Horner on Lance

June 15, 2012

OK, there are a gazillion things you can say about the latest Lance doping story, the repitition of moves between both sides is getting a bit stale, but I can’t help to call bullshit on Horner. In an interview with cyclingnews.com he says two things:

“I don’t believe Armstrong has cheated in any way to win those victories and he’s gone through an insane amount of testing.”

“There’s so much more that the drug agencies can be doing with the tax payers’ money on cleaning the sport up from this point on,”

So which is it, do riders go through an insane amount of testing making cheating impossible, or should the agencies be doing much more than they are? You can’t have it both ways, using the agencies’ testing to demonstrate Lance is clean but then say their testing sucks. None of this proves innocence or guilt, it’s just another example of the silly arguments flying around, on both sides.

Horner further questions the reliability of those making the statements against Lance. That’s fair enough, although I am not aware of anybody in history making false doping allegations against a teammate under oath. It just doesn’t seem worth it to lie under oath about what somebody else has done, especially for those who are already retired and have nothing to gain from immunity. But, Horner may be right and of course his reaction is to be expected. I mean, what would really have been shocking is if he would have come out and said “Yes, I think my buddy conspired with my current boss to cheat”. That probably wouldn’t help his chances of being picked for the Tour.

Speaking of which, some speculated Horner wasn’t on the Radioshack longlist because the team knows it can’t win and so they don’t need his support rider strengths. But Horner is not just a support rider, he’s won more races than many others on that longlist (including probably the since-injured Andy Schleck). So if you want stage wins, I think Horner is a good guy to have jumping into break-aways in the moutains and staying clear.

I guess I can’t avoid saying something about the Lance thing, so I’ll do that next week. Subscribe at the top left of this page if you want to receive that one automatically.

35 Responses to “Horner on Lance”

  1. packfill Says:

    On Horner not on the TDF longlist. I can’t help feel it has something to do with him demanding sole leadership at California and failing.

    On what he’s said: Of course it’s BS that’s easy to see through, but what should he really say? He’s probably not the sharpest tool in the box as he didn’t think of the good old “no comment” option.

    • Bill Says:

      I have the feeling that Horner came out and said what he said to quash public suspicion that he was among the 10 cyclists that USADA claims they have testimony against Lance from.

  2. ancker Says:

    I think the point is supposed to be that this is the second or third time these same allegations keep coming up and will likely lead to nothing, like the previous attempts. Why continue to beat your head on a brick wall when that time/effort/money could be better spent on preventing future dopers?

    Stripping Lance of his titles isn’t going to prevent anyone else from doping in the future just like none of the other guys who got caught and/or banned has prevented anyone after them.

    Finding better ways to detect doping is really the only way to make a rider second guess whether or not to make the gamble.

    Disclaimer: I have no opinion on Lance’s guilt. If he did, shame, if he didn’t, that’s great. But at this point this whole ordeal feels like it is more about ruining Lance than it is for the betterment of the sport.

    • I think you are partially right, but although in a media sense it’s all about Lance, I think that in the potential effects it’s not. It’s about doctors who are still very active in cycling, tennis and other sports, about a sports director, and it’s a little bit about Lance in triathlon. If as you say it’s about preventing doping in the future, stripping somebody of his titles may have a negligible effect (I’m not so sure, it would show the only way to preserve your legacy is to keep your nose clean). But certainly if this is all proven in the end, taking on doctors and other enablers would very effective, more so than doing a few more tests on athletes. In that sense, this is not really about a “Lance as a rider” allegation, it’s much more a “Postal Team doping system” allegation.

      • ancker Says:

        Again, as an outside I have no way to know any of the real facts. I can’t say with even a hint of certainty that I know anywhere near all of the facts or evidence. But…

        As a complete outsider this is how it “appears” to me.

        1) Allege Lance doped, find no evidence but print lots of articles and columns about it. Make worldwide news.

        2) Allege Lance doped, but this time you have testimony from other known dopers with arguably questionable credibility. Criminal inquiry is dropped, but print lots of articles and columns about it. Make worldwide news.

        3) Allege the only reason you can’t find evidence that Lance doped is because there is a large-scale doping conspiracy including USPS/Discovery/UCI/etc to cover it up.

