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The Dirty Details of the Lance Armstrong Conspiracy
October 10, 2012 3:18 PM   Subscribe

The USADA published its "Reasoned Decision" in the case against Lance Armstrong. It reads, as The Inner Ring said, like "a crime novel" and has a cast of the who's who of American cycling: Hincapie, Zabriski, Andreu, Vande Velde, Hamilton (YT), Landis, Swart, Barry, Leipheimer, Vaughters, Danielson. 200+ pages. It's all there.
posted by thomsplace (134 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. That, and a shitload of drugs."
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:25 PM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


"overwhelming evidence": including "the sworn statements of more than two dozen witnesses, including fifteen professional cyclists, and a dozen members of Armstrong's cycling teams, including eleven former teammates, and his former soigneur (masseuse)"

If you can't even trust your masseuse, what's the world coming to?
posted by Egg Shen at 3:27 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only surprising thing about this is that there are still people out there who believe Armstrong has always been clean.
posted by Sternmeyer at 3:27 PM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Still, it breaks my heart.
posted by Mojojojo at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


He could be a character in Junky.
posted by Forktine at 3:35 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was just saying a few minutes ago that all the "drugs and steroids are bad" signs at my local 24 Hour Fitness are deeply ironic considering all the Lance Armstrong branding.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:39 PM on October 10, 2012


Large Businesses seem to function as if they're above the very rules they've agree to operate under all the time. Usually, one of the bigger casualties are the consumers of the product.
posted by alex_skazat at 3:43 PM on October 10, 2012


I mean,

You better cheat cheat,
no reason to play fair
Cheat, cheat or don't get anywhere
Cheat, cheat if you can't win

Nobody knows what they are doing
Beyond your control,
Friday night's a ruin
You wanna survive,
you better learn how to lie

Don't use the rules
They're not for you,
they're for the fools
And you're a fool if you don't know that
So use the rule you stupid fool

posted by alex_skazat at 3:48 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nice job putting this together, thomsplace. So much better than someone just hurredly slapping a few links up there.
posted by Danf at 3:49 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, it's not about the bike after all.
posted by Flashman at 3:56 PM on October 10, 2012


I prefer to take the approach of hurriedly slapping a lot of links up there.
posted by thomsplace at 3:57 PM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]



The only surprising thing about this is that there are still people out there who believe Armstrong has always been clean.


I am amused by the what's-the-big-deal-everyone-is-doing-it-excuse as if anything is validated so long as others are doing it, too.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:57 PM on October 10, 2012


This decision failed to mention the second gunman.
posted by goatdog at 3:58 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:03 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am amused by the what's-the-big-deal-everyone-is-doing-it-excuse as if anything is validated so long as others are doing it, too.

To wit:

"Twenty of the twenty-one podium finishers in the Tour de France from 1999 through 2005 have been directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations or exceeding the UCI hematocrit threshold. Of the forty-five (45) podium finishes during the time period between 1996 and 2010, thirty-six (36) were by riders similarly tainted by doping." (Page 7)
posted by thomsplace at 4:04 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am amused by the what's-the-big-deal-everyone-is-doing-it-excuse as if anything is validated so long as others are doing it, too.

It's not so much that as... well, who was the valid winner of these races, then? The highest place finisher who didn't dope? Who might that be? Does such a person exist, and is there any way to discover the identity of that person?

It's sport as a forensic mystery. Unsatisfying.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:06 PM on October 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's not so much that as... well, who was the valid winner of these races, then?

Me. I am the winner. I was not doping then, or now, and have no associations with anyone who was. Or anyone with any connection to any of the races at all!

I am the new seven-times world champion.
(Is it seven? I can't remember. So hard to keep track of all my epic victories)
posted by anonymisc at 4:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


"Figuring out the winner, if any, is hard. So...drugs for everyone!"
posted by DU at 4:09 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if you exclude doping rigorously and retroactively, just who "won" any pro cycling event in the past (two?) decades is very much in doubt. In some cases, I'm not certain if a winner could be determined at all.
posted by bonehead at 4:09 PM on October 10, 2012


But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?

