“Let’s focus on the future”

August 27, 2012

Oh what torture to sift through all the non-responses following Lance’s lifetime ban. Current riders, ex-riders, it seems as if they all hired the same lousy PR agency. I understand they don’t want to say anything, it’s not fun, but not everything in life is.

I blame it partially on the race radio; the sport has raised a generation of riders unaccustomed to think for themselves. In combination with the sport’s history and a generation of team management raised in the EPO-era, this is a dangerous cocktail – but that’s for another time.

What really irks me are riders saying “I prefer to concentrate on the future, not the past”. Firstly, 2009 and 2010 isn’t that far in the past. Secondly and more importantly, why don’t they understand that this case is all about the future?

Sure, the past grabs the attention with the seven stripped Tour wins, but we all know that’s meaningless with none of the new winners any more deserving than the old one.

The future part, the outcome that will affect current and future riders, is much larger:

  1. Two doctors banned for life worldwide in all sports. Ferrari may be the most famous – I had never heard of Del Moral until last year – but by some accounts it’s a pretty tight battle to determine who is worse.
  2. A third doctor likely to be banned for life soon. This is not just some hypothetical score for anti-doping, this is a doctor who is currently employed by Radioshack-Nissan-Trek and treating riders.
  3. A cycling manager may be banned for life soon too. Again not a hypothetical win, but somebody who till this day deals with cyclists on a daily basis at the same team.
  4. The fact that Lance cannot compete in triathlons going forward is also very much “future” and not “past”.
  5. No doubt this whole affaire will have ramifications for WADA, USADA and the UCI. It may provide the impetus to change how we organize anti-doping efforts. Other sports have had the same problem, but with cycling as everybody’s favorite whipping boy, the powers that be may now spring into action.

So tell the world you think Lance is God, or the devil, or even walk away with a meaningless “no comment”. But don’t say it’s all in the past and you prefer to focus on the future. This is the future.

More coming soon, so make it easy on yourself and subscribe to this blog.

68 Responses to ““Let’s focus on the future””

  1. packfill Says:

    I’ve got a feeling that some of this reluctant answers are not about Lance Armstrong, but caused by the riders’ fear of the UCI. Do you think that’s possible

    • Luis Oliveira Says:

      Well, there is a solution for the not so brave: “no comments”.

      Which makes me admire even more Larsson. Despite not being one of the stars (and, hence, somewhat exposed to backlash), was pretty blunt.

    • That’s possible.

    • wciclismo Says:

      indeed, good point. If Larsson should be tested positive going forward, we have strong indication that you might be right. Let’s hope, highly corrupt UCI won’t get away from this with major consequences and heads rolling, considering they have almost destroyed cycling with their pro-doping approach for some select riders and teams.

  2. Stuart Says:

    One rider to emerge with credit is Gustav Larsson:


    Chapeau, Gustav! (Or whatever they say in Sweden…)

  3. Lance & his powerbase – influence was undoubtedly a problem. The fact that many riders were scared & remain so, of ‘peeing in the puddle’ .
    The biggest problem with all of this mess, is not the doping riders (they will always come & go, whoever they are), but the existence of an organisation that controls & ‘permits’ such conduct to be repeated……..

    Many of the experienced old habit types, now control teams, races, or have positions of influence within the organisation.
    Omerta is spoken of often, as a reason for reluctance, but as Packfill says, the problem is the controlling ‘mafia’ itself.

    • Joe Papp Says:

      L and his powerbase are enabled even now by a hypocritical and co-opted media that in some instances serves as nothing more than a PR outlet (witness SJ “op/ed” ‘piece’ in Washington Post last week). Sometimes I wonder if the journalists aren’t as emotionally-invested in these myths as the fans for whom they’re writing!

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        BigTex was very effective at screening out any journo who dared ask a doping question. Sadly, as Paul Kimmage points out, too many were willing to trade any journalistic integrity for access to Tex. Most in the bike industry were happy to be taken along for the ride as long as the $$ rolled in. How many will change their tune now that BigTex is radioactive?

  4. Skater Says:

    Lance is already sandbagging every non-WADA race he can. Don’t expect a silence in fresh Lance race results just yet.

