The Explainer: Broken promises, a potential confession and cheap advice


Hey, Filippo, guess what? I am contemplating a confession.

Dear Readers,
Happy New Year to all of you. I’m going to use this week’s column to catch up on a few things and, hopefully, do my part to drive a stake into that one story that just won’t die.

First off, I hope that you’re able to get through at least the first week of 2013 without breaking any of your resolutions.

Sadly, I guess I already have. Out here in the high prairie of Wyoming, it’s just been too dang cold to get in “at least a short ride every day of the year.” I have two beautiful touring bikes in the garage, just waiting to be tested for a magazine article, but Laramie streets are covered in ice and temperatures have consistently stayed below zero (and yeah, we’re talking Fahrenheit here) since I put that new calendar on the wall.

Well, at least the wind isn’t blowing. (Yeah, just wait, Pelkey.)

I have other excuses on tap, too. Late last year, two other lawyers and I got motivated to go out on our own and, as of January 1, the firm of Neubauer, Pelkey and Goldfinger, LLP, officially opened its doors, just a block from the county courthouse. We’ll see how that goes.

Cheap advice I
I also want to mention again that I welcome readers’ question on a variety of subjects. Looking through old “Explainers” here at RKP and over at VeloNews, the collection includes columns on everything ranging from B.S. sales pitches by the manufacturers of supplements to bike racing near the front in World War II to questions about bounced checks from race promoters to the very first guy to have his Tour de France title stripped.

Seriously, if you do have a question that you’d like to see addressed in this column, feel free to send an email to my personal address at

“The Explainer” was originally intended to serve as a quick way to answer common questions during the Tour de France and other major races. It’s kinda morphed into something else, but I do look forward to addressing your questions.

I admit that we’ve gotten distracted along the way, particularly in light of the news that came out this fall from USADA about that one guy from Texas.

Oh yeah, that reminds me … the aforementioned story that simply will not die.

Cheap Advice II
The Twitterverse is all abuzz this morning with news that one Lance Edward Armstrong is now poised to confess to the world that he had, indeed, used performance-enhancing drugs.

Gee. What next? I hear Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is finally going to admit that he’s rather tall, too.

Who cares?

According to the New York Times’ Juliet Macur, Armstrong’s thinking is that he might just get that life-time ban reduced to the point where he could actually think about competing in triathlon and other sports before his AARP membership kicks in.

In other words, there won’t be an ounce of contrition in that heartfelt confessional from Saint Lance. If it happens, it will be done for the most self-serving of reasons.

Look, if I wanted to hear stories about your cheating, Mr. Armstrong, I’d listen to the people who have been telling the truth since 1999. I’d talk to David Walsh, Emma O’Reilly, Betsy Andreu, Greg LeMond (the only American to ever win the Tour de France, by the way) or good ol’ Bob Hammon, who runs SCA and is looking to get a few million back from ya. I really don’t need your spin on the subject anymore.

Seriously, Lance, just walk away. Settle your lawsuits; pay off your lawyers; hell, you might even get that crack legal team of yours to work a plea deal on a potential perjury charge. Then get the @#$% outta here.

You’ll still have tens of millions in the bank. When all’s said and done, you’ll have  a pretty good life … unless it’s the attention you want. Look, you’re a rich guy. Go do what you say you do on your Twitter page and focus on “raising my 5 kids.” Like your former sponsor said, “Just do it.”

I don’t care if you confess, but please, just go away. Move on. More importantly, let the sport move on. Racing fans, riders and yes, even cancer patients … really, we’ll all be just fine without you.


It’s over, man.
– Charles

The Explainer is a weekly feature on Red Kite Prayer. If you have a question related to the sport of cycling, doping or the legal issues faced by cyclists of all stripes, feel free to send it directly to The Explainer at PLEASE NOTE: Understand that reading the information contained here does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Charles Pelkey. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained therein without first seeking the advice of qualified legal counsel licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.



  1. e-RICHIE

    >>> …news that one Lance Edward Armstrong is now poised to
    >>> confess to the world that he had, indeed, used performance
    >>> enhancing drugs.

    This will be a great photo op for Graham Watson atmo.

  2. Michael

    Nice simple summary of the LEA-gal story and motivation, and I agree with your reaction. Isn’t he between a rock and a hard place on the Bruyneel trial too, though, in that if he is called upon to testify, he either perjures himself again or admits he committed perjury before? Confessing now, with guarantees of no perjury charges, would get him out of that predicament. Even if he doesn’t get to race triathlons again, he’d have greatly reduced his jail-time possibilities, no?

