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Drinking the Pharmstrong Koolade

What amazes me about Lance Armstrong is the amount of support he still has from his fan base.

In spite of all the overwhelming evidence that Armstrong doped; there are still those who point to “He never failed a drug test,” and refuse to accept the obvious conclusion.

There are others who say “Okay he doped, but then so did everyone else in that era, therefore the playing field was level and Lance is still the greatest cyclist ever."

There has been doping in professional cycling probably as long as there has been professional cycling. However, never at the level we are now finding occurred during Armstrong’s era; with EPO, human growth hormones, and testosterone. Doping went from simple stimulants like amphetamines, to body altering super drugs.

The playing field was by no means level; Armstrong’s organization was a huge money making machine. And the wealth it generated bought the best doctors and the most sophisticated modern dope that money could buy.

Dope that was undetectable, or if it was detected, plan B was organized corruption to pay off those doing the testing. This is why there was never a previous failed dope test.

I can’t help but notice many riders who left Armstrong’s team, were later caught doping on other teams who didn’t have the same system set up to pay off the testers. Floyd Landis didn't get caught until Armstrong had retired.

There is yet another group of Lance Fans who point to the Livestrong Foundation and forgive Armstrong for what he did arguing that more good has come out of the affair than bad. These are the people who are donating even more money to the Livestrong Foundation since the USADA report was released.

Don’t get me wrong, people are free to do with their money as they please, but if I were donating my hard earned money to a charity, it would not be one that was founded on a gigantic fraud and a lie.

Evidence is now out that LA is not only a liar and a cheat; he is a bully who has intimidated witnesses and even tried to destroy people who in the past have spoken out against him. Cyclists who refused to dope were thrown off teams.

This is a character flaw that I find hard to accept, and if I had been donating money to Livestrong in the past, I would now be looking for another cancer charity, that doesn’t have a mafia type boss as its leader.

What I find disturbing is that Armstrong’s following has the feel of a religious cult; with Lance like some Cancer Fighting Messiah as its leader.

These followers have drunk the Armstrong PR Koolade and are coming back for more.

Many of these followers a not cyclists, but people who have either had, or know someone who has had cancer in their family; although ill-informed their intentions are possibly well intended.

This is probably the thinking behind Nike’s decision not to drop Armstrong; they figure he still has a large enough fan base to make it worth their while.

Trek Bicycle company said it would stand behind Armstrong, but that was before the full USADA report was released; since its release Trek has been noticeably quiet. I would love to be a fly on the wall of Trek’s boardroom this last week.

It is only those interested in the sport of cycling who have taken the time to read though the mountain of evidence that the USADA has released, who can see the larger picture.

Lance Armstrong and his associates, along with the UCI have almost destroyed professional cycling as a sport. They have not done so yet, but if the UCI and more importantly the riders themselves and their team management do not get their act together soon, it will be the sport’s demise. The sport will not withstand another scandal of this magnitude.

The worrying part is that if Armstrong keeps this large faithful following and even grows it; in a few years when this has all died down, we could see Lance emerge as a politician. A run as Governor of Texas, followed by a run for the Whitehouse.

Don’t laugh; if he is able to replicate the money making machine, and the level of corruption he showed he is capable of in cycling, it is all very possible. A Presidential Candidate on dope… Who can stop that?



Reader Comments (28)

Thanks Mr. Moulton for keeping up the commentary on this. I think the whole role of the Livestrong organization has escaped scrutiny so far, lost amid the whole did-he or didn't-he story. But I have read elsewhere that as a charity, it is rather tight-fisted and not issued new grants for cancer research for several years. Of course, encouraging this kind of investigation risks raising the ire of the Lance-machine, and we have seen how brutally effective that is. What a scoundrel!

