OT: Armstrong Drops Appeal, To Lose Tour Wins

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



August 23rd, 2012 at 11:20 PM ^

Read the statement.  Armstrong is a hero.  He is saying that he is tired of fighting the witch hunt, and is maintaining his innocence.

Armstrong is right: everyone will still know who won the Tour de France seven times.

I still can't figure out why the USADA wants to hurt one of the greatest athletes of all time, and someone who brought seven trophies from France back to the US.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:24 PM ^

The work he does for cancer is nice, and should go on in at least a limited way.

But he cheated. Everyone else did, too, of course, but he definitely cheated. And he has tried to destroy anyone who called him on it. He has destroyed them with lawsuits, with character defamation, with industry-wide blacklisting. 

The USADA is seeking the truth behind a vast, complex cheating operation that was among the most sophisticated in cycling, and, consequently, in sports. 

And it has found it.

snarling wolverine

August 24th, 2012 at 12:42 AM ^

What ulterior motive would the USADA have here?  I don't see any particular upside to them getting a retired cyclist's records stripped away.

I don't think the UCI is necessarily happy, either.  Armstrong did a lot for the growth of cycling in the U.S.  It was during his prime that the Tour de France became broadcast live on TV in this country for the first time.  Having his reputation damaged could turn people off.  If anything I'd think they'd want to sweep this under the rug.




August 24th, 2012 at 1:05 AM ^

...delivering a decisive PR blow in the long running argument between USADA/WADA and the intransigent UCI over control of cycling.  I'm not sure what else could have motivated the huge amount of resources that they've dedicated to chasing Armstrong and Postal.  Certainly pursuing a ban on a retired athlete isn't going to make the sport cleaner. 

That the UCI as a governing body is at least badly run, and more likely corrupt, goes without saying.  But it's one thing to pursue clean cycling, and something else to violate your own ethical guidelines to do it.  The "good guys" here at the USADA and WADA controlled labs have been very happy to leak information to the press, breach test confidentiality and notification protocols, and in some cases lied about chain of custody violations and provide dsamples to outside parties for review.  All of this in violation of their own policies, and without any consequences.  

As an example:

Lessons from Latasha Jenkins: You Can't Win When You Beat a Monopoly



August 24th, 2012 at 2:23 AM ^

I don't know about you, but I like to see some evidence that something is the truth before I declare it as such. And, as you probably know, there's yet to be one single shred of credible evidence that Lance cheated. As in, literally, none. No positive tests, no credible first hand witnesses, no obvious physical signs of cheating.

And I don't know about you, but I would try to destroy people who lied about me, too.


August 24th, 2012 at 9:58 AM ^

"No positive tests."

The drugs and techniques (autologous blood doping) that were most effective did not have tests for years, and autologous blood doping basically still does not. EPO, the wonderdrug that changed the face of the sport, did not have an effective test until midway through Lance's run of Tours, and even then it is only moderately effective. Once the test was establish, French magazine L'Equippe reported that some of Lance's samples from 1999 were retested and found positive, but since it wasn't a "legal" test it didn't have any effect.

It is widely known that testing in all sports can be beaten. After testing positive in the '08 Tour, King of the Mountains winner Bernard Kohl explained that he had been tested many dozens of times and had passed every one, despite being on the juice. Marion Jones, admitted doper who was exposed in the Balco investigation, has never tested positive. Neither has Barry Bonds, for that matter. 

"No credible first hand witnesses"

Actually, there are at least 10 credible first hand witnesses that were prepared to testify. In addition to Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis, who Lance has tried to destroy, it is widely thought that loyal teammates like George Hincapie, Christian Vandevelde, and Levi Leipheimer have given testimony and would testify in court. These men are currently in cycling, have little to gain by testifying, and a lot to lose--and with the trial upcoming, asked to be withheld from the US Olympic team this year.

Jon Vaughters, currently the owner of the Garmin-Sharp team, a team devoted to clean cycling, has officially admitted to doping during his cycling career, particularly while he was working for Lance and Johan at US Postal. He has deliberately avoided giving details about US Postal to the press while strongly implying that he is a witness in the investigation as well. 

