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Lance Armstrong: Victim?
July 10, 2012 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Lance Armstrong: Victim? The embattled cyclist says USADA is out to get him—using powers that it really shouldn’t have. Brian Alexander says he’s right.
posted by fixedgear (122 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The article makes some good points, but the existing thread is still open.
posted by exogenous at 11:48 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are questions I honestly don't know the answer to: Can the USADA put Lance Armstrong in jail? Can they legally impose civil fines? Or is this the extent of their powers: "strip Armstrong of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005"?

This article seems to be a muddled mess. They say that the USADA is a non-government agency (true), but then it complains that they don't follow the US Bill of Rights (well, they don't have to, any more than Metafilter has to, or my boss has to).

Another bit of muddled argument:
If you’re a cheating athlete and you confess or point the finger at others, you can get reduced suspensions for your misdeeds, something Armstrong’s camp is accusing USADA of doing for other riders who’ll testify against him. (If you refuse to talk, your suspension could be lengthened.) Armstrong’s lawyers suggest that this amounts to illegal bribery.
"Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty." The USADA offering athletes a who snitch a reduced sentence isn't bribery, it's coersion. It's nasty, but it's both incredibly common AND (as far as I understand) legal.
posted by muddgirl at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is the judge a victim too?

Armstrong's complaint is far from short, spanning eighty pages and containing 261 numbered paragraphs, many of which have multiple subparts. Worse, the bulk of these paragraphs contain "allegations" that are wholly irelevant to Armstrong's claims and which, the Court must presume, were included solely to increase media coverage of this case, and to incite public opinion against Defendants.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2012


Interesting read! Good post.

Not a contrast, but here's a different angle on the legal aspects of Armstrong's situation from law professor Michael McCann: Armstrong faces tough road after lawsuit against USADA dismissed.
posted by cribcage at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2012


the point that article, and armstrong, is trying to make is really hard to take seriously when they go on and on about citizenship rights and that removing titles for a sports event is acting like a law enforcement body. he's not facing prison. and if it's his reputation he's worried about, anyone who has given the doping allegations a passing glace knows that his reputation is pretty smudged with or without the titles being removed.

as to the actual issue - i am of the mind that you should have to catch people doing wrong. he never failed a test. his ego must be immense to think that this would never catch up to him, but he's surely not the first powerful person with that blind spot.
posted by nadawi at 11:54 AM on July 10, 2012


Based on this article (which I found really interesting, thanks!) one of the parts that creeps me out the most is this:

If you want to work, you have to agree to the code. And by agreeing to the code and USADA’s authority, you tacitly agree to waive certain rights promised to you under the Constitution

There are clearly a lot of problems with what's been described in the post but the idea that in order to compete in certain areas which is some people's employment and livelihood you need to waive constitutional rights is deeply troubling to me. This is especially worrying because of the much-discussed conflation of governmental and non-governmental powers; the idea that because you're not ACTUALLY the government you don't need to respect people's rights while carrying out governmental tasks and especially meting out punishments to people you really believe deserve it is frightening to me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:56 AM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Armstrong's lawyers may indeed have a point. Too bad for Armstrong, the legalities may no longer matter.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:58 AM on July 10, 2012


This article seems to be a muddled mess. They say that the USADA is a non-government agency (true), but then it complains that they don't follow the US Bill of Rights (well, they don't have to, any more than Metafilter has to, or my boss has to).

.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how they 'have to waive constitutional rights', any more than, say, I have to.

When I agreed to work at my place of employment, I agreed that my company can monitor my office, my computer, etc. Is this a violation of my 4th amendment right? Of course not. Can they fire me based on testimony of my employers without letting me face them? Yes. Is this a violation of my constitutional rights? No. Does this suck? Absolutely. Is the USADA uniquely sucky in this regard? I don't know.

and especially meting out punishments to people you really believe deserve it is frightening to me.

But again, what punishments can they mete out? Beyond stripping titles? (the way a professional association, such as the Bar, can extra-judicially strip misbehaving lawyers from the license they legally need to work as a lawyer).


I'm honestly trying to understand this argument, and snark isn't making it any easier.
posted by muddgirl at 12:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl - it's like reading an EULA, or the fine-print on darn near any permission/release form you have to sign.
posted by k5.user at 12:04 PM on July 10, 2012


If you want to work, you have to agree to the code.

I know that is so totally outrageous that you have to adhere to a certain code if you want to work. They make me wear a hair net in the butcher shop. I have a constitutional right to wear whatever I want - and a few hairs in your ground beef never hurt anyone.

I am with Lance 100%
posted by Flood at 12:09 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


But again, what punishments can they mete out? Beyond stripping titles? (the way a professional association, such as the Bar, can extra-judicially strip misbehaving lawyers from the license they legally need to work as a lawyer).

The article says "If Armstrong is found guilty, he stands to lose property—not just titles, but money, too" -- most jobs can't retroactively take away money you've earned. I understand that part of the point is that he might NOT have earned it but I think there should be a pretty high standard in order to take that away. Also, I apologize if I was being snarky; I didn't mean to be.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: The difference is, I think (it's unclear to me too), that your employer can't

"force anybody to give testimony or produce evidence to an arbitration panel...and try to convince the arbitrators that your evidence is crucial to a case. The panel can then ask a court to issue a subpoena. You would be sworn in and, if you lie, you could be charged with felony perjury."

It is very confusing and I still think the answer to the question "Lance Armstrong: Victim?" is "Nope (rhymes with 'dope')" but the way that the USADA is set up is troubling.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know that is so totally outrageous that you have to adhere to a certain code if you want to work. They make me wear a hair net in the butcher shop. I have a constitutional right to wear whatever I want...

There's a big difference between wearing a hair net at work and having to provide blood.

On preview, I think (based on the article) I agree with MCMikeNamara -- Lance Armstrong doesn't really seem like a victim but I don't like it when minimally regulated bodies are given large amounts of power/authority. I think that's actually my only real point and, according to the article, that's what's happening with the USADA.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2012


In my experience, way too much authority all over our society has been turned over to these kinds of private entities that people think are part of Big Government. And they're often used for blatantly political ends.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:23 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


most jobs can't retroactively take away money you've earned.

"Earned" is an interesting term, here.
Armstrong earned a salary from USPostal for working for them. As a bike racer.
He also won prize money for winning bicycle races. Very big bicycle races! Ones so big they make the Super Bowl look like a scrimmage.

Now, if he won the races while breaking the rules, did he win the race? Therefore did he earn the prize money?

No.

(That said, I haven't actually heard of any prize money redistribution following doping convictions.)
posted by entropone at 12:26 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that USADA should have done all of this upfront before any of the FDA and FBI were trying to press actual legal charges. It would make sense that the standards of law would be more strict than the standards or sport.