    Gerard, have you used your pleasant writing style already to address the charity which isn’t a charity, and keeps (hijacks) available funds away from real cancer charities?

    Aout the non-responses, they need to be all earmarked as doper-friendly. For life. And teams/sponsors should be urged by representations of the fanbase, to not hire them.

  5. packfill Says:

    He may not have reached a lot of english speaking folks, but Jimmy Engoulvent has said some very clear things on his twitter. Plus, he’s managed to make these tweets funny and entertaining.

  6. Flammecast Says:

    Does it worry you Gerard that Lance still is part of the industry and could affect sponsorship for ProTour Teams e.g. via Trek or Sram ?

    • Not really. The industry has usually been very passive in the doping issue, for better and for worse. I think their histories make it difficult for many to take a strong stance, when obviously their “company record books” are based heavily on riders who have since been caught. Shortsighted in my opinion, I don’t know why you can’t say “Yes, this guy won this race on our bike, but I’m very disappointed that it now turns out he was doping”. It would be good if the industry would take a clearer stance but it seems the bigger companies have no interest and the smaller ones don’t have the podium. In general the smaller companies are quite willing I think, when we started the TestTeam and explained it wasn’t about winning, they were very supportive to come on board right from the start. Even though it was just a crazy idea at the time.

      But back to your question, while I don’t expect a stronger stance from the big industry players, I also don’t see them use their clout to negative effect.

  7. CyclingRox Says:

    Exactly. It must have come as a mild shock to Jeff Novitzky to realize that the doping supply chain was still in place seven years later. Hopefully Tygart and WADA can snip off a few more enablers before they’re done. Re other sports: At least cycling is trying to clean itself up, unlike football and the rest.

  8. twj Says:

    The real story here is not about Lance Armstrong but about WADA and USADA and how the process of arbitration is stacked against the rider; e.g., secret evidence, guilty until proven innocent, labs that leak evidence to the press. Read the interesting editorial at http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120825,0,2080853.column

    • Unfortunately that is a pretty weak column rehashing incorrect statements (the secret evidence myth for example). I also love how he says that arbitration favors those who use it a lot, like banks, insurance companies, etc. Presumably this is contrary to the courts, which favor the novice over the banks and insurance companies? Yes, arbitration is expensive, but almost always cheaper than going to court.

      However, it is certainly true that in some ways, the odds are stacked against the athlete. I’m by no means a fan of the arbitration system.

      • While critic on the system itself is partly deserved, I’d prefer an independent judge, the column author forgets deliberately the intimidation byArmstrong through the years, making it very hard for cyclists to stand up. Just ask Filippo Simeone and Christophe Bassons f.e.

        • Joe Papp Says:

          Having worked closely and extensively w/ USADA for over five (5) years now, I can speak to the anti-doping process with as much authority as any non-expert (ie, not someone employed full-time in the field). And while I acknowledge that the current system for adjudicating anti-doping rules violations confers some systemic advantage to the ADA that most athletes simply can’t overcome, the simple fact of the matter is that USADA doesn’t file formal charges in cases for which they don’t have an overwhelming amount of evidence. They’ve won almost every case b/c the athletes in question were guilty and USADA had the evidence to prove it (even if only on an unfortunate strict liability technicality, like Zirbel).

          Even for all of the easy “victories” they tallied pursuing my clients (exception Phil Z, who should’ve been convicted in the first arbitration but was still done on appeal), there were several other very high profile clients of mine who they chose not to bring charges against, mainly b/c, while there was evidence of their guilt, there wasn’t the same kind of overwhelming evidence that characterized the other prosecutions. So one of those riders, an Australian, is still racing, winning and making $$$ on the bike today (in large part b/c he followed the personal security and anonymity best practices we documented for our clientele…). There was still reliable evidence that implicated him in doping violations, but not enough for USADA’s standards, which set the threshold so high that they don’t end-up wasting time or $$ on cases that are anything but a sure thing.

  9. Michael Casey Says:

    This case isn’t over with. The UCI has the final decision on whether Lance will lose his titles or not, and currently they are backing Lance and not the USADA.

