a body language expert to tell us your pursed lips meant you were holding back. And the interview also came too soon in that the public remains outraged over the revelation that the Cancer Jesus was something more akin to Machiavelli. They simply aren’t ready to forgive a lie that great.

As my colleague Charles Pelkey noted (and yeah, I know you think of him as “clueless”), your use of the passive voice—“got bullied”—suggests you really haven’t taken responsibility for your actions.

You dodged both the “deathbed confession” at the heart of your fight with the Andreus and the 2001 positive at the Tour of Switzerland. We no longer believe what you’re telling us. Why you won’t simply confirm that Betsy and Frankie have been telling the truth mystifies me. It’s not like you can hope to win the coming suit by SCA Promotions, so why hide? Why you won’t admit the Tour of Switzerland positive took place is less surprising. At this point, you have no reason to protect Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, as they are no longer protecting you. But it’s obvious that Nike, alleged to have helped pay off Verbruggen to make the positive go Jimmy Hoffa, would suffer a PR black eye far worse than sweat-shopping every child in Southeast Asia, and if you out them, your dream of rehabilitating your image so that you can once again “Just Do It” for them will go bye-bye.

That you would sit down with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission may have been the biggest lie you told Oprah. Dude, come on, if you won’t level with her—and she’s as sympathetic a listener as anyone ever gets—there’s little chance you’ll tell the whole truth to people who really know the sport, people who will ask hard questions.

I like to imagine that there’s an alternate universe, one where you delete the Strava account and go underground, where you drop by cancer wards unannounced, where you sit with people at death’s door and do what you do best: Give people hope. While I think Sally Jenkins’ quip that you beat cancer fair and square is asinine, I know that you can’t fake hope. There’s another narrative in you, room to say, “Yeah, I did some really stupid things to my body and my sport, but I still managed to beat this disease, and you can too.” And when you aren’t visiting cancer patients, you would be quietly showing up on doorsteps. First the Andreus. There’d be an apology and then you’d whip out your calculator to help figure the value of all that lost income.

And then you’d write a check.

Next, you’d fly to the U.K. and do the same for Emma O’Reilly. Then on to New Zealand where you’d present six figures to Mike Anderson. You’d take Floyd Landis out for beers, but not until you gave him a check, one with two commas. The toughest one would be the LeMonds. Done right, you’d find a bike company with the horsepower and credibility to revive LeMond’s bike line, probably Specialized or Giant, because I doubt John Burke, the head of Trek, and Greg LeMond will ever shake hands again … thanks to you, of course. In my mind’s eye you’d apologize to the LeMonds and tell them of the new deal, one that required no lawyers, and then the biggest check of the bunch, one that measured in tens—of millions. Yeah, that one would hurt. It’s the one that would make you think, over and over, about what you have done.

Without any press in tow, without any of your minions to insulate you, and no lawyers to get in the way, you’d come face to face with your actions and deal with the fallout. But word would spread and nothing could rehabilitate your image like having Betsy Andreu say, “Lance Armstrong sat down with Frankie and me, apologized, and then asked, ‘What can I do to make you whole?’”

Writing checks can’t fix the harm you did, but it would be a way to reconcile their earnings to yours, a way to right-size what your and their careers should have been. Despite all the good you’ve done for millions of cancer patients, the way you damaged the lives of those who got in your way stands as a symbol for the damage you caused cycling as a whole. With Oprah you rued the $75 million hit you took in a single day. Well guess what? Cycling as a sport has taken a much bigger hit. You are our Hurricane Katrina. Selling cycling to potential sponsors is tougher than selling real estate in the Ninth Ward. We’ll be cleaning up this mess for years to come.

I used to smile and wave when people at the side of the road called out, “Hey Lance Armstrong!” My God man, you single-handedly transformed cycling from the non-sport of geeky outcasts into a triumph of healthy living. Your downfall took us with you; now cycling is the sport of cheaters. Today, I hear people yell, “Doper!”

Look, I’m the first to argue against the lifetime ban for cyclists. We profess to be a society where anyone can apologize and be forgiven, but Lance, we don’t yet believe you’re contrite. When I look at how much harm, shame and ridicule you’ve brought to cycling, I realize if anyone has earned a lifetime ban, it’s you.

Respectfully,
Patrick Brady
Publisher
Red Kite Prayer

 

147 comments

  1. Aar

    Nice letter Padraig. Many of my thoughts exactly. Though, I have a bit of a factual bone to pick. In saying “Cycling as a sport has taken a much bigger hit. You are our Hurricane Katrina.” are you ignoring the dramatic growth in sales of bicycles, related clothing, accessories and media as well as the price points of those items throughout Lance’s Tour winning career? I’m not ignoring that this was a largely American phenomenon. I’m also not pointing this out to diminish the point of your letter. Rather, IMHO, had your letter recognized the building effect his career had on the US cycling industry from 1999 through 2005 and beyond, your letter would be more credible – if less impactful.

    Thank you

  2. Rick Vosper

    Well, said, as usual. I’m not sure about the financial restitution part, but you absolutely nailed it with “By giving an interview to Oprah that fell short of what we learned from the Reasoned Decision, you failed to meet the minimum level of confession required to help your image.”

    Amen to that, Padraig.

    But I’m afraid the whole LeMond bike line topic has become a bit of a red herring. I’m not convinced the line was ever a money-maker for Trek, and if anyone has credible evidence to the contrary, I’d be interested to hear it.

    Until that time, the notion that the Burke family would act against its own interests to promote some as-yet unsubstantiated secret deal with LA is the grossest sort of speculation. Sure, it could be true, it might be true, but until there’s actual evidence, it’s just more cyclists talkin’ smack. And haven’t we had enough of that for awhile?

    Heck, if we just want to heap further shame on LA, it’s not there’s any shortage of actual material to work with.

  3. Wisco

    I guess writing checks is something to make up for the lives Lance tried to destroy, but he’ll never do it. Why? Deep down he’s a narcissist who is incapable of feeling empathy for anyone else. It’s sad really. Such a public declaration of hope through Livestrong that rings hollow as we see he is incapable of truly apologizing. It’s still image control as it always has been. I wonder if he truly cares at all?

  4. Eto

    Patrick,

    Your storyline would make a great Hollywood movie. It would leave us hopeful of the ultimate strength of the human spirit to overcome even a great moral challenge.

    Lance still has a choice to make.

    He can continue to stay on a dark path and spend all his energy protecting what he has built, or, he can begin to do the right thing (as you have outlined) and let it figuratively go. Of course, the latter has the potential to eventually come back to him and make him whole again through Grace.

    For Lance’s sake, I hope he listens to his heart and not his business advisors to make the next move.

    Thank you for being so bold to suggest a path forward. A rebuke of sorts that will never be easy or even popular, but just right.

  5. Aar

    Clark:

    Let’s hope the tide doesn’t leave carnage as it recedes!

    I’m not giving Lance all of the credit for the tide rising so high and I hope the other factors give it more staying power.

  6. Patrick Morin

    Look… Either we want clean cycling or we don’t… To that end there needs to be a period of harsh, yes lifetime, bans for doping. High profile, contrite or not, you got caught your done! The risk must be greater than the reward. No racing in any sanctioning body. No sponsors. Monetary retribution. The works. The same pressure, perceived or real, that many used to excuse their doping can be used to clean it up. But only when the numbers of clean riders continues to climb.

  7. Clark

    Aar,

    Agreed! The good news is that this cycling lifestyle so many discovered thanks to the early 2000s boom is too fun for people to just give it up as a result of bad press, and too fun not to share with others.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to pen something that resonates.

      Aar: I made a nod to what Lance did in building up cycling near the close when I mentioned how he turned cycling into a “triumph of healthy living.” The Lance Effect of sales is well enough documented I didn’t feel like I needed to rehash that.

      Rick: Thanks for the kind words. As to LeMond’s bike line, it may be true that it was never destined to be a big money maker, but I’ve heard so many things anecdotally about Armstrong using his influence to shut the line down, I’ve come to accept it as a fact he won’t confirm. Put another way, I’m unwilling to believe the LeMond brand would have gone away when it did had those two not been at loggerheads.

      Wisco: From what I’ve heard about the way Armstrong has gone to bat for people who have suffered cancer, I believe he is truly capable of great empathy and compassion. I think Cancer Lance isn’t the same guy as Bike Lance. I think he has a heart; it’s just not turned on all the time. And that’s a shame.

      Patrick Morin: I hope you’ll consider that the lifetime ban isn’t nearly as constructive as some may want it to be. Had David Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer and Christian Vande Velde all been told they needed to testify and then they’d be banned for life, each of those guys would have plead the fifth and Armstrong would still be the winner of seven Tours. The lifetime ban seems like a great punishment, but punishment isn’t nearly as effective as prevention. And to prevent doping in the future, we need to know how it was done in the past and to do that, we need cooperative testimony by those at ground zero.

  8. Fuzznsmoo

    I’ve been waiting for something like this. I think most people understand the doping. What set Armstrong apart from all his contemporaries was the apparent sociopathic behavior to cover it up.

  9. RiverCityRed

    Well said and wise. Unfortunately, Padraig and LA could not have more different world views; one well aware of justice in its many forms and the other primarily well aware of himself. I’m sure LA will write checks, but I will be surprised if any are written on a purely voluntarily basis or to genuinely make amends. Just not in his nature.

    My own thoughts on Lance, which derailed our beer blog today: http://rivercityred.blogspot.com/2013/01/armstrong-last-word-i-hope.html.

  10. Michael Birdsong

    The true ‘heroes’ and inspirations in the area of cancer treatment and terminal care are the unnamed and ‘unwashed’ masses of doctors, nurses, clerks, volunteers, friends and family who march thru the gates of hell with someone who truly needs the help.

    Not fake ass yellow/pink/purple plastic bracelets, not ‘shout out’ tweets or facebook postings, not ‘begging for money to go ride your F@#$ing bicycle”….

    and definitely not narcissistic, bully, thug, cheating lying dopers trying to deploy ‘the cancer shield’ to save the one semi-likely source of future revenue in a now ruined career.

    Do not get me wrong, hope is a POWERFUL force and can improve situations/treatment/outcomes, but please, the “cancer Jesus” role Armstrong paraded to the world is just as false as his ‘clean champion’ charade. Even the guy you mention in New Zealand is quoted as saying Armstrong said “I hate these fucking things” when talking about have to attend LiveStrong events.

  11. Hoshie99

    I agree. As the old saying goes, “don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.” It’s hard to be sympathetic about not being able to do a marathon at age 50. He can go run on the Big Island with his buddies…

    Hardly a harsh punishment given all the years of exceptionally bad behavior.

    j

  12. Sam

    From “I like to imagine that there’s an alternate universe …” to “‘What can I do to make you whole?’” is the same scenario I keep pretending played out.

    For someone who had every single opportunity, political and financial, to save face and surely redeem himself, he completely DNF’d after senselessly and continuously attacking off the front while the rest of the break-away group wondered what the hell he was doing.

    Le sigh, Mr. Armstrong, you could have actually made it through this intact.

  13. Ian

    Patrick,
    I think you completely missed the mark. I think what was said and not said in the interview is EXACTLY what he wanted. To the bicycling world it seems like a complete PR fail, but he went on Oprah to reach the masses, not the cyclists.
    Oprah got him the audience who says things like “It doesn’t matter if he did drugs, look at what he has done to fight cancer”
    They don’t care about Frankie, Betsy, Floyd and Emma. They don’t even know who they are.
    He is still the same guy. Still making calculated pr moves.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Ian: I agree that Armstrong said exactly what he wanted; we don’t differ on that point. I also agree with you that this was a calculated PR move. But it’s not just the cycling world that thinks the interview was a fail. The pundits on every network called the interview a fail. Now, I don’t place that much stock in their opinion, but the outcome of the interview was ambiguous enough that I think Joe Q. Public was looking to the talking heads to know how to feel about it. I’ve yet to run into a single person who thinks Armstrong achieved his intended purpose, that he repaired his reputation in any way. Were he a president, we’d say his approval ratings were in single digits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m surprised by how much this backfired; I didn’t anticipate this outcome at all, and in that regard I’m not alone.

