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.
Lance Armstrong should reveal all if he admits to doping on the Oprah Winfrey show later this week, says British Cycling president Brian Cookson.
The American was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins following a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada).
Armstrong, 41, who has always denied doping, has remained silent since the report was published in October, but newspaper reports say he may confess.
“Let’s have facts, names, places and times,” Cookson told BBC Sport.
Cookson, speaking to the BBC’s Sportsweek programme, continued: “If the allegations are true in Tyler Hamilton’s book and the Usada report then there are substantial numbers of people involved.
“The real thing that has to come out is who were these other people involved, who were the people supplying and helping him, the doctors that helped him, the companies that supplied him. Let’s have that information.
“The sort of thing Armstrong was doing, according to the Usada report, was not just popping a few pills behind the changing rooms, it was sophisticated conspiracies, cheating over a long period of time on a large scale.”
In his book, Hamilton, who was a team-mate of Armstrong during his Tour de France victories in 1999, 2000 and 2001, alleged that both riders doped.
Armstrong ended his fight against the charges against him in August 2012. In October, Usada released a 1,000-page report saying the American had been at the heart of “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme” ever seen in sport.
As a result he was banned from competing in cycling and all sport sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Authority or Usada, but the New York Times reported that if he admits to doping he could then try to return to racing in marathons and triathlons.
“I think this is the only way out for him,” added Cookson.
“I think there will be all these layers of emotion and obfuscation of the real issue, which is that he cheated, along with a lot of other people in and around his team.
AnalysisTim Franks – BBC News
Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong’s former team and room-mate, himself an ex-doper, told me last year he hoped Armstrong would confess all, for his own sake. “He’ll feel so much better the morning after,” he said.For Armstrong, though, the path from confession to catharsis to closure would have particular problems.
“If [being allowed to compete in triathlons is] part of his motivation I kind of understand that but frankly we don’t want him back in cycling.
“[He has] undermined the credibility of our sport to such an extent that people, who I am now confident are competing clean, are still getting smeared and slurred.
“We have had massive investment in anti-doping procedures and a real change in culture over the last five years and I’m pretty confident that the sport is much cleaner than it was but we’ve still got the reputational damage that was done by Armstrong, so I don’t want him back in our sport.
“I hope he doesn’t get a reduction in his sentence from Usada that would allow him to take part in any other sport.”
The Sunday Times, which in December announced plans to sue Armstrong as a result of losing a libel action to him over doping allegations made in 2006, has taken out an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune with a list of 10 questions it wants Winfrey to ask the disgraced cyclist.
The questions include whether Armstrong, who recovered from testicular cancer, accepts “lying to the cancer community was the greatest deception of all” and if he intends to return the prize money he has won.
Armstrong was stripped of his titles by the International Cycling Union (UCI) shortly after the Usada report was released and he was given a lifetime ban from the sport.
He also resigned as chairman of the Livestrong foundation – the cancer charity he created – after the cycling body’s decision.
Graeme Obree, the world-record breaking track cyclist who switched to the road only to be frozen out of the sport for refusing to take part in doping, has spoken of his appreciation for Irish journalist Paul Kimmage mentioning him as one of the sport’s whistleblowers when launching his lawsuit last week against the UCI and present and past presidents Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen. Besides reflecting on the situation cycling is in as a result of the US Postal scandal, Obree has also been talking about another form of transport besides the bicycle that he feels passionately about – airships.
Revealing on Twitter that he had filed a lawsuit last week just days after the announcement that their own defamation action against him had been suspended, Kimmage wrote: “I have lodged a criminal complaint against Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.
“I have initiated these proceedings not for myself – this is not about Paul Kimmage, but on behalf of the whistle blowers – Stephen Swart, Frankie Andreu, Floyd Landis, Christophe Bassons, Nicolas Aubier, Gilles Delion, Graeme Obree and every other cyclist who stood up for truth and the sport they loved and were dismissed as “cowards” and “scumbags” by Verbruggen and McQuaid.”According to an article in Scotland on Sunday at the weekend, “Somebody told Obree about what Kimmage was doing. He was happy. He thought it nice of Kimmage to mention him.”
Obree, now aged 47, had come under personal attack from Verbruggen after a L’Equipe interview in 1996 in which the Scot claimed that 99 per cent of pros in the peloton were doping – an era which as subsequent events have proved was characterised by wholesale doping in the peloton.
Obree’s own professional road career with French team Le Groupement had ended pretty much as soon as it began in 1995 due to his refusal to contemplate doping.
“After I did that thing with L’Equipe it was difficult to go to a professional race because of the animosity from other riders,” Obree told Scotland on Sunday.
“I was almost scared to [use] the changing room in case I’d get beaten up. There was real tension. I remember reading Kimmage’s book [Rough Ride, published in 1990] and there was lots of stuff about the problem of drugs in cycling in that book and I thought ‘It can’t be that bad, surely’. But it was. It was a Pandora’s box. If Verbruggen (then the UCI president) opened it, there would have been nothing left in the sport, so he kept it closed.
“Once, a rider actually apologised to me in advance of a race. For him, it was a moral dilemma. Riding a bike was the only thing this guy knew how to do and taking drugs was a requirement. It was a heartfelt sorry because he knew I was clean and he knew he was cheating because he felt he had to because others were doing the same as he was. I don’t want to name this person. I said to him, ‘Listen, I totally understand’. And I did. That was the culture.
“I knew that me pushing myself to the limit of my ability wasn’t going to be enough to beat these guys. Once you realise you’re at a physical disadvantage you can’t really do the sport anymore. So, road racing was over and the UCI had banned my riding positions on the track, so it was like ‘Jings, crivvens, help ma Boab, what do I do now? I know, I’ll go away and be depressed for ten years’,” added Obree, whose suicide attempts and battle with depression were charted in the film Flying Scotsman.
The Scotland on Sunday article briefly recounted some details of Obree’s experience with Le Groupement. Obree had spoken more expansively on that experience, and his wider thoughts on doping, in an exclusive interview with road.cc in June last year.
In that interview, after revealing how, after his exploits on the track had resulted in “parachuting me right into the middle of the professional world,” his plain talking and anti-doping stance meant that his professional road career was over pretty much as soon as it started.
“This one Italian guy in particular asked, quite casually, ‘What did you use for the Hour record?’ and when I said ‘Nothing,’ he literally waved his hand up and down as the Italians do, said ‘amatore’ [amateur] and turned away in disgust,” he explained.
“I wasn’t taking drugs so I wasn’t taking my sport seriously, and that’s a genuine attitude I met with – you’re not taking your job seriously because you’re not willing to take substances to make you go as fast as you humanly can.
“I did suffer a terrible resentment in pro cycling, I felt I was robbed of it, because I wasn’t welcome in the pro peloton at all after the whole debacle with Le Groupement “because obviously they realised, ‘He’s not going to play the game.’
“Let’s face it, I’m the type of guy who just speaks his mind, so I was a very dangerous individual to have on a team. So there were no offers, and I felt I was robbed because if drugs didn’t exist then my career would have been a lot better than it was. So I felt resentment, including towards riders, but what I’ve realised is that riders are partly the victims of pressure from the whole system.”