Maybe because he was the team leader, the one who wired >$1M to Michele Ferrari, and as apparently as a result of this conspiracy won the Tour De France an unprecedented seven times.
posted by donovan at 4:11 PM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


The other night, I went to a party with lots of great dope and a bike race broke out.
posted by perhapses at 4:15 PM on October 10, 2012 [44 favorites]


But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?

The point of WADA (and USADA) is to keep sports as doping free as possible. To carry out that mission they have to convince potential dopers that if they do it they will get caught, even if its years later after they're retired. So it is certainly in their interests to get high profile targets.

Also, one of the reasons this is such big news is that Armstrong challenged this for so long and so publicly. Many other cyclists at the very top of their game have been caught and banned over the years without as much media circus.

One of the reasons this has been so visible in the US (which makes it look like USADA is out to get *him* specifically) is that he's *the* American cyclist of the last decade+. In American cycling there is a before/after Lance divide that doesn't exist in countries like France where cycling has been a serious sport for a long time. Obviously this means that the press go crazy about any scrap of news regarding him.

Finally, he was the team captain and apparently a major force behind the team's doping. That makes him a higher value target than an ordinary team member.
posted by atrazine at 4:17 PM on October 10, 2012 [16 favorites]


I think rather than trying to figure out a winner, hopelessly compromised events should themselves should be deemed invalidated. Armstrong therefore won a friendly, informal race, a race lacking any standing as a championship. There was no championship for that year.

Same for other sports - the university that covered up the child-abuser coach - don't try to claim that the team didn't actually win games that they actually won, simply remove those matches from being sanctioned as anything more than a field practice. It's only slight a semantic change, but more effective I think.
posted by anonymisc at 4:18 PM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?

Because he is one of the few who has been aggressively denying it? He probably would be in a much better position today if he came clean for the entire sport years ago--exposing a culture where they literally all did it. If he did that he would have been a member of the pack--nothing unique except for the fact that he won. But by denying it, and then sitting back as others came clean, he made a strategic mistake. He exposed himself. He became an enticing target. It is a small window into his ego and arrogance. How could he believe that the people of the world would continually conclude that everybody else is lying except for him? And he is still denying it? Amazing.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:21 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can doping be linked to his testicular cancer? Honestly asking.
posted by mrnutty at 4:23 PM on October 10, 2012


Same for other sports - the university that covered up the child-abuser coach - don't try to claim that the team didn't actually win games that they actually won, simply remove those matches from being sanctioned as anything more than a field practice.

I don't think that's a semantic change. To my mind, these two options are identical. That's what retroactively removing the wins means.
posted by stopgap at 4:23 PM on October 10, 2012


Can doping be linked to his testicular cancer? Honestly asking.

Yeah, there is ample speculation that Lance doped in the early 1990s with a variety of drugs that did have side effects like cancer. It seems possible that that is what got him in this in the first place.
posted by mathowie at 4:25 PM on October 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't think that's a semantic change. To my mind, these two options are identical. That's what retroactively removing the wins means.

They may well be identical, but they're never presented that way. I've always heard it described as retroactively removing a win, never as invalidating the games (which thus leads to a loss in win tally). That's what I mean by semantic difference - only the words change, but it's less confusing/stupid-sounding.
posted by anonymisc at 4:28 PM on October 10, 2012


But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?

For science. For super men of the future.

His power output and his recovery times were unreal. If a non-doping human can achieve that, then that human should be studied by scientists until the mechanism is found and understood. Imagine the potential if it could be replicated.

But he was just using some very expensive drugs. Nothing to see here, move along.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 4:28 PM on October 10, 2012


I've been doping like mad, but not competing in anything.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:29 PM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?

Read what the rider statements are saying. They were pressured by Armstrong and Bruyneel into doping.

If you go back and look at cycling history circa 1998/99 you'll learn about the Festina doping affair, after which people thought that the omerta had been broken and doping would play a lesser role. Some riders foolishly contested the 1999 Tour on less juice than usual only to be blown apart by the Armstrong/Bruyneel "rules don't apply to us" juggernaut.