    There was an article posted on “Eurosport” this morning that stated that the UCI is demanding that the USADA hand over all their evidence regarding the Armstrong case. They seem to believe that the USADA’s accusations against Armstrong are backless and that they are making their judgement based on the opinions of individuals in the judicial system and not on evidence. If the UCI can prove that USADA are in deed doing this, than Armstrong has a good chance of being cleared.

    Keep in mind that I am not passing my own judgement on whether Lance is Guilty or Innocent, but I do believe that if he is going to be found guilty, there should be solid evidence to prove so,and the judgement should not be passed because the judge or the accuser has some sort of vindication against Lance. Spend your time finding evidence so when you do bring it to court it is a open and closed case and if such evidence does not exist than leave him alone.

    • Luis Oliveira Says:

      You are wrong and it is over. UCI can’t just disagree with USADA. They must appeal to CAS if they don’t want comply with USADA’s decision to cancel LA’s results. The chances of such an appeal being victorious are non-existent.

      BTW, testimonies ARE evidence.

    • For sure the case isn’t over. The UCI are in an impossible situation as they are alleged to be part of the conspiracy. If they oppose the sanction, the case will go to CAS. If they don’t oppose, Lance will lose his titles.

      It may not be over in another way either. I can imagine that with Lance’s lawyers not wanting to play in the arbitration sandbox, they will continue to play in other courts. Their warning that nobody should make statements about Lance’s guilt was a prelude to that.

      • LauraLyn Says:

        Gerard, Lance has been thown under the bus. It is that simple. UCI will be fine. They will accept the decision of USADA. The ASO will follow. McQuaid will pay the price for UCI sins.

        Is there a problem?

    • Margaret Says:

      He’s already been stripped of his titles and rightly so. UCI has no say in this. As they are complicit, I don’t think they’ll want to bring the focus back on themselves.

  10. Brie Says:

    As all the major marathons abide by USDA rules, Lance will also be banned from competing in marathons such as, NYC, and Boston, etc.

    • packfill Says:

      If I understand it correctly, athlets banned by one signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code are automatically banned from any competition held by other signatories. That’s all Olympic sports and some more.

      • Anonymous Says:

        I wonder about the athletes who paced Lance through the NYC Marathon, Benoit-Samuelson, Salazar & El Guerrouj think? Mary Wittenberg, the CEO for the NYC Marathon is proceeding with legal caution about removing Lance’s finishing time from the records. Running a 2:50 marathon time is not easy to come by without proper training.

  11. Let’s hope that the current generation of doping cyclists learn from lance’s mistake and make sure they carry a bigger (charity) “SHIELD” than he did. LA = 3.7m twitter followers. Livestrong = 0.35m folowers.

    • wciclismo Says:

      According to credible sources, only 23% of Lance’s followers are real persons. Might be, who knows.

    • Joe Papp Says:

      Hate to say it but Lance brought this on himself by unwisely deciding to stage a comeback after bowing out of the Tour w/ a truly unfathomable record wholly intact. If, at that point, he’d just stopped there and stayed out of pro cycling as a rider and not done the stupidest thing of all and busted Floyd’s balls, none of this EVER would’ve happened. Hoisted upon his own petard comes to mind…cancer shield or not.

  12. Inky Says:

    Agree with much of this. Regarding the point about the reluctance of current riders to speak out, I would suggest:

    1. Armstrong may be ‘done’ but he’s still walking the streets and whatever methods he has employed in the past to control what is said about him are probably still active. He’s not going to change.

    2. It’s clear that the UCI are up to their neck. If you’re current rider and it looks like your governing body has been (still is?) involved in what looks like some pretty deep-seated corruption then you’d probably do best to keep your mouth shut until things are clearer. You don’t want your next urine sample to become unexpectedly positive.

    We are still scratching the surface. Whilst it would be great to see the peloton come out with statements of condemnation, the real responsibility lies with the UCI to accept USADA’s findings and for those who are complicit to do the right thing. We can only hope.

  13. djconnel Says:

    A common theme of the objections is that it is ridiculous to try to revise results from two decades past. To find a “clean” winner in 1999-2004 one may well need to go 30 deep in the standings, if not further. Disqualification isn’t the issue so much as declaration of another rider as the winner. What’s next: exhume the remains of Maurice Garin and move forward from there? (okay, I don’t know what the state of anti-doping rules were in 1904 :)). But at some point you need to declare the results are what they were and mistakes were made… ban from future competition? Fine. Fines? Fine. But promoting Ullrich or Zullë or even Basso to Tour champion? It fails the absurdity test.

