OT: Armstrong Drops Appeal, To Lose Tour Wins

Submitted by Geaux_Blue on August 23rd, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Ban from cycling forthcoming

Comments

B-Nut-GoBlue

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:13 PM ^

Don't really care either way.  The USADA seems like a piece of sh*t organization, though.

Edit:  Additionally, I'm not a cycling enthusiast whatsoever, but it's not like he didn't win 7 straight TDF to me.  I'm sure many others feel the same way, some/many are into cycling, probably not thinking, "Ohh, the USADA overturned Lance's TDF titles, let's forget they ever happened and pretend Lance cheated someone else who was clean (yank, yank)".  Oh well, again I have not a whole lot of interest in all of this.  Like Lance himself, I'm sick of hearing about it and I'm sick of hearing about these government agencies trying to proclaim they're doing these things for the better good of sport (or whatever they're claiming they're helping).

jmblue

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:56 PM ^

The USADA's position is easier to understand if you've followed this entire story.  And frankly, Armstrong is a lot harder to feel sympathetic for if you've followed how he's behaved over the past several years, when people in his inner circle have come forward one after another on this.

 

 

 

snarling wolverine

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 PM ^

Well, would you expect a man innocent of these charges to watch as all of his titles are taken away and his name thrown in the mud and say, "No biggie"?

This is effectively an admission of guilt on his part, disguised as contempt for the process.

jmblue

August 24th, 2012 at 12:12 AM ^

He had no chance to beat the rap.  His own teammates from U.S. Postal and the team doctors were calling him out.   His only real defense is that he didn't test positive, but that's because they did not then have the testing procedures they do now (the products he was using were banned, but couldn't be tested for at the time).   

 

 

 

Clarence Beeks

August 24th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

"Those are generally people too poor to mount a potent defense."

I disagree. I've seen it arise in a number of situations and being indigent has never been a factor.

"Also, they do it to get a lighter sentence. But Lance is rich and faced no criminal sentencing. He had absolutely no reason to concede. Unless of course he feared what the arbitration hearing would reveal."

Or, alternatively, because they don't believe the process was going to be fair and just, primarily because they know they are facing a tidal wave of accusers and their only possible response is their own word.

jackw8542

August 24th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

just maybe, he saw how hard Roger Clemens fought and won in court and is still viewed by the same folks who thought he had used PEDs before he was acquitted as a person who used PEDs.  Lance is right in that it is a no-win situation.  Even if you win, you have roughly the same groups of people who either believe you were honest believe you cheated.  As to Lance Armstrong, it has just been carried on for too many years.  The people who believed (and in many instances still believe) Brian McNamee's testimony are also going to accept the testimony of Lance's teammates, even though they do not know what kind of pressure was placed on them or the validity of their "testimony".

ixcuincle

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:08 PM ^

He fought his whole career against these allegations. He yelled as loud as he could, vehemently denied every allegation, claimed he'd been tested thousands of times, and they all "came up clean". If this is the truth, then why give up now? With your legacy on the line? Why let them take away everything you did "when you were clean"? 

This pretty much says he did it. And it's a shame, because he helped raise money for cancer.  I wonder if our perception of the man will be altered because of this. 

stephenrjking

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:27 PM ^

They have multiple teammates, apparently ten of them. They have dirt on the doctors who were coordinating the plan (several of which are already banned). They have records. They have accessory witnesses. 

Armstrong threw in the towel. He had no chance of winning.

bacon1431

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:13 PM ^

Is it just me, or did he seem like kind of a douche the whole time anyways? No idea if he's truly guilty or not, but he just seemed really full of himself. JMO

stephenrjking

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 PM ^

Lance cheated. There is no doubt in my mind. He deserves to be exposed for it, and exposed for the terrible way he has treated those around him. 

The reason he is not appealing is because an open trial will air much dirt and expose a lot of uncomfortable truth. And because he will lose. Lance claims to be "weary of fighting," yet he has faught every accusation, every book, every witness with lawsuits and vitriol without exception. Suddenly giving up now is just a chance to issue a public denial and save some face.

Now, here's the deal: It's not a sure thing they will strip those Tour wins, and I certainly hope they don't. Bjarne Riis, '96 winner, has admitted that he doped for that race (significantly more than Armstrong has, since he could get away with it) and has not been stripped. The '97 and '98 winners have both been caught doping. Every person Armstrong shared a podium with in each Tour has been linked to or convicted of doping, including that '97 winner. Every one of them. If you give the win to the runner up you are giving it to a person who is as guilty as Armstrong.