Obree went on to say that he believed cycling needed “a change in attitude,” particularly within the peloton itself as well as those responsible for the riders to bring about a situation where dopers in effect became outcasts.
“If the attitude changed as a body of people, that we’re not going to accept one single person taking drugs and spoiling the sport, then it would end. It’s not a matter of just testing how much you can get away with, it’s a matter of changing attitudes within the peloton and the people who run it, breaking the chain to young people to show them, that is actually cheating, it’s not acceptable in the moral sense whatsoever.”
Obree went on to pose the question of whether a “truth commission” might be the way forward – an idea of course that has been aired by many in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal – as well as hitting the economic side of doping, whether that be in terms of the profits suppliers are able to make, or the prize money won through cheating.
“In a lot of ways riders don’t care because if the worst comes to the worst, they’ve got their money and they can just say goodbye,” he said. “But if you made a real economic pain out of doing that, it would change attitudes, I think. It needs to be brought in line with civil or criminal drug taking where they can actually seize people’s assets completely.”
Those comments were made of course more than a year before the Lance Armstrong scandal that has consumed the sport, and Obree believes in order to move forward, McQuaid and Verbruggen – who remains the UCI’s honorary president – must go, even putting a case for the creation of a new governing body altogether.
“The problem we have is that it’s not a democratic organisation, it’s autocratic, it’s almost an old boy’s network,” he told Scotland on Sunday. “A chum-ocracy.
“The Rabobank situation is interesting. They’ve been in the sport for 17 years but they’re pulling out. They think professional road cycling doesn’t have the wherewithal to guarantee there won’t be any more scandals. They don’t trust the people at the top. I’m surprised professional teams aren’t going on strike, but then cycling is like an overgrown village where everybody knows everybody else and people aspire to get up the ranks and you [do that] by hanging out with the guys who are at the top. If you start trouble you’re not getting up the ranks with the UCI.
“I’ve had to do a whole load of self-analysis on my life and I came out the other end as a more developed person. What goes around comes around. If you believe in karma then their karma has come around because where can they go in cycling and get respect? It all comes down to respect. I’ve got my honour out of it and respect from other riders. I got over the resentment and anger and thought: ‘OK, karma will deal with these people’. And it is dealing with them. Where’s Verbruggen going to get respect now that people can see the truth? Where’s McQuaid going to get it?”
In recent weeks, a number of national governing bodies have expressed their disquiet with the way the UCI has conducted itself throughout the Armstrong affair, and Obree put forward the view that they, sponsors and riders could provide the impetus for a fresh start for cycling with the UCI constitution redrafted under new leadership.
“Is it possible? I don’t know,” he said. “But cycling can never go back to the way it was. This is the moment it has to change.”
Entitled A Scause for Applause, the episode blurb reads: “Rocked by the recent news of drug use by a beloved icon, the world is left feeling lost and betrayed. The boys, join with the rest of the nation, and remove their yellow wristbands. Everyone is on board, except for Stan, who just can’t seem to cut off his bracelet.”
Here’s a preview clip that focuses on the moment of crushing disappointment when everyone realises they’ve been duped. It features Mr Mackey, famous for his “drugs are bad, m’kay” parable.
Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond posted a note to his Facebook account Wednesday evening, calling for UCI president Pat McQuaid, as well as honorary president Hein Verbruggen, to step down from their positions. LeMond’s note was first reposted by cycling blog NYVelocity, which, along with Cyclismas.com, launched a fund for journalist Paul Kimmage to aid in his defense against a defamation lawsuit by McQuaid and Verbruggen; that fund on Wednesday surpassed $70,000. VeloNews.com is posting LeMond’s open letter to McQuaid, lightly copyedited but in its entirety, here.
Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well-versed in social marketing. I would like to send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use Twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own “rage” out. I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign. I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling’s history; resign Pat, if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport.
Pat McQuaid, you know damn well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.
I have a file with what I believe is well-documented proof that will exonerate Paul.
Pat, in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most, that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling; they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport.
Pat, I thought you loved cycling? At one time you did, and if you did love cycling please dig deep inside and remember that part of your life — allow cycling to grow and flourish, please! It is time to walk away. Walk away if you love cycling.
As a reminder I just want to point out that recently you accused me of being the cause of USADA’s investigation against Lance Armstrong. Why would you be inclined to go straight to me as the “cause”? Why shoot the messenger every time?
Every time you do this I get more and more entrenched. I was in your country over the last two weeks and I asked someone that knows you if you were someone that could be rehabilitated. His answer was very quick and it was not good for you. No was the answer — no, no, no!
The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption.
You can read all about Webster’s definition of corruption. If you want, I can re-post my attorney’s response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hein that in my opinion the two of you represent the essence of corruption.
I would encourage anyone that loves cycling to donate and support Paul in his fight against the Pat and Hein and the UCI. Skip lunch and donate the amount that you would have spent towards that Sunday buffet towards changing the sport of cycling.
I donated money for Paul’s defense, and I am willing to donate a lot more, but I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling. The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen; if this sport is going to change, it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!
People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling — change it now by voicing your thought and donating money towards Paul Kimmage’s defense. (Paul, I want to encourage you to not spend the money that has been donated to your defense fund on defending yourself in Switzerland. In my case, a USA citizen, I could care less if I lost the UCI’s bogus lawsuit. Use the money to lobby for real change.)
If people really want to clean the sport of cycling up all you have to do is put your money where your mouth is.
Don’t buy a USA Cycling license. Give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA Cycling out of business. We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go.
Please make a difference. Greg
A number of companies that sponsored Lance Armstrong have moved to distance themselves from him today. The most prominent are sportswear giant Nike, which announced that it has ended its association with him due to “seemingly insurmountable evidence” that he doped during his career and “misled” the company “for more than a decade,” and Trek Bicycles, whose recent history is inextricably linked with Armstrong’s now-nullified Tour wins.
The news came shortly after Armstrong himself said he is stepping down as chairman of Livestrong, the charity also known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which he founded after in 1997 after surviving cancer.
Electronics retailer RadioShack has confirmed it has no current sponsorship deals with Armstrong, without confirming when the last one finished, and said it has ended his relationship with him, and Anheuser-Busch, which owns the Michelob Ultra brand of beer he endorses, has said it will not be renewing his current three-year deal when it expires at the end of the year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Easton Bell, owner of Giro whose helmets Armstrong uses and endorses, has also dropped him today, although like Nike, it will continue its asociation with Livestrong. Eyewear firm Oakley is said to be reviewing the situation.
According to research cited by the Wall Street Journal, Armstrong’s pulling power as a celebrity spokesman – and consumers’ trust in him – has plummeted in recent years. Quoting data from a specialist firm that tracks that data through consumer surveys, it says he was ranked 60th in June 2008 but had fallen to 1,410th by September 2012.
That was after USADA said it was banning him for life, but it’s the subsequent publication of its reasoned decision, and the detailed evidence it contains, that appears to have irreperably damaged the Armstrong brand.