  3. Michael Birdsoing

    First, congratulations to you and your partners on your new endeavor.

    Second, don’t ‘dis’ the wind. You should see the ‘pea soup’ that passes for air right now in my region to the WSW of you. Run? I’d be better off sucking on the tail pipe of an idling SUV right now.

    Third, THANK YOU for summing up the situation and best advice for our old buddy down in Austin, TX.

    Seriously Lance, that horse is so dead your ex-teammates are gonna’ have it served to them for dinner tonight.

  4. bagni

    nice write up on this charles. i read the article this morning on line and it prompted me to actually comment on the nyt site. i think i wrote…lance please stfu and go away, no one cares anymore. you wrote pretty much the same schtick. i’m glad whacked minds think alike! oh…and before i forget?….i love you lawyer boi… ::))

  5. Pat O'Brien

    Thanks Charles. The older I get the colder I get. SE Arizona just doesn’t seem warm enough anymore. I’m thinking Bullhead City. Yuma maybe. Wyoming or Montana? The beauty in spring and summer would have got me 20 years ago, and I would have payed the winter price. Good luck on your partnership.

  6. Memb54

    All the best with your new endeavour. The article is great. Yes, we know what the man did, and I don’t think he’ll ‘fess up because he’s sorry. It’s the same old story: me, me, and me…. Just another strategy so that he can do what he wants, i.e. triathlon. Shame on him. BTW, we’re with the ac full on, over 110 F. in the heart of S. America!

  7. ctrabon

    Charles, well said. Especially the bit about Lance’s way of only doing things for LANCE. Good luck with the new venture!!!

  8. Kublai

    Nobody cares what I think, but…..
    1. I would prefer that Lance confesses. Sure, it’s too little, too late, but it’s still better than bald-faced lying for the next umpteen years. I’d rather hear it, than not, I guess.
    2. I don’t believe that Lance will confess the whole truth, just as I don’t believe that any of the recent cyclist confessions have been complete. Lance and the others all lied, and all benefit from both giving up some truths and keeping some hidden. Hey, that’s what a plea bargain is all about.
    3. I feel that the sport-based punishment should only be based on the doping violations and whatever other rules he has broken. Yes, he’s a first class megalomaniac jerk and an asshole, but that’s not in the rulebook and there are other forums to deal with everything outside the sport. And I have no doubt there will be many folks issuing subpoenas of one type or another.
    4. It’s unfortunate that the weak punishments meted out to Levi, Danielson and others who have recently been forced to confess (nobody has volunteered to confess to my knowledge, except Alexi) could serve as the precedent for Lance. It’s possible that he actually does come away with something relatively light, given the circumstances. Sucks.
    5. Lance didn’t invent doping in cycling, he simply perfected it within a corrupt “wink wink” system that was all too happy to ride the gravy train for all it was worth. EVERYBODY around him had to have deep suspicions and/or know the truth. That includes media/broadcasters, Livestrong, Nike, Trek, UCI, Thom Weisel, you name it. How do we deal with their greed?
    6. IF, and that’s a big IF in my mind, Lance is ever able to compete again as a licensed triathlete, he will be in a sport where I believe the promoter has the discretion to exclude him. If an event doesn’t exclude him, I say shame on them.
    7. And IF any company ever wants to sponsor him, you can bet I’ll be boycotting those products, not that it will make a whit of difference to anyone but me.
    Like I said, my opinions only, worth what you paid.

  9. Robert Olsen

    I agree with most of what Kublai said, but would like to add some of my own opinions.
    When it comes to Armstrong and doping and cycling, fans always come up with a different excuse for why Lance is always wrong. When it comes out that Lance and every other cyclist of his era doped, it was worse that Lance didn’t because he wasn’t a nice guy. Right now, the only thing different between Lance and the American heroes Hincapie and Levi and hell even Hamilton is that the others have confessed. And now that Lance is thinking about confessing, people are already damning the confession and saying what is going to be wrong about it. Its crap. The only reason that people were touting confession as the holy grail of forgiveness for other cyclists is they thought Lance would never actually confess. But now they have lost that, so they have to rally against it.
    I’m not a Lance fan, I don’t think he should be forgiven, I think he should be punished, but the mindset of cycling fans is absolutely ludicrous. The fact that people can sit there and think that Lance was not a great athlete is ridiculous.
    I have a theory, which I am sure plenty of people will disagree with. Lance did more for cycling in the US than anyone before him. Even Lemond. I do not think that cycling would be as popular in the US as it is now (and saying that cycling is popular in the US is a stretch) without Lance. And so many people’s cycling identity is tied up in Lance, him being a cheater somehow hurts them personally. And don’t play revisionist history. Look at cycling on TV before and after Lance, I think that is proof enough to show what influence he has had on cycling in the US.
    Again, I am not sitting here defending Lance. I am saying that cycling fans’ arguments and reasonings for why they don’t like Lance and why he is such a bad dude are terribly flawed.