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJunji

Although I'm a bit Armstrong'd-out, I did make a point of watching Australian ABC's 4-Corners tonight.
Worth the watch. I guess people like LeMond, who've persistently tried to pursue this, and have personally paid in previous times with publicly-aired derision of their views, (not to mention scandalous personal attacks and 'outing' of misfortunes in their younger years), must now just feel an anti-climactic shoulder-sag at the continued antics, right to this point, of LA & Co.
I like and ride classic 80s/90s bikes. I sure feel better about riding a LeMond than I would riding a USPS-adorned red/white/blue frame.
Cycling as a professional spectator sport looks more and more like a drunk who's tripped, but still just managing to lurch from one hastily planted foot to the other.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Whenever I hear one of those fanboys spout the old "Lance passed 500 drug tests" crap, I like to ask them how many hundreds of drug tests do they think Tyler, Floyd or whoever passed before they were busted. I also noticed how many riders got popped not so very long after coming out from under the Armstron/Brunyeel umbrela. Hamilton, Landis, Heras, Beltran, Contador....am I forgetting anyone?

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Strong

My feeling that racing is about getting us to buy new stuff has been reinforced by your comments.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave Hoffman

Greg LeMond once said, “The Lance Armstrong story is either the greatest miracle of all time or it is the greatest fraud of all time.” For saying that he has been harassed by Armstrong for the last ten years, his business was destroyed.
Yes Lance Armstrong raised awareness of cycling, and he raised awareness of cancer, but in doing so he raised awareness of Lance Armstrong and he became extremely wealthy in the process.
The miracle has now been shown to be a fraud; so at what point does the good that has been done, justify the people’s lives and careers destroyed. All the other riders sucked into doping and now having to face the shame themselves, while Armstrong still denies he doped. And what about those who refused to dope and had no career in cycling as a result.

October 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Livestrong has not funded any actual cancer research for a couple/few(?) years, and has publicly stated that it is more interested in cancer "awareness." I think we all know exactly how terrible and pervasive cancer is, and realize that awareness is not an issue. Medical research for cures and treatments is the issue, and that is where all cancer monies should be focused.

With the Foundation's revised mission, I am less inclined to sympathize with LA. Just as he paid lip service to sports testing, his Foundation is paying lip service to cancer.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEverett

Ditto on the Cancer "awareness" vs research / helping folks with treatment. Although I originally stood by the 580 drug tests it seems my belief in chemistry detection is a bit flawed. But maybe not - the final chapter has not been written.

But here's my bottom line: I won't purchase Nike or Trek products. It seems everything we do is tied to money so if stuff doesn't sell the promotion gets dropped.

No bucks = No Bueno

And no more Lance.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

You really hit the nail on the head for me with those last couple paragraphs. This is the strange thing to me, all these Republicans around the office who know I bike to work sometimes want to come and talk to me about how Lance never failed a drug test etc. It is just strange, I know most of these people have no real interest in cycling. I figured this had something to do with Armstrong's well publicized friendship with GWB. But maybe that April fools article has more truth to it than first appearance. Maybe all the conservative talk shows and such have been talking up the innocence of Armstrong on their programs (are they doing this? I assume they must be to get such a unified reaction from the talk show watching republican types that I wouldn't expect to give a flip about any "hippie euro" sport like cycling.) in preparation for him to run for some level of office.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick

I don't think we will be the ones to write the final chapter on this period of cycling. It will be up to future generations as they look back on it to decide where Armstrong - and all these others - stand in relation to the sport we all love so much. I've been waiting to hear from you on this topic Dave, and I can't say that I disagree with a single thing you've said. And I cannot defend Bruyneel nor LA's strong arm (is that a pun?) tactics with fellow riders. However, I've read Parkins' books and he makes it clear that cyclists, certainly in the European peloton, were more than encouraged to dope. Failure to do so was seen as a failure to give it all for your team, and those riders faced being ostracized. Are we to fault LA and Bruyneel for playing this game harder or more carefully and intelligently than others? Hamilton was the one who called control tests "IQ tests."
The apparent collaboration with the UCI bothers me the most here. Those guys knew the peloton was dirty. Giving preferential treatment to one riders skewed the game in a particularly nasty manner.
I for one do wonder just how many "clean" riders there were in the peloton during the 90's and 00's; especially among the GC men and their mountain domestiques. I still watch cycling. I still cycle. I still look back with fondness on some of those epic battles between LA and Beloki, Ullrich, Basso and the other top men of that period. Knowing LA is an asshole doesn't change my feelings about those races. You think Basso or Ullrich were not doping? Beloki?
What I want is for cycling to move forward. And perhaps this will help. If this case causes a complete reorganization of cycling's controlling bodies then I say "Good". Isn't that really where the hammer needs to fall in all of this?

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

I've heard an interesting opinion: how come that all this is happening now, after LA basically retired from the sport? Why wasn't there such an effort by USADA
while Lance was actively racing? Is this an "honest" synchronicity, or something else?

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

I never thought I'd see the day when all this information would come out. I've been saying LA, and later the Postal Team, had the best doping machine in the business for 16 years. I remember people on the inside saying it was all the PED's he took in the 90's that caused his cancer. I screamed "Doper" at anyone I could till I was blue in the face for so many years. Often feeling unwelcomed on group rides and around other LA supporters. I thought the Postal dominated TDF years were boring as hell, because it's boring watching a bunch of dopers dominate a race. And I voiced that to other racing fans, and got treated as a kook. I never understood how Greg LeMond could be seen as a liar, and Lance Armstrong was a hero. For the record, Greg LeMond was my hero. Greg was a Junior doing amazing things when I started racing as an Intermediate in the late 70's.

Sitting back and watching the events of the last week unfold give me new hope for the only sport I've ever loved. A sport I stopped following the day LA chased down Simeoni. I was appalled at that display of unsportmanship. I didn't look at another cycling site for a year and a half after that day. But slowly I've been returning to watching the sport and hope to follow it again someday without suspicion.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug R

I think the reason this is all coming out now, is because Lance can't control his former teammates and associates like he used to be able to. I think guys like Tyler, Georgie, Dave Z, et al, are finally realizing that LA can't do anymore damage to them than he already has. Those guys made huge mistakes, and they've been paying for them for years. Having your entire life be a fraud, lying about everything you are and have accomplished, breaking trust with your family, friends and fans - that's a pretty weighty load for a person to carry around.

You have to be somewhat less than human to ignore all of that. Which, I think describes Lance to a T.

He's no saint, but Landis is the guy who finally broke Omerta and confirmed all the crap that Walsh and Kimmage have been saying for years. That was the first crack in the dam.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan

I believed Floyd Landis at first, even bought the book. I also undestand why he covered up; he didn't want to rat on all his friends. Now we're wondering if Armstrong will ever 'fess up. He reached great hights and became the most successful cyclist in the world. He has a lot more to lose in view of all his cancer charity work. He's now between a rock and a hard place. The story's not over.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

A fascinating story this morning from Velo-News. A nine part article:
How Spain became center of operations in Armstrong’s doping ring

October 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Well, this may sound to some like an apologetic for LA. It is not. It may sound like another voice saying Livestrong makes it OK. Again, it's not. So here is my take.

Looking back at many of the carefully parsed statements LA has made in the past, one would have to be gullible, or not looking very close to not suspect that LA was guilty of some sort of cheating. He stated numerous times the no positive tests mantra, which was more like his commentary on the inadequacy of current testing. He also stated several times, including, IIRC, in his first book some carefully worded crap about never taking any foreign substances into his (previously cancer-raged) body. This always sounded like an admission of blood doping to me. I was facinated to read in the "reasoned jugement" about how they can inferentially detect that, BTW. If that were all there were, I would kind of be tempted to act like an NFL fan and pretend that cheating is the way it is/was, such is life. (Except I don't think many NFL fans even think that far about thier huge-headed, huge-bodied HGH / synthetic-testostrone-enhanced heros - 'nother story). I would tend to say, and am tempted to say: "everyone was doing it, LA/Bruynel just did it smarter, and Livestrong has done so much good that it is OK."