But, of course, even as I type this, I realize they couldn't. Because the USADA got the information only because they were in all those investigations, which is why they are pressing charges. What a flustercock.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:30 PM on July 10, 2012


Armstrong is still trying to pretend he's not a doper? That takes ball.
posted by Decani at 12:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [29 favorites]


There's a big difference between wearing a hair net at work and having to provide blood.

There's a big difference between working in a butcher shop and being a pro athlete too.

The article is also unclear about what it means to 'lose money': they could just be talking about the continuing sponsorship deals that would all disappear instantly if he were convicted of drug use.
posted by jacalata at 12:32 PM on July 10, 2012


Lance Armstrong just might be a pillar of an old guard that needs to fall in order to turn a new page in cycling.

For starters let's get a few things out of the way: yes, cycling has a bad reputation. Yes, there are dopers. However, it both tests, catches, and punishes riders far more frequently than in other ball sports. Testing in other sports is a joke, as are the punishments. Is cycling's system perfect? Far from it.

The 1990s saw the rise of EPO, then CERA, then blood-doping as tests for EPO and CERA became more reliable. These techniques majorly affected the sport. Hugely. Because they majorly affected the bodies of the riders.

Now, use of this stuff is trickling away. As a fan, I can be reasonably sure that cycling is cleaner than it has been. How do I know? Well, average race speeds are slower, and more interestlingly, one can compare the speeds of ascents of major climbs, as well as mean ascent velocity (in VAM) and say that yes, today's professional cyclists are going slower than they were six years ago, or eight, or ten-twelve-whatever.

Good!

But there are still a lot of riders riding now who came up in the old system. Clearly, a lot of them have stuff they want to get off their chests. It sure seems that way. It seems that back then, they wanted a career. Now, with the possibility of cleaner sport - evidenced by the successes of outspokenly antidoping riders like Philipe Gilbert, and teams like Garmin-Sharp/Barracuda - they want to see that happen, too.

And it seems that Armstrong, with his ongoing insistence that he's clean, with his attacks on anybody who would dare speak against him, with his maintenance of the omerta, well, it seems that he'll have to fall for the sport to turn the page and really feel like it's off to a new start.
posted by entropone at 12:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


He may have a point about jurisdiction. The USADA technically can't strip him of his Tour titles. What they can do is make a recommendation to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), based in Montreal, that the revoke their certifications of his wins. WADA is a consortium of sports agencies (with the IOC playing a central role) that receives funding from a number of governmental and non-governmental sources around the world. Member organizations are bound by their decisions as a condition of membership, so they would request that the UCI and the Amaury Sport Organization (the organizers of the Tour de France) remove his titles.

But he is being investigated by an organization based in a country in which the alleged offenses did not occur, which is seeking to remove titles over which they technically have no authority. Were he to actually have been convicted of doping-related offenses in any country, that would likely be enough for WADA to impose sanctions, but he's already beaten the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD), and the Justice Department is not continuing its investigation, so this does seem like a backdoor way to strip him of his titles.

That being said, I think he was doped to the eyeballs, like most others associated with USPS/Discovery/Bruyneel's Astana, and like a significant portion of the pro peloton at the time. I think this is one of those situations where we'll simply need to put an asterisk next to the era- much like we do with the brandy and cocaine '20s and '30s; the amphetamines and painkillers (and sleeping pills, and champagne, and oysters, and steak tartare, and cousin sex, and whatever the hell else Jacques Anquetil was doing) '50s and '60s; the testosterone and slightly better amphetamines '70s; the EPO '80s and '90s; and the blood-doping Oughts.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:36 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I actually do think Armstrong might be a victim of political persecution, myself. Notice how we seem to have no unsullied liberal, humanist icons visible in American popular culture anymore? Armstrong might once have been a modern-day Paul Newman--a broadly popular figure with a well known liberal political outlook. But all those kinds of public figures are either dead or perpetually marginalized today. As far as I'm concerned, private entities don't have any rights. People do. And no person has the right to deprive anyone else of their rights. But this whole bullshit show is just too depressing lately, so just like whatever.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm on Sheryl Crow's side.

Wait, what?
posted by discopolo at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2012


Uh Oh, so all those medals and piles of prize money might have to bid a farewell to Armstrong?

I'll try harder, I promise
posted by Slackermagee at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2012


Can we please retire the myth that Lance "never tested positive?" It's one of countless assertions he and his camp make that has pretty clearly been debunked. Unless of course you believe the grand conspiracy he has spun that practically everyone who ever rode with him, worked with him or wrote about him has turned against him.
posted by stargell at 12:41 PM on July 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Unless of course you believe the grand conspiracy

You have to pick a conspiracy to believe either way. As the article you cited notes:
Hamilton paints a picture of a testing cover-up at the 2001 Tour de Suisse, telling CBS that Armstrong told him that he failed a drug test there. The UCI, cycling's governing body, has denied there was any such cover-up, but another former teammate, Floyd Landis, made a similar allegation last year in letters to USA Cycling as federal officials began investigating whether Armstrong was involved in a doping operation while the team was receiving sponsorship money from the Postal Service.
So no matter what you believe, it's conspiracies all the way down!
posted by saulgoodman at 12:45 PM on July 10, 2012


re: debunking "never tested positive," we can certainly go bigger and higher than the corticosteroid thing. Here's a great, science-heavy interview with a guy who helped develop a test for EPO:

'99 Tour urine samples re-tested in '05: "So out of the 87 usable samples that they gathered, they got 13 positives and 6 of them belonged to Lance Armstrong..."
posted by entropone at 12:46 PM on July 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is Armstrong a liberal?
posted by drezdn at 12:51 PM on July 10, 2012


He's strongly pro-separation of Church and State and has identified himself as a left-leaning moderate, so yes, by today's standards, he's a raving liberal.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on July 10, 2012


These are questions I honestly don't know the answer to: Can the USADA put Lance Armstrong in jail? Can they legally impose civil fines? Or is this the extent of their powers: "strip Armstrong of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005"?

Armstrong currently has a lucrative (not as lucrative as pro cycling so far as I know, but I don't follow these particular sports closely enough to say for sure) career as a pro triathlete, and he's barred from competing in triathlons as a pro until these allegations are cleared up, and would be barred permanently if retests reveal he's doped (again, I believe. He definitely had to suspend his tri career once the new investigation started a few months ago). So there is money at stake here.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:00 PM on July 10, 2012


I'm on Sheryl Crow's side.

posted by discopolo at 8:39 PM on July 10


Well, if it makes you happy...
posted by Decani at 1:05 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Weirdly, Armstrong has a main twitter account of @lancearmstrong but also seems to have a second twitter account, @juanpelota (kind of a jokey reference to his having had testicular cancer), which he has used to get into spats with other random folks on twitter.
posted by chinston at 1:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem is not JUST that he'd lose those titles from races so many years ago... He is also barred from doing any other professional races NOW. He is currently a triathlete, training for and competing in triathlons. Except, because this investigation is open, he is now barred to do that. It is affecting his life NOW. His sponsorships. His career. His livelihood. His every day life.