  10. David B

    As someone who spends some time *off* the bike, I’m looking forward to the new book ‘It’s not AT ALL about the bike: finally, the truth’. He’s got a lot to tell! It would be a real shame if he just went away now.

    LA presided over a huge boom in cycling, particularly in the US. Lots of bikes, gear and magazines were sold. Well, if you go out and pay some cash for a mag that serves up lies, I’d argue you’re entitled to some of your money back. And if you saw the ads and bought an overpriced Trek Madone (which turns out to have been named after Dr Ferrari’s favorite workout) maybe you’re entitled to a bit more money back. And so on. What about all those people, sponsors, press etc. – how are they all doing? Do they claim to have been duped by the evil LA, poor lambs? Of course, Oakley knew all along, but didn’t anyone else? Nike maybe — how many millions did they make? And it goes even further: what about the abrupt stop to the Novitzky investigation, how did that happen? Anyone subject to the American legal system (ie over 300 million people) might care.

    It’s not about the bike!

  11. MattC

    Well, let’s be truthful here: VERY FEW doping confessions are heartfelt admissions of guilt occuring BEFORE there is a compelling reason for them to do so (ie: they’re about to be or have already been exposed). Typically the confessions are completely self-serving…and then we’re supposed to feel sorry for them and hope they get a break in their suspension (or not).

    I’m quite tired of the whole thing, but I must admit that Kublai and Robert have good points. No, I don’t think Lance is the devil. He’s been thrown under the bus as THE scapegoat for an entire generation of doping in cycling. EVERYBODY who profited from the glory-days is party to the lie and partly responsible. But nor do I feel sorry for him…you reap what you sow. Unless you’re name is McQuaid or Verbruggen it seems. But I believe they will get theirs at some point in time. If not then the grand lie continues and not much will really change.

  12. MFC

    My guess is that he will be more marketable if he confesses and can justify his actions (everyone cheated/level playing field blah blah blah) to those inclined to sympathize with him, better than if he just remains silent. His big worry may be the whistle-blower suit, which presents statute of limitation issues. The settlements in the other lawsuits probably have anti-reopening provisions, that the other side can try to re-open alleging fraud, which brings up more issues of statute of limitations, etc., that could probably keep Charles and his new firm busy for quite a long time.

  13. master flahute

    after all is said and done, can we all say thst Lance stayed classy? Guess not.

    Stop digging yourself a deeper grave, Lance. The world is round, and karma’s a bitch.

    stay classy, Lance.

  14. Patrick

    Robert Olsen, Armstrong took what 7 Eleven & LeMond started rolling here in the US; a mainstream interest in pro cycling. Armstrong’s record setting TDF victories trumped their accomplishments (and anyone else) and consequently domestic interest surged like never before. But he cheated to win…likely ever single one. So now it seems he’s a fraud and what attracted so many was built on lies. It’s hard for many of us now to recognize any of his accomplishments as a grand spectacle of American performance.

    As for the difference between him and the others such as Levi and Hincapie, Armstrong chose to destroy the professional livelihoods of anyone who crossed him. That’s another sticking points many of us can’t get over

  15. Alex TC

    Maybe it’s too late for Lance, but then it may just help keep things moving against UCI, Pat and Hein and that would imho justify a bit more of this Lance soap opera.

    But then I remember of that old, truthfull saying that “things must change so everything can remain the same” and I get that well known fear returning.

  16. RobbieCanuck

    Good column CP and good luck with the new LLP. As a former trial lawyer, it is good to be close to the courthouse as those briefcases and banker boxes tend to get heavier as one gets older.

    Again you have nailed it. On the facts of the LA case there can be no redemption. He simply dug himself too deep, and his motivation to confess has no credibility.

