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« The Re-birth of Fuso | Main | Changing Times »

Let Down

The Feds have dropped their case against Lance Armstrong and no charges are to be filed. Talk about mixed feelings; should I laugh or cry, feel angry, be happy, or do I really give a shit one way or the other? I just don’t know.

I’m sure I am not the only one feeling this way, because the whole issue is now left unresolved; we will never know for sure one way or the other. The problem is that doping in sport is not really a crime, or it is a crime without a victim. Unless you take into account that it teaches young people that it is okay to cheat.

And should the American government even be wasting the tax-payer’s money pursuing a case that involves a sport in another country?

Professional sport is entertainment, and the greater the athletic feat the greater the entertainment. Whether it is Barry Bonds knocking baseballs over the stands, or Lance Armstrong annihilating the completion and winning the Tour de France 7 times in a row.

It was exciting and it entertained us at the time. Except that now I suspect that LA just had better dope than everyone else, and it leaves the whole thing tainted.

There was a time when I gave LA the benefit of the doubt, and I felt that Floyd Landis was wrong to first deny doping, even made money from a book in which he denied doping, then did a complete 360 degree and said yes he doped, but then so did everyone else on the team including LA.

Now I see where Landis is coming from. He rode for Lance Armstrong, he took dope and he saw LA not only take dope, but getting away with taking dope. Then when LA retires and he wins the TDF by taking dope, he is caught and immediately stripped of the win and banned for two years.

Landis had seen LA deny taking dope and getting away with it, it is only natural that he believed if he denied it long enough he too would, in the end, be believed. When this didn’t happen Floyd Landis decided he had nothing to lose if he came clean and exposed the whole rotten system.

Why do I now believe Landis? Because the system is rotten. I see Alberto Contador testing positive for Clembuterol after his 2010 TDF win, but unlike Landis he was not stripped of the win, and here we are almost two years later and that case has still not been resolved.

I'm preparing for another huge let down if and when the AC case is ever finalized. There is clearly one rule for the rich and famous, and another rule for the rest. (Update on the AC case below.)

Tyler Hamilton too, admitted doping and said he witnessed Armstrong doping. I am inclined to believe him; what motivation would there be for him to lie.

There will be plenty of Lance Armstrong fans who will be happy the Feds have dropped this case; after all Lance fights cancer. But does he? After reading this article just last month, I am not so sure about that either. Very little of the money raised by Livestrong goes to actual cancer research to find a cure.

Instead the money goes to raising cancer awareness, and of course while doing that it raises Lance Armstrong awareness.

I’d be interested to hear how others are feeling about the dropping of this case.

Update Monday 6th February.

Since writing this over the weekend, a verdict has come down in the Alberto Contador clembuterol case. He has been given a two year ban handed down by the CAS (Court of Arbitration.)

He has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France win, and his 2011 Giro d’Italia win also. As I understand it the ban is backdated to January of last year and a further 5 months has been taken off that because Contador was already banned for a period of 5 months during the winter of 2010 albeit when he would not have raced anyway. He will be eligible to begin racing again in August of this year.

In my view it would have been far better (And fairer.) had he been stripped of his 2010 TDF win and banned for 2 years at the time, as Floyd Landis was, instead I dragging the case out for this ridiculous length of time.

There are no winners in the case, unless you count the lawyers involved. I appears there has been some measure of justice that will also act as a deterrent to other would be dopers.

Now it would be nice to see a full investigation into Lance Armstrong’s 7 TDF wins, and if it is proved that he did dope, that he at least be stripped of those titles.

Links to stories on the AC verdict.

The Inner Ring

Cycling News

Andy Schleck's reaction

Velo-Nation Eddy Merckx reaction



Reader Comments (18)

The sports should police themselves on these issues. Our Govt has no business holding hearings and investigations on the activities that happen within baseball, football, cycling, etc. What a waste of taxpayer dollars!

With the level of doping in cycling, they really should just come forward and admit to it. Not like we don't all assume they are clean. Just as I don't watch a body building competition and assume they are clean either. In the end, most pro sports are only a stones throw from pro-Wrestling anyhow - made up story lines, planted drama, etc.