In a statement published on its website, Nike said: “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.
It added: “Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”
Nike, which yesterday was awarded the high-profile contract to supply the International Olympic Committee until 2016, replacing its bitter rival Adidas, has come under pressure over the past week to affirmin its commitment to clean sport by distancing itself from Armstrong following publication by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of its Reasoned Decision against the man who won the Tour de France seven times.
A number of media outlets reported testimony yeterday from Greg Lemond’s wife Kathy given during a deposition in the SCA Promotions case in 2006 that Nike had paid former UCI President Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive test by Armstrong in 1999, a payment she said she had heard about from his former mechanic.
Nike strongly refuted the claim that any such payment had ever been made, saying in a statement yesterday: “Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”
Yesterday also saw a protest outside Nike’s headquarters in Oregon led by former pro cyclist Paul Willerton, who raced alongside Armstrong for the US national team in the 1992 world championships, the year before Armstrong won the rainbow jersey in Oslo.
Willerton, who left the sport due to his disillusionment with doping, joined fellow protestors in urging Nike to reconsider its decision to stand by Armstrond despite the evidence published by USADA.
Another major sponsor of Armstrong, Trek, said in a release today, “Trek is disappointed by the findings and conclusions in the USADA report regarding Lance Armstrong. Given the determinations of the report, Trek today is terminating our longterm relationship with Lance Armstrong. Trek will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation and its efforts to combat cancer.” Armstrong is believed to be a Trek shareholder, and many believe that it was pressure from the Texan that led in part to Trek dropping the Lemond brand; indeed, Betsy Andreu’s affidavit recalls a conversation with Armstrong: “Lance said: ‘I’m going to make one call to John Burke and fucking shut him up.’ I asked who John Burke was and was told he owned Trek, the bike company that sponsored Lance as well as made Greg LeMond’s bikes.”
Oakley is another company associated with Armstrong that has faced calls to clarify its position.
Regarding Armstrong’s decision to step down from his role with his charity, according to a statement from him obtained by Associated Press, he made his decision so that the charity can focus on its work with cancer victims, rather than it being overshadowed by the continuing fallout from the United State Anti Doping Agency’s investigation which resulted in him being banned for sport for life.
“This organization, its mission and its supporters are incredibly dear to my heart,” said Armstrong in his statement, quoted in the New York Post. “Today therefore, to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.”
According to spokeswoman Katherine McLane, vice-chairman Jeff Garvey, who was chairman of the charity when it was founded 15 years ago this week, will take over responsibility for the organisation’s strategic planning. Armstrong will remain on the Livestrong board.
LIvestrong’s 15th aniversary is due to be celebrated by a series of events in the coming days in Armstong’s home city of Austin, Texas, including a gala event on Friday evening that is scheduled to include appearances by long-time supporters Robin Williams and Ben Stiller.
The Lance Armstrong scandal claimed another high-profile scalp yesterday as Johan Bruyneel was relieved of his position as directeur sportif at RadioShack Nissan Trek following his implication in the web of blood-doping and deceit that developed around Armstrong following the American’s comeback from cancer in 1998. Bruyneel was lead directeur sportif at US Postal Service from 1999 to 2004, and had won a total of nine Tours in the
past 14 years with Armstrong – although the Texan is likely to be stripped of those titles ~ and Alberto Contador.
But it was the news that Phil ligget is still a big supporter that came as a shock but not as much as this article today in The Independent ….. Frightening how the flag wavers refuse still to belief how they were duped ….
The canonisation of Lance Armstrong will commence on Thursday, when he will be lauded for “15 years, of serving and empowering” 2.5 million cancer survivors. The following day Hollywood will pay its respects, in the form of a gala featuring Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.
On Saturday, more than 100,000 American Football fans, and millions of TV viewers on ABC, will laud the cyclist, and his eponymous foundation, at the start of the second quarter of the College game between Baylor and the University of Texas. The entire student section, which seats 17,000, will simultaneously don specially designed Nike shirts, promoting Armstrong’s Livestrong brand.
On Sunday 4,000 cyclists will pay $50 to participate in a challenge event in Armstrong’s home town of Austin, Texas. His foundation’s sponsors will underwrite performances by local drama groups, musical acts, and sporting activities ranging from tennis to yoga.
Livestrong speaks of “taking control of the global conversation” in relation to cancer. A similar strategy is being employed, as Armstrong seeks to counter his depiction as an amoral, manipulative bully in the most damning report into a prominent athlete in the modern era.
Armstrong’s status, in his constituency of the United States, is largely unchallenged, although by yesterday morning his official Twitter feed was finally infiltrated by critics, who made obscene comparisons between him and fraudster Bernie Madoff.
Donald Trump, whose populist instincts are impeccable, spoke for the vast majority of his countrymen by branding the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) report “brutal”. He observed: “I guess they have Lance Armstrong cold. A waste of taxpayer money to take down an American hero.”
Sponsors are circling the wagons. Nike, who pay Livestrong a minimum $7.5 million a year from its merchandise profits, are particularly exposed. Their marketing strategy promotes the myth of Armstrong as a warrior king, plucked from an oncology ward. Promotional videos feature him on his bike, against intermittent images of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, confronting mortality and conquering fear.
Armstrong’s principal product is himself as a symbol of hope. That is a force sufficiently pure and powerful to lure such celebrated acolytes as former president George W Bush and Bono, the ultimate good cause junkie.
To reinforce the point, the front page of Armstrong’s website carries a freshly-posted paean of praise from Sarah O’Leary, who is described as a “marketing expert, public speaker, licensed minister and issues-focused independent”.
She writes: “The gun that should be smoking isn’t, and wouldn’t have any real effect on the brand Livestrong if it were. Lance stopped being a mere professional cyclist while he was still on his bike, and the accusations against him have had their 15 minutes of fame. Unlike mere mortal performers, Lance lives in rarefied air that only a scant few professional athletes reach. He is substantially bigger than his sport.”
That hoary old cliché misses the point. Armstrong behaved, and continues to behave, as if he is the sport which enriched him. Cycling around the world is being hit by a tsunami of guilt and retribution as a result of his exposure as a man with the morals of a gang boss.
In Australia last night, Matthew White, a former team-mate of Armstrong, admitted to doping and stood down from key roles in both professional cycling and the Australian Olympic squad.
His status, as a leading proponent of so-called clean teams made his downfall doubly significant and served to underline the ambivalence of the debate about appropriate punishments for a doomed generation of chemically-driven athletes.
The previous evening, Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s former team manager, was forced out of the Luxemburg-based Radioshack team. The Belgian Cycling Federation alerted their prosecutor and did little to dampen speculation they will recommend a lifetime ban.
Should that occur, few tears will be shed for a man accused of being pivotal figure in what Usada described as “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.
In Italy, recently-retired cyclist Leonardo Bertagnolli was summoned to a hearing involving the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping prosecutor after revealing details of drug use supervised by the infamous Michele Ferrari, Armstrong’s former doctor.
In Chicago, Christian Vande Velde, another member of Armstrong’s tainted team, was dealing with his mother’s shame after revealing his guilt to her. He admits he has yet to summon the courage to explain himself to his father John, a former Olympic track cyclist.