Except, cheating is not Ok, not really. It reduces the nobility of sport, of humans too much to be OK. The part that really makes me sick, however, is the apparent bullying and strong-arm tactics, the intimidation. That is just plain nasty, That does not come from a nice guy at all. I have to confess, however that I saw it and didn't see it for years. By which I mean that I heard of everyone from LeMond to Landis eventually getting a good dose of mud slinging, including Frankie A., and I still did not want to see Johan and Lance behind it all. Nor did i want to believe big George or Dave Z could be tainted.

Now, full disclosure - I did a lot of fund-raising for Livestrong, and a LAF event called "The Tour of Hope" for a number of years, off and on, from 2003 to 2009. I wrote letters of solitcitation to friends and aquaintances and business, describing what Livestrong does for cancer survivors, and raised enough money to be awarded "incentives". I raised well over $100,000.00 for Livestrong.

Why did I do all that work? Well, it was not because of the bike, so to say. I mean I followed, and was amazed and the LA story, the cancer, the comeback and all but i am not really a hero-worshiper. But i really, really believed in the work he was doing with his foundation, because my brother was diagnosed, given a 5% chance of living, survived, and was helped and encouraged by the LAF. I really appreciated the organization that Livesrong became.

Do I think they are the very best cancer research benefiting chairity? NO, not by a long stretch. But, then, this is a really crappy criticism, because although they do fund some cncer research, that is not the goal. They have goals concenring support of the victims, and removing the stigma of cancer that are equally valuable. After all, if you are stricken with the disease, you do not need a research program. You need health care navigation, you need encouragement, you need a way to survive. Livestrong has a lot of great people, and they do that. Do I think people ought to quit supporting them because an influential man on their board of directors is a bullying cheater? More on that later.

Here is a personal anecdote about my shoulder-rubbing with Lance in the course of supporting Livestrong, that gave me pause.The money i have raised for Livestrong has been raised via the Livestrong Challenge series. They are a well-organized sucessful series of fund-raising rides. If you raise enough dough, there are incentives. The incentives are generally about the same as regular race/event swag - gear bags, some kit, some sponsor product, etc., until you raise at least $10,000. then you get an invite to special BBQs and parties in Austin at the Ride for the Roses. RftR used to be a local LAF fundraiser race, but now it is an adjunct to the Livestrong Challenge series. It is a chance to hear inspiring speeches, rub shoulders with LA & friends, and get celebrated for your great contributions to the chairity. If you raise some more $$, they pay airfare to Austin, even more ($50,000 fund raising level) and you get to bring a friend, with their airfare and hotel paid for, as well. And, and the $25,000 and $50,000 levels (polka-dot jersey and gold jersey) you get a brief group ride with Lance, even a personal photo-op at the gold level.

I was at the gold level in 2008. So I got this ride with Lance thing, as well as the photo op, which included my 18-y-o son and riding buddy. I saw first hand flashes of the Lance that could turn on a nay-sayer in an instant (but throttled back, after all I was a gold-jersey money machine!)

During the ride with Lance, which was a low speed amble around some back streets in outer Austin followed by a boring speech/lunch, every gold jersey participant was invited, one at a time for about 1-2 minutes of side by side riding with Lance. The photo truck up ahead recorded the moment of glory, and I have the digital proof that I am riding buds with the patron. (All others were kept well back until they were bidden step forward to the throne.) Now, in Lances' defense this has to be an excruciating duty for him - who really wants to chat up a bunch of mostly fat middle aged hero worshipers? He soldiers through it, though, and is generally able to put on a very personable face.