Personally, whether LA did or didn't doesn't really matter. And when it comes to his foundation, their mission is to create awareness and comfort, not to cure Cancer, as they realized a long time ago they didn't have the massive amounts of funding needed for that. So if it is doing good things, then that is good, regardless of what LA did on the course.

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichard W

It is mental gymnastics to rail against "dopers" for years, yet, all of the sudden, when the doper accused is Lance, the Lancefanz don't care. These are the same people who jumped on everybody else even suspected of doping, yet when their hero is accused, they "DON'T CARE"? They must get headaches!

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug P

Your first paragraph sums it up for me....Mixed feelings.

Although I have to admit it was a bit of a relief. Now we won't have to watch (or avoid watching) the cycling media circus around a court case. I've bad mouthed the dopers so much I think I'm done with it and ready to move on.

The best comfort for me is knowing LA and all the other dopers have to live with what they did for the rest of their lives no matter how they justified it in their own minds.

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug@MnBicycleCommuter

I guess you can put me in the last category, not really giving a s***. I think LA's reputation has been sullied in the cycling community such that he is damaged goods. I don't know anyone who truly believes that he just wasn't better at it (doping) than everyone else. Maybe it is in the court of public opinion that this is ultimately decided. The article about Livestrong just adds to the ambivalence.

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTimJ

If you can't successfully regulate it - and, from all appearances "science" will always remain two steps ahead of detection - then, I say, "buyer beware." Buyer, in this case, includes the competitive rider who needs to stay abreast of s/he ingests, the sponsor of any given rider/ team, and the fan who pursues the sport. I'd like to think that the riders themselves might support some mechanism to insure the relative safety of performance enhancing pharmaceuticals - or, at least be fully informed of the potential contraindications of some performance enhancing drugs - in the absence of some authority telling them that all drug supports are off limits. But, my sense is that when money is involved, every effort that shaves time/affords a physical advantage is going to be pursued.

I think when it comes to professional sports we've lost the battle. I'd prefer to think the resources might be better spent on amateur sports where the participants are 18 or younger. Even that might be a lost cause... but I think the defense of "it's the right thing to do" is better supported there.

The energy expended on detecting performance enhancing drugs might be better spent on regulating its manufacture, and distribution. In making sure the empirical evidence to support its claims is widely known, and the longer term effects of its use better understood. It seems - in the final analysis - that the use/non-use of these agents has pretty much been at the level of the rider, anyway.

Rather than trying to protect the sport, we might be farther ahead in trying to protect the riders. My $0.02.

February 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

I am disappointed that the US govt authorities decided to drop the case. The reason they were interested is because US tax payer money was used fraudulently.
I am convinced that LA doped. It beggars belief to think otherwise given the mountains of evidence albeit most circumstantial. I see the USADA however are still going after him which is good.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Blind justice? No, "there is clearly one rule for the rich and famous, and another rule for the rest" is exactly correct. Proof once again that the combination of good PR, money and well connected attorneys is a winner. Game On.

You should start the Frame Building Excellence Foundation. Provide a large charitable contribution (tax write off) with a gift of books, the value of your time in writing your blog, etc... and be sure to hire a good front person (Liz Hatch perhaps?) for PR (this clearly would help with the needed fund raising). Make sure that all cancer victims will be promised free frame sizing services and that your subscription fees to your blog would be free for them. Then Monetize!

At least some of the money was used to fight cancer in the early years. And he is bringing knowledge and awareness of these and other sport/health issues to the public. These actions are hopefully positive influences.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

"Contador has a lot to learn," Armstrong said in comments published in L'Equipe (March 2009).

Lance walks while Contador gets slammed. Contador continued racing since tested positive on a 2010 Tour rest day, and will be stripped of all of his results over the past 17 months, including his Giro d'Italia victory.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I've just added an update to the end of this piece on the Contador verdict.