In Beijing, Matthew Dowsett, a British rider for Team Sky, recanted his belief in Armstrong as a “legend” in what bore all the hallmarks of a humiliating piece of PR-inspired penitence. Also in China, Pat McQuaid, the president of the UCI, cycling’s global governing body, was under pressure, together with “honorary president” Hein Verbruggen, the IOC member whose denial that he said Armstrong “never, never, never” doped was torpedoed by the publishing, in Holland, of the transcript of his original interview.
His claims that the UCI “could have done nothing and did not hide anything” in an era of sophisticated doping merely confirmed the wisdom of David Millar’s conviction that he has no part to play in a rehabilitated, recalibrated sport.
McQuaid’s abject leadership skills were highlighted on Friday by his resistance to calls for cycling to set up a “truth and reconciliation” process. He suggested something similar at the London Olympics, retracted the idea at last month’s World Championships, and now says an amnesty for the cheats is against the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
The enormity of the fraud needs to be exposed, and acknowledged, by its perpetrators, as the first stage in a process of renewal. Anecdotal evidence suggests the code of omerta, which allowed Armstrong to spread his poison, is being sustained by the fear that anyone re-opening Pandora’s box would suffer reprisals.
The manifest failings of the UCI must be addressed. In return, athletes must accept that suspicion will be the neutral observer’s default position until change is tangible.
As for Armstrong, he is in a netherworld of victimhood, and false heroism. The threat of legal action is potent, but his exposure as a common cheat carries little personal penalty, because he is conditioned to living a lie.
The real victims are those cancer sufferers, who invested in the mirage of his magnificence. Perhaps, instead of concentrating on the Livestrong celebrations, they should listen to the authentic voice of Lance Armstrong, as expressed the Usada report: “I can destroy you… We are going to fucking tear you apart… I am going to make your life a living fucking hell.”
Saint Lance? Draw your own conclusions.
Ouch Reality Bites.
Lance Armstrong intended to run October 7’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon as a member of the team sponsored by his Livestrong Foundation, which raises funds for cancer programs. But Chicago won’t accept the banned cyclist into its field, according to Armstrong’s spokesman.
“We got the news [Thursday],” said Mark Fabiani, Armstrong’s spokesman.
The Chicago decision comes in the wake of last month’s ruling by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong was guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs for more than a decade. The agency, which handles drug testing for U.S. Olympic sports, ruled that Armstrong was banned for life and had to forfeit cycling titles, including the seven he won in the Tour de France.
Chicago really had no choice in the matter. The USADA ruling affects all sports, not just cycling, because of the World Anti-Doping Code. The agreement, signed by USADA and U.S. Olympic sports governing bodies, includes a “mutual recognition” principle. If an athlete is banned by one sport, the ban must be recognized by the other federations which have signed the code.
“Under the rules, if an athlete is banned from competition under the World Anti-Doping Agency Code, this includes any event or competition that is sanctioned by a sport governing body which is a signatory to the Code, irrespective of the athlete’s level or expected results,” said USADA spokesperson Erin Hannan.
Though Armstrong’s violations occurred in cycling, the code prevents him from competing in other sports such as road racing and triathlon. If Chicago were to permit Armstrong entry, the event could lose its status as a USA Track & Field-sanctioned race.
The race issued a statement Friday: “The Bank of America Chicago Marathon adheres to USA Track & Field rules, which includes following the United States Anti-Doping Agency regulations, the testing agency of the marathon. USADA’s lifetime ban prohibits Lance Armstrong from entering races sanctioned by USA Track & Field, which applies to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, as well as all competitions governed by USA Track & Field.”
The race said it has had no direct contact with Armstrong, nor had he submitted a formal registration to participate.
For USA Track & Field, it’s a cut-and-dried position. Armstrong is banned by the mutual recognition agreement even though he is not an elite marathoner who might contest for prize money in Chicago.
To many in the running community, Armstrong was nothing but a positive. The community has been waiting to see if USA Track & Field, the national governing body for the sport, would enforce the ban on Armstrong. Now we know. There likely will be no Bostons or New Yorks in Armstrong’s future.
“We have read that USATF has declared Lance Armstrong ineligible to compete in USATF-sanctioned events,” said Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association. “As our national governing body, we will follow its guidance. Also, we will continue to monitor further developments from the agencies and governing bodies involved.”
To Armstrong’s defenders, the enforcement of mutual recognition is piling on by USADA.
“USADA’s unprecedented and irrational efforts to strong-arm local race organizers and prevent Lance from participating in Team Livestrong fundraising is just the latest chapter in USADA’s never-ending vendetta against Lance,” said Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s agent, in a released statement.
Said Lance Armstrong Foundation CEO and president Doug Ullman in a statement released Friday: “It’s frustrating and unfortunate that this decision could affect the foundation’s grassroots fundraising efforts. Team Livestrong participants raise money to fuel the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s free services for cancer survivors.”
For a cyclist, Armstrong has made a big shoeprint in road running. When he hopped into a Boston or New York marathon, it was news. His Livestrong Foundation sponsors runners who have raised millions of dollars to fight cancer in races across the country. Livestrong also sponsors races.
“It seems a little over the top to pursue him beyond the cycling arena to me,” said John Conley, whose company owns and operates the Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.
Last week Livestrong indicated that ban or not, the foundation planned to maintain its involvement in running, which includes sponsoring runners in races like Chicago and sponsoring races.
“I expect it will continue to be just as it has been,” Conley said. “I don’t expect any changes really.”
this chap doesn’t mince his words and boy is he putting any lance fanboys through the ringer ….
There’s a lot of misinformation out there following Lance Armstrong’s decision to accept a life ban rather than contest charges of doping. Let’s correct some of it, and show you the man behind all of the myths. As we go along, you’ll see that allegations against Armstrong have been there not just since he began winning the Tour de France, but that he’s been associated with people around doping almost since he began competing in organised sport. Be warned: This is a very long read. I intended it to be as concise as possible, and for that reason I’ve been unable to shorten it.
Lance Armstrong was 18 when he first met Chris Carmichael, in 1990. Carmichael was the new head of the US cycling team, and was an ex-professional with experience on the American 7-11 team, competing in one Tour de France which he failed to finish. Carmichael was named and sued by two other cyclists also training with him at this time, Greg Strock and Erich Keiter, for doping them with cortisone, steroids, and other various products during the 1990 season. Carmichael settled this case out of court, in 2001, but the evidence was damning – there was systemic doping and corruption in the US coaching system during Carmichael’s time there.
The doping undertaken by Carmichael and others on these junior riders posed significant health risks to both of the men, a core concern about the risks of doping in sport. Of course, Lance Armstrong was a team-mate back then. Armstrong would go on to work with Carmichael for the rest of his sporting career.
Yet this week, Carmichael’s response to Lance Armstrong’s acceptance of is ban is simple: He believes that Lance was the best athlete, but at no point does he say that Armstrong never doped – he only made a statement that he’d never seen him do so. The lack of a specific denial there is key and follows a very clear theme – Armstrong would never say that he’d never doped. Instead, he would say one of two themes, that he’d either never tested positive (note here: this isn’t correct, and we’ll go over that later), or that he’d never been caught.