Worse than all that though, look at Comeback 2.0. The cyclists of the 2008 era had just come through Operation Puerto, Landis, Vino, Rasmussen being sent home while in the Yellow Jersey, and they started riding cleaner (corroborated circumstantially by the rider statements released today). Armstrong looked at the current cyclists of the 2008 era, said to himself (and out load too) "Carlos Sastre is such a loser", and decided he'd come back doped to the gills and win. Thus showing "Poor Jonathan and his stupid little French team," just what cycling is really about.

Armstrong was one of the greatest all time, no question about it, but he also set the sport back by a decade.
posted by Chuckles at 4:34 PM on October 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Can doping be linked to his testicular cancer? Honestly asking.

Not causally. However, it is thought that his doping (or the masking agents, can't recall) covered up early indications of it. It is said that under normal circumstances his cancer would be caught and treated early.
posted by Chuckles at 4:39 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chuckles: "Armstrong was one of the greatest all time, no question about it, but he also set the sport back by a decade."

As a spectator, I can honestly say I don't care at all about doping in the sport. I'd actually rather watch a TdF from back in the early days when it was a free-for-all and everyone was on amphetamines. So I'd be cool with Lance setting the sport back a century, since it would be much more fun to watch.

Then again, I'm also fully in favor of all kinds of ridiculous ideas, like drunken pro football and returning the duel to its rightful place in politics.
posted by mullingitover at 4:39 PM on October 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


The entire business of banning doping is ridiculous. If you're going to have top tier competition, go all out.
posted by bfranklin at 4:41 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I rode at least one charity century ride around that timeframe, and I didn't use any drugs*. I could be the TDF champion of 2000!

*as far as you know.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:50 PM on October 10, 2012


I am too emotionally invested in the myth of Lance Armstrong to be at all rational about this. I think that a number of people feel the same way. It is like the USADA is standing outside Macy's during the holiday season and telling the kids there is no Santa and they guy dressed up like him is just a paid performer.
posted by humanfont at 4:54 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was really surprised to hear Barry's admission. He was always such a clean-cut lad ...
posted by scruss at 4:59 PM on October 10, 2012


I have a friend who rides semi-pro. He got clearance from the related cyclying association to take a decongestant or some such thing (they cleared the ingredients in it), and then he got tested before a race, they found some traces of the ingredients that they had previously approved, and he got suspended by that same organization. I shit you not.

A plague on all their houses. Fuck them all. There's no respect to be had, on any side of cycling, except for those riders who just want to ride because they love it. Fuck the rest.
posted by sutt at 5:04 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't be the only person to think of this, but if everyone is doping anyway, it's interesting to think of what the ramifications might be if we had an Olympic event where anything goes. Would there be an enthusiastic audience for it? Would we realize that we're as craven as the Romans and the Gladiators, feel sickened, and turn away? Would anyone participate, or are they only interested in ruining their health for the sake of winning as long as it's a lie?
posted by HotToddy at 5:15 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The entire business of banning doping is ridiculous. If you're going to have top tier competition, go all out.

So young athletes who are talented and love the sport should have to make the choice between taking drugs with potential side or long-term effects or giving up on having a career? I think trying to stamp out doping is a worthwhile pursuit.
posted by ghharr at 5:17 PM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I am too emotionally invested in the myth of Lance Armstrong to be at all rational about this

I think that's the real culprit here. People want heroes. Corporations help manufacture the standouts. It really shouldn't be surprising to people that a majority of the athletes in the upper echelons are doped, but it always is. Then there's denial which feeds back into their facade of superiority. How times do we have to go through this to find out these people are doing whatever they can to get us much fame and money as possible?
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 5:22 PM on October 10, 2012


The entire business of banning doping is ridiculous. If you're going to have top tier competition, go all out.

It's tempting, but the end result is that a whole bunch of young atheletes will push it too far, and get themselves killed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:26 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's tempting, but the end result is that a whole bunch of young atheletes will push it too far, and get themselves killed.