What does a professional endurance athlete do when he can't compete for the races he is training for now?

It has to be so frustrating for him. To me, this seems like harassment.
posted by jillithd at 1:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, what Snarl said.
posted by jillithd at 1:17 PM on July 10, 2012


Armstrong currently has a lucrative (not as lucrative as pro cycling so far as I know, but I don't follow these particular sports closely enough to say for sure) career as a pro triathlete

But losing your job is different from a civil penalty. I work, sometimes, as a contractor for the US government. If they suspect me of selling secrets to the Chinese, but can't prove it, my employer can still fire me, and bar me from working for their company again.

The USOC is a monopoly, unlike my employer, and that creates a problem where Armstrong can't compete anywhere (unlike me, where I could potentially get a different job or start my own business, unlikely though that may be). So that is definitely an ethical concern for athletic organizations. But the fact that they can bar Armstrong from competition does not seem extraordinary to me.

There's a big difference between wearing a hair net at work and having to provide blood.

Or urine? Which I am required do to work for a corporation that does work for the Government? And if I have security clearance, and fail a drug test, they are required to notify our US Security liason, which will almost certainly result in removal of a government clearance based on evidence obtained without a warrant?

(Again, I'll note that I'm not arguing that this is fair - I don't believe that anything in a capitalist society is fair to workers. I just don't think it's abnormal, and I wish the article had been framed less as "This is an atrociously unusal act" and more as "This is another example of how workers in any class can be exploited.")
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It has to be so frustrating for him. To me, this seems like harassment.

I don't understand how investigating the extent to which he broke the rules is harassment.

Okay, by the dictionary, it is harassment. It is, likely, persistently annoying to Armstrong. The case against him probably does create an unpleasant or hostile situation for him - but it stems from things that Armstrong did (allegedly).

So calling it harassment sounds akin to saying, "The police are harassing me, and now I can't get to work on time," after one has been speeding or driving recklessly.
posted by entropone at 1:32 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stripping Armstrong of his TdF victories would effectively end his career as a brand, and that would have a greater financial impact than any fine that USADA is likely to impose. His direct income from triathlon competition is also negligible in comparison to what his image is worth, but only as long as that image remains not wholly tarnished.

As for turning the page in pro cycling: this doesn't depend at all on whether Armstrong is found guilty by USADA. It relies on whether the UCI and other governing bodies decide to expand the biological passport and similar programs, and force teams to police themselves to a much greater extent than has been the practice anywhere outside of Garmin-Sharp/Slipstream (as far as I know). The action taken against Armstrong is terribly retroactive and won't affect current practice in the least. I understand why this might be the case, and would agree in principle that it's important to not let possible past transgressions slide, but as a deterrent I think it's a non-starter; they need to be more proactive and build ongoing bio-profiles of every rider through every stage of their careers.

Sadly, this would involve a *lot* of overhead, and may simply be too much to ask in the long run. But either the authorities in question keep trying to get ahead of the dope game, or we all just throw our hands up and figure out what else we want from sports in the 21st century, if not level playing fields.

Oh, re TFA: WADA and USADA are not and have never been meant to be judicial or arbitrating bodies; their mandate has always been limited to fighting doping by regulatory & technical means -- which may be too much of a challenge already, given their structure and relative funding levels.
posted by $0up at 1:38 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how investigating the extent to which he broke the rules is harassment.

Because at first glance it seems to go far beyond "we think you broke the rules" to "we know you broke the rules and we're going to get whatever we can to prove it".
posted by Talez at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to wonder whether it's a conspiracy between Armstrong and pro cycling all the way around, just to keep the sport in the news. Think about the last big non-Tour-de-France, non-doping story you saw about cycling on the front page of general sports websites or your local paper/newscast.
posted by Etrigan at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2012


Footnote from the Order to Dismiss:

Contrary to Armstrong's apparent belief, pleadings filed in the United States District Courts are not press releases, internet blogs, or pieces of investigative journalism. All parties, and their lawyers, are expected to comply with the rules of this Court, and face potential sanctions if they do not.

BURN
posted by bakerina at 1:50 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Stripping Armstrong of his TdF victories would effectively end his career as a brand...

This is a huge statement and I can't believe it's correct. I'm not sure there are many who believe his TDF victories are quote-unquote legitimate but then, there may not be many who believe any TDF victories are so. I think Armstrong's brand is bigger than "seven-time TDF winner"; I think he's done quite a lot for a lot of people, and his association w/ the fight against cancer outweighs (I imagine) his successes on the bike, even though of course he's got his critics there.

That being said, it must be spiritually exhausting to live like this. I think he's one of the most clearly guilty people this side of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and just to continually fight this day and in and day out-- the psychic tricks must be immensely challenging.
posted by xmutex at 1:58 PM on July 10, 2012


Regardless of Armstrong's guilt there is a solid argument to be made over USADA's exercise of power. Athletes under USADA "jurisdiction" are kept on a hellaciously tight leash. Olympic lifters competing for the US are under the tightest scrutiny of any Olympic lifters in the world. You are required to provide your location to the USADA all the time. That is, if you say "I'm at work from 9:00-5:00pm at Company X" and you take the day off to go to the beach without telling USADA, and they show up for a random test and can't find you, you get a citation. They can show up on any day, any time, if that's 2:00am on Christmas then you better be where you said you'll be at 2:00am on Christmas. And you also need to be able to pee on command in front of the person supervising your pee. I know of lifters who got citations because they were competing in Worlds instead of being in their home gyms!

After 2 (possibly 3) citations you're deemed ineligible and cannot compete for your governing body for 12-18 months. In the case of US Olympic lifting, where every Olympic lifting competition is run by the USA Weightlifting association and all USAW lifters are required to be in compliance with USAW, this means you are not going to be able to compete period. This is a devastating requirement for the high-level athlete. By 2015, it looks like WADA (and thus USADA) may be adopting regulations that mean anyone who trains with any lifter or any coach that's ever been busted will be ruled ineligible for competition. That means you can't be in the same gym as them--for smaller sports, where appropriate gyms, coaches, and training partners may be few and far between, this can render training for the not-busted athlete nigh-impossible. Not to mention the exclusion of the valuable information top athletes and coaches can provide to developing athletes--and yes, being busted for doping does not mean you have nothing of worth to contribute to other athletes.

It is an insane requirement that will wreak havoc on sports at every level. Whatever you think about doping, the level of control USADA (and WADA) have begun to demand over the lives of athletes and coaches is getting completely out of hand.
posted by schroedinger at 2:04 PM on July 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I used to believe.

Oh, man, I was so in the tank, so wrapped up in the story: a man so tough he beat cancer, the Tour, and everyone's expectations because he worked his ass off.

