10 Thoughts on “the Lance case” – part 2

July 2, 2012
The first five thoughts on the Lance case can be found here. These are the second five:
  1. If there is new evidence in the form of doping test or biological passport data, the witness statements could also be substantiated and become a lot stronger. If you wonder why no action would have been taken on such evidence before, the answer may be less conspiracy and more to do with the simple math of #2. It’s one thing to take on Bertogliati or even Contador, but quite another to take on Lance, a German soccer player or an NFL quarterback.
  2. Most of the focus is on Lance, but the people who should probably really be worried are Bruyneel and especially the doctors. After all, if the ten witness statements include not only “I saw Lance and doctor X do …” (which could be easily discarded) but also “doctor X and I did …”, well, then doctor X is probably screwed. Same with Bruyneel, if it comes out that riders were pressured to “follow this regime or you won’t ride”. However, we don’t know officially if such statements even exist.
  3. What to make of these ten witnesses? If they’re telling the truth about what happened and the extent of the program, they have been witness to one of the biggest sporting frauds in history. Yet only some of them spoke out before the federal prosecutors came knocking, the rest were content to let it be (or even participate). That doesn’t make them liars or bad people necessarily (doesn’t make them honest either), but at the very least it would show how messed up your world view can become when you live in a bubble.
  4. The legal setting is one thing, the court of public opinion quite another. It seems the pro- and anti-Lance camps are pretty dug in, and I don’t think too many people will change their opinion either way. It would take a truly shocking event (such as Lance’s big buddy Hincapie testifying against him or Paul Kimmage coming out saying Lance was always clean) to make a dent into those positions, otherwise any legal outcome will be seen as vindication by one group and a cover-up/framing by the other.
  5. Right now, the only certainty is that the conspiracy theorists – for once – are right. Maybe  there it’s a conspiracy of prosecutors, USADA and the French (every good conspiracy needs a foreign villain, if not extra-terrestrial) to nail an innocent Armstrong. Maybe it’s a conspiracy of Armstrong Inc to win 7 Tours and then use his political cloud to fend off prosecution. Either way it’s a conspiracy, the question is if we’ll ever know which one it is and if anybody is still going to be swayed from their current position on Lance.

25 Responses to “10 Thoughts on “the Lance case” – part 2”

  1. Craig Says:

    It would take more than Kimmage to say that Lance was clean. I’d also want to hear Floyd and Tyler admit they lied, not to mention Frankie and Betsy, Greg Lemond, etc. Most of all it would take the French laboratory admitting they somehow framed Lance when they found all those positive tests from the ’99 Tour.

  2. Andy Kennedy Says:

    I don’t care if he did use. It was a different time and plenty of others were using. Enquetil, Simpson, Merckx, Delgado, Fignon, Pantani, Riis, Kimmage etc, etc…. either tested positive, admitted to or hinted at using. It was a different time. I don’t care. Lance gave us a great show and I enjoyed every bit of it.

    • Let’s leave the personalities out and let’s say “it was a different time”.

      Obviously, if in this “different time” somebody was able to dope and get away with it, there is no reason why it would have stopped. Methods don’t stop if people get away with it, they continue until they are uncovered. So even if you want the past to be the past (and 2010 sounds pretty recent to me), you can’t afford to do so if you are concerned about the present and future.

      And how about if somebody “in a different time” was able to cheat because he was helped by people who are still in positions of power in governing bodies and/or anti-doping entities? Wouldn’t we need to know about that, otherwise there is absolutely no reason why “the different time” would not extend to today?

  3. Skater Says:

    Re: #5.
    In the greater scheme of things especially, pro sports being kids play relatively, conspiracy theories are actually usually TRUE. Just as the Lance cases though, they take a few incarnations of the official versions to be silvently or explicitally confirmed, and absorbed in public knowledge. Governments/sports federations doing a folk days, arms hooked in, singing the “official” version usually ignores questions from the conspiracy theorists who use observed facts and logic in their reasoning, not newly invested science or rhetoric.

    I agree with above, it would take a long, long list of credible witnesses changing their story. And convincing us they weren’t bullied/pressured/bought into changing their latest version.

    Andy Kennedy, do you realize Armstrong is an active athlete, possibly still doping to make good money promoting himself as triathlete, AND actively continuing to conveil his former frauds, and intimidating witnesses? The rulebooks decide on whether something is an outdated crime, not fans singing petitions.