To give you an idea of what that would be like to a cycling fan, imagine that Oregon gets nailed for widespread cheating for the entirety of the Chip Kelly era this fall. Hypothetically, let's say that Phil Knight pays players out of his own pocket (I don't actually think this is true). Then, further, imagine that the NCAA actually grows some backbone and investigates the Cam Newton charge, finds that Auburn is way dirty, and has Auburn stripped of its BCS title. And imagine that the BCS title is given to super-dirty Oregon. 

How would you feel about that?

Lance should keep his titles. He should be publically exposed, but he should keep his titles. 

Lionsfan

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:27 PM ^

It's really weird for most Americans. When we hear of doping, it's about the 90's MLB and usually nothing else. Unfortunately there's a whole lot of leagues that are so dirty *cough cough*FIFA*cough cough* that we never hear about just because it's not big in the US. Cycling is just as bad (and probably worse) than the Steroids era of MLB

stephenrjking

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:31 PM ^

Once again, this seems like a good time to shamelessly link to a diary I wrote on the subject.

http://mgoblog.com/diaries/ot-ped-principle-doping-modern-sports

This gives my view on it.

Regarding how doping in cycling was, having read up on the topic quite a bit and read the testimonies of some guys who tried to ride clean in the 90s and early 00s, it was almost universal. You basically couldn't compete without doping. There were, seriously, riders who would dope regularly just so they could finish in the middle of the pack. 

Cycling has gotten quite a bit better, even if its sanctioning body is questionable. Sports overall, though, are dirty as all get-out. As I say in the linked article, if there is a benefit in a sport to doping, people are going to do it.

stephenrjking

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:42 PM ^

No sport can. First of all, it is very dangerous. A number of cyclists died in the 90s due to their blood being too thick from doping. Anabolic steroids have their own devastating effects on those who use. Remember Chris Benoit?

It's also unfair. Different athletes respond differently to the drugs. If you could give football players a drug to make them run 4.2 40s, that would be a great boost to a guy like John Navarre... and do almost nothing for Denard Robinson. That's not fair.

Good, longitudinal testing can catch doping much more effectively and, importantly, significantly reduces any available advantage from doping. Cycling has pioneered this and is now effectively limiting performance gains in observable ways. 

About the best you can do is level the playing field so that someone can compete while clean. Cycling is making good progress at that; other sports have a longer way to go.

Vivz

August 24th, 2012 at 12:46 AM ^

Sports all have implied risks. If it was in the open with respected doctors at least safety would be a concern instead of maintaining standard testing rations.

Sports are not fair. Denard Robinson is Denard robinson because he is fast and agile,and thus is an athlete. I'm slow and clumsy, thus not an athlete. Thats not fair to me. Some workout warriors respond and become stronger than others,  is that fair?

Again if the point of testing is health instead of preventing positive tests would this matter? If a person knowingly dopes at unsafe levels, they have sold their soul and die after a couple years. To have any longevity in sports people would be forced to maintain reasonable levels. 

The playing field is  not level, never will be. If you want to say allowing them forces everyone to dope, so be it. Maybe we should ban lifting weights too. There can be risks in that or even practicing. The people that do it right and the most turn into the best pros, make it the same. If a marathoner thought they could build endurance by upping the ante and training at 100 miles a day it would catch up to them and is self policing in a way, same thing would eventually happen. 

 

(Laughs at own arguments)

jmblue

August 24th, 2012 at 11:57 AM ^

Sports have implied risks, but death (or long-term health problems) from drug use does not have to be one of them.  I don't think we can throw in the towel just because doping is widespread.  Actually, technology is getting better and starting to catch up to the dopers, or at least reducing the gap.  The biological passport cycling has recently adopted is a positive step.

 

 

Yeoman

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:39 PM ^

Others have, at least initially, denied the allegations, fought them to some extent, but I can't think of another cyclist who's been so determined to destroy the life of anyone with the gall to tell the truth about him.

It won't bother me in the least if they strip his titles. It's a tiny bit of payback on behalf of every Filippo Simeoni out there.

Maybe they could simply leave them vacant, instead of awarding them to someone else who was dirty? Do what the NCAA does and simply refer to him at every point in the record book as "VACATED".

Sambojangles

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:48 PM ^

Great points, and I really want to agree with you completely except then I think about it from the view of the guys who really were and are clean (if there are any).

If all those guys got to keep their titles and endorsement money and fame, what incentive does the next generation have to stay clean? If you have to throw out everyone in those races from '96 until recently, so be it, but at some point I think someone should send the message that the cheaters will be exposed, humiliated, and stripped. I might even go back and find the first guy who never had a positive test, whether he finished 2nd or 32nd, and give him the title. Who cares? Reward a guy for doing the right thing when it seems like so many were not.