Armstrong went on to race in Europe after that period with Carmichael and the US team. In 1992 he raced with Motorola, and in 1993 he won both the US national title and the World Championship in a race in horrible weather, including roads covered in a torrential downpour, rendering the road surface slippery like ice due to the diesel and oil on them. The inclement conditions resulted in one of the smallest finishing fields in history, and the withdrawal of the majority of race favourites citing the danger the weather presented.
Allegations about Armstrong’s involvement with drugs come from at least this far back. Steve Swart, team-mate of Armstrong’s on Motorola, said that Armstrong was the central figure in encouraging riders to dope. His claims were published in two books, and Armstrong sued after their publication: He dropped one lawsuit in France, and had another dismissed, being slightly more successful when obtaining a judgement in England after a newspaper there printed an excerpt about it. But where the books were published, in France, Armstrong never had a case – it was not proven the books were lying.
Armstrong enjoyed mixed success from that point onward – winning the occasional one day race or stage and podium places on a few others. There was nothing in his ability level which suggested he had the ability to win a Grand Tour – in fact it was the very opposite. In 1995 he managed to finish the Tour at the third time of asking, in 36th place.
Armstrong’s career continued along these lines, with sporadic wins, until he met (and began working with) Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari in 1996. Michele Ferrari is a doctor who has been implicated in evidence from a number of athletes, and banned for life by the Italian Olympic Committee. No Italian athlete is permitted to work with him, and breaches are punishable with bans. More on him a little later.
Armstrong famously got very ill in 1996, contracting cancer. The signs of this showed up very early in the year, but weren’t recognised. This is important: Armstrong, despite having cancer, put in some of his best ever performances. A debilitating disease (at least, Armstrong’s own foundation lists it as such) was having a chronic effect on his body and yet he was performing better than ever before, despite Armstrong’s own admission that he’d noticed abnormalities related to the cancer three years before his diagnosis.
But there’s a subscript to his cancer that hasn’t really been explored: Armstrong by his own claim is the most tested athlete on the planet, and given he enjoyed considerable success in 1996 and beforehand, would certainly have been subject to numerous doping controls. Some cancers – including the type Lance Armstrong had – cause enormously elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), a naturally occuring hormone in the body, but at low levels in males. Now, there are rules for the amount of hCG permitted in an athlete, because it offers a competitive advantage – not enough to overcome the deficiencies cancers cause, but a good advantage in a healthy human being, because it produces testosterone. An athlete is often considered to have failed a drug test if the urinary T/E (Testosterone:Epitestosterone) ratio is greater than 6. So the UCI would have been testing for it, and Armstrong’s cancer would have resulted in an enormously elevated T/E ratio.
But Armstrong never produced a positive sample. Compare that with Jake Gibb whose life, it could be argued, was saved by USADA’s testing, when it detected those hugely elevated levels in an anti-doping test, and advised him to see a doctor. That ultimately led to the discovery of testicular cancer, and Gibb recovered. Lance Armstrong wasn’t so lucky – so we can assume one of two things. Either the UCI’s anti-doping measures were woefully below standard, and didn’t detect Armstrong’s elevated levels of hCG, allowing his cancer to worsen while competing, or the UCI’s anti-doping discovered Armstrong’s elevated levels and didn’t report them. Either way, it’s a massive condemnation in the UCI’s ability to validate itself as a serious entity in drug testing. At best it’s woefully ineffective, at worst it’s simply corrupt.
Ultimately nobody can fight off cancer without medicine, and Armstrong’s condition worsened, until he finally went to a doctor where the diagnosis was confirmed, and Armstrong began urgent treatment.
As part of that treatment, Armstrong, scared and with nobody with knowledge to consult about his condition, was asked in hospital whether he’d ever used any performance-enhancing drugs(PEDs). His response, as detailed by npr, and in evidence given by Betsy Andreu, was to list off a reel of drugs which he’d taken.
Betsy Andreu’s deposition was given and submitted as evidence years later, when SCA promotions was taken to court by Armstrong for non-payment of a bonus. SCA’s defence was that Armstrong had used PEDs, and they obtained Andreu’s evidence to defend that claim. Armstrong, by now estranged from the Andreus , had not spoken to them for years. But when he learned that the Andreus were to be subpoenaed, he made the extraordinary step of contacting Frankie Andreu in an attempt to influence his testimony, and that of his wife, Betsy, who declined to give a statement along Armstrong’s version of events. Frankie was rattled – he said in his evidence that he hadn’t wanted to testify but had been forced to by the subpoena – but he corroborated his wife’s version of events; that Armstrong had confessed to PED use. Armstrong, in a further attempt to intimidate Betsy Andreu when giving evidence, flew to witness her doing exactly that, sitting in the back of the room during her deposition, saying nothing, and then immediately flying back home. In the process that followed he attempted to characterise Betsy as fat, ugly, obsessed and jealous. Hard to characterise any of those as true if you saw her or listened to watch she had to say.
Ultimately, modern medicine saved Armstrong. That fact has been distorted as years have gone by with Armstrong’s claim to be riding to ‘fight’ the disease – when the only time it’s been beaten is with the help of medicine and drugs. The ironic thing here is that steroid usage has been proven to cause cancer, and wassuggested by a former WADA spokesman to have possible been complicit in Armstrong contracting the disease.
Ultimately, Armstrong found it difficult to find a team after recovering, and ended up on the US Postal team, which from 1999 onward would have it’s management under the direction of former ONCE rider, Johan Bruyneel. ONCE were a Spanish cycling team heavily implicated in EPO usage in investigations following the1998 Tour de France.
In 1997, Armstrong’s agent, Bill Stapleton, became an official of the US Olympic Committee. Sports Illustrated would report years down the track that Armstrong, in three tests the 90s, produced samples that indicated doping with testosterone. The anti-doping scientist who allegedly tested these samples was Don Catlin. He was unable to confirm two of the tests – a highly irregular occurrence – and refused to comment on the third. Don Catlin would later be called to oversee Armstrong’s “transparent” testing during his comeback – a process which covered only a single test before it was aborted. Having an atmosphere where two men so closely tied in business relationships with Armstrong wouldn’t be conducive to finding a positive test against him.
With Armstrong’s return to the bike in 1998 came the return to working with Michele Ferrari. Armstrong would later state to Floyd Landis, a team-mate on the USPS team, that Michele Ferrari was paranoid that he’d helped cause the cancer through his providing the drugs Armstrong was using in 1996. Ferrari, the team doctor on Gewiss-Ballan, had been famous for his statement that ‘EPO was no more dangerous than drinking orange juice’, when suspicions began to arise about drug use due to Gewiss’ sudden exceptional performances. Ferrari immediately got Armstrong back into an intensive program of drug use. The net result was Armstrong, cancer-free and drug-boosted, beginning to suddenly make the cycling world sit up and take notice with increased endurance, producing performances in stage races. Make no bones about it: Cancer does not cause this. It doesn’t transform an athlete into a super-athlete. This has never happened before, or since. That’s because it doesn’t happen. Armstrong’s 4th placed finish at the Tour of Spain confirmed the work Ferrari had been doing. The next thing to do was to take it to the next level.
