Facts4lance.com RIP

June 9, 2011

I was just writing this blog about Facts4Lance.com when I heard it had been taken down. As you may know, it was a site maintained by Mark Fabiani, Lance’s PR lawyer or whatever the official title is. And it could possibly be the worst PR I have ever seen. With friends like this, who needs enemies? So I am not surprised it was taken down.

Across the top of the site they had the headlines of articles countering the major claims currently playing in the media. But when you see “Why X doesn’t have credibility”, “Why Y doesn’t have credibility”, “Why Z is wrong”, etc, etc, etc, you get the feeling there is so much out there that it can’t all be wrong.  I am sure that wasn’t the effect they were going for.

If you proceeed and read the stories behind the headlines, you’ll notice they are all either circular logic or evading the question. It goes something like this:

  • We state that Floyd is lying now because he was lying in the past
  • Because we state that, Floyd has been discredited
  • Because Floyd has been discredited, you can’t believe what he says
  • Hamilton confirms what Floyd says
  • Floyd is discredited, so Hamilton is discredited
  • etc.

I guess this is textbook PR in some circles, but step back a bit and it’s just nonsense. It basically means that even if the Dalai Lama comes out and says he saw Lance take EPO, it can’t be true because he is saying the same thing as Floyd and everything Floyd says is a lie (Yes I know, I wouldn’t trust that either as I just can’t picture the Dalai Lama in Lycra sitting next to Lance).

The other theme is evading the question. Floyd and Hamilton claim that Lance and the UCI made a test go away at the Swiss lab in 2001. The response is that there is a letter from the UCI confirming that there was no positive test reported to the UCI or the IOC. On the one hand, using one of the accused to prove your innocence is a bit awkward (it’s like having Fuentes confirm to the authorities that that’s not your dog), but regardless, it doesn’t even get to the point. If the accusation is that the positive test was made to disappear at the lab, then it never made it to the UCI or IOC so of course there is no record of it there.

Now, everybody is innocent until proven guilty, and accusations are just that, accusations. There is no requirement to respond to them at all, there is not even a requirement to respond with proper arguments once you decide to respond. But if you want to win in the court of public opinion, I’m not sure this will work.

Then again, it could just be yet more proof that this simplistic approach works and that I know %$#^ all about PR.

What did you think of the site? Did you ever visit it? Did it help or hinder Lance?

21 Responses to “Facts4lance.com RIP”

  1. Neil Browne Says:

    I read Facts4Lance.com and honestly thought it was a joke site. It took several reads of the page to finally convince myself that it was a “legitimate” and constructed by Armstrong’s PR team. The site was poorly designed and only showed how desperate Armstrong’s PR team was. In the end I think they realized it was a complete failure and pulled the plug on it.

  2. This site was a complete farce. If they thought for one minute it would ‘improve’ his image, they made a BIG mistake. The man (LA) is nothing but a liar and a fraudster!

  3. Steve Says:

    I agree: the site just made LA and his team of lawyers and PR people look foolish and the case for his defense even more tenuous and threadbare than it already is.

  4. Wielsucker Says:

    The fact that they didn’t even secure the corresponding twitter account (which became a spoof of Fabiani’s efforts) shows that they really don’t know how to do PR for an issue that is fought over in the new media. The site was very amateurish.

    • kelly Says:

      “an issue that is fought over in the new media”

      that says it all about the sad state of cycling and it’s gossip and scandal driven net “fans”. Sad indeed.

  5. Will Says:

    I’m not fan of his but I do believe in due process and that every person deserves fair, equal and objective justice. That said, his team’s counter moves have always been to discredit and obscure. I never visited the site but I imagine it was consistent with that approach. Actually, at least in the US, unfortunately there is a fair amount of precedent that this approach does wonders to sway public opinion. And, from what I understand, outside cycling cirlces, he’s still viewed as a demigod.

  6. Sleeper Says:

    The site looked a good bit like a blog that some friends of mine set up to announce the birth of their baby boy. It may have even used the same Word Press theme. It’s amazing to me that they knew the story would be coming out on 60 Minutes by at least a week, and that’s all they came up with. One of the headers even used the money symbol ($) numerous times, which made it look like a text message from my teenage niece.
    Gerard, I enjoy your posts as of late. You are much more outspoken than you ever were before, and the position’s you’ve held give an air of legitimacy to your opinions. Thank you for sharing. In that spirit, perhaps you could shed some light as to your current relationship with Cervelo, and why you stepped down as CEO? Perhaps you can’t share everything, but I’m curious to know.

    • Hi Sleeper, your comment was snagged by the automated spam filter, that’s why you didn’t see it before. Sorry about that, I guess no software is perfect – how human.

      As for the role change, I think pretty much everything was in the release (I hate those statements when somebody changes their role and nobody says why, only “personal reasons” and stuff like that. so we put everything in there). It always makes you think of the worst reasons. In this case, there’s nothing bad or secretive behind it. We’re changing the way the company is structured, which is something that Phil and I agree on completely.