These are not men who are out of cycling trying to make a quick buck. They are in the sport and they have nothing to gain. They are not going to perjure themselves to hurt Lance. They are eminently credible.

"No obvious physical signs of cheating."

I don't know what you mean by this. A soigneur (basically, staff assistant) for Lance early in his run has stated that she disposed of hundreds of used needles, and saw the marks on Lance's body from the injections, if that's what you mean. More likely you mean the "physical performance" results.

And the physical performance is evidence enough to condemn without a single witness. The watts/kg measurement is the definitive way to measure a rider's power output in climbs while correcting for differences in body mass. It can be calculated using available data, and since the Tour climbs many of the same climbs regularly, it can be used to compare riders from different years.

It is generally accepted that the "human limit" on a long climb like Alpe d'Huez or the Col du Tourmalet is 5.9-6.0 Watts/kg. At the extreme. All-time climbers Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador smoked the field in their race up the Tourmalet in '10 with the winner of the race at stake and averaged 5.9 W/kg.

In the EPO heyday riders were clocking 6.7-7.0 W/kg. That translates to differences of minutes over a long climb, decisive time differences in the Tour de France. Lance hit 6.7-7.0 with remarkable frequency, performances that simply aren't possible without altered blood.

The evidence is incontrovertible. 


August 24th, 2012 at 8:34 AM ^

Not that we weren't 90% sure he was cheating, but all those incredible performances....

IMO he just needed to lay low for a few years.  Everyone knew how dirty things were in that era and most respected his greatness, but every time he screamed about his perfect innocence from the mountaintops and then expected his (formerly cheating) teammates to back him just as loudly, he drove wedges between himself and the rest of the sport.  It's a shame.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:30 PM ^

It amazes me to see the lengths people will go to defend their countrymen whenever these doping cases come up.  

Armstrong doped.  This is not some great mystery being unveiled all of a sudden.  His watts/kg output on the Tours he won was incredibly suspicious, and in line with other known dopers.  For years he's fought tooth and nail against the allegations.  No one who has followed this will believe his explanation now.

You can argue that it's not entirely fair to give his titles to another rider when it was an era of rampant doping in general, but to believe that the guy was clean is nuts.



August 24th, 2012 at 2:07 AM ^

agreed. I don't personally know anyone who competively cycles or follows the sport that believes he didn't cheat.

my favorite is when he was accused of blood doping by floyd and lance would never directly deny it, he would only say "I have never used performance enhancing drugs". Blood doping of course doesn't require any performance enhancing drugs.

The dude is a badass cyclist and I loved watching him compete, but he at the very least blood doped with the rest of his team and the cycling world.


August 24th, 2012 at 2:33 AM ^

It amazes me how people can say with such certainty things that are so uncertain, so unproven, and so...well, false.

There's no proof Armstrong doped. If he had doped, it would have been proven. There would be, at the very least, circumstancial evidence. There is nothing, whatsoever, to suggest that he doped.

And before people start talking about how him giving up means he's guilty, just stop. That's nonsense. He's been worn down by a witch hunt operated by people who do not abide by laws or due process. He's fighting a fight he cannot win. USADA was going to continue to pursue him no matter what he did. He had nothing to gain - given that he's already retired, public perception is all that could theoretically be changed at this point, and it's safe to say the vast majority of people either blindly declare him guilty or realize that there's no evidence against him. He's better off, as he said, focusing on his family and his foundation.

"If I was being accused of something I didn't do, I would NEVER..." blah blah blah. Sure you wouldn't. Did you know that 25% of people who are exonerated by DNA evidence CONFESSED to the crime that they didn't commit after being worn down by relentless (and, in most cases, unethical and/or unlawful) interrogations? Lance Armstrong has been worn down by a system designed to make it next to impossible for him to clear his name. His choices were to continue fighting a fight he cannot win, with almost nothing to gain, or give up and focus on doing whatever it is that he wants to do with his life. I don't blame him for choosing the latter.


August 24th, 2012 at 8:58 AM ^

and everyone who follows it, knows it. They ought to just wipe the record books clean back to 1975 or something. (The same with many baseball records.)