  14. Clark

    Ian,

    I’ve read commentary from several mainstream sports and news outlets that were far from impressed with his “performance.” See the New Yorker for an example:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/01/lance-armstrongs-flawed-confession.html?mbid=nl_Daily (162)

    The point a lot of people here are making is that the sporting aspect of this situation is the least of it; it’s the lying, intimidation (of peers and witnesses), and the obstruction of justice that make this a big deal. The mainstream media gets that, and I think most people get that too. A quick Google search of “lance armstrong poll” reveals this informal query by the LA Times:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/18/sports/la-sp-poll-perception-of-lance-armstrong-20130117

  15. Justin

    I agree with this and would add this angle. Lance is trying to wage a tactical war to win the right to race again. The best way to win that war is to deny it’s very existence. “I never care if I race again. The most important thing is I repair the harm I’ve done to those I’ve hurt, including my family, and find a way to work with my foundation again. Racing only mattered in that it gave me a platform to continue to raise awareness” Given how toxic that performance was and how obvious it was to many that returning to racing is his sole goal and this was a bad end around attempt no one will take up that cause. Tell everyone you don’t care if you race again then suddenly people are saying “He’s apologized, he’s taken his lumps. He’s moved on. It’s un-American to deprive a person the right to their livelihood forever. Especially a man who uses that to help cancer patients” I promise you in 12 months it’s Travis that’s squirming not Lance.

  16. Rick Vosper

    @Ian,

    Not so sure I agree about the Lance-As-A-Little-Tin-God-Worshiping masses.

    I hosted a Lance Oprahcalypse Heecklathion ™ at a Boulder pub that was popular enough to be picked up in two local newspapers as well as on radio and TV. It was fun, but more somber than I would have expected– I guess Lance had more hold on us than I anticipated.

    We packed the place. Attendees ranged from industry oldtimers like me to half a dozen VeloNews staffers to folks who were just curious and came in off the streets.

    The woman seated opposite me at our table was there because her husband was a cyclist, but she felt Lance was a genuinely decent man being horribly maligned and persecuted by those meanies at USADA. I saw her face fall in disbelief over the next hour and a half, not so much from the admissions as in response the smug, arrogant, self-serving way he said them.

    By the end of the evening she was in tears.

    For me, watching that poor woman’s transformation was far more powerful than anything going on up on the screen. *And every* Lance Apologist I’e spoken to feels the same way.

    Your Mileage May Vary, of course. But I’m with @Ian and @Padraig on this one.

  17. Souleur

    ‘With Oprah you rued the $75 million hit you took in a single day. Well guess what? Cycling as a sport has taken a much bigger hit. You are our Hurricane Katrina. Selling cycling to potential sponsors is tougher than selling real estate in the Ninth Ward. We’ll be cleaning up this mess for years to come.’

    Excellent point Padraig! This is a great analogy, that indeed, i have found similarly to be the case.

    Its harder to be a cyclist, as everyones always popping off remarks, before positive ones in the sport, now negative ones. Its like I eat kittens for breakfast everyday

    And the contrition, is spot on
    He must fully be contrite, THEN come forth with all of it, without reservations, and then reconciliation can take place between him, those he has smashed, and the sport.

    Then, he must do something for those whose opportunities were never realized because they refused to submit as ‘dopers’

    then…perhaps he may move on
    otherwise, its a millstone around his neck for the rest of his life

  18. Fernando

    Thanks for sharing your open letter with us. I hope you don’t mind if I share a couple thoughts with you.

    Notwithstanding your thoughtful, well written letter, I am surprised to read another Lance piece that seems to me to miss such an obvious element of the LA/Oprah interview. Many, many details to his story were intentionally left out because Lance realizes that if there is any chance to reduce the damage coming his way – financial damage and the ability to compete in any event beyond a picnic sack race – it lies in all the knowledge that he still holds. And this knowledge is the only bargaining chip, actually multiple bargaining chips, that he can trade with.

    While it seems there is a lot of discussion about this being a process for Lance (and really for all of us who care about the sport), I think one of the greatest lessons that Lance has taught us about Lance is that he is ultra calculating. So on the spectrum of satisfaction post-interview, there is Besty Andreu and others who feel that LA fell woefully short in his apology/ies, and I’m sure on the other end are his lawyers who feel he said way too much. And my hunch is that Lance is somewhere in the middle feeling ok about things. And in some ways he probably feels better than ok because beyond the public he now has the ear of many interested parties – the UCI (current and past presidents), his business associates (rich guys like Wiesel), and Usada (who want a lot more details on what LA knows), and he’ll trade his knowledge with all these parties to get what Lance wants. And let me throw out some examples of what this could look like.

    Lance will share just enough about what he knows about the UCI, Hein and Pat, money exchanged, etc. and Pat will resign, Hein will shut up, the truth will be divulged in full, but sealed from the public, and Lance will somehow negotiate a lesser punishment somewhere along the way. Oh, and he’ll relish the fact that he will get to silence Pat once and for all.

    As for his business partners including Weisel, Bruyneel, etc. I imagine LA holds enough on these guys to demonstrate that LA was not alone in all his actions and therefore when a financial settlement is struck, it won’t just be Lance who has to break into his piggy bank.

    And as far as Usada, well they want more info on who was involved, how things were done, etc. and they will consider horse trading a reduction in his ban if he gives up some meaningful info…info that LA calculated didn’t need to be part of his Oprah interview but will serve him well with the authorities.

    Well, I guess I had a few things I wanted to get off my chest as well. Seems we’re all working through this.

    Thanks again for sharing your letter with us and for letting me share my thoughts here. Now it’s time to go for a ride.

    Cheers.

  19. The_D

    “single-handedly transformed cycling from the non-sport of geeky outcasts into a triumph of healthy living”

    Nicely put. I raced as a jr. in the 80′s when it was painfully uncool to do so. Coincidentally, I then hardly rode at all during LA’s heyday. When I returned, first for health, then for sport, I was fascinated by the cultural transformation. Former HS football players riding centuries and racing crits? Wait, What?

    Anyway, at the time I thought some of the 2005-era anti-Armstrong zeitgeist amongst the bike culture hardcore was borne of people’s adolescent experiences: some missed the wounded insularity of bike racing as a niche, romantic, perpetually under-appreciated sort of sport whose pecking order was inscrutable to outsiders, but whose outsider image saved it from being dominated by generic macho jocks. For these people, one of the things that LA represented was the same thing the cheating Italians did in Breaking Away; he reminded us that cut-throatedness and bullying exist at the top of our beloved sport just as they do at the top of the more visible sports so many of us had rejected.

    Anyway, present day Lance-Schadenfreude is not just a matter of cycling cultists rejecting a swaggering bully who leaked from the broader world into ours. There’s an element of self-loathing in the realization that our sport, which seems so obviously and singularly wonderful on its own merits to us, could transcend into the larger world only on the wings of some deep, fundamental fraud. It would be like a music fan learning that the only reason everyone’s heard of, say, Miles Davis or Wilco is on account of a long history of payola.

  20. MCH

    Well written. Even suggesting that there is a path to redemption, puts you in a distinct minority. Most are still reveling in swinging the torches and pitchforks. But then, redemption for any of us lies down the path of forgiveness and hope. Here’s hoping.

  21. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick, nice piece. I think Lance treated cycling as strictly business, and nothing more. He still is. That is the problem. The “pro” cycling tour, and the races involved in it, are professional business activities masquerading as an amateur sports. Until the professional side of cycling splits off completely, nothing will change.

  22. Brian

    Padraig,
    Thank you for this well written piece. Brings up many emoitions.

    When Lance won the first Tour I was not skeptical of his win. I was a young naive high school freshman who thought this is what happens when you have hope. Seeing the American Flag waving down the streets of Paris brought unbelievable joy. He gave so many people new hopes and what you can do once you beat cancer. To have it all be a false hope is crushing. This whole ordeal was summed up perfectly by you, he is cycling’s Hurricane Katrina. Sad to see this whole disaster unfold before our eyes when this could have been dealt with years ago.

    All I can do is keep riding and stop caring about Lance and enjoy cycling for why I fell in love with this beautiful sport.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: Thanks for the kind words. It feels good to know the piece echoes the sentiments of so many.

      The_D: Well put.

      MCH: Thanks. I suppose I can’t help but always push one or two boundaries. Funny how we love redemption, but loathe the whole messy forgiveness thing.

      Jaimie Fuller: Thanks loads. That means a lot coming from you.

      Patrick O’Brien: I have to give Lance his due as really loving bike racing. I’m not sure how much he loved riding the bike as an end in itself, but I’m convinced that he loved bike racing as a means to compete. I can recall seeing him light up as he talked about a race during press conferences; I’d be dishonest if I didn’t report that I saw true passion in him for bike racing.

  23. LesB

    When he won his first TdF, the French joked that they would take back the Statue of Liberty in retaliation for his victory over the Europeans.

    Maybe now they REALLY will.

  24. Chuck Hoefer

    The_D said something very important. It’s not all goodness that cycling is as popular (in the way it is). Much of the rise in the overall sport of cycling, the WHOLE sport of cycling, not just racing, is due to forces other than Lance Armstrong.

    I am glad to see the issue of the harm he has done to others brought up. That is what I like about this article. Thank you.

  25. Eto

    Fernando,

    Thank you for laying out the most likely (L.A.) strategy and future turn of events post USADA Reasoned Decision.

    I only wish the information Lance holds had little or no value in helping our sport get cleaned up, but as you state it may. The UCI card is the clincher. That is the original source of the corruption and it started long before the Armstrong years. He just played bigger, was bolder along with Bruyneel. Before Armstrong it was Saiz and Once, Lefevere and Mapei, etc.

    Fortunately, all this does not affect how I feel about riding my bike.

  26. RM2Ride

    Sharpest, wisest piece I’ve read, in any publication, about the whole sordid revelation/confession/interview/PR snowjob affair, and how a truly contrite person – honestly seeking redemption – would actually behave, in a perfect world.

    Sadly, last time I checked, we live in at least one universe away from that perfect world.

  27. Joey

    I am not sure you watched the interview closely enough. LA is a sociopath – no remorse, no morals – he was not burdened in the least by the cheating, manipulating and bullying. You can give him advice until you are blue in the face but he will never hear it. Save your words and move on. If he is worth redemption, then it will be years or decades down the line.

  28. RobbieCanuck

    You nailed it Padraig. The most salient observtion that should concern cyclist and fans is your comment, “Cycling as a sport has taken a much bigger hit. You are our Hurricane Katrina. Selling cycling to potential sponsors is tougher than selling real estate in the Ninth Ward. We’ll be cleaning up this mess for years to come”

    What is so disheartening is there are so many in the administration of cycling who did not have the moral courage to challenge LA. It starts with the UCI and the patheic leadership of Verbruggen and McQuaid. Verbruggen was quoted the other day as saying he did not understand “…what the fuss was about…” It is obvious he is pathetically ignorant.

    Then there is McQuaid who failed to take Landis seriously, and in fact sued him. Verbruggen and McQuaid’s legacy will be to have headed the UCI during the most corrupt period of cyling ever.

    Not only to dismiss Verbruggen and McQuaid, the Board of the UCI, Cycling USA, and the organizers of the TDF all share blame in the creation of the Perfect Storm of Katrina because of their passive and silent acquiesence.

    I believe it will take a grass roots movement to restore cycling. To purge the powers that be. To endorse standards beyond reproach. If not cycling is consigned to the trash can of history. It is that serious!

  29. High Plains Drifter

    I keep hearing the word “psychopath” bantered around. Let’s assume for a minute it’s appropriate here.

    The strongest emotional response of the psychopath is self-preservation.

    Herr Armstrong failed to play most of the cards in his hand. Why, when they were nearly universally expected?

    Leverage.

    Why call out the UCI in front of Oprah, where doing so would be dramatic but meaningless? Instead, bluff and blow the dog whistle.

    I really want to say, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But I have this feeling we’re only getting started.