      And with many tasks concentrated in Toronto and me being in Europe, it’s just better that Phil is the sole CEO in Toronto and I focus on my board work. Coincidentally it fits in well with our idea that having a single CEO is better anyway, and it fits well with my desire to also work on some non-Cervelo projects.

  7. Robert Says:

    For the casual observer (like me) it was a poorly designed amateurish site. It also served to make me aware of how long the list of Lance accusers are actually out there. Can this many people who, in comparison to Armstrong (who has LOTS to lose) have nothing to gain, all be lying?

  8. Don Says:

    I’m still trying to figure out what part of the CBS story was “completely debunked”. Guess I’ll never know now…

  9. G Says:

    A pleasure to read. I’m pleased that other people are not convinced by such spurious arguments.

  10. Paul Says:

    Their other major flaw is that they did not pick up the twitter name facts4lance which was then taken up by a “bandit” and is still going strong…

  11. Christian Says:

    Lance Armstrong is just annoying. I read a lot of stuff in the past about doping including an interview with Michael Ashenden on nyvelocity by Andy Shen, the transcript of Kimmage’s Llandis interview etc. So there is no sport juridical verdict that Lance doped, but the sheer number of indications and testimonials (which I find very credible) leads me to no other conclusion than that Armstrong did doping and not only once.
    I can’t believe anymore in quite a few pro (Armstrong, Contador…) and I just don’t understand why the UCI is not working harder against doping. I doesn’t make a difference wether the average speed ist 5km/h faster/slower and I wouldn’t mind restricting the stages at Giro, TDF, Vuelta to 150km and for god’s sake not such an insane number of climbings like in this year’s Giro.
    The greatest benefit would be for the riders: Less health risk, saving lot of money and no risk of loosing their jobs. But it’s very important to support clean ridding by the teams AND sponsors.

    Maybe you could tell us in an blog article what Cervélo is doing to help making things change?

    (I know that in other sport, like soccer, athletics, swimming, doping is a sometimes suppressed issue, but it’s cycling that really like and it’s killing me to see dopers taking the victories from fair riders…)

  12. remotemike Says:

    A couple of things. First, it is possible, even likely, that Lance is in plea negotiation with the feds. In a situation like this – lengthy investigation, grand jury – the feds normally do not charge unless they have you in a box. In this particular case, they may very well allow Lance to plea to something small, given that he takes a huge fall whether it is guilty on something small or something large. Taking down the site may be a by-product of being in plea negotiation. Remember, the investigation concerns trafficking in drugs, not using. A second, less likely in my opinion, scenario is as Hincapie has given the same story as Landis and Hamilton, Lance is throwing George under the bus when he throws Floyd and Tyler under. This is a less likely reason for taking down the site – I don’t think Lance would hesitate to take out anyone, even George, to save his own skin. Do not be surprised to see a plea.

  13. […] of “I used to support him, now I’m not sure”. The lame Facts4Lance website has been taken down but only after it was aired for enough time to make Armstrong’s entourage look stupid. […]

  14. Jim "Jolly" Rogers Says:

    Great piece Gerard. F4L – for those true believers, the site did what it was supposed to do – attempt to discredit the growing number of folks with “book deals”.

    I’ve asked one Lance true believer if she would believe Armstrong if he confessed, since, he said in the past that he didn’t dope; therefore he would be changing his story and a liar – who can trust a liar? Plus he’d be agreeing with Floyd and Tyler – all liars.

    You are bang-on when you say that the length of the ever-growing list of “liars” was telling a story all on its own.

  15. martin Says:

    fact 1: lance cheated

    fact 2: lance will get away with it

    • James Says:

      1) yea he did
      2) No, this time he did not
      The worm has turned. He needs to come clean all the way, fill in the details. Oprah? He needs a 12 step program.
      Personally apologize to everyone he attacked about doping, even the French. Then maybe in a decade from now he can get back to cancer

  16. Paul Buijs Says:

    facts4lance.net – is still up. Someone has a good sense of humor.

  17. Michael Roy Says:

    facts4lance was truly horrible PR, but it may have served a purpose to Lance’s camp. It was horrible because, first and foremost, it was devoid of facts. Despite claiming to have facts FOR Lance, it just sought to discredit certain accusers and, by implication, all of their accusations. A total farce. But the point isn’t to convince everyone. The point was to give his believers reason to continue to believe. He may have succeeded there. But he and his team continue to come across as mean-spirited and determined to destroy anyone and everyone who opposes him. (Note news story about him confronting Hamilton in a restaurant.) So the website may have fulfilled this purpose as well. Who wants Lance, with his PR guys and lawyers, coming at them the way he has at Hamilton and Landis?

  18. […] being the case it’s not, perhaps, a great surprise that the Facts for Lance website appears to have disappeared.In one sense the question of whether or not Lance Armstrong ever took illegal performance-enhancing […]

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