        They could have been right all along, I’ll never know for sure. It just seems a bit less like “finding the truth” and more like “someone can’t handle the embarrassment of losing this fight, so lets drag it on forever”

      • Joe Papp Says:

        Leaving it “in the past” and not pursuing justice would also serve to incentivize cheating + the covering-up of said cheating. As long as you can get away with it through retirement, your fraud will be left un-investigated, “in the past.” That’s hardly the message that the anti-doping agencies should be communicating to those currently subject to their oversight.

        • Aaron Says:

          Papp, I am so tired of listening to “former” or “reformed” dopers who suddenly get religion. C’mon pal, fess up, you wouldn’t be saying half the things you’re saying now if the feds hadn’t cut a deal with you to avoid prison time. Really, pot meet kettle.

        • Joe Papp Says:

          The Feds didn’t cut any kind of a magic deal with me, let alone one that automatically would ensure that I couldn’t be sent to prison. When I walked into that federal court in October 2011 for sentencing, there was still the possibility that I wouldn’t be walking out again for 16-20 years.

          Likewise with USADA – I testified for them back in 2007, before my work with China and Longo in France became an issue, in exchange for…nothing.

          Oh and yeah, before I even testified for USADA, I was in California a month or so earlier (maybe 2) meeting with the USATT there along with FBI, DEA and Secret Service, helping them develop their investigation into doping in sport and doping doctors. And I was there not in exchange for something or to get out of something, but because it was the right thing to do

          So step off, fool, and get your facts straight before you come anonymously at me spouting a bunch of angry, factually-incorrect, confused hate.

    • Dan Alpin Says:

      People keep saying that stripping him of titles won’t prevent people doping in the future, why not?

      • ancker Says:

        I say that because of the evidence. There’s been lots of bans and suspensions because of doping, but people keep doing it. You’d think that people getting caught would deter people, but they still do it. The only way to deter is to develop a way to say “You dope, you’re caught”.

  3. Neil Buckley Says:

    I think Brad Wiggins and Sky has the right idea, there’s my blood values, this is how we are doing things, nothing to hide..

    • slim jim Says:

      Lance tried that one on his return to competition. A danish antidoping researcher commented on the fact certain values moved in the wrong direction as the tour progressed (red blood cell count went up).
      Lance promptly abandoned publishing them and started rubbishing the guy’s credentials.

      • Evan Shaw Says:

        I am concerned that micro doping, autologous blood doping and pre season EPO use is still happening. Witness last year with Gilbert’s never having one bad day and huge margins, and Wiggins no bad days this season. Clean riders peak and then must regroup or overtrain and fall away further. Horner and Voight ride better than when young riders for a whole season. It is worrisome. I hope not true but none the less worrisome.

    • Aaron DC Says:

      Except he never published his blood values – not at Sky. And they have offered no indication of how they have taken Wiggins from zero to consistent March – August hero.

      It was Wiggins who said no to Kimmage being on board for this year’s tour, AFTER Brailsford had said yes.

      That’s not what I call “nothing to hide”.

  4. IdeaStormer Jorge Says:

    Omerta baby, its still alive. Too bad the ship is sinking and its going to take anyone hanging on to it. Still hope the USADA got its facts straight and don’t screw up the case so he gets off on a technicality. Then the conspiracy section, that’s gonna put a good dent in them.

  5. John Says:

    I don’t think “no comment” was an option for Horner.

    Regarding Lance, let’s suppose he’s stripped of all his TdF victories. Who would the declared winners be then? Ullrich? Don’t make me laugh. Zulle? Kloden? Basso? Beloki? Going down 5 places you’re left with Kivilev and Zubeldia as the only riders not implicated or suspended for some doping infraction.

    Maybe all the results from 1997 through 2010 should be vacated.

    • John Says:

      Make that 1996 through 2010

    • Joe Papp Says:

      While I admit that some part of me (the cycling fan, perhaps?) would like to see Ulle add three more Tours to his palmares, vacating any titles won during a period when doping has been proven to have occurred systematically and conspiratorially seems like it could be the best way forward. Otherwise you have a ridiculous and surreal result like we do w/ 2006 – stripping the Tour from one doper just to give it to another, the first guy who doped but didn’t get caught. You can’t tell me that Floyd’s winning the Tour against a bunch of riders on the same gear as him, only to have it taken and given to the doper who came closest to matching his performance is some disincentive to doping? All it is is a disincentive to ever owning-up to doping if you didn’t win, but didn’t get caught, either.

  6. Thank you. So glad i ride a cervelo.

  7. Evan Shaw Says:

    Gerard, please ponder long and hard on this one. You have a great deal of accurate inside perspective and a fair mind.

