A clean Tour De France


Sept 02, 2014 – There were no positive dope tests at this year’s Tour de France, world cycling’s governing body the UCI announced on Tuesday.

 

“All the samples collected were systematically analyzed to detect stimulants and erythropoiesis,” said the UCI, the latter being the process which produces red blood cells.

“Isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) was also analyzed in a certain number of samples, in particular to detect testosterone abuse and its precursors.”

A total of 719 blood and urine samples were taken on this year’s Tour, compared to 622 a year ago, with the testing carried out at a laboratory in France.

why is everyone picking on Lance … aka more dirty tales emerge


Retired professional cyclist Roberto Gaggioli has claimed that Lance Armstrong paid him $100,000 for agreeing to throw a race in Philadelphia in 1993 – the money, in dollar bills, contained in the packaging of a cake traditionally eaten by Italians at Christmas.

In this photo provided by PhotoSport International shows Malcolm ELLIOTT, (L)  Lance ARMSTRONG (C) and Roberto GAGGIOLI (R) - 1 week after Armstrong won world title in Oslo.
In this photo provided by PhotoSport International shows Malcolm ELLIOTT, (L) Lance ARMSTRONG (C) and Roberto GAGGIOLI (R) – 1 week after Armstrong
won world title in Oslo.

Gaggioli, now aged 51, told Milan-based newspaper La Corriere della Sera that he was resting in a hotel room in Bergamo, northern Italy, in October 1993 when there was a knock at the door.

“It was a young American fellow rider,” he said. “He gave me a panettone in a gift box wishing me ‘Merry Christmas’ and went on his way. In the box there was $100,000 in small denomination bills. That fellow rider was Lance Armstrong.”

Shortly beforehand, Armstrong, then aged 22, had been crowned world champion in Oslo, but the money Gaggioli claims he paid him related to a race that had taken place across the Atlantic four months earlier.

Pharmacy chain Thrift Drug had put up a prize of $1 million, insured at Lloyd’s of London, for any rider managing to win a trio of races in the United States that year under the name of the Thrift Drug Triple Crown of Cycling.

All three races took place in the space of three weeks and Armstrong won the first two the the Thrift Drug Classic one-day race in Pittsburgh, and the K-Mart West Virginia Classic stage race.

He headed to the third and final event in Philadelphia, which also doubled as the US national championship, intent on winning that seven-figure purse.

But Gaggioli, an Italian who had emigrated to the United States, was the red-hot favourite for a race that he had previously won in 1988.

“So much time has passed, now I can talk about it,” Gaggioni told the Corriere della Sera. “Lance came up to me before the start. He told me that my team, Coors Light, had agreed and spoke to me about my compensation – $100,000. I understood that everything had already been decided.

“Two laps from the end, I got into the decisive break with Lance, Bobby Julich and some Italians from the Mercatone team. On a signal from Lance I turned and pretended not to see him attack. He won by a distance.

Asked why the other Italian riders hadn’t reacted, Gaggioli said: “They had very good reasons not to.”

The Corriere della Sera asked the four Mercatone Uno riders about their recollections of the race.

One, Simone Biasci, said that once the break had formed, Armstrong struck a deal with another Mercatone Uno rider, Angelo Canzonieri. “It went well,” he said. “We earned more in one day than our team mates did in three weeks at the Giro d’Italia.”

Another, Roberto Pelliconi, remembered: “Canzonieri and Lance agreed for ‘fifty’; Angelo was thinking in dollars, Lance in lire. At the Giro di Lombardia, he delivered 50 million lire to us, saving 40 per cent thanks to the favourable exchange rate.”

Canzonieri, however, has no recollection of the episode. He told the newspaper: “Leave Armstrong alone, he’s paid enough. I don’t remember anything.”

Gaggioli and the Mercatone Uno team weren’t the only ones allegedly paid off by Armstrong that year – New Zealand ex-pro Stephen Swart says his team was paid $50,000 to ease off in the stage race in West Virginia – but there would be a sting in the tail for the American.