    • Joe Papp Says:

      Fair point and one that Armstrong would be wise to focus on, rather than continuing to trumpet the 500 test myth, which is played out. But the authorities’ counter to the claim that you can’t revise the results and find a clean winner b/c all of the top-10, top-15, top-20…were up to their eyeballs in EPO is simple: we’re not re-awarding the titles, we’re simply vacating them. It’s not so much about taking the victories away from Lance and assign them to someone “worthy” of them in an anti-doping sense (especially since I think LA won them more or less equitably, at least TdF’s 3-7), as much as it is about punishing massive doping wrong-doing, w/o trying to then reward the next in line who didn’t get caught…

  14. Evan Shaw Says:

    Gerard truly why are you one of the few if the only one who is willing to think straight and address these issues? Truly!

    I am reminded od a saying. “courage is the willingness to see the obvious””.

  15. […] Gerard Vroomen, founder of Cervélo bikes and a former pro team owner. In a good piece on his blog he laments how some duck out of a comment claiming the Armstrong cases is about the past, since it […]

  16. LD Says:

    the past is the future…
    (and by the way to all the stupid ass journos….. don’t ask a rider on Livestrong/ radio shack what they think about Lance! I mean how stupid are you?!! As far as the UCI, those corrupt, fat, old white guys are waiting to see how much culpability is reported on them in the USADA report. Hey Hein, Lance needs his money back.

    • MR Says:

      “Old white guys?????” lol… who’d knew the solution was as simple as people of color…. or name calling…

      • LD Says:

        its not a solution……. just an accurate description of the men in power.

        • TWM Says:

          It’s an accurate but wholly immaterial description unless you think race, sex and age are somehow relevant to corruption.

  17. MR Says:

    Until team management and perhaps even sponsors are held responsible for rider behavior nothing will change. Riders keep their jobs by getting good results. If they feel they need to cheat to get results to keep their job, they will cheat. Right now, unless the team manager is photographed giving drugs to a rider, they simply hire the next rider to replace the evil dopers. No harm, no foul. On the other hand, if a couple of team managers and their entire staff are banned when their riders dope, things just might change.

    • Well, as I mentioned in “Does the Lance case matter”, this case is important exactly because it goes beyond the rider. The team manager and doctors have already received/are facing the same life-time ban.

  18. Jeff Kliewer Says:

    If the UCI do not comply and take it to CAS, I think you can kiss cycling goodbye in the Olyimpics. UCI will lose major face when the evidence comes out. UCI is the bigger fish here. They have been complicit in supporting dopers, because the biggest doper of them all made them buckets full of cash. The UCI needs to act like a governing body instead of the corrupt money grabbers that they are. I honestly hope that this case will provide a leadership change at the UCI. Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen are part of the problem not part of the solution
    Let’s put someone in charge who would like to see the sport of cycling truly clean itself up, end the corruption and really move the sport into the future. My vote is for you Gerard! Or maybe Michael Ashenden.

    • And in the category of “things that will never happen” …, but thanks for the props anyway.

    • Joe Papp Says:

      Cycling’s losing its place at the Olympics, while certainly not outside the realm of possibility, would seem less likely than the UCI being decertified as cycling’s international federation (IF) and replaced w/ some ad-hoc replacement body…

  19. Hi Gerard, what do you think of Hayden Roulston’s comments on the issue here:

  20. Barbara Says:

    Just 2 simple questions:
    How come that we (the audience/public/fans/spectators) don’t make a fuzz about actors (politicians included), musicians and other artists using PED’s?
    Why do “we” treat sport, and cycling in particular, so different as it’s only meant to give us some pleasure watching and supporting?

    • bcampbell Says:

      They aren’t the same thing at all, even if we view sport for entertainment.

      A large part of sport is determining ‘a winner’ and the principle is that anyone who cheats cannot be the winner.

  21. Evan Shaw Says:

    Jonathon Vaughters decision to create a new rider race organization along with Bruyneel is massively wrong! So much for the new JV anti doping policy guy. This is déjà vu all over again. Paul Kimmage writes a long piece with much light and many constructive ideas.