1998’s Festina scandal did produce a diamond from the rough: Riders implicated in Festina’s team-wide doping scandal all said that Christophe Bassons had been the only rider on his team to refuse to take drugs. Bassons, cleared of any wrongdoing, was invited to write newspaper articles the following year when he was to ride, for a new team (FDJ), in the Tour de France. Bassons wrote largely innocuous columns, but one in particular came to the attention of Armstrong. Bassons had written that Armstrong’s return, suddenly to the head of the pack, had ‘shocked’ the peloton.
Armstrong’s response was to question the rider during a subsequent stage, inform Bassons that “it was a mistake to speak out” about doping, asking why he’d done it. Bassons responded by telling Armstrong that he was ‘thinking of the next generation of riders’. Armstrong’s response to Bassons was to tell him “Why don’t you leave then?”. Armstrong confirmed this version of events, and stated to the press that evening “His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.”
The problem was, of course, that Bassons had seen his entire team found guilty of it – cycling did work like that, and he was the lone voice at that point to speak up about it. Armstrong’s suggestion that he leave the sport was, therefore, an admission that Bassons was, at least in Armstrong’s eyes, unwelcome. Bassons was ostracised, and forced to leave the race. Armstrong had effectively bullied him out of the sport Bassons was trying to clean up. Bassons attempted to ride on for two more years, but it wasn’t a hospitable place. He now works in anti-doping.
This wasn’t the last time Armstrong would, mid-race, seek to influence another cyclist’s view on doping. But nor was it the only relevant point in that race.
In 1999, Lance Armstrong tested positive for a prohibited substance in a urine test: corticosteroids. Armstrong produced a prescription for a cream, claiming it was being used to treat saddle sores, a common ailment amongst cyclists. The problem with this was that riders are required to produce these prescriptions prior to use, and prior to testing. Armstrong had not done so, and consequently had indeed tested positive. Not only that, but Armstrong, as corroborated by a staff member at the time, obtained and then back-dated that prescription after the positive test had taken place.
That staff member was Emma O’Reilly, a soigneur (basically a jack-of-all-trades within a team, but commonly a masseuse). She also stated that Armstrong had made her dispose of syringes, traffic drugs for him and use make-up to cover up needle marks on his arms. Armstrong, in an attempt to discredit O’Reilly, would stoop as low as he could go: He alleged she was having multiple sexual relationships with riders on the team, called her a liar, and her employment was disposed of, for telling the truth.
Perhaps out of complicity, or perhaps out of guilt for not detecting Lance Armstrong’s cancer, the UCI then decided to take no more action. Armstrong’s positive was seemingly buried into history with his repeated claims that he ‘never tested positive’.
Armstrong, fresh from that success in the 1999 tour, went on to win in 2000 and 2001, where the most serious and damning issue in his whole career took place.
The Tour of Switzerland is one of two races normally ridden as preparation for the Tour de France, the other being the Dauphine Libere, and Armstrong headed to Switzerland as part of his preparation for the defence of his Tour de France.
Armstrong, fresh with a warning from Michele Ferrari not to use EPO, as a test had been formulated and ratified, tested positive for exactly that in Switzerland in 2001. This has been corroborated by multiple people, including ex-Armstrong team-mates, and the lab director (Martial Saugy) who, although initially stating through the media that this hadn’t occurred, later corrected his stance, and told the only anti-doping agency to ask him, that it was a positive. Saugy has also stated that he was told by a prominent person at the UCI that it wasn’t going any further. The directive to make it disappear was delivered by none other than the head of the UCI at the time, Hein Verbrugghen.
This is worth emphasising: A number of people testified that Lance Armstrong testified positive for EPO, and that Armstrong’s influence with the governing body of the sport made that positive test simply disappear. That’s another nail in the coffin of Lance’s “never tested positive” diatribe. Two positive tests, two years apart. But that wasn’t to be the end.
What came out of that was the most damning evidence of corruption possible. Armstrong made two payments to the UCI, totalling $125,000. The UCI has said these were to purchase anti-doping equipment. They have never produced the receipts to corroborate this. Regardless of where that money went, it is unprecedented that an active athlete would voluntarily pay a sum of money to a governing body. If it’s happened before, or since, I’d be amazed.
In 2002, Armstrong was exposed as working with Michele Ferrari. This caused considerable consternation due to Ferrari’s history and comments about drugs in sport. Floyd Landis, a team-mate of Lance Armstrong’s, would later disclose that Michele Ferrari would withdraw blood from him, to be transfused back into his blood stream at the Tour de France – as serious a doping breach as has ever taken place.
Fast-forward to 2003, and an Italian cyclist named Fillipo Simeoni becomes enemy number one for Lance Armstrong. Simeoni had admitted in evidence that he’d (Simeoni) begun doping in 1993 and Armstrong’s doctor, Michele Ferrari, had prescribed and showed him how to use products like EPO and HGH in 1996 and 1997. Simeoni subsequently served a suspension in 2001/2002. Armstrong’s response in 2003 was to call Simeoni a liar in a newspaper interview – as though Simeoni would, for no reason, gain himself a suspension and make it up. Simeoni’s response was to then sue Armstrong for defamation, announcing any winnings would be donated to charity. Things reached a head in the 2004 Tour de France.
On the 18th stage, Simeoni put in an attack, and joined a breakaway of 6 other riders. That breakaway posed no threat to the leaders of the tour, and normally would have been let go, to be chased down later in the stage, or to win it. But Armstrong had other ideas. Vengeance was the plan, and it was exacted. Armstrong himself attacked, and immediately closed the gap to the breakaway. The riders, in the knowledge the peloton would not let Armstrong get away, knew they would be caught. The other six in the break implored Armstrong to return to the group, but Armstrong would not leave unless Simeoni did also. Simeoni sacrificed his own race, rejoined the group and Armstrong did the same. When Simeoni dropped back, he was abused, and Armstrong made a famous gesture of zipping his lips. The implication was clear: shut your mouth, or you will never get any success. Armstrong subsequently was indicted by Italian authorities and was lucky to escape charges of witness intimidation. Simeoni, due to Lance’s actions, was ostracised, spat at, abused, and finished his career as a journeyman of sorts, mostly untouched by cycling teams at the highest level. He was persona non grata, for speaking out against the man who’d helped him dope, and who just happened to be Armstrong’s doctor.
2005 brought more things to light. Armstrong’s former personal assistant, Mike Anderson saw a box of androstenone – a steroid – when cleaning Armstrong’s apartment. Anderson’s deposition in a lawsuit against Armstrong detailed systemic bullying and harassment against both Anderson and his wife, both in the period of Anderson’s employment and afterward. Armstrong settled the case out of court.