  30. SusanJane

    i am reminded of all the times recently that Lance said he’s over cycling, over the whole thing, doesn’t care about his wins, moving on. Self-satisfied with his millions and un-remorsful for anything he had done to get them.

    I was thinking about his team and what their motivations were besides saving their butts. They probably didn’t have a business plan like Lance. Maybe they reached a point where being star-struck and bullied by Lance and all the winning soured. Maybe they realized that cycling was more important and what they did was wrong. Note that some are still wanting to race. At this point I’m more interested in what they have to say then this Lance business.

  31. andi

    I have watched the sport of cycling boom since Lance. I Have seen the profits for all cycling related products boom since Lance won his first tour. The coverage on TV the people talking about it at work the gym. The whole jhony G spin movement. I googled you and came up with not much ohh well no biggie but here’s the deal you are crying that you cannot get a sponsor. Truth be told i know people who have won olympic gold and get a sponsor. National and world champs. Not all sports are blessed, cycling was never blessed with a lot of intrest. Lance not only dominated he brought life to the sport. Me personally i would still watch lance and as a sponsor I would not give your crybaby ass a Warm Beer from a Free Keg. You should thank Lance for what he did for the sport!


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Vermonter: I’ve assumed nothing. There’s been no credible evidence that LeMond ever doped. As I stated earlier, the most frequent accusation made against LeMond was that he used EPO and the accusation came from Armstrong. And just because doping has been around for the whole of cycling’s existence, that still doesn’t mean LeMond doped.

  32. Skippy

    When Lance claims that ” he is over Cycling ” , you wonder , Why , he is making the effort to rehabilitate himself ? When Michael Jackson , appeared with Oprah , 90million or so tuned in ! Reports of 4 million , for the first Interview , was bandied around , her normal shows expect 2.4million viewers . With ALL that advance publicity , and Lance having 3.8Million twitter Followers , the whole exercise , was a HUGE FAILURE !

    What rabbit does he expect to pull out of the hat , next ? It is fairly apparent , to even the naive , that he held back the detailed information that matters ! With Travis Tygarth , David Howman & the phats of aigle , calling on him to reveal UNDER OATH , what he said to Oprah , it appears he has created the possibility that a deal , suiting his purposes , can be struck .

    Today ” UCIIC ” are meeting with UCI , i hear in London . Will he be discussed and will the original ” Terms of Reference be modified , to allow the ” Panel ” to do a thorough Job , of investigating the UCI’s Past Conduct ?

  33. MattZ

    It seems to me that all the vitriol directed at Armstrong really has almost nothing to do with doping. It all has to do with his bully tactics and the people he stepped on to defend his false image as a clean cyclist. This hatred is not directed at Vaughters, George H., Tyler H, and all the other cyclist who doped in cycling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_cycling) and benefited from the doping and with their connections with Armstrong. Andreu was treated unfairly by Armstrong but he does not have clean hands either. There is no doubt that the cycling industry boomed during and after Armstrong’s 7 wins. Trek, Oakley, Nike and their employees, local bike shops and everyday riders like you and me all indirectly benefited from the cycling growth. Better bikes and better prices. Don’t get me wrong, I am not defending Armstrong. I am just asking that everyone look a little deeper. The answers are not black and white. Armstrong is not all bad or good. Cutting off Armstrong’s head in misdirected anger won’t change the past or the future of cycling. We need to see how this all plays out over time and whether Armstrong will be part of the solution of doping in cycling. A Lifetime ban and possible criminal charges are not incentives to come clean. I would really like to hear from all cyclist from the 90s and to the present about their knowledge of doping and they should be able to come clean without fear of losing money, or jobs, or titles. The culture in cycling was doping and it seems to be changing to a culture of clean cycling where no young rider needs to make the choice between riding doped or not riding. That is what we all want.

  34. scaler911

    I don’t get why people would assert that LeMond ever took EPO. It wasn’t approved for use until 1989. I know that he “came back” in 1990, but if he was taking it, why the sudden decline and retirement? He coulda kept going for a long time. And why would he have been such a vocal critic of PED in cycling? That argument makes zero sense. And understand that I was in the “Greg is a whiny bitch” camp for a really long time. Time that I regret now………….LeMond=LeMan.

  35. Uma Kleppinger

    I am a lifetime cyclist—both recreational and competitive, commuter and professional (hey, I was a courier in Manhattan, if that ain’t putting your life on the line for money what is?) and I’ve been very conflicted about this whole thing. As a wellness coach who offers therapeutic yoga to cyclist, I’ve dedicated the last 20 years of my life to trying to create/find/encourage/foster balance—not merely physically, but psychologically and spiritually. Because aren’t cyclists humans, too? How many of us ride because—in part at least—we feel most complete on a bike? For me it is spiritual as much as it is a physical act. I can’t speak for Lance Armstrong and his relationship to actually riding a bike. Maybe it really was all about the money, or winning for ego gratification. Yoga and eastern wisdom traditions ask us to look beyond greed and selfishness to consider the greater good. These teachings tell us that service to our fellow man is the highest honor. So while Lance has done tremendous good in this world through the LAF and his work with cancer patients and survivors, this piece really hits home in how his arrogance and selfishness hurt so many people in very real, very tangible ways. Sure, fans are disappointed and sponsors ashamed, but he crushed whole lives with his choices and actions. Alcoholics and substance abusers have the 12-Step Program to help them redirect their lives. What about someone who is addicted to power and to winning at any cost? In my work I love nothing more than working with people who are eager and ready to create change in their lives—whether it is entering recovery, loosening up their backs and hips, being more joyful and less stressed, overcoming grief or losing weight. I know that in order to create real change people need to get real with themselves, and honest about their motivation and intentions. As a holistic coach, I don’t think I would touch Lance Armstrong with a 10 million dollar pole. I just don’t believe he is sincere. I think he’s desperate. Scared, maybe. I do feel compassion for his suffering. Even though he brought it on himself, the dude is in a raft of shit heading upstream on Shit River without a paddle. Still, I really dislike the “death sentence” phrase. The guy isn’t dead. Not even close. Armstrong gave hope to those who received a TRUE death sentence, and bless him for that. But he is a tumor on the sport of cycling and I say cut out the tumor (lifetime ban from any form of pro cycling) and apply chemo and radiation in the form of many years and dollars of amends to the ones he’s hurt most.

  36. Andi

    The question to be asked is whom stands to gain the most from taking him down. He is only unique in that he won seven tours. Everyone is doping in all sports. Why so many years latter are they digging into the past. Kobe destroys the lakers and rapes a woman and still plays. But Lance cannot do a triathalon. This whole thing stinks bad. The sport childish jealousy of a few has been the demise of roadie heaven.
    Lance is a terminator on two wheels he is hyper focused and intense. The love of any sport for fans is carnage and risk. He escaped the grip of cancer and prevaled. As for doiping really do we all care that much. I think not. I think someone told us we should care and so we do.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Andi: It’s with some relief that I can say your view, based on the comments voiced here, on the rides I do and the forums out there, is far outside the mainstream. You’re welcome to keep worshipping Armstrong and his tactics, but don’t be surprised if you’re the only person doing so.

  37. Jack

    I always have a hard time reading you, when you write about Lance. I guess for whatever reason(s) you think he personally owes you (cycling?) something; but, I really don’t understand what you expect. You say you knew he used and yet you enjoyed watching the blue train. You understand he can’t fully tell his own story without doing damage to companies/peoples who stood by him the longest(that would break his code); but you don’t care and just want something more (more of a story, more of sense of being sorry) – but you acknowledge you’ve had the story for years. You really want him to go person to person and apologize and/or offer a pay out? Come on Patrick. I didn’t watch and don’t want to read about it anymore; disappointed yes, disappointed because there will no recovery – but come on seriously its bike racing – he made the tour biggest three week event in the world – he did – not greg – not any others – and it was grand – and even without the “doping story” there is no one in the pelton interesting to the USA – so please my writer give me back your friday ride, review some tires (tyres) go ride with alberto (another one) or even greg (and you can defend greg (you defended Lance) but please don’t forget he beat fignon who later adimited to using whatever he could get his hands on – amphetamines & steriods) or watch wiggins (who kimmage is now telling us must be doping)and leave Lance to Lance (he doesn’t care that much about what we think and he sure won’t be just “paying” anymore folks off) i laugh out loud every time i hear betsy say she was a friend to Lance.. i just shake my head when you write about him. good thing this website is free to me… thank you for biking today.

  38. Andi

    Worship not a chance
    1 you had to know all along he was doping the whole group was. So nothing is new news to me
    2 If there was any balance to articles like this i would not defend him
    3 head on over to pinkbike and read what mtb riders have to say
    4 watch bigger faster stronger and then contact me
    5 everyone hates a winner,
    Winning seven tours unheard of. Winning the tour after chemo therapy unheard of.

  39. Andi

    Ummmm Ya they were! and the MTB comunity thinks roadies are snobs you just proved them right scale. Lance was winning tri nationals at 16 are you going to tell he was doping then. The idea you have that it is not wide spread is no nieve its scary. I guess youll buy anything.
    I got some land for sale in Nevada its a great investment youll love it call me

  40. Tarheeltri

    You’d have Lance write a check to Andreu and Landis? They both admitted to doping, too! I guess your rationale is they deserve something from Lance since they weren’t as good at cheating as he was. Sorry man… you lost me there.

  41. Full Monte

    Why is there the hating on LeMond…not just accusations of possible cheating on this forum, but on other forums as well? As well as comments throughout the interwebs that he’s a DB, AH, etc?

    I ask, cuz I don’t know the answer and I’m hoping someone will clue me in.

    When I first climbed on a bike in earnest (I’m dating myself here) LeMond was the man, and he was the guy on all the magazine covers. He seemed like a likable, pleasant guy. And it’s not like he didn’t have to overcome adversity, either. Try getting shot by a 12 gauge sometime and nearly dying, only to come back and race again.

    Now, as LeMond lobbies for real change at the UCI, he continues to appear to be a stand-up guy.

    As for the doping, Padraig states clearly above (as does Kimmage and others), LeMond rode clean, not a whiff of suspicion regarding his days on the bike.

    So…I don’t get it. Why the LeMond hate?

  42. scaler911

    @Andi: I have friends that raced in Europe in the late 90′s and 2000′s. They. Weren’t. Doping. Period.
    And I’m not snobish about MTB-ers, but them having opinion about road cycling makes as much sense as a Formula I fan caring about what a NASCAR fan thinks. They both use cars, but are totally different sports.

  43. Ray Hodgson

    I had his photograph on the wall while I went through chemotherapy, an operation and follow up chemotherapy. I reasoned that if he could do it so could I , and luckily that is the case. I thank Lance for the inspiration to survive and for the work he has done for the cancer community, but curse him to hell for what he has done to cycling and sport. We all need sporting heroes to inspire and motivate us and it is sad that Lance can no longer fill that role. He is just another lying, thieving cheat.

  44. Tibb

    Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. Admittedly, this is still the same guy. Nothing in the Oprah interview would suggest otherwise. He’s also still the same guy the that stood at the edge of a cliff and overcame odds none of us will fully understand and that includes Greg Lemond. He’s also the guy that inspired millions of survivors to fight on. All of the attributes that you crucify him for now and the same personality traits that you worshiped him for during his time as a champion so spare me your self righteous indignation. As for sending a check to former teammates like Hamilton, Frank and Landis; do you honestly believe those guys would have made a half of what they made or what they are making now without Armstrong? Grow up Padraig. Put on your big boy pants and admit if Lance Armstrong had not come back in 2009 and 2010 you and all the rest of the press in The US would still be kissing his ass knowing full well that he had used PEDs.

  45. Pd

    Lance, write those checks until your hands bleed and the accounts are all drained of funds. When you are broke on the side of the road with a crooked wheel on your bike looking for a handout, then your apology is acceptable. Until then you are just a (another) weasel sucking money, time and energy from those people and those projects worthwhile. Call me when you reach your new destination.