Recall, I am not really a hero-worshiper, i was in the Livestrong thing because i liked the cancer victim assistance thing, and, well, a century ride with swag and BBQs and all was a lot of fun. Being a smart-ass, I asked him, why he could not get a beer sponser that would supply something better than Michelob Ultra (confession - i am a beer snob and that stuff is not deserving of the name, beer) I was mildly shocked and hopefully covered my amusement to see a brief, momentary flash of anger. Seriously, it pissed him off that I would question the quality of his sponsers free beer! He recovered quickly, and made a quip about any beer that is free must be good, and the uncomfortable moment was over as I was bidden by the ride protors to retreat because my moment was over.

That night, before the dinner, was the chance for a studio-quality photo with Lance for me and my son (who is also a smart-ass). He has been on a big ride with my brother and his brother-in-law while I was at my celeb rid with Lance. Lance did not recognize him, and as he shakes my hand, he says, "I remember you from this morning, but I didn't get to meet this guy" I introduce Daniel to lance, and not far from the tree, Daniel says, "We were on a REAL bike ride!" AGAIN, i see this momentary flash of anger! LA was offended that the low-speed photo affair we were on was being dissed by this tall skinny kid!

It does not sound like much, but it really made an impression on me. I half-heartedly raised funds the next year - over $15,000 - i am pretty good at it - but i really did not want to continue past that level and see the guy on one of these rides again. I decided it would be more fun to just raise enough to go to the big ride with airfare and hotel, but less shoulder-rubbing. I never put it in those words, that is just what I did. And I had a kind of crappy time in 2009. I have not been able to talk myself into Livestrong fundraising since.

Is Livestrong a good organization doing lots of good? Yes, yes I believe it is. And, BTW, they have really improved their ratios for help to cancer survivors vs. money spent on programs. They are trying hard to be a better and better chairity.

Can I support them? Well, I still talk nice about Livestrong and the really great work they do, but as the stories have come in from Welsh and others, and now that I have seen the allegations of organized corrosive behavior in the realm of racing, I have to wonder, are the great people running Livestrong also under bullying pressure to defend a record and a person whose past reputation has put them in the position they are in? Is it possible to keep that separate? I don't know. I think my heart, by not being 'into' Livestrong fundraising these past few years, has been trying to tell me something about integrity.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve P

Well, there's already been one dope in the White House.....

And, given the way the House is run, makes you wonder whether they're all on dope as well......

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

wanna see something kinda creepy in a post-modern way:
why is it creepy? compare it to this:
Livestrong entry last updated Friday. Makes a person wonder, doesn't it?

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick

WRT LeMond's comment that “The Lance Armstrong story is either the greatest miracle of all time or it is the greatest fraud of all time.”

I have little love for Lance, and little doubt that he used PEDs, but LeMond's statement is an utterly false dichotomy. It may make the world easier to understand for Greg, but it is not the way the world is. To hold this viewpoint, you must willfully ignore a great deal of reality.

The fact is, there is a great deal more complication to this case than that statement allows. For another perpective (one i share, BTW) I suggest you read or listen to Malcolm Gladwell's take on the situation, wherein he compares cycle racing to motor racing.

By the way, until Lance came along, GL's post-shooting-accident recovery could easily been characterized the same way. I wonder if LeMond would say that about himself.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Gladwell said, "We compete to see who has the fastest driver, we compete to see who has the best car, and we also compete in our ability to innovate within the rules, to use science to further the performance of our driver within those constraints." He doesn't seem to get the difference between bending rules and breaking them. For instance, Mercedes and the double DRS they used this year. They thought of something that nobody else did, and since there was nothing in the rulebook that said it was not allowed, they innovated within the constraints of the rules. When the 1984 US Olympic cyclists blood doped, they stayed within the constraints of the rules as they were written at the time. They were not d.q.'ed because it wasn't strictly forbidden at that time. It is clearly against the rules now, so anyone caught doing it today would be. In F-1 the equivalent scenario would be the Brabham BT46 of 1978. Also, I think you may be taking what Lemond said the wrong way. I personally read it as him being facetious and saying there was no doubt in his mind that Armstrong doped, without actually coming right out and saying it.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Strong

It would appear that Nike has rethought their position.