    I note his crack legal team still is too stunned to admit the obvious and is in la-la land with rationalization, still believing LA “… had his livelihood and his life torn from him …” As if! It appears “Herman the Mouthpiece” is unable to recognize a self-inflicted wound (got to keep up appearances to get those big fees).

    @ Robert Olsen – Lance was not a great athlete, merely another good athlete. He could not make it in triathlon, so he moved to cycling and he would only have been a middle of the packer in cycling were it not for the PEDs.

  17. Skippy

    Been left wondering if MACUR feels like the victim of an early ” April Fools Day Joke ! Last year we saw sally jenkins create controversy and this week Graham Watson write his blog . Not having read any of his previous efforts , i can’t tell , if it was spoon fed to him ?

    Last year i predicted that the closing of the Grand Jury was an attempt to smooth ” feathers “, and that it would reopen in April/May after the ” Presidential Honeymoon period “! Finding this item seems to confirm that conjecture :

    Some speculate that it has gone away ? How far ? My blog has a few answers but i think ” Betty A. summed it up brilliantly , ” lance-does-he-think-people-completely-stupid.html ”

    Kathy LeMond , has added this item , a superb summing up of the obnoctious subject that keeps giving :

    Pres.Putin is handing out ” Passports ” , currently , Lance would do well think of Sochi , as a replacement for Aspen . Perhaps the Russian Mafia can provide a ” Horse head for him to sleep with , a la ” godfather film “?

  18. Luvlysmiler

    The provision in the rules for reduced sentence through confession is only available while the case was ongoing. The judgement can’t be reduced after the case and appeal process is timed out and closed.
    He was given opportunity to join in with the process and give his side of the story but declined. That phase is now over.

    I know many of the ways in which sports rules work are different but you wouldn’t expect a criminal sentence to be reduced AFTER the case is sentenced and judgement handed out eh?

  19. Jonny

    I don’t care what Lance’s motivations are for confessing, at the end of the day all the recent confessions from others involved in the LA case have been self-serving. The fact is, only Lance knows the whole truth, and if he exposed eveything he could bring a lot of people, companies, and organisations down. If it is true that bargains are being made between LA’s side and the various authorities and injured parties in preparation for a confession then I would hope that the only way he’ll get a satisfactory deal would be if he’s going to bring new info into the open that will move the fight against doping on to another level. If this is the case, there will be some very powerful people shitting bricks (feeling very vulnerable) at the moment, and they will be instructing their legal teams to counter whatever LA may be about to reveal.

    So I say, lets wait and see. You never know, he could be forced to confess all (or nearly everything anyway) to get the bargain he craves. If this is the case, then the initial reasoned decision could be just light fire compared to the atomic bomb that Lance might drop.

    I for one would welcome that.

  20. High Plains Drifters

    It’s a very western, practically American peculiarity that the general public is felt we are owed a confession and apology. We’re kinda nutty about them. We demand them until we’re blue in the face, the critique them at length, and compare them to others.

    But it’s rare if ever that one actually changes anything.

    I think it’s related to our own inflated sense of personal honor and integrity. We have evolved to believe we’re more honest than we really are. Everyone is convinced that he’s a stand up guy … And yet, the doughnuts in the break room keep disappearing.

    Quick anecdote: Buddy of mine sent out three bogus emails (the typical political drivel that i was hoping to get a break from after the election came to an end), all of which set off the common sense alarm. A perfunctory trip to Snopes showed they were bogus, and I sent him the link to inform him of such. Now, the thing is, dude is an Army Colonel, West Point grad. On paper, there are none more honest, or, more precisely, none more concerned with integrity. And yet, somehow I was the bad guy for pointing out his mistake. I even hinted that emailing a correction might be smart, but that fell on deaf ears. And it got me thinking … Easily, over the last ten years, I’ve pointed guys to Snopes or other fact verification services twice a week, conservatively. That’s 1,000, minimum, lies that needed retracting. And over that time, zero people have sent out apologies, corrections, or retractions.

    Why bring this up? Well, since last fall, we’ve all heard the critiques of the various apologies and confessions associated with the USADA reasoned decision. Hell, maybe we’ve even contributed a few. And one common theme is that they’re worthless, that they were coerced or self-serving. As if any of us would easily have done it better, done it the right way. But it’s simple statistics that, one, had we been in the same situation, we’d probably have done the exact same thing; and, two, every one of us has told a little white lie for which we have been very, very slow in correcting.