  46. UpTheGrade SR,CA

    How different things would have been if Lance hadn’t used PEDs all his life. Imagine if he had won clean!
    Unfortunately, he is merely human and a low variety as it turns out. He probably gave himself the cancer with the PEDs he used early on, he is an admitted bully and abuser of women, he is a liar and stealer of dreams.
    Ever wonder why we put him on such a pedestal, despite all the indications he didn’t deserve it? Is there something lacking in us that fed this monster?
    Why did we not take to LeMond in the same way?
    Personally, I prefer now to forget Armstrong. I’ll continue to ride my bike as often as possible, to support cycling and especially women’s cycling, and help others fight cancer, but I will be leery of heroes ’cause they usually aren’t so much.

  47. Andi

    Ray good for you. it seams that everyone is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Ok 100% were not many were. As a competitor at that level he did what he thought the needed to. the truth is he did not get off the sofa one day after eating a xxl dominos and a pint of choclatchip and say I going to win the tour give me a magic pill.
    Right so the test, maybe did balance the loss of a ball sounds good. Epo pretty common stuff. Blood doping ok so those three my uninformed self what percent faster did that make him? My point is he had to train his ass off. He is the Terminator ! super strong super intense, and will not quit. I say that is why he won!
    I also say Ray he inspired you and thats great. Try to understand why and who he is cut him some slack. He did more to help your life than you have to help his.
    Don’t waste the gift you got on being angry at him.
    I sat with my mom for three months everyday while things got worse and all she wanted was to have another shot at her dreams. Here is a guy who got that shot and made the most of it. He did not waste it at all. Put his all into it.
    Did he make mistakes ya But ill give lifetime respect to a man who goes 100% once, and little credit to someone going 70% and the other 30 goes to crique, complaints, opinions. So the guy that wrote Ill be alone in my support of Lance cool I can do that. But for everyone who sits back with an opinion about how bad he is Ill bet your the ones that only put 60-70% from there you figure it out.

  48. scaler911

    @Andi: I hate to break the news to you, but Lance was a pretty average cyclist as far as Pro’s go. While the PED’s didn’t take him from couch potato to (non)7 time winner of the TDF, they certainly took him from stage hunter/ one day guy, to that.
    He was a talented 16 year old, sure. So was LeMond. And Hampsten. Phinney. The list goes on.
    You maintained that Lance did a lot for bringing cycling to the States. Yes he did. But he singlehandedly destroyed cycling’s image the world over, essentially putting our sport to the back burner status. We’d be better off if he’d never ridden a bike. Ever.

    So pat yourself on the back, because you’re COTHO’s biggest (only) fan. Head on over here and lay down your thoughts: http://www.velominati.com/evanescent-riders/2012-anti-v-moment-of-the-year-bullies-are-really-just-pussies/

  49. LesB

    There have been references here to the “damage to cycling” from the whole LA business, and I don’t get it. Could someone expound?

    OK, I read Patrick’s comment about a passer-by yelling some nonsense to him about doping. But really, here in Caly the general public attitude toward cycling is so darned positive. Almost everyone from car drivers to people who I meet react very positively to me as a cyclist. I just can’t see that turning around. If the situation isn’t quite the same in other states, I’ll bet that they will catch up.

    If the damage is supposed to be that people will quit cycling because of this, then that is just a cleaning out of the non-committed. Or people won’t get into cycling because of LA? “I’d like to try a bicycle, but that LA, ugh! Forget it.” I don’t see that as any kind of national movement.

    Damage to the reputation of cycling? Welcome to the club, cycling. News of professional or even college or even high school badass athletes is a staple of the evening news. As American as cocoanut cream pie with chocolate sprinkles (after a hard ride, of course).

    So if someone would explain the damage aspect, I’d appreciate it.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Everyone: I hate to have to keep doing it, but I need to remind those of you who wish to comment to keep your comments civil. I don’t want to have to throw anyone in moderation jail, but RKP is a place of polite discourse. If you can’t manage some decorum, we’ll cut you off.

      LesB: Some riders who entered cycling due to Lance just because it was the latest hip sport du jour have been gone for years. Thankfully, plenty entered cycling due to Lance and became serious cyclists. The damage I was referring to (which was pretty clear, I think) was the loss of sponsorship. The exit of sponsors has hurt cycling teams, seen races canceled (consider the recent loss of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship) not to mention less television coverage here in the U.S. People I know who have been involved in sponsorship proposals have told me that every single “no” has been preceded by a discussion of doping scandals. Bottom line: There are promising cyclists around the world who are not employed as professional cyclists because of the Armstrong case. I think one of the more troubling aspects of this is that without sponsorship it’s going to be difficult to fund the testing that’s necessary to ensure cycling is as clean as possible. This is essentially the worst-case scenario I feared some months ago when I posted “Endgame.”

  50. Ben

    Andi, you ROCK, could not have said it better myself. I second everything you said and there are lots of us out there who’ve got your back. Padraig, Andi is definitely NOT out of the mainstream, there are many, many cycling fans who are down with this take. To many of us who witnessed the media fawn over and kowtow to Lance all these years and get rich as the sport grew on account of him, all the while knowing full well that he had to be doping as all the other top level pros who wanted a chance to win the Tour were, and then watching you and others Padraig come out with holier than thou pieces of crap like this article and the last few pieces you and Pelkey have published on Lance, makes you all the ultimate hypocrites in our minds. Lance did what he had to do to win in the circumstances he had to compete in. He made exactly the same decision as all the other admitted dopers did who got 6 months and are considered heroes by some and somehow aren’t the media’s current pariah. He just won more then at some point had more to lose and made some very poor decisions. Look, we were all Lance fans because he was an amazing cyclist. If we paid any attention at all we knew he was doping and had to be to have a chance to compete in his given sport. We thrilled in his victories. He was not our hero, he was just a kick ass cyclist. We held no illusions as to his character. We are not Lance apologists. 7 in a row after chemo, can’t take that away no matter what the UCI, USADA, or the media say.

  51. scaler911

    @Ben: He wouldn’t (and didn’t) have won 7 TDF’s WITHOUT FUCKING DRUGS! Is that the legacy you’re defending in your long winded diatribe? He doesn’t care about anything other than getting caught and trying to limit the damage.
    At least the other guys felt some sense of remorse. I’m done here. This blog sucks (at least the audience does).
    And just to be clear: you and Andi ARE Lance apologists.

  52. LD

    Whatever ones’ feelings are out there regarding Armstrong, your Open Letter serves to present one of most intelligently written, thoughtful and articulate pieces I have read to date regarding the whole mess.

  53. Ray Hodgson

    Andi,
    I don,t waste the gift I have been given. I spend my time training to keep fit and healthy, coaching children to ride and enjoy their bikes and raising funds for cancer research and contributing to my community because I am retired and have the time and commitment to do so. I have no time for hate or being negative. It is my sincere hope that Lance Armstrong seizes the the opportunity to assist in the fight against doping as he did in fighting cancer. He can do this by revealing all and exposing the scumbags who facilitated his doping.

  54. Fatty McButterpants

    I really don’t understand why people seem to HATE Lance the way they do. Yes, he doped. It was team policy on his teams to dope. If you wanted to be on his team, you had to dope.
    The people who rode with him made their choices and got what they got. They did not have to be professional cyclists. They could have gotten jobs and been real estate agents. They could have changed teams. They could have founded team Garmin before there was a Garmin.
    Lance royally screwed some people. From what has been written, I would not invite him to my house. He is not be a roll model for my kids.
    But as stated in the comments above, for those seven years, he was a beast. I enjoyed watching him destroy the field. Now that I know he had a pharmacy in the team car, I still enjoyed watching him win. It is like watching Johnny Knoxville get knocked out by Butterbean. It’s a train wreck, but you still have to watch it.
    Perhaps that is the issue. Did Lance make cycling too much like the Jerry Springer show? (trashy entertainment, not European sophistication)
    I think all the law suits will extract whatever can be construed as justice for those that Lance hurt. He is going to pay a lot for his hubris with the truth.
    As for extra punishments, isn’t having to swim before and run after each bike ride punishment enough? I bet they make him wear sleeveless jerseys!

  55. High Plains Drifter

    I don’t know how to say this politely … I don’t give a shit about Armstrong’s soul, psyche, or spiritual well-being. Apologize, don’t apologize … that’s between him and his God, or at least him and the people he has wronged.
    In the last two weeks, I’ve seen the term “psychopath” used more WRT Herr Armstrong than I’ve ever heard it used outside of a movie review or serial killer story. I’m not going to pull a Bill Frist and tele-diagnose, but for the sake of argument, regardless of where he falls on the psychopath scale, let’s agree that the dude has a highly developed sense of self-preservation.
    So, then … Oprah? What was that all about?
    All kinds of rumors about looking for a reduction of the death penalty, but he offered up nothing there. USADA asked him to testify, he refused, and now he’s kinda sorta confessing, without raising his right hand and all that? His Oprah confession and five bucks will get him a vanilla spice latte, and that’s it.
    Rehab his image? Same deal there. Who’s going to pay him to pitch their product? Nobody, not no way, not no how.
    So .. What’s left? Make amends? The dude obviously had no intention of making more than the lamest of gestures there. In fact, those he called prior to the appearance all hinted or flat out said they thought part of the reason he called was ‘cuz he knew Oprah would ask him if he had.
    Where does that leave us? With what he didn’t say. He didn’t implicate a soul, leaving us to believe that Momma Mooneyham was brewing up EPO in her kitchen and he somehow smuggled it into the Postal bus. I have pretty steady hands, but I’ve never been able to put in a transfusion needle all by myself.
    But what’s the point of naming names on Oprah’s couch, or even on her hotel room easy chair? It’s not sworn testimony, so all it would do is alert those involved to get their documents in order.
    This is all a long, drawn out way of saying that non-contrite Armstrong might have accomplished exactly what he wanted out of the two day snore-fest. Call it a dog whistle, or the dog that didnt bark, or whatever. But by not saying much, he told USADA that they need to be the one offering something if they want to take this any further.

  56. Andi

    Ray i dont think you waste the gift. I do think that you in a way need to thank him because even if he is an illusion of strength that illusion was there for you.

    As for the rest every story you read or film you go to will have those moments those choices. He made a choice way back, he spent a lot of time covering up that choice. We are all at all times doing some form of self preservation or something for the greater good. lance did both. So while being in an individual sport he made some choices that were for him. While many expected him to make any and all choices for the greater good. He did not make every choice for the greater good. Big deal. He recently made a choice to talks about it. Based on what I have read and I have heard NO WONDER HE lied you people are are really brutal. I think again he made a bad choice, If there was any light, any opening for the truth here. Any love Not at all! Time you all stand in the mirror and with a straight face tell yourself how perfect you are. How you have never made a mistake.
    Over and Out My last post her Good luck to all of you

  57. Andi

    Hey Fatty love the name
    I think maybe the tour wants to project a clean image. See the fallowing link. From early on and even into the 70′s smoking on the course was going on. And yes tobacco is on the list. So maybe the tour wants to project a clean image and thats what all this is about but that is not reality.
    http://davesbikeblog.squarespace.com/blog/2011/1/7/smoking-and-cycling.html
    Or
    http://www.google.com/search?q=smoking+tour+de+france&hl=en&tbo=d&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=13n_UJ6tLdHwigKx84CgBg&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAA&biw=876&bih=865

  58. Michael

    @Andi – your words ring true to me and since you got so much negative feedback I wanted to say that some of us understand what you are saying. Let the self-righteous live in their world.

    I choose not to judge Lance. For those saying that he single-handedly destroyed cycling, what are you thinking? For me, it was Floyd Landis that finally broke my passion for bicycle racing and in the end it was a good thing.

    All pro sports have their dark underbelly and all have it exposed sooner or later. Forget about the TV, reading the magazine, or talking about pro sports. Go out and live life. Ride your bike. Enjoy yourself in that perfect bike riding moment. Buy someone you love something nice with the money you were going to spend on a pro sport item (cable, beer, magazine, plane ticket to somewhere, admission ticket, etc.). Spend that time being a better person.

    I thank Floyd for giving me so much extra time in my life and saving me money on four different subscriptions and cable TV and on and on. He did me a favor. I can only hope that in the end, Lance can help his haters in some similar way.