Sports giant Nike, beer-maker Anheuser-Busch and electronics chain RadioShack all will sever their ties with Lance Armstrong in the wake of a damning report last week that put the cyclist allegedly at the center of a sophisticated doping program.

Nike released a statement on Wednesday saying that "with great sadness ... we have terminated our contract with him." - LA Times (Business/Money section; No surprise there, eh?)

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

I don't think we have seen the full damage that Armstrong and the other dopers have done to cycling as a sport.
My daughter has been winning national awards in gymnastics at the highest level in Spain since the age of eight. She is now 16 and must choose another sport. Her first choice was cycling but the response from friends, family, and other gymnasts has been extraordinary. She has been repeatedly told that it is a 'dirty' sport and success without doping is impossible.
I wonder how many other youngsters are being turned away by these (perhaps justifiable) opinions?

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Rawlins

Turned away in order to avoid being labeled as "another cheater" will inevitably lead to many more staying away. The Lance Effect will be noted as one of the most damaging influences on what I believe to be a beautiful sport.

What bank sponsor wants to be known as supporting cheaters? Something that most know is true anyway via numbered accounts, underwriting overpriced securities, ,...

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Why does people only talk about bans, or TDF stripping? With this level of crime, LA should be put into jail!

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Bob, one has to be proven guilty. Hearsay and statenents made under threat of being " lanced" and persecuted by the usada are not legal evidence. Sorry bit legally Lance is innocent. thats the law. jim

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertelephonejimmy

Lance may well have done everything everyone has accused him of. I make absolutely no judgement at this moment.

But I seem to remember that Pete Seeger was NOT a communist, nor were most of the people on the Black List of the 1950's.

Bob would like Lance in prison. Why not. Italy has just convicted and imprisoned scientists because they failed to predict an earthquake. Let's just make sure Lance has an exercise bicycle when we lock the door and throw away the key.

And let's not forget the man who was fined $33 million for NOT killing his ex-wife. We drove / forced him into prison too.

If I had any suggestion for Lance it would be to move to a small town in New Hampshire, not subscribe to any media at all, read books, and enjoy cycling in the White Mountains. J.D. Salinger did it. Paul Newman did it. Doesn't sound like a bad idea at this moment.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Thurber

Let's put this in perspective, folks. Everybody has cheated at something at some time in their lives. But what Lance did puts him in the same league as Bernie Madoff.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Harry Smith video interviews with Betsy Andreu & Lance's masseuse: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/rock-center/49562651/#49562651

October 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I'd like to see the entire UCI undergo a complete reorganization after this whole debacle. With the evidence that they took a huge donation from Armstrong to bury a positive drug test, it seems that they really can't be trusted in this whole matter. Current UCI president Pat McQuade admits they took the donation, but denies that there was any positive drug test to cover up. Yeah Right. When McQuade stood up recently and denounced Armstrong, saying that Armstrong has no place in the history of cycling, it sounds to me like he's preparing the UCI to make Armstrong a lone scapegoat and try to claim that now that he's gone, that the sport will be totally cleaned up. Again, I say, Yeah Right. Doping didn't begin with Armstrong, and it didn't end with him either. I love how McQuade can accept the testimony against Armstrong in the USADA case, but when that same testimony also implicates the UCI in the bribe/cover-up, suddenly the testimony is not credible. I'm incredibly disappointed to learn that Armstrong was doping (I accept it, but it really bumms me out) and also to learn how widespread the abuse was, and probably still is. But I think the UCI has no credibility and must bear some of the blame. A complete reorganization from the top down is the only thing that will restore the sport.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Brooks
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