    A a former professional racer, coach, promoter all before the drug era I find that the entire sport is infected at all levels with remains of this pervasive era of doping.

    I am concerned that the entire industry still feels the need to cover it up, including the teams, sponsors, UCI even our own political system who laid heavy hands on the federal investigation and quashed it.

    Can this latest inquiry prevail or will these forces smash this one also? Listen to how entitled and cocky Lance and Bruyneel sound? They know how successful they have been and how to destroy intimidate and divide and conquer.

    Show us a way forward I hope

  8. Anonymous Says:

    If everybody were to take a step back, and try to be objective, they may be able to see how unlikely it is that there is some kind of conspiracy to get Lance. It’s actually quite ridiculous to think that the FDA, the USADA, WADA, and any other entity would conspire to bring down what some would call a national hero. What on earth would they have to gain by doing that?

    Are people so desperate for a hero that they can no longer think rationally?

    • Joe Papp Says:

      1) of course there’s no conspiracy (and anyone who knew Bill Bock at USADA would scoff at the idea that he is corruptible or malicious – the guy is probably the most righteous, ethical, compassionate and humanistic attorney (and human being) that I know!); and

      2) yes people are that desperate for a hero and they’re loathe to be exposed as suckers so they’ll go to amazing lengths and perform impressive mental gymnastics to cling to the illusion.

      But as regards #2 above, it’s extremely offensive when members of the public desperate to defend Lance w/o having even basic insight into how the anti-doping process works start bandying about accusations of conspiracy, corruption and vendetta on the part of USADA.

      Of COURSE USADA has an interest in catching dopers – it’s their mission, after all. But they *don’t* bring cases to the review board that they aren’t confident of winning (especially under the tenure of Bock as General Counsel). They don’t have the resources to waste on cases that aren’t strong (that aren’t “slam dunks,” if you will). They don’t want to hurt their win:loss ratio (there are consequences to their reputation as an effective agency if they pursue cases that they’re not likely to win). And they don’t want to subject athletes who are likely innocent to such a torturous process by pursuing marginal cases just because.

      Keep in mind that I had detailed records on nearly 200 athletes who doped or intended to dope, including correspondence, transaction histories, wire transfer documentation, physical evidence, etc. – but USADA has pursued only a fraction of those potential cases and limited themselves to the ones thus far that required the least resources, that were slam dunks where there was a preponderance of evidence (especially where there were clear admissions of guilt, like an email sent from someone’s personal account where they raved about how good the EPO was and asked to buy more and said they recommended it to friends and colleagues, etc).

      Now probably not even half of the clients were located in this country and under USADA’s jurisdiction (hence whey they didn’t pursue Longo for her husband’s purchase of EPO from China on her behalf), but they had to make the terribly-unpleasant decision not to pursue cases against high-profile athletes who are still competing b/c those athletes were the ones who actually listened and followed in exacting-detail the multiple security protocols we developed to reduce their likelihood of being caught – yet I believed they STILL could’ve convinced an arbitration panel of the athletes’ guilt. (In the Zajicek case, one of the tough ones they DID go fwd with, they won on appeal after it was discovered the degree to which the accused lied and attempted to corrupt the legal process and induce others to lie on his behalf…)

      These are just examples from my personal experiences with them, but the idea that USADA would pursue a case that they did not believe strongly they could prevail in, for which they hadn’t amassed a veritable mountain of evidence against the accused, is, quite simply, incorrect.

      • Anonymous Says:

        Nice. A prolific trafficker of EPO weighing in with extended and considered views on the matter. Well, I suppose we might read what he has to say. Maybe, maybe, we can learn something from him.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you Gerard!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Always been a fan of Horner… what do people say about him? “refreshingly honest”? “straight shooter?” Or some such thing. But this latest from Chris I find totally laughable. Especially in light of what he had to say about USPS/Discovery and LA: http://autobus.cyclingnews.com/riders/2007/interviews/?id=chris_horner_aug07
    I guess he knows who’s writing his (late) checks these days.
    Thanks for the post.

  11. K. Horst Says:

    My guess is that he is trying to take an advance on his employment insurance policy. i.e, he was contacted by the powers that be at RSNT to issue just such a statement.