  22. Overtoom street Says:

    cut the bullshit gerard and accept the truth about armstrong and UCI. UCI cheated more than amrstrong himself:


    • Evan Shaw Says:

      gerard can speak for himself. For me, you are preaching to the choir Overtoom. He has said many times what you are alluding to. Read Kimmage’s recent tomb as well as Pound’s piece. There are those calling for a complete rewrite of the UCI and all organizations. This may never occur, as Kimmage points out until the PRESENT DAY OMERTA stops. Just what Gerard is pointing out here. Eddy, the riders teams etc sticking up for him or saying nothing shows the fear of the mob is still there.

  23. Chris Says:

    Gerard, et al., what do you think of the statements made by Tygart in this piece? http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/usada-armstrong-could-have-retained-five-tour-wins

    Perhaps I am reading into this story something that is not present, but it does seem as though Tygart/ USADA has more of an agenda then just eliminating doping in cycling. Just because Lance doesn’t cooperate suddenly the statute of limitations is tossed aside? How is that fair given the claims from USADA that the process is legit?

    As for cleaning the house that is the UCI. What about getting Bob Stapleton in there to run things. He did a great job at cleaning up T-Mobile and transforming them into Highroad. He seems the most logical and thus most improbable canidate.

    • LauraLyn Says:

      This shows that Tygart’s agenda is eliminating doping in sports, and not just going after Lance Armstrong.

      In fact, one could argue that Tygart is too lenient and too friendly to Lance Armstrong after years of lying and deceit.

      The USADA always followed the rules. The stature of limitations is extended when there is a cover up or a conspiracy. In Lance’s case both are true.

      Hopefully a US prosecutor will follow this up with criminal charges and the Federal government will reopen its fraud case against Armstrong. Also, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, oops, LiveStrong needs to be investigated for money laundering into cash for Lance and PR and lobbying for Lance in support of doping and cancer in cycling.

      • Evan Shaw Says:

        I agree with everything except the inquiry into Livestrong. They have strong regulatory controls and they are not colluding nor providing him money. LA however has profited from getting money contracts from direct contacts with them which may be actionable.

        • LauraLyn Says:

          Thank you. But it is simply not true. The Lance Armstrong Foundation, oops, LiveStrong has spent millions on Washington, DC, PR suits and lobbyists trying to whitewash Lance’s name and lobbying against the only American organization dedicated to eradicating cancer in sports among America’s youth. (The Foundation originally did this secretly. They were caught because senators and congressmen brought it to the press. They originally denied it. Now they admit it and they admit they continue to do it.)

          His (remember, it is his name you give to) “Foundation” does pay Lance . . . millions. Just one small example: The Lance Armstrong Foundation, aka, “LiveStrong” sold “LiveStrong” (as a “for-profit company”) to Lance Armstrong for 2 million dollars. Yes, they paid Lance Armstrong 2 million dollars so he could use their name in his for-profit business.

          And they have paid him millions in fees.

          LiveStrong needs to be investigated. And LiveStrong needs to allow donors money to be redirected toward cancer organizations that do indeed fight cancer and do not simply provide money to a cheat.

  24. […] actual calls for accountability and incisive questions were once again left to the amateurs—to frame builders, to scientists, to web developers and other people with zero access to cyclists or the mainstream […]

  25. Joe Papp Says:

    Gerard, just want to say what a great piece this is, along with many of your other posts. It’s regrettable imo that you’re not still involved with pro cycling at the highest level, since you clearly have a vision for the sport that transcends the present debasement, but at least we get the benefit of reading your thoughts and opinions. Keep it up!

  26. Evan Shaw Says:

    Laura. I would like to see any articles on that. Thank you for sharing it.

  27. […] to begin with.  Sometimes you have to burn something right down to rebuild it.  Another good piece is written by Gerard Vroomen, who also points out the current nature of those so called “ancient history” actions, […]

  28. […] put us here to begin with. Sometimes you have to burn something right down to rebuild it. Another good piece is written by Gerard Vroomen, who also points out the current nature of those so called “ancient history” actions, […]

  29. Bryson Says:

    Hello mate nicee post

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