If nothing else, I think you could say that the current methodology, which is to ban almost everything, but fail to actually achieve that, still manages to keep things in check. People dope themselves to the limit of detectability, which is still far far less than the maximum science is capable of.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:43 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Has any actual evidence been released? All I hear is "we are going to publish this long report soon, soon, soon" - has anybody actually looked at the evidence carefully? I don't follow sports, so maybe whoever this guy is is guilty, but I've heard them poisoning the well for years.
posted by EnterTheStory at 5:51 PM on October 10, 2012


I know I always say it in these threads but the answer is doping and non-doping tiers, and a bust to the doping tiers is permanent.
posted by unSane at 5:53 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can doping be linked to his testicular cancer? Honestly asking.

If so, this would be positively (sic!) Shakespearean.

Someone write a rap about it!
posted by alex_skazat at 6:05 PM on October 10, 2012


Has any actual evidence been released? All I hear is "we are going to publish this long report soon, soon, soon" - has anybody actually looked at the evidence carefully? I don't follow sports, so maybe whoever this guy is is guilty, but I've heard them poisoning the well for years.

You missed the link to the 200+ page report, didn't you?

Or is that not enough?
posted by alex_skazat at 6:08 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]




Two thoughts:

Read "The Secret Race" by Tyler Hamilton. It'll make you cry if you love cycling. It's a really well written book, but ever so sad.

And, a thought my friend posted on Facebook is worth repeating.

Today Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, and Tommy Danielson joined Jonathan Vaughters and others by admitting to past doping as professional cyclists.

They didn't fail doping tests, they admitted the transgressions in hopes of cleaning up the sport. Thanks for the honesty. Now, noncyclists: You can talk crap when your favorite team's football players or baseball players man up. Remember that in the 80's the biggest line was the Dallas Cowboys with an average of 220 lbs per lineman, and as for baseball, really? Do I have to even point out the obvious?

posted by cccorlew at 6:21 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing, though. If he didn't dope, he wouldn't be Lance Armstrong. He'd just be some random guy who enjoyed riding a bike. He never would have won the Tour de France once, he may not have even ridden in it. And I don't just mean because he had an unfair advantage, but rather no one would ever win the tour without doping in that timeframe.

So, IMO it's kind of ridiculous to go after him over this. Anyone who won would have to be a doper.

If everyone is doping, vilifying the guy who happens to dope the best is kind of lame.
posted by delmoi at 6:22 PM on October 10, 2012


Things like this:
when looking at the blood data from 2009 and 2010 USADA’s expert Professor Gore concludes the approximate likelihood of Armstrong’s seven suppressed reticulocyte values during the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France occurring naturally was less than one in a million.
... really mean that if you tested everyone in the USA, you'd get around 300 people with those results. Top athletes are freaks, by definition. If you presume that unusual physiology is evidence of cheating then you'd exclude practically everyone. I think he's probably a doper, I'm pretty sure there's better evidence in the report; but lazy statements like the one above actually cast doubt on their findings.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:22 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think that's a semantic change. To my mind, these two options are identical.

I don't think that's true at all, in either case. Imagine you were a cyclist who managed, without the use of drugs or other performance-enhancing substances, to make it into the Tour de France one year. It's the pinnacle of your career, even though you placed rather poorly—for you, just making it into the competition was the victory. Would you think invalidating the entire race was the same as taking away Armstrong's win, or the finishes of all the other doping athletes? Through no fault of your own, and with no recourse, your biggest cycling accomplishment was ripped from you.

Similarly, in the Sandusky case, Penn State may have had an unfair advantage, but that doesn't mean the opposing team should be robbed of the fair game they played. Invalidate the win, sure, but recognize that at least one team competed in the proper spirit of the sport.
posted by chrominance at 6:32 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew he was dirty in 2004 based on this event, summarized on Wikipedia as follows:

More famous is Simeoni's argument with Lance Armstrong. Simeoni was treated by doctor Michele Ferrari, who was also Armstrong's doctor. Simeoni testified in court that he began doping in 1993, that Dr. Ferrari had prescribed him doping products such as EPO and Human Growth Hormone in 1996 and 1997, and that Ferrari also gave him instructions on how to use these products.[3] In 2001 and 2002 Simeoni was suspended for several months for doping use. Armstrong reportedly called Simeoni a "liar" in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde in July 2003. Simeoni lodged a charge of defamation against Armstrong and demanded €100,000. Simeoni announced that he would give any money awarded to him to charity.