Yes, when Armstrong was cycling I was glued to the TV. Now, if nothing else is on, I will watch the dopers compete with each other for a little while.

The sad thing is, they have at least made inroads to cleaning it up, but the stigma, for me, is still there.


August 24th, 2012 at 9:39 AM ^

Cycling's first PED related fatality was in the 19th century and there has never been a period since then where doping has not been part of the sport. Every great cyclist of the mid-Century (Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault) is known to have doped. It's one of the first extreme sports, and has a blue-collar, win at all costs history and culture that is different from any other professional sport and very difficult for Americans to understand.


August 24th, 2012 at 10:17 AM ^

@Candyman - So you think he can not only win 7 times, but destroy a peloton full of dopers and cheats without doping himself? That he can achieve power outputs never seen before, or since, and be totally clean? 

Remember, all the great champions he absolutely destroyed have since confessed or been outed as dopers themselves. It's just not plausible that he could trounce them and do that totally clean. Don't forget that a lot of his old teammates have also been busted - Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and I think a few others as well. 



August 24th, 2012 at 4:27 AM ^

from what ive read the only tests that are suspicious are the ones from after his retirement after his 7 tour wins. 

so if all the tests are clean durring the 7 tour wins, but ones after he came out of retirement are suspicious, why would he have ever come back to the sport? and who in the right mind would dope after knowing they would be the most scrutinized person ever? its a lose lose all around, i just dont know how they can argue this thing years after the fact. let it go. 


August 24th, 2012 at 7:57 AM ^

For some people there is no such thing as a credible witness or evidence when a hero has been accused of wrongdoing, and after all that's happened in the sporting world in the last year or so it amazes me that anyone would still be amazed by this.


August 24th, 2012 at 7:59 AM ^

so if anyone shows abilities above and beyond the rest of the athletes in their sport then they must be doping?  Look at Usain Bolt, it will probably be decades before his 100 meter time is broken.  The fact that he lowered it so significantly in such a short period of time means that he must be doping.  Bob Beamon must be doping also, as his long jump record stood for decades, as has the record of the guy who topped his record.  Its when anomalies like these occur that testing plays a huge role in determining if they are legit, and armstrong never failed a test


August 24th, 2012 at 11:47 AM ^

There's very little doubt in my mind that Bolt is a doper.  He was an average sprinter who suddenly improved dramatically around 2007 to become by far the best in the world, right at the same time when two of his training partners became world-class as well.  I don't know about Beamon, but I wouldn't doubt that either.  I'm certainly not defending track and field as a doping-free sport.

It's interesting to me that Armstrong's biggest defenders here are people who never post on any of the Tour de France threads.  I don't know if you understand the degree to which the sport was tarnished by doping in the 1990s and early 2000s, when there was no way of testing for many banned substances.  This is the point people miss.  Yeah, Armstrong "didn't test positive," because he couldn't  - cycling authorities didn't know how to detect a lot of these banned substances.  They do now.

Cyclists get busted all the time for doping.  What makes Armstrong different?  Because he's American?  Armstrong competed in an era in which it is universally acknowledged that doping was rampant, produced a watt/kg output consistent with known blood dopers, and has been accused of doping by the very people who would know - his teammates, trainers, doctors.   It takes a high level of willful neglect to buy his explanation. 



August 24th, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

Indurain isn't American, so the USADA can't go after him.  But I wouldn't be surprised if he was a doper as well - he also competed in the EPO era.  

It's not clear if Armstrong will actually lose his TdF titles, though.  The USADA does not have the authority to do that.  The UCI and/or ASO (the group that runs the Tour) will ultimately have to make that decision.



August 24th, 2012 at 2:27 PM ^

There were a handful of attempts to grapple with the argument (is Angel Hernandez/Heredia really associated with Bolt? how credible is the evidence there?) but mostly the comments consisted of avoiding all the crucial facts (what's up with Bolt's sudden and pretty much unprecedented performance leaps? is it a coincidence that his training partners had similar leaps at the same time? doesn't marion jones's confession pretty much kill any argument that dopers will always get caught?) and instead divert attention to alleged jealousy and even racism (a red herring here, it seems to me) and smears of any witness inside the doping/Balco world as not credible because they're inside the doping/Balco world.