    It is certainly contradictory to his previous interview as linked above and a shame really.
    The linked interview is classic horner. The statement from yesterday was no doubt a prepared and canned statement. Unfortunately, it is insulting to the intelligence of anyone with even a lackluster knowledge of the evidence against LA and thus reflects on Horner very poorly.
    The latest article in CN will serve to alienate many towards Horner as well as cast suspicion on his own ethics and recent successes. My guess is that he needs this job and was not secure enough with other options to be truthful in his statements.

    He knows the game and how LA has played it, don’t believe for a second that he doesn’t.

    Thanks for your honesty and candor GV. Keep it up.

  12. The ‘persecution’ of Lance?
    It’s about a longstanding culture of organised doping.
    A sport littered with historical doping repetition from generation to generation.
    Between Simpson to Festina / Festina to Lance / Lance to present day.

    Professional Cyclists who raced in the 60’s/70’s learned the art of preparation, and when their race results declined, many inhabited teams as management/helpers//mechanics.
    Those battle hardened veterans knew the score then. Hard earned knowledge, they passed onto to the following generations.
    As they do now.

    Horner is insignificant. He is employed by the most technically efficient distribution network in professional sport.

  13. John Siviour Says:

    I love your incisive commentary, thank you. While, unfortunately, I have no feedback to further hone your submissions, there is the following.

    Should Lance be finally found (USADA/CAS) to have used PEDs and this use impacted on results…these results should be nullified. Then in turn the next placed rider should be afforded the courtesy that has been afforded Lance all these years…they should be awarded the accolades previously awarded to Lance.

    Thank you again for concise, thoughtful, provocative posts.


  14. Evan Shaw Says:

    A thought occurs to me, might Horner be eventually named by the cast of 10 as a fellow pill popper and IV fan? For his sake I hope not, but it is against the odds of aging and physiology for him and Mr. Jens Voight to be amassing such results at this age. As I say I hope not.

  15. Evan Shaw Says:

    Gerard at the risk of sharing too many comments, do you feel it is possible that Lance got away with being undedicated all those years was by both micro dosing and by pre season use of doping products. Then his bio passport would not show a spike and slowly decline into the season as if normal. Perhaps his so called strategy at the Tour to pounce early and create a dramatic margin was timed to make use of the drugs on board before they left his body, and to have only small rest day transfusions to be undetected, especially as the tests got more accurate.

    • nancylg55@hotmail.com Says:

      @ Evan Shaw: I think that dopers wants to be clean when they are tested. There is a good probably that they will be tested when they are racing and bigger chance with winning race. So they probably doped during the training and it is probably why they are training in location far from civilization (to discourage testers). Lance was known for racing the Tour and not many other races. I guess Lance was confident to be OK during the doping controls at the tour but nobody knows what he was doing the rest of the season and how many times he was tested. It is a bit what Floyd said about his doping and you see most of the GC contenders with not much racing prior-after the tour.

  16. […] Gerard Vroomen, previous owner of Cervelo and the Cervelo pro cycling team (the comment thread is worth a read as it includes comment from the infamous Joe Papp) […]

  17. Tom Says:

    After years of “blowing” Lance at every possible opportunity, will Phil Ligget kill himself or or move in with Lance if the Texan is found guilty??? Lance inspired me to ride yet his stoic and dismissive attitude turned me off until I realized its not about the bike or the TDF, its about marketing and monitizing your brand. Never forget he started(and finished as a tri-lord) an inherently “all about me” sport

  18. Brian Says:

    To your point of why someone would lie to a grand jury under oath …. the unequivocally would NOT. Let me explain it this way.

    Assuming that the testimony went something like this:

    “Yes, I saw Larry inject Drug X in his arm on Y date. I saw it because I was also injecting Drug X in my arm on that same date.”


    “I know Larry purchased and used performance enhancing drugs during Z period of time, and I know this becuase I also used the same drugs from the same supplier during that same period of time and we often had discussions concerning the best way to use them, etc….”

    [And yes, the prosecutor would ask the witness HOW they know]

    But for a grant of immunity, the witness would never have testified. But for that same grant of immunity, the witness’ own statements would likely subject him/her to prosecution and/or discipline.

    And here is why they would never lie…

    The immunity provisions specifically provide that immunized testimony cannot be used against the witness, “except in a prosecution for perjury, giving a false statement, or otherwise failing to comply with the order.” As such, a witness who give false testimony under a grant of immunity can be prosecuted for perjury or other false statement offenses. The false testimony is a CRIME.

    No one in their right mind would tells lies about someone else doping under a grant of immunity when doing so would subject the witness to criminal prosecution.

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