Feel free to say I'm totally wrong about this, I've never really thought it through carefully to form a strong opinion.

stephenrjking

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:59 PM ^

It's a genuinely tough question. There aren't good answers. I don't think you can award it to someone else, because doping was so widespread you may well wind up giving it to someone who just didn't get caught.

Some cycling people have suggested a "come clean" moment where anyone can admit what happened and receive amnesty going forward, but I really don't know if that would work. 

It's easy to be a pundit like me and talk about how people cheated. Less so to fix what happened.

Engin77

August 24th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

Would the need for doping decline if the flat stage lengths were 120 km and there were four mountain stages rather than six?
Or are some teams/riders going to look for any edge, regardless of the difficulty?
Would the racing suffer?
I don't have imformed opinions on these questions, but I'd like to hear them discussed.

As a viewer on the west coast, I typically get up in time to watch the last hour or so; the impact on me is minimal, assuming the ending times remain on the current schedule. If the starting times are maintained, well, that's why I have a DVR.

Yeoman

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:58 PM ^

but what really pissed me off were the attempts to use his influence in the peloton to destroy the careers of those who spoke out against him or his doctors.

Strip his titles, expose and humiliate him--there's nothing they can do to him professionally that can make up for that.

Schembo

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:24 PM ^

It just seemed to good to be true that a guy who recovered from cancer could repeatedly win one of sports most grueling contests against others who were, more than likely, on steroids themselves. 

jmblue

August 24th, 2012 at 12:05 AM ^

The authorities are making progress against doping.  In the last couple of years, they've instituted a "biological passport" system that is much tougher to get around than the old pee-in-a-cup method.  It seems to be working, because in the last couple of Tours de France, the riders have been unable to reach the kind of wattage that the known dopers were attaining a decade ago.  The times/wattages recorded in the '90s and early '00s are regarded in much the same way as MLB home run records in the steroid era.

AA2Denver

August 24th, 2012 at 12:26 AM ^

I agree, it's getting better. Wattage is down even though bikes are stiffer than ever and training is supposed to be more sophisticated. 

It's a shame that this happens right in the middle of one the biggest US stage races. Thus putting a dark cloud on a race that Lance helped to create. BTW, I'm heading up to Boulder on Saturday where they're predicting over a 100,000 fans. Should be fun. 

wolpherine2000

August 24th, 2012 at 12:28 AM ^

...but now we are seeing riders facing multi-year suspensions for tiny amounts of products with low PE potential (Contador/Albuterol), or possible masking agents/diuretics (Schleck/Xipamide).  While the tests have gotten sensitive enough to dissuade many (most?) in the peloton from doping, they also have set the threshold so low that accidental exposure or intentional poisoning could potentially end someone's professional career.

Lordfoul

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 PM ^

Lance Armstrong won 7 straight tours.  This will not change in my mind.  I have no I idea to what level he "cheated" but if he was passing his drug tests, I mean... who really gives a shit?  There has never been and will (probably) never be a better cycler IMO.

It might be different if he had just eked out victory in those tours, but he didn't.  He dominated. No amount of doping or whatnot would have made him dominate at that level.  Doping gives one an edge in cycling.  Lance Armstrong had way more than an edge, he simply crushed all the rest.

This was a sad witch-hunt and I don't blame the guy for giving it up.  Being called a liar and a fraud every day must get tiring.  In the end, I think we all know who the best in the world was for those seven years.

stephenrjking

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 PM ^

The drugs and techniques he used did not have tests (and, in one case, still does not) when he was racing. Passing a drug test for a drug they cannot test for is not difficult. 

I don't believe he should be stripped of the titles, in part because he did indeed work harder than many other riders. Unfortunately, part of the way he won was to dope his teammates to provide better support in difficult situations, and that's part of what the USADA is addressing. 

Now, Jan Ullrich, his long-time rival, was just as talented as Lance and usually raced for a team (Telekom/T-Mobile) that was just as dirty as US Postal. Ullrich's inferior work ethic and preparation did indeed hurt him in his efforts to beat Lance, and that is part of why Lance won. You don't win 7 Tours by accident. 

Lance is not the best cyclist ever, though. No serious cycling fan has ever believed that; the best cyclist ever is Eddy Merckx. He was considered the best when we thought Lance was clean, he's considered the best now, he will probably never be matched.

Fun fact: Eddy Merckx has tested positive for illegal substances in competition. Isn't cycling fun?

LongLiveBo

August 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 PM ^

I read his book in a hospital room with my mother laying in bed getting treatment for cancer. I don't care if he did it or not because his book gave me hope. That is how I think of Lance Armstrong.