The most explosive issue though, was the discovery of Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France samples. A test for EPO wasn’t available back in 1999, and so samples couldn’t be tested for it at the time. As was practice though, samples were stored in the event they could be retested later. After an EPO test became available, Armstrong’s samples were amongst a batch to be retested. Six of Armstrong’s samples tested positive for EPO, a result one of the world’s leading anti-doping scientists verified as being almost impossible to have occurred any other way than through drug usage. Chalk that up as another nail in the “never tested positive” coffin. Unfortunately, Armstrong wasn’t prosecuted (again!) on these EPO positives – the retests were for research purposes, not anti-doping ones, and so the UCI declined to pursue the matter further.
Armstrong retired, confident in the knowledge his cheating hadn’t been punished.
Except that, in 2008, he announced a comeback. This is important today for two reasons:
1) Without this comeback, he wouldn’t have finally been caught and banned.
2) It provided the evidence that finally caught Lance Armstrong.
As mentioned earlier, Lance announced, to much fanfare, that he was going to be tested by Don Catlin, once and for all, to prove his innocence, and publish the results on his website.
Armstrong stopped the arrangement after a single test, presumably fearful of it actually turning up a positive result. He did continue to post his bio-passport figures though, including changing some of themafter their publication in an attempt to make them less suspicious.
Armstrong was permitted to ride despite not having fulfilled a mandatory period of testing for the new bio-passport prior to competing – yes, that’s the UCI being complicit in shifting the goalposts again.
Regardless, science and the sport had moved on somewhat, and Lance’s blood values ultimately assisted in bringing him down – his values in the Tour of Italy in May were largely what should be expected of an athlete competing in endurance sport. But in the Tour de France, they were the opposite, and displayed evidence that he had been receiving blood transfusions during the race. This was to form part of USADA’s case against Armstrong – and he knew it.
In 2010, more bad news: Armstrong’s former team-mates began to admit their own doping histories, and when asked, admitted that Armstrong had both used doping products and facilitated the supply of them to his team, along with doctors and management. Armstrong’s response was to smear the character of the individuals – a tactic which I’ve shown was a standard response for every allegation dating back to the mid 90s.
Finally, in 2012, an anti-doping agency would finally collate all the evidence to bring charges against Lance Armstrong. Armstrong would identify the extent of his guilt, and accept the charges without contest. But he’d intentionally obfuscate, lie, and make false allegations about the entire proceeding to prevent the evidence from becoming public, and to smear those presenting them. He’d enlist the help of organisations who helped cover up positive test results, who he sent money to, and who fought themselves to try and keep it quiet.
Yellow wristbands are too important you see. Lance was never doing it for cancer. His actions prove – Lance was always doing it for himself, and by extension, he became worth a lot to other people.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You’re probably in one of three mindsets:
- Stunned at the extent of what has gone on and amazed. This isn’t uncommon amongst people who discover the truth. My only request to you is that you don’t allow lies and misinformation to distort the wonderful work of the people in anti-doping. They aren’t conducting witch-hunts. They’re after clean sport, and to protect the lives of athletes. They’re trying to stop cyclists dying in their sleep from EPO thickening their bloodstream.
- Completely disagreeing with everything I’ve shown you here, and labelling me a hater. If so, you’re looking for something you’ll never find. Enjoy your yellow wristbands, post on Lance’s facebook about how he’s an idol and role model. People who saw his behaviour will disagree, and they’ve a little more experience than you.
- Thinking ‘I knew this already’. Yes, but for every one of you, there’s a thousand people who don’t know it. Send them here. Show them the truth, so that we can stop this behaviour happening again.
Me? Even while writing this I was still stunned by how much there was, and I’ve known about much of it for years. I never thought I’d fill almost 4,000 words detailing bullying, harassment, and efforts to keep drug-taking in sport quiet. I pray nobody has to again. Even now, I know I missed a lot of it. I may have to do some edits to give even more detail and context.
Am I a hater? You bet. I’m a hater of drug-taking athletes the world over. Most of all, I detest behaviour that ostracises, punishes, and abuses people simply because they dared to tell the truth, to rid themselves of guilt, and seeks to ruin their lives. I hate corrupt organisations that run sports, and I hate the people who foster that corruption.
the daily mash – always a laugh has picked up on the pharmstrong saga ……
THE Lance Armstrong drug scandal has raised hopes that cycling can now be stopped altogether.
Future generations will thank him
Armstrong has been stripped of the seven Tour de France titles that bored people so comprehensively between 1999 and 2005.
Now campaigners want to seize the latest chance to end cycling in all its monstrous varieties and have all bicycles confiscated, melted down and turned into cars.
Tom Logan, chairman of Please Shut Up About Cycling, said: “Everyone knows that the best way to make something more interesting is to throw a load of drugs at it.
“But with cycling it simply didn’t work. Instead – and this may seem outlandish – it actually made it even more tedious.
“It’s a large group of obsessives travelling at 25 miles per hour. If you came across them on a country road you would hate their fucking guts.”
Logan also stressed that nothing was more symbolic of Britain’s decline than its hysterical pride ‘in a bunch of shaved robots’.
“Sideburns and bowling shoes do not a personality make. If he had a four foot-wide handlebar moustache and wore a shocking pink mini-kilt then that would be a start. But it doesn’t really matter because ultimately he’s still just a dreary knee-pumper.”
Logan praised Armstrong adding: “For every Wiggins, Hoy and Pendleton who inspires a child to get on a bike, we need a Lance Armstrong to shame them into getting straight back off again.
“And to all those who say that cycling is the ‘answer’, I say ‘shut your face’.
“Electric cars, GM crops and stem cell research – there’s your answer.”
So no judge in a court of arbitration will ever be called to read sentence in the case of Lance Armstrong. But for anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, the jury was never out.
By refusing to mount a defence in the US Anti-Doping Agency’s case against him, Lance Armstrong has – whatever equivocation and claims of persecution he persists in – all but conceded that he won his sevenTour de France titles by doping. And by walking away from a defence he has ceded those yellow jerseys and lost his status as the most remarkable serial winner in the history of the sport.
There may be some small fraternity of true believers who still need the master-narrative of the heroic cancer survivor-turned-sports superstar and still cling to a conviction that he could have beaten the rap if the world had not conspired against him.
Armstrong’s statement repeats a familiar litany of disingenuous indignation – his record of wins, a lack of physical evidence, the “nonsense” of this “witch-hunt” and so on – but by this decision, Armstrong has excommunicated himself from the Church of Lance: he no longer believes in the plausibility of his own denials. The aggression that kept accusers in check and witnesses silent for so long has been replaced by weariness and resignation.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” his statement reads.
Yet even a dope cheat still needs to be a master tactician to win the Tour de France: if Armstrong decided to quit the fight it was because this was the least worst option remaining to him. This pre-emptive retreat allows him to avoid the formal process of prosecution and conviction, and the humiliation that would have gone along with that. Perhaps his Livestrong foundation, and what remains of his tarnished brand, can thus survive in some netherworld of unreason.
Where does that leave cycling? With many unresolved questions. We may never know who were all the former team-mates of Armstrong that USADA had ready to testify against him about the years of EPO use, steroids, blood-doping techniques and whatever else that delivered that unbroken string of Tour victories, though we can guess at their identities. And we will have to wait and see whether Armstrong’s longtime team manager, Johan Bruyneel, will attempt a defence, though the percentage must be in his folding quietly and taking a ban.