  4. Joe Ruskenbro Says:

    Great shows are great, aren’t they? WWE professional wrestling. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Steroids to the max. What more could a sports spectator want than a great show?

    Natural athleticism, where we know what the level playing field is: genetics, nutrition, coaching, gear, training, and a few other things. What is that compared to a man or woman operating as an oxygen-fueled machine? Natural athletics, that is no show. That is for wimps. Wimps, I say.

    That the cost and the access to the fuel created a very unlevel playing field across the peloton, much more so than natural athleticism et. al. What is that compared to a great show? Nothing. Nothing, I say.

    Machines. It is the machines that provide the greatest show of all. It was bliss. Bliss, I say. The bliss that only comes through ignorance when I saw those machines accelerating up the mountains years ago.

  5. Andy Kennedy Says:

    Yes but I don’t care. I’m not interested whether he did or didn’t dope then.

  6. Eduardo Says:

    With regard to point #3, every person on the team profited from the shared prize money – so if they knew about / used doping products they are guilty of perpetrating fraud as well (in the USA). I’m thinking that Hincapie – during the seven year run – probably made close to a half a million USD from his share of the winnings.

  7. ruhler Says:

    Where are the positive tests? IMO that is the only way he should go down. How can you prove a long-running doping conspiracy without a single positive test? There are none that I know of that are irrefutable and have with out a unbroken chain of evidence (see Ryan Braun) If there is one thing USADA should realize, the US public and maybe the public at large is sick of these stories. They just let Roger Clemmens off. Barry Bonds got nothing. Does anyone think those guys didn’t use PEDs?

    I think the downfall of the USADA proceeding is that they WAY over-reached. They should have gone after a narrower case and one that is more easily provable. Blood consistent with isn’t going to get it done without a corresponding positive. The fact that this process runs so afoul of any rule of law is sort of a joke. The athletes deserve better.

    • Well, there is often no positive doping test nowadays. Any blood transfusion accusation is based on profiles “consistent with”, not on a positive test. That’s why the biological passport exists, because there is no test.

      As to how you prove a conspiracy without a single positive test, one way would be to get people testify that they made a positive test disappear. Not that I think that will happen, I think the statement from the anti-doping laboratory about the Tour de Suisse test will be softer than that.

      But I fully agree with you that the athlete’s position in this process is not properly respected. That however is more a problem for the small guy than for the big guys, as they really can’t afford the protection necessary to stand a chance.

    • Paul Jakma Says:

      Well what’s “irrefutable”? Very few things in the world are irrefutable. Possibly the only thing that could come close to these are well-established mathematical proofs, but even these must always rely on at least one unprovable assumption somewhere.

      So saying any positive test must be “irrefutable” before we can judge Armstrong is basically saying that we might as well ignore all evidence.

      The fact is that when the EPO tests were being developed, they went in 2005 and tested their efficacy by running them on samples they thought were likely to have some positives. I.e. samples from before the EPO test ever existed. They used the TdF ’99 B samples, which had been retained, for this. They got 13 positives out of 87 samples, and 6 of the 13 were from one rider (same number).

      This testing was done completely anonymously – the purpose was to test the test after all. However, a clever journalist managed to get the UCI – and *Armstrong* – to release some of the ’99 TdF doping documentation. These documents had the sample numbers in them, which L’Equipe cross-referenced to the anonymous test results, and hence identified Armstrong.

      Michael Ashenden was a scientist involved in these tests, and he actually uses the word “irrefutable” to describe the level of certainty he has in the fact that Armstrong used EPO across the ’99 TdF.

      Ref: http://velocitynation.com/content/interviews/2009/michael-ashenden

  8. Newf Says:

    “If there is one thing USADA should realize, the US public and maybe the public at large is sick of these stories.”

    I’m the US public too, and I hope USADA realizes I support them.

  9. Evan Shaw Says:

    Why does Lance matter in the grand scheme of things? Compared with global warming 30 million with no health insurance and corporations being people should we care?

    Yes! Why? Because we humans need hope aspirations of greatness and true heroes. We need role models and adventure and courage in war AND in peace.

    When someone uses all of our hopes and wishes to create great wealth myth and power falsely and systematically they harm all of us.

    Lance was not jus a cheater and liar. He damaged many other athletes teams the sport but he has in the worst way possible damaged the fans the children who need decency honesty and truth in aspiring to greatness.

