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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Digital EPO is a website that allows you to ‘enhance’ your ride data before you share it with your friends, teammates and so on. It lets you cheat, basically.
Countless riders have gone to great lengths over the years to convince people that they’re better than they actually are. Often that involves drugs, but drugs cost money, they’re potentially dangerous, and you run the risk of a ban. If you’re going to cheat, Digital EPO is an altogether less hazardous way of doing it.
Why go to all the trouble and pain of training and actually working up a sweat? You simply need to go for a ride at whatever intensity you like, upload your ride to GarminConnect or a similar performance-tracking website, then export it out as a TCX file.
Then you upload it to the Digital EPO website, entering the amount of ‘juice’ you want to add to your ride. So, you can increase your speed, lower your heart rate, or increase the amount of climbing you’ve done. Then you can upload the file to Strava or something similar and bask in your undeserved glory.
As an exercise in Mickey taking, we reckon it’s quite funny. They say that you know you’ve made it when people start lampooning you, so we guess that means Strava has definitely hit the big time.
We can’t see it going down too well with people who take their KOMs seriously, though. In fact, we’d urge you not to get involved. Cheats never prosper – ask multi-millionaire Lance Armstrong. Oh no, hang on, that doesn’t work.
Anyway, check it out here: http://digitalepo.com/
[Apologies if you saw this months ago, by the way, but it’s a new one on us and well worth sharing].
great article at humans invent site – from the voice of a man that has embraced both worlds …
We all know the story: an ageing cop in an inner city Police department who is long past his best; his wife has left him, he drinks too much, he has a problem with authority, he can’t quite accept that the Police force is changing and that his old methods don’t cut it anymore. The big case comes and he does it his way; he intimidates a few witnesses, uses his informants, and breaks whatever law necessary to get the job done. Sure enough, he gets the job done and in doing so proves that his old fashioned ways are best.
He’s the anti-hero and we all love him, because we as a collective audience seem to admire a bad-boy hero. It’s a story and one that works almost every time on TV shows, in books and in movies. But, it is only a story. In reality it is much more likely that blindly sticking to old methods in anything will do little more than stifle progress.
Professional cycling is one such sport that has long since been full of self-appointed anti-heroes, breaking rules to get things done by the only way they know how. But, in light of an exhaustive list of doping revelations, the sport is starting to recognise finally that it has to make progress in the right ways.
Despite occasional disapproval from cycling’s ‘purist’ audience (that includes many of the people in charge of the sport) who believe that cycling should be a purely human and not technological battle, a new generation of riders and teams are getting the job done and finding the advantages they need, not through doping but through scientific and technological advances in every aspect of the sport.
One such rider who has become a strong exponent for anti-doping and of the development of the technological side of the sport is David Millar.
Cycling is a bonkers sport, it got a bit too mad the last twenty years, but we’re back to it being the right sort of mad
Millar has seen cycling come almost full circle, from the willful ignorance of the final ‘Pre-Festina’ season of 1997 (Millar’s first), when the scale of the doping problem was yet unknown, to the slightly surreal conclusion to the era that was Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah Winfrey.
In that time cycling played a game of hide and seek with the realities and responsibilities of becoming a major global sport. Despite the fact the world was changing cycling stubbornly refused to.
As part of a generation that at the time couldn’t have believed that things would ever change, Millar himself was involved in his own scandal. In 2007 having served a two-year suspension, he came back with a new mission: to put himself and the sport back together again. The big question then was; how were the riders involved going to find a new way forward and adapt, without themselves going backward and without alienating its audience.
Millar believes that cycling was once a technological leader, but lost its way.
I spoke to Millar about the changes that are occurring in the sport and how cycling is evolving through them, as well as why technology has not only just become the key to success, but has, in fact, always been the key to success.
Do you think that the influx of technology and innovation in the sport, that we’ve seen over the past four or five years, marks a different attitude towards performance; that doping is no longer the answer and there are other (legal) ways to gain an advantage?
It’s all unified. The Anglos have brought in the biggest leap forward, we have a different culture when it comes to cycling, we see it as a technological sport; Europeans have seen it as a purely physical sport. Where there are machines, and bicycles are machines, there are opportunities to increase performance through research and development. The sport as whole has realised this now, what was just an Anglo attitude has become a necessary attitude for everybody if they want to stand a chance of winning.
Do you feel that cycling neglected, or at least put the importance of technology and innovation, on the back shelf over the past twenty years because the sport had become so focused on doping, that all training and improvements were related to those practices?
Cycling is an old technological sport: unfortunately doping became the technology for a while there. I’ve had lunches with André Darrigade when I lived in Biarritz and he’d tell me about things they were doing with their bikes and tyres in the 50s that blew us out the water in the 90s.