We may never finally know what deals were done to hush up the alleged positive tests Armstrong gave, though we have our suspicions.
And we can only wonder who might now be deemed to have won the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, though we must assume that the Tour authorities would rather award no result than attempt the fool’s errand of seeking retrospectively a clean cyclist in the top 10 of any of those years.
Better to look forward and learn. There is no doubt that the anti-doping agencies have won the upper hand since Lance Armstrong’s heyday in the fight to rid the sport of performance-enhancing drugs. Many do still cheat, though they are fewer and more are caught. Teams keep sponsors by staying clean; they lose them when riders are discovered doping. The governing body, the UCI, has abandoned its shameful connivance of the EPO era.
But there’s no reason for complacency. It will only take a tangential advance in medical science for some new substance to become available for which there is no test; then the cheats will be ahead in the pharmacological arms race once more.
The most important lesson of the Lance Armstrong story, though, is the hardest to prepare for and guard against: our own gullibility and willing complicity. What is astounding and disturbing is that one man – a dominant personality as well as a dominant athlete – was able to enforce his will, isolate, bully and silence his doubters and critics, and win the world’s top cycling event year after year and make people believe in him, despite there being, apparently, dozens of witnesses to its utter phoniness. Too many people had too much invested in the Lance Armstrong story, and the power of persuasion followed the money.
The moral of the story is that if a cyclist looks too good to be true, then he probably is. But if a cyclist looks too good to be true and has an entourage of lawyers, press flaks, doctors and bodyguards, then he definitely is.
Matt Seaton’s article above really nails it and justifies the rant that wiggins had – you only have to look at the climbs in the TdF to see the winners are slowing down and that can only mean one thing …. it is cleaning up.
shocked this morning to hear on radio4 that Armstrong is being charged by the anti-doping agency after the courts decided not to proceed …. there is no denying he is a great athlete and the Livestrong setup has inspired millions …
Here is a fuller story from road.cc
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has formally charged Lance Armstrong and five other individuals, among them current RadioShack-Nissan team manager Johan Bruyneel and sports doctor Michele Ferrari, in connection with doping charges related to the period 1998 and 2011.
Armstrong has been suspended from competition with immediate effect, including from triathlon, a sport in which he has been enjoying some success recently. The 40-year-old, if found guilty, could ultimately lose all seven of the Tour de France titles he amassed between 1998 and 2005 after overcoming cancer. It is not yet clear whether the other individuals charged, such as Bruyneel are immediately suspended from involvment with the sport. The tone of the UCI’s statement on the matter (see below) suggests not, but all face lengthy bans if found guilty of the charges and there has to be a chance that Johan Bruyneel will find himself persona non grata at the Tour de France this year if ASO’s previous reaction to those mired in doping controversy is anything to go by.
According to the Washington Post, USADA sent a 15-page letter (you can download the full version at the bottom of this article) dated yesterday detailing the charges that Armstrong and the others face to those individuals, alleging that they “engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998-2011.”
In February this year, a Federal Grand Jury investigation into Armstrong and other former riders and staff of the US Postal Team was officially shelved, although more recent reports suggest that some enquiries are continuing, with reports that Bruyneel was served with a subpoena in connection with that investigation earlier this week on a trip to the US.
While the Grand Jury investigation dealt only with matters relating to the period when Armstrong was racing with US Postal and not his return to the sport with Astana in 2009 – he and Bruyneel would launch the RadioShack team at the end of that year – that period following his comeback has evidently been very much part of the focus of the USADA enquiry.
Indeed, the agency claims that blood samples collected from Armstrong during 2009 and 2010 were “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.”
In a strongly worded statement published on his website, Armstrong said: “I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try and strip me of the seven Tour de France victories I earned.
“These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation,” he continued. “These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity.
“Although USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than 16 years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA’s malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.
Armstrong added: “I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence.”
In a statement, world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, confirmed “that it has been informed by USADA of its decision to open anti-doping cases against a number of rider support personnel and a rider,” without naming the individuals concerned, and said “this is the first time USADA has communicated to UCI on this subject.”
The UCI went on to say that it was “not aware of the information that is available to USADA on the persons concerned and has not been involved in the proceedings opened by USADA,” and added that it would “follow the case to the extent it will be informed and has noted that the persons concerned have been invited to send submittals on the allegations that are made against them.”
While it’s clear that the process has a long way to run, and certainly the language coming from the Armstrong camp suggests that he intends to fight the allegations every inch of the way, the charges from USADA do open up some intriguing ‘what ifs?’
Should he be stripped of all his results from 1998 to 2011, for instance, Jan Ullrich would become winner of the 2000, 2001 and 2003 Tour de France, although he himself was stripped earlier this year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport of all results obtained from 1 May 2005, including third place in the 2005 Tour, Armstrong’s seventh and final victory.
Also potentially becoming recipients of the maillot jaune would be Alex Zulle for 1998, Joseba Beloki (2002), Andreas Kioden (2004) and Ivan Basso (2005).
Britain’s Bradley Wiggins would also be in line to step up to the 2009 podium, when he finished fourth behind Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Armstrong.
Statement From USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart Regarding Us Postal Service Cycling Team Notice Of Doping Allegations
June 13, 2012
“In response to numerous inquiries regarding the public statements made by Mr. Lance Armstrong, we can confirm that written notice of allegations of anti-doping rule violations was sent yesterday to him and to five (5) additional individuals all formerly associated with the United States Postal Service (USPS) professional cycling team. These individuals include three (3) team doctors and two (2) team officials. This formal notice letter is the first step in the multi-step legal process for alleged sport anti-doping rule violations.
USADA only initiates matters supported by the evidence. We do not choose whether or not we do our job based on outside pressures, intimidation or for any reason other than the evidence. Our duty on behalf of clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport is to fairly and thoroughly evaluate all the evidence available and when there is credible evidence of doping, take action under the established rules.
As in every USADA case, all named individuals are presumed innocent of the allegations unless and until proven otherwise through the established legal process. If a hearing is ultimately held then it is an independent panel of arbitrators, not USADA that determines whether or not these individuals have committed anti-doping rule violations as alleged.
At this time USADA will not comment on the evidence or have further comment unless or until it is appropriate.”
A downloadable copy of the 15 page letter detailing the USADA charges against Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and the others is attached below
The UCI responded to the news of USADA’s decision to charge Armstrong, Bruyneel and their alleged assoicates with a short statement of its own that amounted to ‘no comment’ in 112 words.
UCI Press Statement
The UCI confirms that it has been informed by USADA of its decision to open anti-doping cases against a number of rider support personnel and a rider .
This is the first time USADA has communicated to UCI on this subject.
The UCI is not aware of the information that is available to USADA on the persons concerned and has not been involved in the proceedings opened by USADA.
The UCI will follow the case to the extent it will be informed and has noted that the persons concerned have been invited to send submittals on the allegations that are made against them.