  59. Rod Diaz

    I find it a bit contradictory that LA’s apologists seem to justify breaking the rules and using the idea that being ruthless and doing what it takes is justifiable:

    “Ok 100% were not many were. As a competitor at that level he did what he thought the needed to. the truth is he did not get off the sofa one day after eating a xxl dominos and a pint of choclatchip and say I going to win the tour give me a magic pill.”

    That’s nuts. It’s a sport, not war. Heck, we even have rules for war (Geneva convention). So if you think that “doing what you had to do” is justifiable then doping should be the least of the problems. How about buying a 1 million dollar victory? How about coercing other teams? How about being in the chop with authorities to get ideas on how to beat the dope-o-meter, and also rat on your opponents? Why stop there? Why not tacks behind the breakaway? Or poisoning their food?

    Are those things justifiable? Is this why we watch any sport? Should runners “cleat” their opponents in the 1500 m race? Should boxers cheat making weight? Or having 500 cc motorbikes on a 250 cc race. Heck, if you like that “sport” maybe Cancellara should really get a motor on his bike. But in that case admiring Armstrong is selling yourself short, you should aim for someone like Madoff but without getting caught. He even donated to cancer research.

  60. Rod Diaz

    Sorry, to finish the thought: the contradiction I see in some Lance defenders is that they feel we can’t criticize the man unless we’re perfect ourselves. But that’s a criticism itself. And a fallacy. Should the only people to perform jury duty in an fraud be fraudsters?

    I’m sure you agree that as people we aspire to and admire to be “better”: better partners, better parents, better workers, better cyclists. Truthful, humble in defeat and magnanimous in victory. Is it that hard to understand that most people don’t like embezzlers, liars and bullies? Even those that cheat don’t like being cheated. If everybody did, no human relationship would ever succeed.

  61. Jesus from Cancun

    Gee, the Lance Lovers woke up! It took about 80 comments to get the Pro Lance dance to flow.

    I have to admitt that I am somewhere in between. I understand Andi’s point. I enjoyed watching those Tours, too. I also think that out of a doped out peloton, Lance was the Tour de France monster. That was inspiring and fun to watch.

    I did a season of Elite racing in Italy in ’91. I did some of the same races Lance did there. Even at Elite level, doping was everywhere, nobody was shy about it. Italians, colombians, Spanish, everyone spoke openly about it. Doping talk was as easy flowing as training talk. Everyone knew about drugs and ways to beat the dope controls.

    However, I chose to not take anything illegal. I read the labels of every supplement I got, I was very careful about it. One of my teammates also just said no. I knew a couple Italians from other teams, an Argentinan, a Japanese guy who had a strong anti doping position and didn’t take anything.

    None of us made it to professional. It was widely known that in Elite level, almost every rider was on something. In Pro level, there were no exceptions. The body of a professional belonged to the team and the sponsors, they did with it whatever it took to get the most out of it.

    I am not sour about it, not at all. But what I mean is that even before Festina, Puerto, and the Lance haters, I knew that nobody in those TDF pelotons was riding on water, bread and fruit.
    A few of the friends I made did get pro contracts, and I still stay in touch with a few. One of them retired just last year. For what they say, things didn’t get better over the years. So I was not surprised at all to see riders getting busted as the testing improved.

    From my personal experience, I believe that back then, racing in the U.S. was generally much healthier than almost anywhere else. The U.S. amateur teams I met overseas seemed focused, disciplined, and I have no reason to think they were doping as the Europeans happily did.

    However, when Lance started winning TDFs, I had a view that was opposite to most people. I knew he had to be on something like everyone else in that peloton, but… I had a small doubt: Is it possible that he is really clean? Now I know, but it is not like I was disappointed when The Lie started to crumble.

    And this is where I am ambivalent. What he did was completely wrong. Not only he doped; he ruined people’s lives and he deserves everything that is coming his way, mostly because of that. I read Padraig’s open letter and my first thought was “Amen”.
    But, you can’t deny that he was an exceptional athlete. VO2 is not everything, it is only one part of the equation. I know. I had the highest VO2 recorded at the Mexican Olympic Training Center until 1993, but that didn’t make me even close to Mexico’s greatest cyclists like Raul Alcala, Miguel Arroyo, Jose Perez Cuapio, or Belem Guerrero. I had a super VO2 but was just above-average cyclist. The opposite is also possible.

    Armstrong and all those guys that were on EPO and transfusions still had to train, suffer, and race smart to be up there. I think Armstrong did it all better than the rest, but I wouldn’t single him out as “the” doper of his generation. It’s not like his opposition was on bread and water only.
    He was the asshole and the symbol of corruption of his generation, though, and that’s why I think he deserves all the crap that is raining on him right now.

  62. steve

    Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor to cycling legend to cancer of the cycling world. fate is clearly not without a sense of irony, no? the question now is, is there a cure for Armstrongitis…? apparently, even an interview with oprah wasn’t good enough to beat the sickness out of the past! that scares me a little…

  63. Seano

    It really is complicated. Sponsors haven’t fled from any other high profile sport due to widespread doping – nor has the public. Oh, people occasionally feign outrage over an athlete getting a positive test (or a felony conviction) but everyone accepts a multi-game “suspension” in every other sport (as evidenced by viewership) and welcomes back criminals with open arms – as long as they can contribute at the highest levels. To attribute sponsors leaving cycling over a retired athlete who used to dope is a stretch – and an easy excuse.

    I do understand the temptation to get your licks in on the fallen bully – and from the sounds of it, Lance deserves some (all?) of that. It also sounds like those that have been wronged all waited in line for this day. I do, however, suspect his lifetime ban & stripping of titles has more to do with his approach over the years – and a desire to have a career-making name on the books – than what he did. The outrage at other cyclists who doped or other organized doping programs seems so trivial in comparison.

    This does need to be reeled in and put into a bit of perspective, however. The pressure to dope & cheat goes on every day: when a high school or college coach tells his player he needs to “pack on the pounds and get a little quicker” or when a large financial firm systematically manipulates the libor, the impact is far greater, far more damaging than grown men who want to get paid to race a bike choose to dope (alone or under duress).

    Rather than waiting for Lance to “tell all under oath”, the cycling community needs to continue to move forward.

  64. pete

    Just a couple of points that come to mind on your attitude toward Lance:

    “lengths you went to exert influence over not just your team, but the whole of the peloton included wire taps and private investigators”. And Greg LeMond tape at least one conversation with Betsy without her knowledge (so I read). So wants your point?

    His so called friends went public and negative on a guy on his deathbed man! He owes them nothing in my opinion. I would ask respectfully that you get over it.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Pete: There’s no doubt that taping a phone call with someone without their knowledge is distasteful. I won’t argue that point. What I will say is that wire taps so that you can hear the contents of a conversation you weren’t party to or read an email you were not sent is in a different class altogether, and last I recall ranks as a felony. It’s a much more serious transgression. As to your assertion that Lance’s friends went public on him while he was on his deathbed, that’s wholly inaccurate. Neither Frankie nor Betsy said a word publicly of what they heard at the hospital until they were deposed in the SCA lawsuit some five or six years later. That is, once their backs were against the wall they reported what they heard him say. Their allegiance was to their sense of morality. Respectfully, that is.

      Critracer: Your ability to conflate an accusation of doping with actual doping defies the most common of sense; your comment merits no further response.

  65. RealityTV

    Jesus – All my pro road racing friends talk about what is out there. They know who is “prepared” for a race and those that are “well prepapred” as Miller puts it. It is no secret drugs are rampant in road racing as well as baseball, football etc.

    The point you bring up that noone else mentions is that the training, the planning, surrounding yourself with the best team in the world is how Lance won. Drugs are in all the teams.

    Lance was never “busted”, he was up-rooted by the people he trusted. They told the truth and he “couldn’t handle the truth”! So he lashed back. That is where my admiration for his accomplishments fades for me. He buried good people that spoke the truth. Now, he’ll pay. I’m sure Oprah paid him a big chunk of change to appear on her show. He’ll need it.

    The field of cycling is never level; genetics, luck, willingness to suffer all play in making a winner. I can train as hard as I like, but there is a guy in our club that can train a fifth as much and ride me off his wheel any time he wishes. That is cycling. So even when drugs can be detected and the riders are “clean”, it will be an unfair sport. I say let them take whatever they want. Just have rules about manners, treating people politely while you ride them off your wheel.

  66. RealityTV

    PS – Greg most likely did not dope, but he does cry like a baby. Give me a doper that is polite like Indurian any day. There is a class act!

  67. juan

    Patrick: I think you wrote a wonderful letter. What you suggest Lance Armstrong to do is the very minimal he could try to mitigate the enormous harm he caused. In addition to what you mentioned, he robbed every single cyclist of his generation of a fairer place in cycling, as well to all others who didn´t make it or retired because they didn´t want to be part of the doping culture he promoted.
    I find amazing that some of the reader´s comments almost condone his actions. I guess we live in a society where the values you promote like honesty and respect for the moral and financial integrity of others have very little weight.

  68. gmknobl

    Wow. Lot’s of RKP hate, and just hate in general going on here. I’ve only heard rumors of Lemond doping – steroids – and from a source proven to be totally correct about doping in cycling during the LA years. Still, I try to look at proof go with that, which there wasn’t much of until LA’s fellow cyclists started opening up. Even so, I was on the fence until a preponderance of circumstantial and eye witness testimony turned the smoke into a fire for me. Until someone has proof of Lemond doping, I won’t consider it real. But is anyone here mentioning the Machiavellian problems with LA? It’s called Machiavellian because that Italian coined the phrase “then end justifies the means.” Lance followed that ruthlessly and did so without apparent remorse. If you’ve no problem with that, I think you have a big character flaw and I don’t want to know you in case you see profit in screwing me over. For some, that means he did what he had to. For others, there was a real value judgement he failed to make and therefore because less Machiavellian anti-hero but rather Shakespearean tragic villian. I’m glad, in a way, for the second outcome there. It’s not so much that he doped ’cause there were many who did (but not 100% – some were and are totally clean). No. It’s that he deliberately hurt people to get his way. If you can’t understand that, re-examine your philosophy of life.

  69. Critracer

    To the Author:

    Maybe you should check some of your facts before you write such idiocies.

    Fact: Lance is not a nice guy. Many people at the top of their professions are also not nice people. They tend to be obsessive, overly driven Type A (hole) people that will stop at nothing to win. Welcome to the realities of life.

    Fact: EVERY single grand champion of cycling has either been busted for doping, or suspected of doping. Spare me the “Greg was clean” BS too, because its highly unlikely, same for Big Mig. Take a look at who they raced against. Dopers all.

    Fact: USADA paid off every doper that would testify against Lance with sweetheart “suspensions”. If that’s not cooking the books, nothing is. But by all means cheer for these snitch dopers when they throw a leg over their bikes this year.

    Fact: Lance owes Betsy Andreu NOTHING. She and Frankie tried to blackmail Lance or a spot on his team and Lance said no. Tough luck. Why didn’t Frankie just go o another team? Oh because the great Lance Armstrong prevented it? Betsy Andreu is as big of a fraud as Lance. Spare me the crocodile tears. If Lance had hired Frankie we’d never have heard a peep out if Betsy. She needs to go away, she’s a disgrace.

    Fact: The ex teammates of Lance that claim he “forced” them to dope all got busted AFTER they left his team. Am I to understand Lance made them dope on other teams as well? Grow up. They made their own choice to dope and kept doing so long after they left Lance.

    Fact: cycling, sponsors, writers and people like you have all profited in one way, or another off the back of Lance. Spare me your tale of woe now.

    Time to put your big boy pants on and get a clue. MOST top level pro athletes are cheating somehow. If you haven’t figured it out by now, well I am sorry to burst your bubble.

    Lance owes you nothing. You just need to choose your role models more carefully. Take responsibility for yourself and leave others to do the same.

  70. Critracer

    @ Padraig;
    Exactly how do I “conflate” an accusation of doping?

    Perhaps you need to brush up on your cycling knowledge before you prove yourself to be ignorant of that which you speak.