    Wanna know how to stop the ones with the biggest whoppers in their closet? They’re the ones saying “not me” right now.

  21. SusanJane

    Am I the only one who felt like the Times article was a test balloon?

    Another book maybe? Talk shows? Ego was always driven this man.

    Geez. It’s over Lance. OVER.

  22. Luis Oliveira

    Well, I do have a question: how many months of enjoyment one can expect out of living in Wyoming? I know it is beautiful in the spring and summer, but just how much time are we actually talking about here?

  23. Jen

    Well said, Charles. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’re going to get rid of this story that easily. It’s like the Hydra – for each head cut off, it grows two more. Happy New Year!

  24. Mark L.

    Nice editorial Charles!


    Dear Lance…

    At least among the common folk who can’t profit from their relationship with you or your enterprises….

    That said, confession is good for the soul, so long as it’s sincere. Negotiating a confession somehow seems a bit insincere, assuming the folks around you who have apparently violated your confidence by sharing that info anonymously. Then again, that could have simply been a trial balloon suggested by your publicist and attorneys. You know, your friends. On the bright side, you could certainly write a book and it would certainly be a best seller.

  25. Jesus from Cancun

    Thank you for sharing the news of your new partnership, Charles! See? Life brings changes and challenges, but it is up to us to rebound and arise. Animo!

    As for Lance, I don’t think he will confess. If it happens, I would expect a statement carefully edited by his lawyers, and then I am not interested at all.

    By the way, who was the only American winner of the Tour de France? Ha!

  26. bigwagon

    The hell with Lance, I’m more interested in the fact that you have apparently partnered with Auric Goldfinger. Any plans for world domination?

  27. Rich Wilson

    Thanks Charles- all well said.

    A note about Graham Watson- I hadn’t seen his recent comments on Lance until it was pointed out here. I had been curious though. He was very quick to drop, and loudly condemn both Hamilton and Landis from his line. I hadn’t been checking his site lately, but after the Reasoned Decision I did and saw no sign of Lance either. But I’d like to know how he now feels about Hamilton, Landis et al. Were they just doing what they had to do? If he keeps dropping featured cyclists from is lineup, he’s going to have nothing but scenery pretty soon.

  28. Joe Ruskenbro

    Get you one of these:

    You’re rich. You’re a lawyer.

    It cost me $800, but it was worth it. I’ve never used regular rollers, but the track on the E-moth moves enough so that it’s sort of like riding normal, and better for certain kinds of workouts.

    It’s not just good for riding when the weather is bad, it’s good for doing things like very controlled intervals.

  29. Khal Spencer

    Good luck with the law firm, Charles. May you be blessed with many satisfied clients, sympathetic judges and juries, and hopefully,still find time to ride your bikes.

    As far as that guy from Texas? A heartfelt Saul to Paul conversion would be very nice to see for the sake of the sport and for everyone who took their turn in the barrel by virtue of the organized doping scandals. A carefully crafted confession written by his legal team to mitigate a lifetime ban would, by contrast, be met with derision.

    We all need to move on beyond this and shut the door behind us.

  30. Shawn Stratton

    Hey Charles:

    I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall of your office when new biking news comes in over the digital tele-type…… I would chuckle just to see your reaction when the latest news from Brave Sir Lanco’s escapades arrives…..It appears that contrary to one outspoken critic, you may have had a clue…….????

    As for the excuse of not riding, outdoor temperatures are a lame one…. Plan a mid-Winter trip to Fairbanks, AK and take a ride with one of the many daily bikers up there and you’ll find out about real cold weather riding… It’s great ! I’m disappointed because the area I live in (not Alaska) doesn’t spend “enough” time in the single digit temperatures to keep the roads, trails, etc. cold and crisp……

    Mucho Good luck to your joint venture. I can only imagine that you will be wonderfully successful.

    Cheers & Good Biking !


    1. Author
      Charles Pelkey

      I admit it was a lame excuse not to ride in the cold. I don’t know what it is. I used to ride year-round in the crappiest conditions. I am getting soft in my old age.

  31. Jesus from Cancun

    Charles, I just remembered how you were approached by the yellow wristband guys when the news about your cancer broke out.

    I was wondering if your new firm would return the favor this time around…

    Nah, it’s not April 1st yet

  32. Vincenzo

    You and Red Kite Prayer are just the greatest! Excellent writing, and I agree with you sentiments about Armstrong 100% Thanks for sharing your top notch legal insight.

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