On the 18th stage of the 2004 edition of the Tour de France, Simeoni gapped up to a breakaway of six riders that posed no threat to Armstrong's leading position. Nevertheless, Armstrong followed Simeoni, which prompted Armstrong's rival T-Mobile Team to try to catch the breakaway. This would not only catch Armstrong but also eliminate the stage winning chances of the six riders in the original breakaway. The six riders implored Armstrong to drop back to the peloton, but Armstrong would not go unless Simeoni went with him and the two riders dropped back to the peloton.[4] When Simeoni dropped back, he was abused by other riders, including Andrea Peron, Filippo Pozzato and Giuseppe Guerini. In a later interview, he told of how Daniele Nardello also abused him, calling him "a disgrace".[5] Afterwards, Armstrong made a "zip-the-lips" gesture but later said that Simeoni "did not deserve" to win a stage. Two days later was the final stage, which is usually a slow stage in which the Tour winner (in 2004 it was Armstrong) already celebrates his victory. But in this stage Simeoni continuously attacked, to take revenge for what Armstrong did three days before, but was reeled in every time by Armstrong's team.[6] Simeoni was again insulted and spat at by other riders after this.


So, aside from the drugs, he is a dick. [And I was a big fan until that day.]

I was more upset when Tyler Hamilton admitted to cheating.
posted by probablysteve at 6:53 PM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


How is taking steroids any less harmful to young athletes than teenagers working out 2-3 times a day instead of having a normal, healthy upbringing?

In order to ban doping, you have to ban professional sports, and anything less is a half-measure. I wouldn't take the moral high ground when you're cheering on athletes who still have to essentially give up their lives for the chance of success.
posted by The Ted at 7:03 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


You need to ban doping because it creates intense downward pressure on developing athletes. If the top athletes all dope and the second-tier athletes all dope you have to start contemplating doping as a teenager in order to realistically make it as a professional cyclist.

The elite guys knew what they were doing, they had access to top notch doctors, crooked yes but still people that can limit the negative consequences of doping. Second-tier and developing athletes can't afford that sort of medical support so they end up buying crappy treatments from exceeding shady sources and don't have the training to minimize consequences.

That's why you have crap like high school level athletes dropping dead every so often. Sure an underlying heart condition is probable in some cases but pushing the envelope with these sorts of drug therapies can cause havoc on the body's systems.

I'm not going to pretend that athletics especially at the elite professional level is ever going to get clean again especially with the financial consequences attached to preforming at an elite level but if you can keep the barrier to entry relatively high you help discourage it from being spread to the high school and junior high level.
posted by vuron at 7:24 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


delmoi, have you read anything about this at all? Did you read my comment up thread, or do you just disbelieve what I was saying? Armstrong was the ring leader, he colluded with the governing body so that he could get away with stuff others couldn't.

And anyway, the others were gone after long ago. If it is alright to nail Ullrich, Vino, Rasmussen, Landis, then why should Armstrong be the only one who doesn't get nailed?
posted by Chuckles at 7:34 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, IMO it's kind of ridiculous to go after him over this. Anyone who won would have to be a doper.

So, you didn't read any of the important links, did you?

He didn't just dope. He bullied people who didn't. He pressured people into doping. He created a ring. He was the biggest and baddest-ass doper. He bribed officials to look the other way. He wasn't just another doper in a culture of doping - he WAS the culture of doping.

He wasn't Wallace, caught up in the game, dealing drugs in the pit. He was Avon fucking Barksdale, calling the shots.
posted by entropone at 7:39 PM on October 10, 2012 [23 favorites]


You need to ban doping because it creates intense downward pressure on developing athletes. If the top athletes all dope and the second-tier athletes all dope you have to start contemplating doping as a teenager in order to realistically make it as a professional cyclist.


And because it's fucking dangerous.

Every time there's a thread about doping on the blue, somebody comments about how they should just have a doping category, as if it's a really fuckin' original comment.

But they shouldn't.

Because if they did then people accept extremely dangerous risks to get ahead.

In the 1990s, there were cyclists, kids, in their early 20s dying of heart attacks because they doped and turned their blood into sludge.