    Jacques Anquetil: admitted doper
    Eddy Merckx: busted for doping 3x
    Laurent Fignon: busted for doping
    Pedro Delgado: busted for doping
    Bjarne Riis: admitted to doping
    Jan Ullrich: busted for drugs, suspected of doping
    Marco Pantani: doped to the gills
    Carlos Sastre: suspected of doping
    Óscar Pereiro: (from Landis) suspected of doping
    Alberto contador: busted for doping
    Lance Armstrong: admitted doping

    Yeah, I guess I am “conflating”.

    Now as for Big Mig, the Badger and LeMond. Believe as you will. I guess they are the only ones who weren’t doping, right???

    Come back to me when you have done your homework.

  71. SusanJane

    Sigh. Somewhere this went from thoughtful and informative to annoying. I know some of us need to emote about this, and I respect that. But these back and forth finger-pointing diatribes are not why I come to RPK. This low level of conversation has never been a hallmark of this site. Padraig, could you please close this thread?


  72. Author
    Padraig

    Everyone: I really hate to have to do this but this is a final reminder that the comments section is meant to be a place of civil discussion. That means it is meant to be cordial, if spirited. Name-calling, condescension and insults are off-limits. I’ve explained in the past that insulting anyone has a chilling effect on the overall comments and causes reasonable people not to contribute. I’ve worked too hard to build RKP into a place of intelligent conversation to allow it to devolve into an insult contest. From here on out, I’m watching all the comments on this post and will begin deleting the ones that don’t conform to our standards.

    You’ve been warned.

  73. Eduardo Pedroza

    My theory is that all of this is a big conspiracy. Some people say that lance’s competition was on drugs too and couldn’t beat him. He beat the rest of the dopers. How so? Well, We need to analyze something here. It goes back to what cycling was before Armstrong and his cancer story. Cycling wasn’t well known here in the US and other parts of the world. It was mainly a European sport. When Lance came into the picture, everything changed. He was the perfect specimen to advertise and elevate cycling to unthinkable levels that even my grandma wanted to buy a bike. And where is the best place to advertise it? Bingo! The United States. Here is where people pay big bucks for everything, $5k or 10K for a bike? run the card- no problem. Cycling was minimal in Europe and the Sponsors and all of the organizations knew it. Lance Armstrong became a gold mine for Nike, US postal, Trek, Oakley, and the list goes on, even the UCI and WADA knew that he was doping but turned an blind-eye on it because the money was too good to let that go. They were not going to get another shot at this in a lifetime. So who was Ullrich? Vino? or Basso? The world doesn’t know who they are(outside the cycling community) not even in their own countries and with no stories to tell. The money is here in this country not anywhere else. It is not that Armstrong had the best drug over the others, It was that Lance bought those victories from his competition. Now, how much money he gave Ullrich, Beloki, or Basso for falling back and let him win? we may never know, but I am willing to bet my #$%$ that it was millions, even to this day, I seriously doubt that the UCI claimed to have received a donation of $125K to cover up that positive test at the Tour of Swiss in 2001. I bet it was millions not thousands and there are rumors that Nike is part of that cover-up. Armstrong was not going to let that slip just like that. He paid at all cost to maintain his big lie. But why? You got it, It is money and power, in fact, it was never about the bike and his livestrong foundation, it was about him making millions from sponsors- proof of that is that Livestrong gives little money to cancer research and has spent millions of dollars endorsing and advertising Armstrong. When the sponsors knew all well that all of this was going to come out, they left Armstrong dealing with his own demons and threw him under the bus. Everyone “washed their hands” and left him in the high mountain, that is BS and unfair in my opinion. They knew and they turned their backs on him. This is a sad story of a man that had it all and lost it all, even his dignity. In the end, there are no heroes Lance, only victims and you know it perfectly well.

  74. Michael

    One of the reasons people are so emotive about this topic is because it is a bit like death. OK, stick with me on this just a few sentences. Letting go of our attachment to, in this case, our hero (Lance) or maybe Pro Bike Racing, is very difficult. We have to grieve for the loss of this activity that was so important to us.

    Some may say that is just silly or worse, but, it is true that people become very attached to activities and when someone (Lance, USADA, Padraig) takes those away from us, then it hurts. It really hurts! It hurts when you cannot pet the dog or cat you had for years. It hurts when your bicycle gets crushed because you left it on the roof rack and drove it into your garage and you cannot ride it. Think about this.

    Like I said in a previous comment, Landis is the straw that broke my back for loving bike racing without any reservation, thought or qualification. So, I have already grieved for Pro Bicycle Racing being taken from me. And, it hurt big and I was mad, hateful, vengeful, and wanted to break things.

    That is why I can take a little more dispassionate approach to the Lance debacle and it does not have as big of an impact. I loved watching Lance race and believed The Lie for about the first 4 wins and then realized there was no way he could be doing it without some chemical help. Bruyneel and Carmichael and the rest of the support team, I realized, could not be such geniuses and something else was going on. There was just too much of the doping going on around them and I realized they were just smarter than everyone else about how to cheat the system.

    Again, I have to say to the people getting so wound up – let it go. Go ride your bike. Cancel your subscriptions to bike racing mags. Cancel your plane tickets to the TDF, TOI, TOS, etc. Enjoy more time with your loved ones. Forget about Lance and Pro Bike Racing. Support the local kids at your Velodrome or mt bike course, or BMX course, or whatever. Have fun.

  75. Andi

    Final thought that came to mind that I think is really at the heart of all this. Patrick after reading your last post. It occured to me that much of this should really be kept out of the public eye from day one.
    Why is AA named AA. lets look
    Alcoholics Anonymous http://www.aa.org/ it is the second part that is the anonymity that is the key here. Keeping your identity in tact. Why is it so important that we have privacy. It is a right. There should be no princess dead due to the tabloids. Take the famous scene in a few good men you cannot publicly accuse someone of a crime without evidence. If you don’t you will loose your career.
    Ok so that was the pivot point of that great film. The relationship I am getting to here is this is something that should be keep quiet until he admits, or until there is proof. Once they have real proof they should deal with it behind closed doors and then have tell the public.
    If you are upset at the condition of the sport tell anyone , and everyone whom for the last 12 years or whatever it has been who have brought this into mainstream media. Like the tabloids, floyd, the tour the documentary producers. how you feel.
    If there was any respect for privacy at all from the get go maybe just maybe some of those folks claimin he harmed them would have never been harmed. The largest group of people, working on drug abuse, on the planet feel that keeping the identity intact is so important that they have it in there name AA!

    it has been improper behavior from the the very start. So feel about Armstong how you want Dont let him off the hook, or cut him some slack. Fine but if you are hard line on him and those folks are off the hook. NO NO NO they are on the hook as much or more than him. You may say celebrity public figure public domain. NO NO NO if he was doping it was very private.
    Thats just no using your head
    AND I

  76. TominAlbany

    Well said, Padraig!

    Andi, I think you missed the point. Lance wrecked all of these people’s lives and raked them over the coals PUBLICLY! Sounds like the proper time for tar and feathering to me!

  77. Patrick O'Brien

    Wow Padraig, what a quandary! But, as you say, the comments have gotten ugly, again. I am not surprised, as comment sections on most big sites, try CNN or others, have become worthless. I certainly hope RKP remains as a place where this doesn’t happen. But, moderation can become a full time job where no one wins. Anonymity is the problem in comment sections; the fact that the confidentiality in drug testing labs was lost long ago started some of our problems. Bet some money changed hands there too, and I wouldn’t be surprised is some reported got in on that action.
    Eduardo and Michael make good points. Money and power does corrupt; look at Congress. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I was convinced that pro cycling was not the same as the NFL or MLB or World Cup Soccer. It was above all that. But the other side of me said the drug testing pro cyclists endured was a serious breach of privacy and the personal rights of employees, which they are after all. The fact that they and pro cycling tried to be both was their downfall, and fans like me. When Olympic medals are worth a million, minimum, problems start. And pro cyclists, like Armstrong and the others, compete in both arenas.

    Anyway, my two cents. I hope pro cycling and I will take it for what it is.

  78. Critracer2k

    Moderate as you see fit, it is your site after all. But moderate with the intent of keeping a civil discourse, not with the intent for directing the opinion towards your personal beliefs.

    Doping started well before Lance arrived on the scene. We will be seeing more of this in the coming days and weeks as the “purge” keeps rolling along and lots of old skeletons come home to roost.

    However don’t be naive in thinking doping has stopped with the new batch of cyclists, for it surely hasn’t. I believe the rumor mill is already warming up about Wiggins.

    As for those who would “tar and feather” Lance, you are letting your jealousy shine through. He did what the rest of the field was doing, he just did it better. He also viciously and callously went after anyone who sought to expose the truth. Most times these were people who wanted to do so for profit of some kind. I don’t feel these people should get any sympathy. When you lay with snakes you eventually get bitten.

    Bottom line, we will never know the full truth because it extends far deeper than even Lance Armstrong. The sport itself is poisoned by the need to create dramatic narrative. The “HUMAN SUFFERING” angle. We need to see these men turn themselves inside out and cross the threshold of endurance just to be entertained. The feats we expect are not humanly possible at the speeds we demand. Riding for 3 weeks over mountains and through valleys is beyond a humans capacity as it is currently constituted.

    This years tour features 2 ascents of Mont Ventoux in one day. That is crazy. Yet we are surprised to find riders are doping?

    Change the races, make them shorter and more “doable” and you will go a long ways to eliminate the need for doping. Remember it’s not just the top guys doping, it’s EVERYONE.

  79. Rod

    How is it being indignant at cheating jealousy? That’s simplistic view. I’m happy that Basso was suspended. That Vino was suspended. That Ricco is not coming back any time soon. And that Lance’s victories have been taken away.

    But really, saying that the races are too hard and that riding for three weeks is beyond human capacity is a fallacy. Based on that logic, athletes wouldn’t dope for the 100 m dash, or even for shooting events. How is that working out for those competitions?

    See “Tour de Reve”. I can’t prove they weren’t on the “program”, but I doubt those women were getting transfusions, EPO, testosterone patches and cortisone – they just go slower. I don’t remember demanding athletes racing at 47 km/h, although the UCI president tried to blame the fans for doping using that rationale. I’d rather see clean competition at whatever speed athletes can muster. I fail to see the problem with that.

  80. owl

    I used to be in Critracer’s camp with regards to the extreme difficulty of the Grand Tours with each successive year’s editions out to top all others being a cause of doping in the peloton.

    However, I recently found out a friend was using HGH, testosterone, and possibly EPO to place and PR in age group marathons – at age 60! WTF? He’s not winning one damn dollar, not getting sponsorship deals, not getting on TV, not getting famous. This discovery caused me to reconsider.

    Humans cheat on spouses, on taxes, at work, in school, you name it. Some cheat HUGE and are total and complete narcissistic, selfish, bullying assholes about it. Many others, many of us, cheat just a little here and there and get away with it on a daily basis. I’m sure most of us don’t even consider it cheating, our little transgressions. We rationalize it away as something we need/have to do to get by. I believe we all have this in us. It’s part of the human condition. I think we’re more genetically programmed to cheat and lie than to follow rules. We have to learn to follow rules where cheating to survive is basic instinct.

    Of course, the hope is that by learning and following rules, and developing compassion and empathy for our fellow humans we build a community that’s productive and desirable. Would I wish Lance to be a part of my community? Not a chance. However, there’s no denying as a laser focused, selfishly motivated, win at all costs actor he put on a great show.

  81. TominAlbany

    owl is pretty wise!

    Pro (and even amateur) sports is about the money, fame and glory. For some, it’s a way out of poverty. They are doing their best to be successful.

    My grievance is with the two-facedness of those involved. Sports is a subset of the entertainment genre along with TV and movies and music and books and… etc. They all appeal to us in different ways and allow us to escape our world for a time.

    Clearly we’re willing to pay BIG money for that escape. If we work on our realities, perhaps the ‘value’ the entertainment industry provides diminishes and the world may progress to dealing with it’s issues rather than hiding from them.