Whenever I'd argue about it with non-cyclists who thought Armstrong doped, I always brought up the balance of risk vs. reward. The risk of being caught doping outweighed the rewards of winning, because it would completely shatter Armstrong's reputation as Cancer-Beating, Alp-Crushing Badass. If he had doped, and it was discovered, the endorsements would vanish, the accolades would turn to curses, and all his good works would be tarnished.

Of course, there's a point where the rewards are so astronomical (rock star girlfriend! Bros with Matthew McConahey! Epic fuckton of cash! CANCER SURVIVOR MESSIAH) that it engenders feelings of invulnerability and entitlement. Everything I've read from Armstrong and his camp reeks of both, that he's above the rules and processes that were part of his job. And when he tweeted about USADA's allegations being "heinous," I replied to him: "What's happening in Syria is heinous. What's happening to you is inconvenient and career-ending, but not heinous."

You know what? Fuck Lance Armstrong.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:08 PM on July 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Stripping Armstrong of his TdF victories would effectively end his career as a brand...

This is like saying that prosecuting Bernie Madoff would effectively end his career as an investment fund manager.
posted by rocket88 at 2:11 PM on July 10, 2012


Well, it's like saying that, if some professional association of hedge fund managers cited Madoff and divested him of all his funds, that would end his career as a hedge fund manager.

When I put it like that, maybe there should be a professional association of hedge fund managers.
posted by muddgirl at 2:17 PM on July 10, 2012


Armstrong is still trying to pretend he's not a doper? That takes ball.

You know I suspect he did dope, but we actually have no facts in our possession, just what one of the parties said other people will testify to.

Joke's weak too.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2012


Stripping Armstrong of his TdF victories would effectively end his career as a brand...

This is a huge statement and I can't believe it's correct.


Well, I have a cycling fan's perspective, but he didn't become famous for beating cancer; he became famous for beating cancer and then winning 7 Tours -- greatly excelling his previous athletic performance. If he'd made a comeback but hadn't won, he'd be an admirable footnote; if they wipe his TdF wins now, for better or worse he's just not as remarkable, and worse, a known cheater who has spent years loudly denying his guilt. This doesn't really fly so much in the sphere of athletic endorsements, which is where his brand makes money (as opposed to the Livestrong foundation, which would no doubt take a hit but might be able to stand on its own de/merits). He'd still draw a bit, the way Pete Rose still signs baseballs and pulls the occasional WWE gig, but it'd be a big comedown.

This is like saying that prosecuting Bernie Madoff would effectively end his career as an investment fund manager

Well, if investment fund management works like star athlete endorsements, yeah, Madoff will not be drawing bids. I mean, I'm sure he's still able to do solid market analysis, and I guess someone might conceivably pay him to do so, but they wouldn't advertise it, would they?
posted by $0up at 2:31 PM on July 10, 2012


The belief in Armstrong's innocence is similar to a zealot's belief that man roamed the earth with dinosaurs.
posted by incandissonance at 2:38 PM on July 10, 2012


Is Lance Armstrong an asshole? For certain values of asshole, yes. Did he break the doping rules at some point in his professional career? Probably. Can the USADA prove it? Unknown. Is their response out of proportion with his supposed crimes? In my opinion, yes. Is this a last-ditch effort on their part because the statue of limitations for doping violations is about to run out? Almost certainly (although that doesn't mean they won't finally be successful, if the rumors about their eyewitnesses are true). I used to really root for Lance, but at this point I just want it all to be over and decided. I know people say doping is bad for the sport, but all this back and forth, guilty/not-guilty bullshit has got to be worse.
posted by Grafix at 2:43 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It occurred to me, would Lance Armstrong's sponsors be able to sue him if doping could be proven?
posted by Blasdelb at 2:53 PM on July 10, 2012


Armstrong didn't just win the Tour once, or even twice. He won it seven times. He outfoxed and outclassed the best riders in the world over a period of seven years in one of the most demanding competitions in the world. A competition that has some of the most stringest doping controls in sports. He never tested positive. He deserves his reputation. Let it go.
posted by deo rei at 2:55 PM on July 10, 2012


If anyone's wondering why the article mentions the Bill of Rights and other limits, or procedures, on the government it's because Armstrong is claiming the USADA is a "state actor." The USADA's association with the FBI and other government agencies and use of the court system all tend to strengthen the sense that they are acting in a quasi-governmental capacity.

The classic example is a company town where an employer owns everything. In that circumstance, the company is essentially subject to the same Constitutional limits as would the state government because they are performing a traditional state function; hence, they are subject to the First Amendment (to a point, they aren't fully considered government actors). The case I recall involved handing out literature on a public street in a company town, which was found to be a valid free speech exercise even though the company owned the street, the sidewalk, and everything else around.

The other case I recall involved NCAA, however that one went the other way and they weren't found to be a state actor because they were acting nationally rather than on the state level. I disagreed with that one, but you can Google it if you need more detail.
posted by PJLandis at 2:59 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


He never tested positive. He deserves his reputation.

Wow. There's still one of you guys left!
posted by xmutex at 3:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, if his Tour victories are taken away, who gets them? I vaguely remember that 2nd place in a few of those have already been caught for steroids? Anyone with more knowledge than me know?

I have this vague recollection of someone posting a comment on the blue about all the high-finishing cyclists that had been caught; anyone else remember this?
posted by inigo2 at 3:10 PM on July 10, 2012


The thing that has always bothered me the most about this is how quick people are to write off Landis and Hamilton, just because they're both admitted dopers. It's the exact same thing that happened when Jose Conseco started naming people, and after a few month of mocking, suddenly he was vindicated multiple times over. Maybe they're both lying, but neither really has a lot to gain by doing so, since their names are mud as far as pro cycling is concerned.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 3:11 PM on July 10, 2012


When I put it like that, maybe there should be a professional association of hedge fund managers.

Unfortunately, it would be run by hedge fund managers.
posted by Area Man at 3:11 PM on July 10, 2012


He never tested positive. He deserves his reputation.

I might be mistaken, but Jan Ullrich never had in-competition test that came back positive, and he was one of many Armstrong contemporaries who turned out to have been doped up to the gills. Not testing positive is not the same thing as not doping, hence the term "non-analytical positive".
posted by the painkiller at 3:12 PM on July 10, 2012


Wow. There's still one of you guys left!

Not sure why I'm being ridiculed. If it's because I'm ignorant of facts then I appreciate the effort and stand to be informed.
posted by deo rei at 3:16 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: Notice how we seem to have no unsullied liberal, humanist icons visible in American popular culture anymore

Ellen? Barbra Streisand? Oprah? Susan Sarandon?

I'm not sure where you get this idea that Armstrong is some persecuted liberal icon. He's buddies with G W Bush.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:17 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is no doubt in my mind that Armstrong has used doping. I don't think you can reasonably argue that Armstrong was not the best man in the Tour.
posted by deo rei at 3:18 PM on July 10, 2012


On one hand, I do think Armstrong was a colossal doper, and also happens to have a Texas-sized ego. His fellow cyclists never liked him much (unlike, say, Indurain, who seemed genuinely liked by his peers, despite being just as dominating as Armstrong in his time).