February 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I'm as doubtful of Lance as the next guy, but I'm also aware that his doping has never been convincingly proved, despite the fact that he was tested hundreds of times and now the government wasted a bunch of cash basically demonizing him. I have no sympathy for him personally (I met him once and he comes across as an arrogant dude with a huge chip on his shoulder) but I find sad that so many typepad warriors dismiss all his achievements because they "know" he cheated. As Dave says, we will probably never know, and therefore, imo, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. The article on his foundation, on the other hand, is shock full of baloney. The overall tone is very snark and aggressive, but in the end it does not reveal anything wrong about the foundation. I know at least two people who have been helped by the Livestrong counselors to navigate our insane healthcare system, and it meant the world for them. On the other hand, having been a researcher for a looong time, the amount of money his foundation would be able to pour into research would make little difference, so they're doing the wise and sensible thing. Does he use the foundation as a PR machine? Yes, but it also works the other way around: the more famous and well liked he is, the better for the foundation, so it makes sense. All in all, I don't like the guy but I admire him, whether he doped or not. As for Contador, the whole thing is being a disgrace. Why take two years to make a decision that could have been made in two months?

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterahsere

I agree with bystander. The riders are the whipping post. We have this sport that makes millions of dollars for people and the only ones ever being smeared are the riders. The best step for a "cleaner" protour would be a riders union.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrider

This stinks to high heaven. From Cycling News website

Cyclingnews spoke to a source who co-operated with the federal investigation. The source indicated that the NPR reports held weight.

"I talked to someone within the investigation but the reason why the case was shut down was due to a one-man decision. The evidence against those involved was absolutely overwhelming. They were going to be charged with a slew of crimes but for reasons unexplained he closed the case saying it wasn't open for discussion," the source said.

February 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJW

I read that too. The whole affair has the foul stench of a political coverup.

February 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

What I enjoy is actually riding my bike, and I could care less about the TdF or any kind of race in particular. But I guess that people does not realize what a picogram actually is. for starters, a picogram is 1E-12, that is 0.000000000001 grams...

To get an idea, grab your average nimitz-class aircraft carrier, with a deadweight of 100.000 tons, that is grams. and following the same progresion of 1E-12 we get 0.1 grams, wich is less than we would get from two grains of rice. 50 picograms, following the analogy would ental 5grs, or slightly over the weight of a sugar cube.

So! if an aircraft carrier is one gram => 50 picograms would be one sugar cubein this progression.
To have any benefits, we would need something in the order of a destroyer down to bottom to a car in mass for the drugs to have any benefit, if any.

Draw your own conclusions. But I am amazed, if anything, how can they detect such low concentrations, bear in mind that the analyzed sample would actually contain only a handful of the actual molecules of the compound...

February 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdward

What irks about LA is the irony. Pantani is dead, Hamilton, Landis, and so many others have had their lives shattered by the capriciousness of the UCI, but Lance is too big to fail. Many believed that his penchant for utilizing all available technology is what gave him cancer in the first place. This he parlays into major stardom with a foundation that pays him a fortune and shelters him from taxes. Meanwhile, he dumps the mother of his children who stood beside him during his darkest hours. Nobody wins the TdF on mineral water and clean living. But what Lance has done defies all the odds and any logic. He's like Chance the Gardner from Being There.

February 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertonyd

Innocent until proven guilty is a principle of US law.

Lance has greatly increased awareness of cycling in the US.

This is the time where we need to start getting out of cars and onto bicycles, so a bit a awareness is a very, very good thing for transportation cycling.

I guess I'm (still) all for Lance, and I resent the efforts to use him as a anti-doping fall guy. Prove he dopes and whole cycling world will be worse for it. Keep trying and almost the same thing happens.

I'd much rather get more people on bikes from his example.

February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric W

Let's face it, everybody loves a good villain. If there's no skullduggery it's a pretty flat story isn't it ? When you read cycling history, what makes champions so great is their comparison with evil dope takers and their struggles against faceless monsters who try to prove that they are cheats too.
In the world of soccer, how many books have been written about Sir Stanley Matthews ? And how many about George Best ? Sir Stanley was to the general public frankly boring ! But poor alcoholic George Best was a perfect flawed hero.
In fifty years time our grandchildren will still be talking about Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree but with more respect than they get now. Lance Armstrong and his ilk will be seen as cynical predators who didn't quite "play the game "

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Handlebar Code
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