  82. Bryin Sills

    Another “journalist” that overlooks (refuses) to tell the truth. Anyone that any knowledge of cycling knew that Lancey was a doper in 1999. He was busted for steroid use in the TdF. It was unprecadented that he was allowed to use a prescription (backdated or not) to circumvent the penalty. The media sold this tripe to the public and the Armstrong/Livestrong/Dopestrong mythology became truth. When we can not rely on our media to provide truthful reporting we can hardly expect cheaters not to prosper. Not only did the media support LA’s story they refused to acknowledge any story that contradicted it. I blame the cycling media in particular because they knew better, they knew the history of doping in cycling. Over the years those same “reporters” helped Lance beat down anyone that asserted Lance was less than pristine. Go back and read some of what was written and how Greg, Emma and Betsy’s stories were spun in the press to help the marketing machine that was Lance.
    Today that same money grubbing whores are still at work. They refuse to suport a boycott of all Lance sponsors until they return some of their ill gotten gains. Don’t let anyone tell you that Trek, Nike and Oakley did not know Lance was dirty. Supporting such a boycott might hurt ad revenue. So the real winners here will go unpunished.
    Before you call out for Lance to apologise Mr. Brady perhaps you and the rest of the cycling media should take a hard look at how you reported on Lance and then you might call Betsy, Greg and Emma yourself.

  83. owl

    Another quick thought about who is Lance protecting. What are the chances that his doctors, training advisors, suppliers, couriers, etc worked exclusively in the cycling world? Why would those guys limit themselves to a sport that does not generate that much money? I don’t think there’s any doubt they’re in it for the money – you don’t exactly get famous for being the best dope supplier seven years in a row. However, you might get infamous from that kind of record and generate a lot of interest in your “talent”.

    I don’t think it takes a second gunman type conspiracy theorist to draw a very short line connecting Lance to athletes in big money sports like FIFA, NFL, tennis, and golf. Also, any knowledge of Lance’s personality (disorder?) would certainly suggest he might possess a little black book of who’s who in the world of professional dopers. We’re talking about a much bigger pot with a much heavier lid than cycling. Roger Goodell and Sepp Blatter to Lance, “Here’s a lot of zeros to fall on the sword. Just make sure it’s aimed at your vocal chords”. Extortion is such a dirty word.

  84. pamela blalock

    Armstrong isn’t the only one who owes an apology to the Lemonds. Trek really needs to step up and offer a sincere and public apology. I’m really surprised we haven’t seen any outcry for that.

  85. Ron

    Nicely written & provides a lot to think about. I didn’t get into road cycling as a real enthusiast until well into the Pharmstrong days, around 2003. For some reason which I can’t quite pinpoint I never liked him. It is a shame what he’s done to cycling but, that isn’t going to make me hang up my bikes or stop watching the PRO peloton. Heck, I’ll be in Louisville in eight days!!

    As others have pointed out, I really like the interview, until the “yes/no” portion ended. I hate how much he was ambiguous about, not because he continues to lie, but because his lies give enough ammunition to folks who STILL believe in him that everyone was doing it and the field was level. They weren’t and it wasn’t.

  86. gmknobl

    I’ll still read RKP and occasionally comment. I still love cycling. Sure, watching the show of pro cycling is great fun and even boring tours are fun for me. Partway through the whole LA dopes thing before all was revealed, about the time other racers started pointing the finger at him, I realized that it wasn’t my place to care so personally about this. To do that, to get revved up beyond just stating basic truths like “you shouldn’t dope” or “you should have proof,” would be to take away from the enjoyment of watching and participating in a sport I loved. I separated my emotions from that. No, I didn’t want to believe LA doped but now that it’s shown he did, because I separated my emotions from the battle going on, I still love the sport, still want to speculate on who will win, place or show (yeah, fun with metaphors), and most of all, still LOVE riding my bike. Nothing and no one will ever take that away from me. I hope to pass on that passion to my sons.

  87. Patrick O'Brien

    Byrin, your comment begs this question. Given your opinion of the cycling press, past and present, why are you reading anything on RKP?

  88. LesB

    Here goes the 118th response on this topic.

    As stated by Patrick, a damage to cycling from the LA affair is that sponsors are dropping out of cycling. Big time.

    I think it a good sign that there are so many passionate opinions on the topic. People do love this sport. Getting to my point…

    I know there are industry folk tuning in on this site, and I wouldn’t mind hearing their take on this. Even if you don’t want to disclose your affiliations, I personally would like to hear especially from people involved with sponsoring. If you are with a company that has withdrawn sponsoring, what would it take for you to resume sponsoring? What can we expect in the immediate and distant future?

  89. PRK

    Well said Padraig! FWIW – I owned & raced a Lemond in the ’90s – and would love it if GL got back in the biz! He was my inspiration to start racing and training – and I’d love to see him rise again!

  90. Jesus from Cancun

    Whoa! 120 comments… I don’t remember seeing that many at RKP before. As much as many would like to drop the Armstrong subject, it is still a rating catcher, eh?

    Too bad that some commenters lost their composture and let passion guide their words. I’d rather see 20 propositive, intelligent and respectful comments than 120 in which some people go to extremes to defend their ideas.

    But that’s what freedom of speech does, I guess. I still think that the RKP crowd is by far the most enjoyable to “hang out” with.

    As we say in Mexico… if everyone is to be friends forever, let’s not talk about politics, religion…. or Lance.

  91. redcliffs

    At the risk of asking a question (or making a point) that has already been made (and apologies if I am), I just want to ask one about a point made early in this piece, LA’s failure to confirm the hospital confession story. Is it possible that he declined to do so because doing so would have compromised either his or, more importantly, someone else’s legal position? In other words, that he knows admitting to this publicly, without benefit of counsel or negotiation, would put himself or someone else in legal jeopardy?

    Hear me out (especially as regards LA): I’m not debating the moral point that he really doesn’t deserve any protection and that he should admit to everything and make things right with people — I agree with that entirely. But I would add two caveats to that:

    1) What he admits to Betsy and Freddie privately is far more important than what he admits on the air. It sounds as though he hasn’t come clean with them yet, so he gets no points for this at the moment, but ultimately, I think we would all agree that they have a legitimate beef with him, but that it is *their* beef, not ours. We might (or might not) have found him saying “X” satisfying, but it’s ultimately what he says to them (and others) that is most important.

    2) I’m not sure that being a bully, a liar and a cheat means that he, or those who were his allies, surrender their rights in our adversarial legal system. I (and many others) got the sense that what he said to Oprah was carefully parsed, revealing just so much and nothing more. That suggests to me the aid of counsel and an effort to admit to the most important things without making his situation substantively worse. While I would have wished for more on a personal level, this was the right move for him — he might not have made things so much better for the people he wronged (though again, the personal apology might be more significant than the public one), but he also didn’t make it worse for anyone (friend or foe) in a wide-open, legally uncontrolled venue.

    I agree that cycling and the world would benefit from a far more detailed explication of his cheating, that individuals within cycling deserve apologies and perhaps restitution, and that he himself will ultimately benefit from coming cleaner than he has already. But I don’t think that means he owes us his legal rights, or, more importantly, the legal rights of third parties (the people who might have been jeopardized by further admissions on Oprah). If he were to continue to lie and even actually perjure himself sometime in the future, that would be an entirely different story, but in front of Oprah, I think we should consider the idea that there might have been only so much he could say without doing new and graver damage to himself and others, damage that might or might not have satisfied the wolves at the door (us, the world, cycling in general), wolves whose stakes in the game are comparatively pretty low.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Redcliffs: You ask a fair question. I believe that concern for his position in regard to SCA Promotions was at the center of his unwillingness to confirm the story. The issue I take with him not clearing the air on that matter is that when the case comes up (and it WILL come up), he has no hope of winning it, so an admission really can’t make his situation any worse. And because it is the single most demonstrable lie other than his claim that he never doped, if he’s going to admit anything, he should admit that. I suspect his failure to confirm the Andreu’s story lies at the heart of why his interview with Oprah backfired.

  92. redcliffs

    Padraig: I agree, especially with your last comment, which is why I bring in the issue of other people. If others have knowingly lied about the incident to protect LA, especially under oath, although their lying wins them no friends or favors in my book, it is arguable that they should have that lying (or perjuring) exposed with the aid of counsel, rather than on national TV.

  93. UncleChainwhip

    One of the best retorts i’ve seen. Thanks for speaking for so many. Lance competed in 3 Senior National Championship Time Trials and could never finish in the top 5 as an amateur. He never could climb—- try to find a hillclimb or hilly RR amateur win. Not world class, despite the best equipment, race preparation and monetary support.
    Ergonomic aids cannot make a donkey into a race horse, but change a talent into a champion. I tried to have faith that cancer changed his physique, but turning professional in itself sealed his fate as “winning was the only thing”. Still waiting for a child abuse confession from Caramichael…….
    Poor bastard never even got to experience high school!

  94. Patrick O'Brien

    Pamela, that is a good point. Sometimes I feel a little strange riding a Trek. I wish they would bring the LeMond line back, and make most of them in Wisconsin of premium steel. I would open my wallet for that.

  95. Kim

    The answer to all the lies and deception, is that Lance. Like many others in Sport and big business. The challange and the struggle finally does not mean anything. Winning was the Goal. Cycling a medium to achieve that goal.
    In 2005 Lance spelled out his new adjenda. It was not Yellow Jerseys, but these were a way to create an sustain a Foundation with Cancer as the Cause. It would seem to be the God that Lance was wanting to be remembered as. Not Cycling or Yellow Jersey’s or the exploits that he achieved.
    The link to this Foundation too would become damaged by the Lies.
    It is sad that in hindsight,Lance has Lost every Race. I Pray that Gods Grace will help him, Gods redemptive work includes Lance.

  96. TheRaceRadio

    Leave Mike Anderson out of the list of those wronged by Lance. Mike was in it up to his ears and he already got his six figures. Mike was part of the problem and he is still trying to weasel more out of it. No one wants TexPat in New Zealand.

  97. Mjolnir2k

    Can someone explain why we should feel an iota of sympathy for people like the Andreu’s? Betsy and Frankie had NO problem with Frankie doping when it was making Frankie money to do so. Once Lance decided that Frankie wasn’t good enough to ride, even doped, he dropped him. That’s when the Andreau’s started in with the blackmail to get Frankie back on the team (and it was nothing short of blackmail). Once they saw that was futile they blew the whistle to cash in further.

    Betsy has basically made a career out of crying on Camera about how Lance has wronged her, making money at every stop along the way to do so. Yet she KNEW the type of person Lance was, She KNEW about the doping and she was 100% fine up until the day the well ran dry.

    The tears she sheds are for her lost income, not for the sport. She is a phony as are most of the others claiming to have been wronged by Lance. Every Single One Of Them took the cash train that came with Lance until it ran dry and ONLY then did they speak out.

    So condemn Lance for being a doper, a cheat and an all around bad guy, but don’t get taken in by the crocodile tears of the likes of the Andreu’s, LeMond, or any one of the former teammates who rolled over on Lance to spare their own skin.

  98. Mjolnir2k

    @ Padraig, please explain. What do you believe the facts to be? Was Betsy / Frankie screaming about doping in the Peloton when Frankie was using? Was she bemoaning the doping culture and Lance in general when Frankie was getting paid by US Postal?

    Why would she attempt to use what should have been a privileged conversation between Lance and his Dr. against Lance? Was her motivation pure and to help the sport, or was it to keep Frankie on the payroll at all costs?

    How exactly is she the victim when she went along with what was occurring in cycling until the day when the paychecks ran dry?

    I am curious your take on the situation. How do you feel about her showing up on every news channel that will have her collecting appearance fee’s along the way telling her tale of woe?