On the other hand: so what? EPO helps increase the amount of oxygen that blood can carry. It thus helps endurance athletes move their boundaries even farther. However, the muscle-straining effort, the single-minded exercise regime, the torturous pain, those remain the same, with or without EPO. Even if Armstrong took EPO, he'll still be one of the greatest athletes of all time, and not a "cheater" in any conventional sense. In any case, I've always considered the moral case against doping rather shaky: it wouldn't be "cheating" if it was simply allowed. And is it unhealthy? Riding three weeks at an average speed of 50 km/h, under sweltering sun and freezing rain, over the Tourmalet, the Val d'Huez or the cobbled roads of Northern France, eating 8000 kcal each night and burning them the next day...well, none of that is exactly what the doctor ordered.
posted by Skeptic at 3:22 PM on July 10, 2012


well then he did a disservice to himself by doping, because if he would have won without it, then what was the point? he apparently reasonably thought he wasn't the best man on the tour otherwise he would have done it clean.
posted by nadawi at 3:22 PM on July 10, 2012


one of the arguments against doping is that you aren't just arguing about those that are at the top of their specialty, already damaging their bodies with their routine - you're also discussing minors and college athletes who will never be at the top and will all the same ruin themselves with performance enhancing drugs. allowed or not, it's a ship that's already sailed probably, but that doesn't mean it's a useless fight with no merits.
posted by nadawi at 3:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


he apparently reasonably thought he wasn't the best man on the tour otherwise he would have done it clean.

Except that pretty much everybody else did as well...
posted by Skeptic at 3:25 PM on July 10, 2012


Blasdelb: It occurred to me, would Lance Armstrong's sponsors be able to sue him if doping could be proven?

It has already happened, sort of.
posted by Chuckles at 3:27 PM on July 10, 2012


Not sure why I'm being ridiculed. If it's because I'm ignorant of facts then I appreciate the effort and stand to be informed.

I wasn't ridiculing you. I'm sure even Barry Bonds has his believers somewhere. I'm just honestly surprised. Unless you are Lance.
posted by xmutex at 3:28 PM on July 10, 2012


A fairly objective attempt at investigating how many times Armstrong has been tested for PEDs. It is a lot lower than 500.
posted by Chuckles at 3:31 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except that pretty much everybody else did as well...

I tried this argument in Grade Three. Didn't go too well.
posted by philip-random at 3:45 PM on July 10, 2012


Swiss lab director confirms meeting Bruyneel and Armstrong over "suspect" samples.

I can't be bothered digging up the comment, but somewhere in The Clinic subforum of Cyclingnews you can find an interesting argument that looked into the various thresholds that were considered a positive at different times. The conclusion of that argument being that a) thresholds are at best arbitrary, and at worst intentionally designed not to catch people and b) the Tour de Suiss tests probably did constitute a positive, and the cover-up probably did happen.
posted by Chuckles at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2012


Not sure why I'm being ridiculed. If it's because I'm ignorant of facts then I appreciate the effort and stand to be informed.

I'd suggest at least reading the previous comments in this very thread.
posted by anagrama at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2012


USADA was created by the US Olympic Committee and also ended up with the contracts from every other NGB in the country. If anyone thinks they are a disinterested party and there is no politics or personal interest involved in this they're naive. USADA is a big money business with a monopoly and a ridiculous amount of power over athletes. They essentially run their own little court system, Armstrong's team cannot for example cross examine any witnesses. They have only ever exonerated one athlete and she quit sports over it all. And lost an Olympic berth and 2 years of earnings. And even if they USADA do lose they can simply bring the case again.

The truth is that even if USADA "wins" a significant number of people won't believe them and it will settle nothing. Same if Armstrong wins. So were all wasting our time here.
posted by fshgrl at 3:55 PM on July 10, 2012


It seems absurd to say that Armstrong isn't a great cyclist because he used doping. Armstrong is a great cyclist because he won the Tour seven times. That he used doping does not make him not a great cyclist.
posted by deo rei at 3:59 PM on July 10, 2012


That he used doping does not make him not a great cyclist.

I don't see where that was ever put forth here. Or anywhere.
posted by xmutex at 4:02 PM on July 10, 2012


I don't see where that was ever put forth here. Or anywhere.

It's implied when people say he should be stripped of his titles or even when a regulatory body threatens to do so a decade after the fact. The rules are there to ensure a certain outcome, and - but I repeat myself - it seems hard to argue that the outcome should have been different.
posted by deo rei at 4:08 PM on July 10, 2012


Lance Armstrong: My rivals were dopers. My trainers were dopers. My doctors were dopers. My hand-picked teammates were dopers. But I beat them all, and only covered up a couple of positive drug tests, and only publicly bullied a few guys who spoke out against doping, so how dare you accuse me of doping?
posted by grounded at 4:09 PM on July 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


With Hesjedal winning the Gyro d'Italia, we know that athletes who haven't doped are competing at the same level as those that do. I can no longer cynically dismiss it all and assume that riders like Armstrong were only taking the title away from other cyclists who dope. There are legitimate and honest athletes like Hesjedal who would have won instead and it disappoints me that they don't receive the recognition they deserve.
posted by jamincan at 4:14 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's implied when people say he should be stripped of his titles or even when a regulatory body threatens to do so a decade after the fact.

Bullshit. What's implied is that he cheated and violated the rules of his sport to win. Not that he wasn't great as it was. Everyone will admit Barry Bonds is a great, perhaps the greatest hitter ever. Steroids amplified that talent, but did not create it. Same w/ Armstrong.
posted by xmutex at 4:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just really don't see why this character assassination is necessary. It's like all Armstrong ever did was pop pills. The entire person, the endurance, the effort, the mania, everything that makes sports interesting, all that gets obscured by a cloud of bullshit about doping.
posted by deo rei at 4:19 PM on July 10, 2012


deo rei, the doping obscures it all because it negates the achievement.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:26 PM on July 10, 2012


In sport, you don't get to cheat because you think a rule is dumb, or you think it's irrelevant. In fact, you just don't get to cheat and hold your head up high. It's not character assassination if you decide to cheat and get caught; it's character suicide.

The fact that others do it and, presumably, some even never get caught... well, that's not going to win you much more sympathy than it did when you were five.
posted by gilrain at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems absurd to say that Armstrong isn't a great cyclist because he used doping.

He's a great-cyclist*.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The entire person, the endurance, the effort, the mania, everything that makes sports interesting, all that gets obscured by a cloud of bullshit about doping. lying, cheating, intimidating others into keeping quiet about it, paying off the others in a corrupt system, etc.
posted by jacalata at 4:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone will admit Barry Bonds is a great, perhaps the greatest hitter ever. Steroids amplified that talent, but did not create it. Same w/ Armstrong.