The prize was only $1 million dollars if anyone winning it agreed to accept the money in 20 annual instalments of $50,000; choosing to take cash, it reduced to $600,000, which would also be subject to 20 per cent tax.

With the alleged backhanders to be paid and money also to be given to his Motorola team mates and staff, the Corriere della Sera says that Armstrong would have been left with just a “pugno di dollari” – the name in Italian of the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western, A Fistful of Dollars.

Last year, Armstrong was banned from sport for life and stripped of all results dating back to his return from battling cancer in 1998 – so while that prize money may be long gone, he does get to keep his victories in that trio of races.

 

Crapping in the cap of Armstrong


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Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond has said that Lance Armstrong, last year stripped of his seven victories in the race for doping, should go to jail as a result of his “criminal” behaviour. He added that without the help of performance enhancing substances, Armstrong would have been “a top 30 at best” rider.

LeMond, aged 52, was speaking last night on the CNN show, Anderson Cooper 360°. In his interview with the talk show host, the double world road champion also described Armstrong as a “thug” who used his recovery from cancer, as well as the charity he founded, as a shield from doping allegations, reports USA Today.

In 2001, quoted in a Sunday Times article regarding Armstrong’s links to the now banned Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, LeMond said: “If Lance is clean, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sport. If he isn’t, it would be the greatest fraud.”

Those comments were among the reasons that Trek, whose bikes Armstrong rode to all seven of his Tour de France wins, dropped LeMond’s bicycle range. The parties reached an out-of-court settlement in LeMond’s favour last year, although full details were not disclosed.

Asked last night whether he still believed Armstrong had committed the biggest fraud in sporting history, LeMond replied: “Absolutely. Absolutely. The greatest fraud was that – I mean, I know his physical capability.

“He is a top 30 at best. I mean, at best. No matter what. If he was clean, everybody was clean, he was top 30 at best. He is not capable of, not – capable of the top five.”

The insinuation is that in an era when doping was rife in the peloton and the vast majority of the riders who achieved top ten positions in the Tour de France were later revealed to have used drugs, Armstrong was gaining more of an edge than any of his rivals.

Armstrong’s first Tour de France victory came in 1999, less than a year after he returned to cycling following his recovery from cancer. By that point, he had already founded his cancer awareness charity the Lance Armstrong Foundation, later rebranded as Livestrong.

But LeMond insisted that Armstrong had ulterior motives, saying: “He manipulated the cancer community.

“I mean, I have family members with cancer. Everybody has been affected by cancer. But it was the manipulation and using that… like Teflon. He used the money, he used the foundation to not only cover for him but also destroy people.”

Cooper asked LeMond what he thought should happen to Armstrong now.

“This is not a sporting infraction,” LeMond maintained. “This is criminal.” Asked if he believed Armstrong should go to jail, he responded, “I do, yes.”

So far, however, Armstrong has escaped criminal charges.

Early last year, a federal investigation into whether Armstrong and others had committed fraud in relation to use of sponsorship funds from the US Postal Service was shelved.

Moreover, potential perjury charges relating to what by his own admission were untruthful statements in his deposition under oath in the SCA Promotions case, which concluded in 2006, cannot be brought since they are statute barred.

He continues to face a number of civil actions, including the whistleblower case brought by former team-mate Floyd Landis, which the US Government has joined.

Armstrong – the video to watch (wait for it)


The Armstrong Lie Official HD Trailer

In 2008, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney began making “a feel-good movie” on what he believed could be one of the great sporting comebacks as Lance Armstrong sought an eighth Tour de France title; five years on, his finished work, The Armstrong Lie, instead charts the downfall of a legend.

The film, made by Sony and due for release next month, received its international premiere at the Venice Film Festival in Italy in September, and a trailer has been released.

Gibney and his crew received unprecedented access to Armstrong both ahead of and during his 2009 comeback, when he finished third in the Tour de France, and following his confession to Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.