Because they wanted to be pros.
posted by entropone at 7:42 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Perhaps regulating the use of performance enhancing drugs is less harmful to athletes than an outright ban.
posted by deo rei at 8:08 PM on October 10, 2012



So, aside from the drugs, he is a dick. [And I was a big fan until that day.]


This is not news. Armstrong is famous for pulling the "Do you know who I am?" card and butting to the front of the line at coffee shops in Austin. He's Austin's #1 most famous dick. If there were a podium for dickitude, he would be on the top tier.
posted by thewalrus at 8:14 PM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


To say that Lance has brought this upon himself is one truth in it all.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:18 PM on October 10, 2012


So, IMO it's kind of ridiculous to go after him over this. Anyone who won would have to be a doper.

It's only ridiculous if they're only going after Armstrong. But no, they went after everyone who doped, and Armstrong is simply the last to be caught.

They're being consistent, so it's not ridiculous.
posted by anonymisc at 8:24 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, IMO it's kind of ridiculous to go after him over this. Anyone who won would have to be a doper.

This is not about retribution, this is about deterrence. Going after Lance makes it clear to other cyclists that even if you are a big fucking deal, you will go down for this eventually.

How is taking steroids any less harmful to young athletes than teenagers working out 2-3 times a day instead of having a normal, healthy upbringing?

Well, only one of those things causes organ abnormalities and early death. Working out 2-3 times a day just takes up all the free time that normal kids like me used to play video games.

I knew a few people in high school who went on to enter the lower competitive reaches of their respective sports (as in, made it to a national pre-selection Olympic swim team but not selected for the Oly squad and played for two years in a lower division Dutch soccer club respectively). They certainly sacrificed a lot of normal activities growing up, but the swimmer is now in med school and the footballer is about to finish his undergrad degree. Their sporting careers didn't last forever and topped out below the top tier, which is what happens to most serious young athletes and now they will have mostly normal lives.

Like me, they're 27 and despite sacrificing a few years of the so-called "normal life" they'll go on to have totally conventional careers. Again, this is the norm and not the exception for young athletes. It's easy to look at the top tier of pro-athletes (and in most Olympic sports even those people will never make much money from their sport) and forget about the steeply sloped pyramid of outcomes below them.
posted by atrazine at 8:27 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Livestrong!
posted by destro at 8:31 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


In It's Not About the Bike he said that the doctors had never seen a bigger VO2 max (amount of volume your lungs can hold). That said, morality is like water, it eventually flows into the surrounding structure of incentives.
posted by saber_taylor at 8:56 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?

So, what, you propose we go after the last place guy for doping?
posted by Bovine Love at 9:13 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, what, you propose we go after the last place guy for doping?

Sure, in addition to the first place guy. Just because you're bad (or less good) at cheating, doesn't mean you're not cheating. I mean, I can see the deterrent value in taking down the giant, but it feels intrinsically unfair to me that all the other dopers get off so lightly.

How is taking steroids any less harmful to young athletes than teenagers working out 2-3 times a day instead of having a normal, healthy upbringing?

The former could kill you, or cause severe organ damage. The latter may just make you a slightly dull conversationalist.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:25 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is taking steroids any less harmful to young athletes than teenagers working out 2-3 times a day instead of having a normal, healthy upbringing?

Researching such questions takes only a few seconds with Google, and prevents you from looking stupid.

Here's a classic article - let me know if you want something more scientific.

Choice quotes:

"[...] those weren’t tumors at all. They were something rarer by far but no less deadly: steroid induced cysts or thick sacs of blood and muscle, that were full to bursting - and growing."

"WARNING MAY CAUSE PELIOSIS HEPATIS, A CONDITION IN WHICH LIVER TISSUE IS REPLACED WITH BLOOD FILLED CYSTS, OFTEN CAUSING LIVER FAILURE… OFTEN NOT RECOGNIZED UNTIL LIFE THREATENING LIVER FAILURE OR INTRA ABDOMINAL HEMORRHAGE OCCURS… FATAL MALIGNANT LIVER TUMORS ARE ALSO REPORTED."