I say this fully admitting to knowing almost nothing about cycling, but here goes: it sounds like PEDs do a lot more for cyclists than they do for baseball players. I mean, PEDs can't make a player swing the bat harder (that's in the wrists), or improve hand-eye coordination. They can help you recover faster, and on the margin that probably led Bonds (and Sosa, and McGuire, etc.) to hit more home runs than he otherwise would have.

In cycling - especially these long events like the TdF - the whole thing is about fast recovery.
posted by downing street memo at 4:30 PM on July 10, 2012


And del rio, literally nobody is saying that Lance isn't the cyclist of a generation. He may even have been able to win all those Tours without doping. A lot of knowledgeable people think so, anyway. The point, and the reason why so many are upset, is that neither his fans nor critics will ever get to know that for sure because Lance decided to thumb the scale a bit, juuusst to make sure.
posted by gilrain at 4:34 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I think what he did was pretty neat, with doping or without. I also think most of it had to do with him cycling really fast, and that it's stupid to replace that with an image of a pill-popping cheater. It's not any truer and it doesn't make anything better.
posted by deo rei at 4:39 PM on July 10, 2012


i think the disconnect is that to most people, he's the one to blame for the shift in image. if he hadn't cheated no one would rightfully think he was successful because of cheating. that's on him.
posted by nadawi at 4:49 PM on July 10, 2012


With Hesjedal winning the Gyro d'Italia, we know that athletes who haven't doped are competing at the same level as those that do.

That's an interesting point- I agree that Ryder is probably not doping, and that generally, the peloton seems more balanced. At least in last year's Tour and the Giro this year, you're weren't seeing the kinds of explosive attacks in the mountains that take 5 minutes out of the other leaders, or a single team simply dominating the major stages. Last year's Tour was highly competitive, and came down to seconds. The thing is, the peloton in this year's Giro is not the same as the peloton in this year's Tour. Ryder was not riding against Evans or Wiggo in the Giro, and now we won't know how he'd really do against them. What I'm interested to see is if Sky can keep up the pace that they are currently setting. I don't know how they'll be doing over real mountains, or how they'll be feeling three weeks from now, but if they keep riding the way they are now (where their domestiques are crushing other riders), it's going to start looking like USPS or Phonak. This Tour will be interesting, but I wish Ryder had been able to continue.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:49 PM on July 10, 2012


At least in last year's Tour and the Giro this year, you're weren't seeing the kinds of explosive attacks in the mountains that take 5 minutes out of the other leaders, or a single team simply dominating the major stages. Last year's Tour was highly competitive, and came down to seconds

Except for the Giro of '11, but that was won by someone that claims tainted meat, so maybe fancy rose colored future glasses.

And dude, he totally dominated entire stages of that race. To the point of mockery.
posted by alex_skazat at 4:57 PM on July 10, 2012


It seems absurd to say that Armstrong isn't a great cyclist because he used doping. Armstrong is a great cyclist because he won the Tour seven times. That he used doping does not make him not a great cyclist.

If evidence surfaces that he was doping the entire time, those seven wins turn into disqualifications. That puts him behind any finisher who wasn't doping and didn't otherwise break the rules. If he's been doping every time, I would not even say he's ever actually finished the Tour; even a legitimate amateur who rode the whole thing could claim to be better.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:10 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that the average cycling fan is convinced of his guilt. Why is this? Bonds head and cleat size grew, Clemens retired every off-season, put on crazy mass and healed all injuries, so there were complimentary incriminating actions and evidence. What, other than dominance, has convinced cycling fans?
posted by karmiolz at 5:31 PM on July 10, 2012


most jobs can't retroactively take away money you've earned

"There will be financial ramifications – Armstrong collected a five million dollar bonus from the SCA Promotions insurance company for his winning streak at the Tour, and given that they only handed it over after a protracted legal battle following the 2005 L’Equipe doping allegations, they’re likely to want it back." [via]
posted by the painkiller at 5:45 PM on July 10, 2012


karmiolz: "It seems to me that the average cycling fan is convinced of his guilt. Why is this?... What, other than dominance, has convinced cycling fans?"

As I've said time and again, everyone who stood on the podium with Armstrong was busted, eventually. Doping in cycling gives such a massive advantage so that no clean racer could compete with someone doped to the gills.

Moreover, the technology for detecting doping inherently lags behind doping itself. For example, as far as I can tell, there is no way to detect use of recombinant EPO made using the human DNA sequence, apart from looking for dangerously high hematocrit. Any smart doper (or their doc) will constantly watch hematocrit to titrate dosage anyway. The steroid THG was also in use before it its use was detectable.
posted by exogenous at 5:59 PM on July 10, 2012


What, other than dominance, has convinced cycling fans?

Let's look at some of his competitors: Ulrich, Pantani, Basso, Mayo, the 1998 Festina team, the 2004 Cofidis team, all doping. And those were just (some) of the ones who got caught.

Then lets look at some of his teammates: Landis, Hamilton, Heras, Andreu.

Now, none of those guys got caught while they were on Lance's team. Do you think this is because they didn't start doping until they left the team, or because Bruyneel and Postal had the doctors and connections to cover it up?
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 6:00 PM on July 10, 2012


That's an interesting point- I agree that Ryder is probably not doping, and that generally, the peloton seems more balanced. At least in last year's Tour and the Giro this year, you're weren't seeing the kinds of explosive attacks in the mountains that take 5 minutes out of the other leaders, or a single team simply dominating the major stages.

I duno.. I wouldn't stick my neck out over Ryder. There is a little reason to think Garmin is a bit better than your average team on the doping front, but no other evidence at all. Meanwhile, taking 5 minutes out of your opponents isn't a sign of doping as far as I can see, it is a sign of being a better rider doped or not. Of course if a donkey starts taking 5 minutes out of a thoroughbred, you start thinking about enhancements, and that's where the argument about Sky's domestiques comes from. I do think that might be evidence. Being a better rider though, that doesn't mean anything one way or the other.

The only strong evidence, as far as I can see, is slower times. That suggests that the level of enhancement has been moderated, but it really doesn't say anything about the binary of "cheated" or "didn't cheat".
posted by Chuckles at 6:06 PM on July 10, 2012


Except for the Giro of '11, but that was won by someone that claims tainted meat, so maybe fancy rose colored future glasses.

And dude, he totally dominated entire stages of that race. To the point of mockery.



Yes, and then rather shit the bed in the Tour (perhaps he ran out of "steak"). But that's why I think it will be interesting to watch Sky, the way they are racing right now.

As a counter-example, Philippe Gilbert absolutely dominated the classics last year, and doesn't seem to have been doping either (although, you never know).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:11 PM on July 10, 2012


karmiolz: It seems to me that the average cycling fan is convinced of his guilt. Why is this?... What, other than dominance, has convinced cycling fans?

If one was inclined to be uncharitable, one might call this comment trolling.