    Thanks for any insight you might have. To me, she knowingly laid down with snakes and then when bitten cried foul.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Mjolnir2k: I’m gonna keep this short because this is well-trodden territory elsewhere. First, there’s not a shred of evidence that the Andreus blackmailed Armstrong. I’m confident they would have been charged if there were. As to actual victimhood: Frankie Andreu lost jobs because of the heat Armstrong placed on his employers; you can find quotes from his ex-employers about wanting to avoid getting caught up in the conflict with Armstrong. That’s actual victimhood. As for Betsy, based on the quotes I’ve seen from reliable colleagues, when she found out Frankie was using EPO, she demanded that he stop and he did. And she did not “attempt to use a privileged conversation.” She offered to step out of the room when the doctors asked Lance about doping and she didn’t divulge what she heard until she was ordered to give a sworn deposition. So why is she on TV now? Simple: She’s a great story for the media because she can give an “I told you so” quote to anyone who wants to hear. Let’s be clear: the media is beating down her door; she doesn’t need to go looking for the attention.

      Andi: What separates Lance from other dopers is just how far he went. He dropped a dime on both Tyler and Floyd. No one else was doing that. That sort of tactic fell outside the traditional omertà. He had phone lines and email accounts tapped and people followed. For years I argued that Armstrong was little different from other dopers, that they were all the victims of implicit coercion. I was wrong. Lance and his tactics, as I’ve already written, were way too coarse for sport.

  99. Andi

    I know very little but I do know this there are many ways to cheat. While Doping against the rules is a way of cheating. Its not as dramatic when the other racers are. Kind of levels things out.
    There is a far more effective way to cheat than doping. Removal!
    If you take the top guy and just remove him form the race. Make sure he or she cannot race, you have cheated as well. Look at Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. To win she just took out the comp. Now look at Lance three days after the interview the triathalets come out saying we dont want him in our sport. He cannot race the tour again while others get a six month suspension. Seriously we all know other racers are doing the same thing taking something. The real cheat here is the frogs, that are pissed off that an american won there grand race. Not only that when he left his teammate started winning. If Lance was French we would not here one word about his doping there would be no going back testing and re testing body fluids. If would all be swept under the rug. The reason any of this is a present day conversation is Lance Armstrong offended the French and others by winning the Tour and being american. One or two tours they could maybe deal with but loosing 7 to Lance and then to Floyd. So here is my question who from the US is inline to win the Tour this year?

    Its time we turn our focus from what Lance did and start looking at the what was done to him. This victim thing is such a joke is anyone really a victim of Lance. Another big joke is this idea that he is the kingpin of doping! Like remove him and the sport will agin be pure. Now its time to hold the frogs and journalist accountable for dragging road racings greatest champion through the mud. Because your are right it looks bad for the sport! Failure to stand up against such abuse is the fault of the cycling participants at all levels. The fact that for the last seven years you/me/we have let this go on is testament that this is acceptable. Like I said above. If he cheated it is up to the race to pull him and to do so behind closed doors. It is up to them to catch him with good science and not use the tabloids to destroy him .
    I for one will not watch the tour this year in protest for how this has been handled.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonya_Harding
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Kerrigan

  100. Andi

    In my view if the cycling world wants to regain its stature in the public View it will.. -recognize Lance for his contribution to the sport.
    -see the truth in the fact that pros in most sports use drugs and that none of this is new news.
    -put the media on it heels and press them for the real story, an honorable story
    -Demand fair play in that a six month suspension and a life time suspension are far to extreme and that this is an abuse of power
    - Keep all testing and results quiet until official legal rulings have been made ( public trials in the media )
    - hold cycling journalist and authors accountable to their actions.
    Otherwise suffer the fate of the media mangled on the cover of the trashy rags in supermarket.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_manipulation
    To be clear I in no way say that Lance is not accountable for his actions. I only say that taking a stance that he is a villian, kingpin etc and that all these people are victims is stupid! I also say that from the first Tour he won he pissed powerful people off because Americans are not supposed to win the Tour De Frogs
    Andi

  101. Mjolnir2k

    @ padraig, Thank you for the reply. Just so I am clear on your position (and not putting words in your mouth) you agree that the DOPING Armstrong did was not out of the usual for the top level and even intermediate level racers at the time (and let’s be honest, it’s still occurring today) but your bone of contention is that he was ruthless about it. If you got in his way, he squashed you.

    Well, I agree to an extent. But I also remain firmly ensconced in the position that if you place yourself in the way of a speeding bus and then get hit, well you must accept some of the blame.

    Lance was a product of the Team he rode for, the sponsors he represented and the culture of cycling in general. It just so happens that he was also a ruthless competitor and took this to a level not typically seen. However, you might recall that many great champions were less than stellar human beings off the bike. Do you think that “The Cannibal” was named such because he was a friendly sort, or that he would punish his rivals to such an extent that he would demoralize them and demand they acquiesce to his being the “patron”?

    Lance is a jerk of the highest order, but the thing is Lance has ALWAYS been a jerk of the highest order. This should be a separate discussion from “Lance is a doper”. Lance doped to the same extent (+ /-) as the rest of the peloton. He did not create doping, nor did it end when he left the sport (either time).

    People like Betsy / Frankie and the like only came out of the woodwork when they could no longer profit from Lance (Hell, Floyd started this whole mess because Lance wouldn’t bring him back on the team). Same with his ex-teammates who “dropped a dime” on him. Same with the sponsors who fled him (while they knew all along he was doping), but they didn’t care because he was raking in $$ for them. Same with the media who glorified him because it sold copy after copy. Now they are just milking the last drops off currency out of the story and people like Betsy are getting the last dime they can before their 15 minutes are finally up.

    When people start separating the conversation of “he’s a jerk” and “he’s a doper”, because they are two separate issues, we might get somewhere. If they weren’t and being a “doper” was so unusual we wouldn’t have to simply vacate 7 years of TdF titles, you’d be able to hand them out to the next in line. It’s no surprise that they couldn’t do that because they were ALL doping. So why only abdicate LA’s titles, why not retroactively abdicate ALL the TdF titles won by dopers? Simply because Lance is a mean spirited jerk? How does that equate into a reasonable, or fair outcome for anyone? Do you celebrate Indurains titles? How about Merckx? Why aren’t they held to the same standard?

    The fact is that pro cycling has ALWAYS been rife with doping and has always had jerks in the ranks. Lance was just the most glorified one of them all and he’s going to pay the biggest price for that. But to imply that he somehow had a greater control of the doping than anyone else is false. You just don’t like him as a human being. Fair enough, but he always rode on a level playing field, it’s what he did off the bike that set him apart.

  102. Mjolnir2k

    I guess my point (question?) is, are you more concerned with him being a doper, or a jerk (or are they inseparable in your mind)?

    If Lance had been a nicer human being, would you still feel the way you feel? He’d have still doped to win his tours, but would you be sympathetic to his plight?

    What if George Hincapie (by all accounts a nice guy) had been the one to win 7 tours? He doped, but you don’t see any venom spewed his way and he’s still out there cycling (grand fondo etc) with massive support. Along the way he got a 6 month sentence for his long term doping…that’s it.

    I’ll give you my position. If you doped in any fashion you should lose ALL results. Period. End of story. Nice guy, or Jerk all get treated the same and let the chips fall where they may. There would be a whole lot of empty years on the TdF winner list, but it would send a clear message that while you may get away with it in the short term sooner or later you will be found out and you will lose your titles. ALL of them. and you are banned from cycling for a minimum of 4 years, mandatory.

    Then and only then you might see a reduction in the doping that is still rampant in cycling (or do you honestly believe they have stopped?).


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Mjolnir2k: I’m not really concerned with Lance. He gave an interview, said he wanted to return to racing and I decided to pen a response that lacked the venom of those who have been crying for his head at the end of a pike. The letter resonated with the great majority who have read it. It’s not an emotional issue for me that way it is for so many others. He simply doesn’t deserve a place in sport—any sport—that’s all.

  103. blacksocks

    @LesB

    As someone who works in the industry, and who worked in sports marketing at one time during the 1990′s, all I can say is that many brands are questioning their investment in racing and competitive athletes. Beyond doping concerns, the costs to support top-level programs and riders have skyrocketed, with only incremental returns possible in the market. So it’s no coincidence that the bike industry is talking with more passion about urban cycling, adventure riding, grassroots events, and the like…this is where growth is possible, and where brand consolidation hasn’t choked craft, real innovation or the ability to make an impact on the market. Plus, all of that stuff is damned fun..

  104. Andi

    @Pat
    I get it he built a castle around him. He was well protected and Jan 2013 the last of the castle fell. I understand all of that.

    My point is that the topic of drugs and bike racing were never an issue anywhere until an American won the Tour. To do so was unheard of. If in the late 80s you told some top cyclist that an American coming off of Chemo would win seven tours, HA they would have shamed you to no end. It was impossible for an american to win. It would be the same as a cal state long beach going to win at Oxford. Unheard of. “The only way that could happen is if the blokes from the US were on roids”!
    This is why we are hearing about drugs and cycling in all the mainstream media. Not because Lance is an ass. Because he deeply offended the French national pride. It is right up there with the stupid stuff we saw during the cold war where sports were seen as a way to measure what country or ideal was superior. Ha looking back at that now a guy wining a gold medal wearing a singlet and snatching a few hundred kilos has nothing to do with democracy or marks, comunist. Who won the tour in this era has noting to do with what country they are from! The issue should have been dealt with internally from day one. Instead coming from a place of denial that an American could win the Tour put him on trial in the public. So again be mad at him fine but share your anger with some of those that really made this a problem.
    I ‘ll say it again his greatest offense is insulting the French sense of national pride.

  105. Patrick O'Brien

    Padraig, I haven’t heard the phrase, “drop a dime” in a long time. Did you ever drive a “deuce and a quarter” in your distant past?

    Anyway, blacksock’s comment interests me, and I wonder if the $8000 carbon wonder racing bike marketing days are numbered. My current interest, and I suspect that of many other riders, is the all around road commuter or cross bike. Or, maybe buying a disc brake equipped touring bike that can also serve in the commuting and recreational role. Adventure touring bikes are also intriguing to me. I also wonder why quality bike frames can’t be made competitively here in the US. I think a US frame bike with quality components aggressively marketed as “frame made and bike assembled in America” would sell well.

  106. Andi

    I agree we should be able to easily by here in the US. My current build for MTB is a handmade five spot. Some parts are made in Canada and most are in China. Giant I think has the biggest factory i asia. Many and most bikes of both high and low quality come from the east and are designed in the west. One big problem is the big names like Giant and Trek walk into stores and demand more floor space in return for discounts on overall yearly PO’s. So the little guy looses floor space and the consumer now has an overpriced china bike, Specialized has gone far enough to open shops that only have there bikes. They give it a name like surf city and create an illusion that it is a real bike shop.
    Pradig thanks again for allowing me to voice here and hosting this never ending thread.
    Andi

  107. TheRaceRadio

    Listen to me: “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.” hahahaha Whose the pig? hahahaha

  108. Bob Er

    Lance is a product – no more than anyone else -so he made more money, so what? He was absolutely not the first nor the last – give him 6 months penalty in an off season like the rest and move on. None of you knows Lance or Tygart etc and they don’t know or care about you – so get over it and go on with your life, none of this even affects you in your daily personal or financial life.

  109. Pingback: curating_comments | tenlitre_blog

  110. Atlaz

    You had me right up until you suggested that somehow Floyd Landis is a victim of Lance’s lies and coverups. Floyd would have continued doping in any manner possible had he not been caught and I don’t consider that there needs to be any sort of apology to him. Whether Floyd chose to dope because he felt forced to is irrelevant, he did, he carried on and when caught lied and took money from people to defend that lie.

    He came forward because he had nothing left. If he’d managed to get back into pro-cycling I doubt he’d have confessed. Nothing in his prior behaviour makes me think otherwise.

  111. Memb54

    Fantastic letter, Padraig. You took the words out of my mouth, if I’d had the capacity to write like this. Onto another point… We have finally been able to bring cycling to this part of our country, finally. It took effort and more effort but a road race in September did the trick. Lots of amateurs, a few internationals, but no one of renown. Now our project is to get a bike club going, to organize all the young kids/adults into something that will protect them, and prepare events for the rest of the country to participate in. So with this case becoming known all over the world, guess what??? What few sponsors were interested, now take a different look at the sport. Thanks, LA, now we have to climb a mountain instead of a slope…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>