The sport just lost its way, it was cutting edge back in the day, it became complacent and confused, now once again it’s becoming cutting edge (the right cutting edge!), although anyone would think the UCI is totally against this considering the many ridiculous limitations they put on manufacturers and riders.
From your point of view how has the importance and influence of technology in racing and training changed throughout your career?
The importance has always been the same for me (personally). It was having this view that helped me gain so many early successes in time trials against guys who had the physical advantage from doping. The majority of other pros (and even my team management) didn’t care about their position/wheels/gearing/skinsuits/helmets/shoe-covers: I did. At times I would buy my own equipment and risk the wrath of the team management and sponsors.
Millar says that cycling has returned to being the “right sort of mad.”
A lot of fans of the sport, and even the governing body can seem to be anti-technology, because the human aspect is what makes the sport interesting.
You are a rider who seems to have managed both very well. When you race do you still feel that the influence of technology ends somewhere and instinct takes over?
I’m a racer, always have been and always will be. I don’t have a very good, to use the Steve Peters ergo Sky terminology, ‘Chimp Management System’. This means that most of the things I do in a race are instinctive, very little is planned… I’ll be first to admit this isn’t ideal, and there’s a part of me that is quite happy not changing it. I’m the same I was when I first raced as a teenager…only a little more windswept and interesting.
Doping vs. Technology: How do you compete?
When team Garmin Sharp first entered cycling with the clear mission of being a clean team, they knew they couldn’t compete with anyone doping either on General Classification or in stages with significant climbing, as EPO gives up to a 20% advantage on mountain stages.
Instead, they they targeted Time Trials, and specifically Team Time Trials, where the benefits of doping were best combatted, and the benefits of technology, aerodynamics, team coordination and careful planning were greatest.
Jonathan Vaughters, Manager of team Garmin Sharp says, “Any high speed event allows aerodynamics to benefit the rider more than doping. In low speed disciplines, like climbing, that’s more difficult. But in the team time trial, overcoming doping, by use of faster materials and better positioning, is possible. You just have to put in the time in the wind tunnel.”
Significantly, the team’s first major victory came in the Team Time Trial at the 2008 Giro d’Italia.
Do you think that cycling will always retain its essence no matter the technology that is introduced, or do you think that it could be significantly changed over the next generation of innovations?
If we have twenty Team Sky’s then yes, it will have lost its essence. But there is only one Team Sky and we need them in the sport to push everybody forward. Similarly there is only one Team Garmin-Sharp, and if there were twenty of us then the peloton would be trying to find a way to race on the moon, just for a bit of fun. Cycling is a bonkers sport, it got a bit too mad the last twenty years, but we’re back to it being the right sort of mad.
Team Garmin Sharp are widely viewed as innovators, bringing new technologies and ideas in to the sport. How hard has it been to make progress happen in a very traditional world?
It’s not been easy that’s for sure! We were renegades when we arrived in 2008, we also didn’t mind being different and being laughed at. We said we were going to be 100% clean, we were vocal against doping; no team had ever done this. It was our mission statement to change cycling and give people hope again. We knew other riders were still doping, and we knew if we wanted to beat them we couldn’t rely on our bodies alone. We experimented with training and equipment and pre and post-race protocols.
We wore ice-vests before the Giro d’Italia TTT that we won (in 2008). We may have been laughed at when we rolled up to the start line in our vests, but nobody laughed when we won. We earned respect, and we have led the way, to this day we have no fear to try new things, it’s part of the culture of our team. We are respected for it now, and more importantly, we’re copied.
With teams like Garmin Sharp, and Team Sky proving that by actually taking your head out of the sand and trying something else you can make a difference, do you think that the attitude will change and all teams will start looking to innovate, or do you think that it will be a case of a small number of teams innovating and others following?
A small number of teams are innovating, many are following, and a few are unchanging. The bottom line is that if you don’t have the right people and sponsors onboard then your development is limited. We’ve always been very careful to have sponsors who understand our philosophy, it doesn’t matter how much will there is, if the sponsor does not help in finding the way then nothing happens.
We’re very lucky with Garmin, Sharp, Castelli and Cervelo; they’re all sponsors who give us the will and the way to move forward. This isn’t by chance either; Jonathan Vaughters has never deviated from his original vision. And we have probably the smartest guy in cycling in charge of our science, Robby Ketchell. It’s a bit of dream team when it comes to pushing the envelope.
What do you think about the direction the sport is going in now, compared to say ten years ago?
I think it’s fucking awesome.
Team Garmin Sharp has led the way in innovation.
Clearly Millar is relieved that a change has come, and is excited for the future of the sport. It is exactly this kind of change in attitude amongst riders, sponsors, and fans alike, that suggests the sport is finally ready to accept that it is time to change its ways and, more importantly perhaps, that the methods required to do so are already here.