Anyway.. I can think of 6 independent pieces of strong public evidence, I'm sure you are aware of them too:
  • Betsy and Frankie Andreu
  • Post dated TUE over cortisone positive in 1999
  • Back testing of samples for EPO that implicated Armstrong
  • Floyd Landis statements
  • Tyler Hamilton statements
  • Admission that Armstrong and Bruyneel met with the Tour de Suisse's doping officials
There is also tons and tons of circumstantial evidence. People finding syringes here there and everywhere, 20 minute showers while doping officials are knocking on the door, big donations to the UCI, and so on and so on...

Choose to dispute the veracity or validity of the evidence if you must, but don't try to claim that there is none.
posted by Chuckles at 6:15 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why did I forget to mention working with Ferrari.. Anyway, it does on and on.
posted by Chuckles at 6:17 PM on July 10, 2012


No, Chuckles, I was not aware of those facts. That is exactly what I was asking for, thank you for providing me with the information. I never stated that there was no additional evidence, I was honestly asking as I do not follow cycling.
posted by karmiolz at 6:24 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe it wasn't mentioned above, but USADA just put out a press release today that Ferrari, del Moral, and Martí were all given lifetime bans today as part of the USPS Team doping conspiracy. They chose not to contest USADA's charges and took the bans, and as the wonderful cycling blogger The inner Ring pointed out:
Important to note that Luis García del Moral, Pepe Martí & Michele Ferrari are not ghosts from a past era, they worked in sport until today.
Martí was a trainer and Ferrari and del Moral were the team doctors; if you remember, Ferrari was the doc accused by Simeoni of providing him with doping products, which then caused the famous Armstrong-Simeoni feud. del Moral was the doc that Trent Lowe went to last year or the year before that got him and Matt White fired from the now-Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda team. And all three didn't fight the charges!

Grounded said it best above: "Lance Armstrong: My rivals were dopers. My trainers were dopers. My doctors were dopers. My hand-picked teammates were dopers. But I beat them all, and only covered up a couple of positive drug tests, and only publicly bullied a few guys who spoke out against doping, so how dare you accuse me of doping?"
posted by The Michael The at 6:25 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


And some more info on that from Cycling News:
Dr. Michele Ferrari, already banned for life in Italy for alleged doping offenses, consulted with the US Postal Service team and Discovery Channel teams during Armstrong's seven-year Tour de France reign, USADA stated. The Italian was accused in this case of developing a mixture of testosterone and olive oil which was administered orally to help with recovery. He is also said to have advised riders on the use of EPO, of which he once famously said "is not dangerous, only its abuse. It's as dangerous as drinking ten litres of orange juice".

Ferrari is said to have helped riders to inject the drug intravenously to avoid having the EPO be detected in the urine test, as well as having assisted in blood doping. He provided riders with detailed training plans with codes indicating when EPO should be used and at what dosage.

Armstrong, as recently as last autumn, denied any involvement with Ferrari, stating that the Italian was a friend only - despite an international investigation that reportedly found otherwise.

Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, of Valencia, Spain, was the team physician for the USPS Cycling Team from 1999 through 2003. He was accused of helping cyclists including the USPS team members to carry out performance enhancing doping including blood transfusions as well as saline infusions to prevent the doping from being detected by blood value checks. Del Moral was also accused of administering EPO, testosterone, corticosteroids and human growth hormone, all of which are banned by the WADA code.

Del Moral was famously videotaped disposing of the USPS team's medical waste at the 2000 Tour de France, which journalists searched, finding packages of Actovegin, an extract of calf's blood. The incident was investigated by the French authorities, but was eventually closed without incident.

In 2011, a visit with Del Moral led Australian Trent Lowe to be sacked from the Garmin team along with his then-director Matt White, although Lowe insisted the visit was for a normal UCI health check.

Marti served as a trainer for the USPS and Discovery Channel teams from 1999-2007, and followed Bruyneel to the Astana Cycling Team. He was given a lifetime ban for delivering doping products "including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH) and cortisone from Valencia, Spain to locations where the riders were living in Europe including Nice, France and Girona, Spain and at training camps and cycling races", and assisting with the administration of "EPO, saline infusions for avoiding detection by drug testing and in transfusing blood to riders".
posted by The Michael The at 6:27 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm against doping. Barry Bonds is, in my mind, not the HR king; Hank Aaron is (not that it matters). That said, I make an exception for Armstrong if he is found to have doped, because *every* competitor of note on the Tour has probably also doped.

If Henry Aaron doped, I would call Babe Ruth the HR king. It's about cheating against the rules when *some* others aren't. If everyone is cheating by breaking some rules, and you;re breaking the same rules, who's advantage is it?
posted by Vibrissae at 6:30 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well that's the thing with Bonds, he was already a first ballot HOFer and a potential top ten all time player. Then age sets in, he sees a bit of a decline, but these kids are coming up just smashing the ball, taking the limelight and prestige away. Everyone for a generation in baseball was doping, seems like everyone for a generation in cycling was/is too.
posted by karmiolz at 6:33 PM on July 10, 2012


If everyone is cheating by breaking some rules, and you;re breaking the same rules, who's advantage is it?

Everyone who's cheating. It doesn't matter if it was every damned cyclist in the peloton: using banned PEDs is a violation of the principle of the sport. Maybe there were a few who weren't doping, or maybe they all were, but anyone who was doping should be investigated and banned.
posted by The Michael The at 6:37 PM on July 10, 2012


Armstrong refiles lawsuit
posted by fixedgear at 7:02 PM on July 10, 2012


using banned PEDs is a violation of the principle of the sport.

You inadvertently made a funny. Using PEDs may be a violation of the principles of sport, but they are in no way a violation of principles in the sport of cycling. Doping in cycling goes back as far as buying victories.
posted by Chuckles at 7:05 PM on July 10, 2012


Ellen? Barbra Streisand? Oprah? Susan Sarandon?

I'm not sure where you get this idea that Armstrong is some persecuted liberal icon. He's buddies with G W Bush.


You're missing the point. I chose Paul Newman as a point of comparison because I believe he represents a liberal icon that wasn't culturally divisive and who was embraced and liked across both sides of the political aisle. There was a time in the not too distant path when popular culture was full of unapologetically liberal public figures who were broadly respected and liked by the followers of both major political parties.

Note that all of the celebrities you mention above (and I'd wager any other prominent "public liberals" you can name these days) are viewed as divisive figures.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:08 PM on July 10, 2012


But that's a derail; this heated "did he" or "didn't he" conversation is much more entertaining.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:09 PM on July 10, 2012


You inadvertently made a funny. Using PEDs may be a violation of the principles of sport, but they are in no way a violation of principles in the sport of cycling. Doping in cycling goes back as far as buying victories.