It's a familiar cocktail.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:35 PM ^

I read it, I've been following this for 10 years and there's a lot more to this that you obviously don't understand. 

Here's a statement from LA's testimony: "It's not about the money. It’s also about the faith that people have put in me over the years."  People in bike racing and the cycling industry have thought he should come clean for years. Given the statement above I understand his thought process for not admitting guilt. Do I believe he doped, yes. There is enough evidence. However, I still think his accomplishments are amazing because EVERYONE was doping at the time. He also won a world championship before he had cancer. He had cancer. People are alive because of him. 

Why would the USADA do this? Governance of the sport. 


August 24th, 2012 at 2:38 AM ^

"Jeez, dude. The lack of evidence against the guy is bordering on overwhelming."

Fixed your post.

I'm not asking for a video of him doping. But is it too much to ask for a positive test, or a credible first hand witness, any physical symptom of doping...something. Anything. Just one piece of tangible evidence that he cheated. It doesn't exist. I think that says it all.


August 24th, 2012 at 3:33 AM ^

First of all he has tested positive. During the 99 tour he tested positive for a corticosteroid. secondly, blood doping by transfusions wouldn't lead to a positive test. Also epo testing in cycling didn't start until 2000 and even then it is difficult to test for. Plus epo only stays in your body for a few days but its effects last for weeks.

As far as first hand witnesses, the anti-doping agency has 10 eyewitnesses that were set to testify against him. 10 first hand witnesses. How are his teammates not credible witnesses?

They also have blood samples from 09 and 10 that are consistent with blood doping.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:37 AM ^

Disagree completely.  If he cheated, he is far from a hero.  If he didn't cheat, he would continue and continue to fight.  You know you would too - if all that you worked for is on the line.  He's a "hero" in overcoming cancer and for the good work he does, but no different than the many others that do the same.  He is no hero for his victories that came through cheating.  

His teammates and USADA both say he cheated + he dropped the appeal = he cheated.

That's how I see it.

People get screwed all the time and have to defend themselves even when they are innocent.  There is understandably reasons to drop appeals, but in this case, I can't imagine one.  It semi-ruins all that he's done; he's wealthy enough that he can pay for and focus on the appeal.  I just can't believe he'd drop the appeal unless he knows he can't win.... again, = he cheated.


August 23rd, 2012 at 11:01 PM ^

Is it okay to not like this guy even after all the Livestrong stuff?  Not really all that amazing.  Wonder if this fall from grace will be harder than Tiger's.

Clarence Beeks

August 24th, 2012 at 12:10 AM ^

I think you're missing the big picture with this. To A LOT of people, he's a hero for standing up for himself and defending his personal honor in the face of all of this scrutiny and ending this whole ordeal on his terms. I'm willing to bet he comes out of this just fine. People in this country tend to not like unaccountable authority.

snarling wolverine

August 24th, 2012 at 12:33 AM ^

I can understand considering him a hero for overcoming cancer to become an accomplished cyclist, but the way he's responded these last few years- by trashing the very people who worked with him all those years - has hardly been heroic.

It sounds like you're in that hardcore group that won't believe in his guilt.   All the banned guys  have a loyal following - there are plenty of Spaniards who insist Alberto Contador did nothing more than eat "tainted beef."  But the broader public is not going to be into a guy who had his titles stripped away and is banned for life.

Clarence Beeks

August 24th, 2012 at 12:40 AM ^

I'm actually not one of those hardcore defenders/followers that you describe. Not even close. I just don't believe the process here had been, remotely, fair and just.

"But the broader public is not going to be into a guy who had his titles stripped away and is banned for life."

I'll be curious to see opinions on this from the general public. I have a feeling you'll be wrong, but only time will tell.


August 24th, 2012 at 11:13 AM ^

No dispute on your larger point that Livestrong certainly enhanced Armstrong's personal reputation, but the Outside article was a pretty one-sided hatchet job.

Also, he founded the foundation before he really had much of a brand and prior to every winning a single TDF, which says at least a little about the integrity of his initial intentions.