    Proof of this lies in the one commenter who says who cares I liked the show. Therein lies the damage. Jessie Owens showing Hitler he was not inferior. Now that is what we need from sports. Cycling has a potential for greatness and the TDF as a monument to speed power endurance and courage.

    We must rid it do systematic cheating. But more important we must only allow true athletes to win our hearts and minds. If not for us then for our children.

    • Andy Kennedy Says:

      Evan, you seem to have a problem with the fact that I have a point of view that you don’t agree with. Well I am entitled to my opinion so get over it. You make the statement that Armstrong is a cheat and a liar as if it is a fact but there is no evidence to support this so don’t try to force your opinions on others as being right. Like I said, I don’t care, I just enjoy the cycling and that’s my opinion.

      • Anonymous Says:

        You, on the other hand, seem a tad hurt that not everyone who reads this article is on board with your “great show, leave ’em be” mantra.

      • Evan Shaw Says:

        You are right, I am challenging you and all of us, myself included. I had your opinion for a time. We all are accountable even as fans for looking the other way when people do wrong things and do nothing. By doing so we make it possible for all things small and large and even evil to have their way.

        • Andy Kennedy Says:

          @Anonymous. You’re not paying attention are you? Wakey wakey! I don’t care whether you agree with me or not. You are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. The only thing that annoys me is when you tell people that your opinion is right and their’s is wrong. I am not hurt I think this is great fun because you all seem to be getting wound up by it and I find that quite funny.

          @Evan, you seem to be saying it is my duty to speak up about something that may or may not be wrong. Well there are people who are paid to do that and they don’t seem to be making a very good job of it do they?

          Right I’m bored with this now, I’m going to play my saxophone. Bye.

    • One thing I disagree with is the notion that athletes have a responsibility as role models. Parents should wake up and teach their children to have doctors, nurses and the like as role models, not athletes. Regardless of whether the athletes are clean or not.

      • Evan Shaw Says:

        Gerard I mostly agree. I remember Lemond was said we make too much of athletes it is mostly good genes we don’t deserve the accolades. That said what I really meant was not for athletes managers and organizations to be corrupt.

  10. Jeff Kliewer Says:

    Never tested positive does not hold water. Basso and Ulrich never tested positive either yet they were reprimanded for being connected to Operation Puerto.
    Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Marion Jones never tested positive either, but their personal confessions (Bonds and Clemens aside) say they did use PEDS. Lance cheated and he knows it. If everyone else knows it too, it will send a loud message to the professional ranks that no-one is above being weeded out and getting their titles stripped from them. The (also corrupt) UCI needs to implement a banned for life policy for one failed test then there would be very few (if any) willing to cheat.

  11. Marcello Says:

    Hi Gerard. Point 3 is very important. It’s another example of the infinite capacity for corruption in human psychology, which is probably the number1 problem in society today.
    In most situations, people will not lift a finger in the name of honesty if their own reputation or livelihood is at stake. Landis lost EVERYTHING before he confessed and expressed one single allegation. He lied for 5 years to everybody, to protect his rep and his wealth. Only after he lost it all could he become honest. And without Landis, Armstrong would be racing triathlons now and advertising Nike and all of his other activities. If Lance and Yohan had given Floyd a job when he asked for one, this investigation would not exist.
    No wage earning pro will confess or point fingers. Not many journos will either. (Outsiders can without any repercussions). Look at the retribution Steven Rooks, Paul Kimmage, and Emma O’Rielly received when they confessed what they did and what they knew. That is tremendously corrupting pressure.
    It is so much easier just to lie. (Like for all those on Armstong’s huge staff). It is easier to do what we are told by our superiors even if it is cheating or worse. Resistance brings down the hammer. Look at Bassons and very similarly Bradly Manning.
    Lance’s current full time job calling people ‘liars’. I’m sick of his hostility, and defensiveness. I hope he loses all his TdF victories.
    Gerard, you seem to be the most thoughtful person in the industry. Of course I know nothing of 90% of people in the industry but.. Can you take Bobke’s place on Tour TV? And while we’re at it, let’s sack Sherwin too. Thank god they brought in Moninger.

  12. msisobel Says:

    The only thing I’m wondering about is whether Lance did anything his competitors didn’t do too. If they strip him of the Tours, can they really give most of them to Ulrich, when there’s accusations against him too?

  13. Evan Shaw Says:

    Ok Gerard our respected authority now what what? Van de velde lLeipheimer Zabriske Hincapie and Vaughters all confess to doping and all implicate Armstrong.

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