Speaking about his film, which had the provisional title The Road Backwhen shooting began, Gibney says: “In 2008, I set out to make a film about a comeback. Lance Armstrong, a man who had cheated death, the 7-time-winner of the Tour de France and an inspirational figure who had raised over $300 million dollars to support those afflicted with cancer, had decided to return to cycling.

“Though he had been dogged by accusations of doping, he was going to return to the sport, at the ancient age of 38, to prove to everyone that he would race clean and still beat the field.

“I almost finished that film. Then, in 2011, I sat with my jaw open as I watched Tyler Hamilton on 60 Minutes reveal, in detail, how Lance had doped,” he went on.

“I was there in Austin, Texas, when Lance shot his interview with Oprah. I interviewed him briefly a few hours later and saw, for the first and only time, a slump in his shoulders that showed some kind of vulnerability.

“Then, a few months later, I interviewed him again. The subject of our talk, and my new movie, was not about the bike. It was about the lie. The Armstrong Lie.”

Gibney and his crew received unprecedented access to Armstrong both ahead of and during his 2009 comeback, when he finished third in the Tour de France, and following his confession to Oprah Winfrey earlier this year.

The movie also includes interviews with several people who formed part of Armstrong’s inner circle including the banned doctor, Michele Ferrari, and former US Postal, Astana and RadioShack team manager, Johan Bruyneel.

Others appearing include witnesses to the United States Anti Doping Agency’s investigation such as Frankie and Betsey Andreu and Jonathan Vaughters, and journalists including David Walsh of The Sunday Times.

The video below is of a press conference about the film at the Toronto International Film Festival last month in which Gibney, the film’s producer Frank Marshall, Betsy Andreu, journalist Bill Strickland and Jonathan Vaughters talk about the documentary and Armstrong’s career.

Skip forward to 12 minutes into the video for the press conference.

Poor Lance …really? The debacle continues


AUSTIN (AP) – Justice Department lawyers urged a federal judge to allow the government’s fraud lawsuit against Lance Armstrong to continue, arguing the U.S. Postal Service was tainted by its sponsorship of his team while he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France.

The Postal Service, which insists it didn’t know about a team drug regimen that was exposed last year by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, is permanently linked to what the government lawyers called “the greatest fraud in the history of professional sports” in court records filed Monday night.

Former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis first sued Armstrong in 2010 under the False Claims Act, which allows whistle-blowers to get a share of any money recovered based on their disclosures. The Justice Department joined the lawsuit in February, announcing it would seek at least the $40 million the Postal Service paid to Armstrong’s team and additional damages that could push the total closer to $120 million.

The government claims Armstrong violated his contract with the Postal Service and was “unjustly enriched” while cheating to win the Tour de France. Six of his seven titles came under Postal Service sponsorship.

Armstrong has urged the court to dismiss the case, arguing the government was aware of doping rumors surrounding his teams and could have canceled the contracts. Armstrong finally confessed in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January.

A federal judge has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 18 in Washington on whether to let the case proceed.

Armstrong argues the sponsorship gave the Postal Service exactly what it paid for: Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity, exposure to more than 30 million spectators at international cycling events and hundreds of hours of television coverage.

The Justice Department countered Monday that the Postal Service would have canceled the deals if it knew about the cheating. Justice Department lawyers also insisted the statute of limitations has not expired on pursuing a lawsuit over contracts that were signed in 1995 and 2000.

Armstrong previously tried to negotiate a settlement, but those talks fell through before the government announced it would join the Landis lawsuit. Settlement talks could resume as the case proceeds to trial.

Also in Monday’s filings, Landis’ attorneys sought to bring financier Thomas Weisel further into the lawsuit. They filed a sworn statement from a witness who said Weisel helped Armstrong concoct a backdated prescription to escape a failed drug test in the 1999 Tour de France. Weisel was principal owner of Armstrong’s team at the time.

So far, the federal government has not joined the portion of Landis’ lawsuit against Weisel, who has asked the court to dismiss it. Part of Weisel’s defense is that he was not named in the 1,000-page USADA report released last year.