Oh I'm well aware of the history of doping in cycling. That doesn't mean that it's not a violation of the agreement that riders agree to when they enter the professional (and, for that matter, amateur) ranks, and saying "hey, they've done it a lot" doesn't count as a valid excuse.
posted by The Michael The at 7:13 PM on July 10, 2012


Well that's the thing with Bonds, he was already a first ballot HOFer and a potential top ten all time player. Then age sets in, he sees a bit of a decline, but these kids are coming up just smashing the ball, taking the limelight and prestige away. Everyone for a generation in baseball was doping, seems like everyone for a generation in cycling was/is too.

I feel like this is the flip side to the argument that we should ban PEDs because of the trickle-down effect; there seems to be a trickle-up effect as well that I think also damages the game. Like, did Bonds need to juice? Fuck, of course not. Neither did Alex Rodriguez, probably, that kid played insane. Maybe Lance Armstrong was the best cyclist in the sport for a decade and would have been that way clean. But we don't know, because they all doped, and felt like they "needed"* to dope. "Game of Shadows" makes the argument that Bonds started juicing, basically, because McGwire and Sosa were juicing and no one cared and it pissed him off. I bet A-Rod and Armstrong doped for similar reasons- a (n incredibly egotistical, sure) sense that they were better than the guys who were already juicing, but they didn't want to take the chance, so sure. Pump me up, doc. I think that's also bad for the game.

*For values of "needed" that equal "didn't want to come in second, didn't want to be surpassed by younger players just yet, didn't want to not be the absolute best in the world while crushing their enemies beneath their pedal clips, etc" and not, you know, "needed to put food on the table for my children." I mean, I know we're talking about games here.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 7:25 PM on July 10, 2012


I make an exception for Armstrong if he is found to have doped, because *every* competitor of note on the Tour has probably also doped.

Armstrong's time is the record time. Armstrong on dope IS, in effect, the home run king of that sport. You defend Henry Aaron's record - but the non-doped record time of the tour is not worth defending? Why the contradictory position on the two records?
posted by Flood at 7:27 PM on July 10, 2012


And how exactly would you determine the non-doped record time for the tour...?
posted by inparticularity at 7:59 PM on July 10, 2012


If Henry Aaron doped, I would call Babe Ruth the HR king. It's about cheating against the rules when *some* others aren't. If everyone is cheating by breaking some rules, and you;re breaking the same rules, who's advantage is it?

You've managed to block out widespread amphetamine use known to have been widespread in baseball from 1960 on, then?
posted by xmutex at 8:08 PM on July 10, 2012


I liked the article.

It's points weren't really in regard to his guilt or innocence, but rather the process in which he is being accused.

If he did bad (or illegal) things, then great, punish him. But the US has a system of justice that is supposed to allow some fairness (confronting witnesses, the discovery process).

If the legal system (FBI, senate, other government entities) are engaged with this private entity (That seems to exist to fulfill treaty obligations), why can't they play by the rules of the game - you know, the constitution.

It's much more concerning that an entity is cheating the constitution than a person might be cheating at a game.
posted by el io at 11:40 PM on July 10, 2012


The way I see it is that doping was not just the norm but required in cycling until a few years ago. That was certainly the opinion of Graeme Obree who claimed he was sacked by cycling team Le Groupement after only 1 week for refusing to take the team drugs.

I would be astonished if Lance Armstrong never used any banned substance - I suspect that every top rider was back then. But if you strip him of his tour titles, I reckon you would have to go a long way down the field to find a rider who was actually clean. Cycling needs to accept that a lot of bad shit went on in the past, accept that, clean itself up and move on.
posted by bap98189 at 3:27 AM on July 11, 2012


On the other hand: so what? EPO...

When EPO was just coming out, the problem with it is that bike racers in their 20s were dying of heart attacks in their sleep.

Say doping is legalized - but only up until a point, because of the health risks of turning your blood into hematocrit-rich sludge. There are going to be riders who get to that point, and realize, oh, I'm not quite good enough yet, and then go flying past that point.

So while the notion of pharmasport is kicked around a bit, I don't see how it would make anything healthier or safer.

It seems to me that the average cycling fan is convinced of his guilt. Why is this? Bonds head and cleat size grew, Clemens retired every off-season, put on crazy mass and healed all injuries, so there were complimentary incriminating actions and evidence. What, other than dominance, has convinced cycling fans?

Positive tests, blatant cover-ups, and testimony against him from just about every former teammate.
posted by entropone at 5:40 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was dating a cyclist back when Lance was winning Tours. My boyfriend at the time was an angry, jaded fellow, yet he believed in Lance. His argument was something along the lines of "biking up a mountain is fucking painful. There is ton of mental strength in order to endure that kind of pain day after day." In his mind, he saw that because Lance had endured the pain and anguish of cancer, climbing those mountains was no big thing. I remember distinctly his story that Lance looked back at the peloton, all in pain, trying to climb up this mountain, thinking "Shit, I can do this." And didn't look back.

Pure hyperbole, but admirable nonetheless.
posted by jillithd at 6:46 AM on July 11, 2012


inigo2: So, if his Tour victories are taken away, who gets them? I vaguely remember that 2nd place in a few of those have already been caught for steroids? Anyone with more knowledge than me know?

There's a neat infographic to demonstrate how far back you have to go if you strip Armstrong of his titles to find a cyclist who has never been caught doping (with a bonus line for Contador).
posted by penguinliz at 6:59 AM on July 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I would be astonished if Lance Armstrong never used any banned substance - I suspect that every top rider was back then. But if you strip him of his tour titles, I reckon you would have to go a long way down the field to find a rider who was actually clean. Cycling needs to accept that a lot of bad shit went on in the past, accept that, clean itself up and move on.

This is my take, more or less, though I'm not sure about the last sentence. In a weird way, the state of big deal Cycling right now feels akin to where Europe was before WW1 -- corrupt to the core, on the slippery slope to Armageddon. Because it took two brutal wars and their inherent negation of so-called civility before any kind of effective new thinking (and behaving) could arise.

Not that anybody needs to die, but maybe a few decades worth of stats, awards, etc need to be expunged, replaced in the history books with flat BLACK pages and referred to as the PLAGUE YEARS (he said, realizing he'd crossed up his metaphors).
posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on July 11, 2012


... replaced in the history books with flat BLACK pages and referred to as the PLAGUE YEARS

And everybody who played any part in it (athletes, coaches, doctors, officials, sponsors) forever banished from the dinner table (he said, tossing in a third half-baked analogy).
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on July 11, 2012


If 'everyone doped' in those eras, and the USADA recommends that Armstrong be stripped of his, how about not giving anyone the title? Seems like a big signal that this really is not longer acceptable.
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


how about not giving anyone the title?

They need to have a sweepstakes. Hell, there's 7 Grand Prizes! Many shall enter, few will win.

Only open to legal residents of the United States, 18 years of age or older. Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited or restricted by law. Employees of USADA, and its affiliates, and immediate families in the same household are not eligible. All federal, state and local laws and occasional USADA regulations apply. Entrants must know how to ride a bicycle .
posted by yeti at 1:23 PM on July 11, 2012




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