"Here I was, a church going, gentle Catholic and suddenly I was pulling people out of restaurant booths and threatening to kill them just because there were no other tables open. I picked up a three hundred pound railroad tie and caved in the side of some guy's truck with it because I thought he'd insulted my wife."

"“I knew it was all over for me,” Michalik says. “Every system in my body was shot, my testicles had shrunk to the size of cocktail peanuts. It was only a question of which organ was going to explode on me first. "

"In fact one of my friends in the business, a former Mr. America, used to get so horny on tour that he’d fuck the Coke machine in his hotel."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:06 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Similarly, in the Sandusky case, Penn State may have had an unfair advantage, but that doesn't mean the opposing team should be robbed of the fair game they played. Invalidate the win, sure, but recognize that at least one team competed in the proper spirit of the sport.
Does anyone actually care about their loss record? In theory these teams average win rate will have gone up. Not that history is actually even being changed, they're just numbers in books.
How is taking steroids any less harmful to young athletes than teenagers working out 2-3 times a day instead of having a normal, healthy upbringing?
Potential serious medical side effects? The problem with totally unregulated doping is that too much will seriously fuck you up. On the other hand if it's done carefully with a doctor's help it might not be as harmful. One of the things Lance would do to get around testing was use levels that were so low as to be undetectable. I would imagine that would reduce the health risks as well.
delmoi, have you read anything about this at all? Did you read my comment up thread, or do you just disbelieve what I was saying? Armstrong was the ring leader, he colluded with the governing body so that he could get away with stuff others couldn't.
I hadn't read your comment, no. I'm skeptical that he and his team were really the only ones not doping. If there's strong evidence that the other teams weren't doping that would certainly make him a bad guy.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 PM on October 10, 2012


I've tended to take the "if everybody's doping, fuck it, let 'em dope" line in past conversations, or agreed with the notion of a doping tier or what-have-you, but this thread has got me thinking a lot more seriously about the incentives and pressures on young athletes, semi-pro types, etc. People mess themselves up badly enough already without officially sanctioned incentives to go for all the chemical help they can get. I've got to agree that it would be massively unfair to create a situation where doping is a fundamental requirement of participation in high-level athletics.

(Not that it's not evidently a requirement at the professional level for most things these days. I'm thinking of my friends who played football in highschool or at the small college level, for example.)

teenagers working out 2-3 times a day instead of having a normal, healthy upbringing?

There's plenty to be said about how fucked up the culture of athletics is, in general, and once upon a time I was the kid hiding in the equipment room reading a novel during phys. ed. classes, not the kid practicing name-your-sport for 3-4 hours a day.

That said, I think people who talk shit about athletes for working really hard to get good at something that's physically and mentally difficult have perhaps missed out on one of the more profound experiences that is available in the course of an average life.
posted by brennen at 10:12 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Greatest fraud in sport history. He not only doped, he was king of dope, he doped more, better than anyone, he pioneered doping culture to new heights. He was the Godfather of dope.
posted by stbalbach at 10:53 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"But they were ALL using! So why the witchhunt for Lance in particular?"

Ok, I will try to summarize. cccorlew already mentioned a bit of this. Tyler Hamilton's recent book explains this all and reads like a spy novel. It's amazing, and a quick read. I really recommend it for anyone even peripherally interested in pro cycling. So, why Lance?

- Because Lance was the ringleader (among US cycling athletes). His team was always structured for his win, meaning he dopes, , anyone who rides with him needs to dope, and it put those riders at risk for his gain

- Because he bullied, ridiculed and ousted those caught for doping/those who clean, even when he was doping alongside them

- Because he used his connections in the UCI to sabotage competitors (tipping them off about doping) while still doping

Basically because he's the guy that pressured other riders into doing it, brought on team doctors for the sole purpose of doing it, while making hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorship money for being the all-american athlete and destroying the lives and careers of teammates and competitors who spoke out against it.

(all this, of course, allegedly, and substantiated by testimony)

Additional info you may want to know:

- The implications of the testimonies are that this spreads far wider than cycling. Some of the doctors caught had hundreds of blood bags for athletes in sports ranging from tennis to soccer.