But Landis’ attorneys submitted Monday a sworn statement by former team masseuse Emma O’Reilly. In it, she names Weisel as one of the architects of the backdated prescription scheme. Weisel’s name had been redacted from the version of the affidavit used in the USADA report.

Landis attorney Paul Scott declined comment. A message was left Tuesday seeking comment from a lawyer for Weisel.

 

Lemond wants to see the ‘power’ and I think he should


MONT VENTOUX, France (VN) — Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond likes what he sees these days in pro cycling from Chris Froome and Sky.

Mostly.

The American was atop Mont Ventoux for the Froome show on Sunday and fielded a few questions on the famous mountain’s summit.

LeMond has been sharply critical of performances by modern stars during their respective eras (Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador), but he held back from accusing today’s best grand tour rider of cheating.

Instead, he said Sky and other teams should release power data to be reviewed by independent panelists in conjunction with blood profiles to add to the biological passport program.

And he didn’t mince words about teams’ reluctance to release that data to experts.

“It’s bullshit. That’s bullshit. Because if you can’t release your watts … they’re doing it right now,” he said of teams reviewing power data following the stage. “They’re looking at it right now, bottom to the top.

“The worst part, there’s speculating on that. If you don’t have anything to hide, and you can repeat it, give it to everybody.”

Opponents of releasing data, be it blood values or power numbers, have said the figures are ripe for misinterpretation.

“But that’s what they said about drug controls. ‘It’s subject to interpretation’ … it isn’t,” LeMond said. “You’d never use it as a positive. You’d look at [data] along with your blood profile. It wouldn’t be a positive.”

LeMond said releasing riders’ data “would end the speculation,” the whispers that attribute every great ride to doping.

“It would be great to end that,” he said. “It’s for the riders. It would be ideal for everybody. You get rid of the speculation.”

Speculation hasn’t been in short supply at this Tour, after Froome’s displays of mastery over the climbs, the time trial, and former rivals now quarreling over podium scraps.

Riders at this Tour have been asked repeatedly about performance-enhancing drugs and surreal performances, a hangover from the Lance Armstrong scandal, the confession of Jan Ullrich, and many other bitter post-mortems.

Releasing power data could put an end to some of those questions, LeMond said.

“It could be released six weeks after, six months. … It’s very simple, actually. You take the guy’s weight. You get the temperature, from here to there, and there’s the watts. So [Sky’s Dave Brailsford is] better off just putting it away, just showing it,” LeMond said.

“If they use watts. If not, it’s all going to be speculation. Because the ultimate energy, everything you put in, everything that goes out of you, has to go through those pedals. It’s power, and that’s it. It’s so basic, I go, ‘Why is everybody avoiding this?’”

Sky’s management has made a point of zero tolerance in doping, releasing staff who have admitted to involvement in the past, such as coach Bobby Julich.

They’ve also made a point of promoting a “marginal gains” approach, meaning no detail is too small to worry over if it can help take time from competitors.

“They put the money in it. They run it the way they should,” LeMond said of the team. “If you have that money you should run it really professionally.

“I think it’s great. They’ve got a professional attitude. I think the British cycling, just the whole cycling in Britain, has been great. It’s really brought people into cycling. It’s a good thing. It’s a really good thing. The only thing I have negative to say is that part. The watts.”

On Froome, LeMond said the holder of the yellow jersey (by more than four minutes, as of Sunday’s destruction on Mont Ventoux) was a natural if ever there was one.

“Froome looks like a talent. I would say the only question is, back it up with watts. Because if he comes up [Ventoux] as 475 watts average, that’s going to be 6.8 watts per kilo. …”

And so it goes.

Asked if he thought it logical that a clean rider would eventually surpass the high-water marks of a doped one, LeMond said yes. And he thinks there are clean riders competing today.

“I do believe. I absolutely believe that,” he said.

“I don’t want to come and speculate about shit, I really don’t. Because I love the sport, and I think riders, you know … they’ve been in an incredibly difficult situation.

“I think you could eliminate so much … I want to defend riders, too.”