- The athletes seem to hate this reality, but not participating in it allows the cheaters to win, repeatedly, especially Spain. From what Hamilton describes, doping tech is so far ahead of testing that it's not a game of cat and mouse, it's a game of not being lazy. So you're at the mercy of morals and honor, and when it comes to winning the TdF, all that goes out the door — careers are on the line.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 10:54 PM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can doping be linked to his testicular cancer? Honestly asking.

Yes.
posted by stbalbach at 10:56 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just refreshed. Yeah, the greatest fraud in sports history is a pretty succinct way of putting it. When you combine this situation with Outside's expose on Livestrong (summary: they're really not doing much for Cancer at all, just "cancer awareness" as they call it), we have yet another clever Texas businessman taking everyone's money.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 10:57 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Typo. I meant "those who came clean"
posted by Señor Pantalones at 11:03 PM on October 10, 2012


Can doping be linked to his testicular cancer? Honestly asking.
posted by mrnutty at 12:23 AM on October 11


Eponysterical!
posted by Optamystic at 11:05 PM on October 10, 2012


I am too emotionally invested in the myth of Lance Armstrong to be at all rational about this

I'm the opposite. I've always found Lance Armstrong an obnoxious, unsportsman like douche and while I don't really have all that much problems with doping in the Tour, it does give a bit of schadenfreude to see him brought down. He has always been such a sore winner in that USA number 1! way that is guaranteed to put my hackles up, while also being such a sanctimonious prig.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:37 AM on October 11, 2012


I would like to mention here that cycling enthusiasts have set up a defence fund for Paul Kimmage - the former cycling correspondent for the Sunday Times and a long-time campaigner against doping in cycling - who is being sued by the UCI:
Last year The Sunday Times published Kimmage's interview with Floyd Landis suggesting the UCI was complicit in protecting his former teammate Lance Armstrong (pictured above), the disgraced cyclist who was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in August.

Kimmage is being sued by the UCI, its president Pat McQuaid and its honorary president Hein Verbruggen. If successful he would be forced to take out full-page advertisements in L'Equipe, The Sunday Times and the Swiss paper Le Matin to apologise.
The interview is not available online, but a full transcript is.

Landis lost his defence against the UCI in a similar case, meaning he is now forbidden [PDF] from saying that the UCI, Pat McQuaid, and/or Hein Verbruggen:
  • have concealed cases of doping
  • received money for doing so
  • have accepted money from Lance Armstrong to conceal a doping case
  • have protected certain racing cyclists
  • concealed cases of doping
  • have engaged in manipulation, particularly of tests and races
  • have hesitated and delayed publishing the results of a positive test on Alberto Contador
  • have accepted bribes
  • are corrupt
  • are terrorists
  • have no regard for the rules
  • load the dice
  • are fools
  • do not have a genuine desire to restore discipline to cycling
  • are full of shit
  • are clowns
  • their words are worthless, are liars
  • are no different to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
  • or to make any similar other allegations of that kind.
posted by smcg at 2:52 AM on October 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


David Millar's Racing Through The Dark is also a great read on what happens when a rider who starts out clean succumbs to the pressure of drugs on tour.

(And also scotches the "everyone was doing it" myth delmoi talks about. All the riders on the tour knew who the "clean" winner was, as well as the stated winner. Often it was Millar)
posted by fightorflight at 3:55 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...and finally, congratulations to 2007 Tour de France winner...Haimar Zubeldia? Oh, come ON now! That's not even a real name!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:46 AM on October 11, 2012


So young athletes who are talented and love the sport should have to make the choice between taking drugs with potential side or long-term effects or giving up on having a career? I think trying to stamp out doping is a worthwhile pursuit.

False dichotomy. Ban doping at all but the top tier levels, and make doping at lower levels an instant lifetime ban from top tier competition. At that point, only top tier amateurs will have incentive to dope, to make it over the hump into big money competition. This is a better situation than what we have currently.

The young kids are already doping.
posted by bfranklin at 5:24 AM on October 11, 2012


Has any actual evidence been released? All I hear is "we are going to publish this long report soon, soon, soon" - has anybody actually looked at the evidence carefully? I don't follow sports, so maybe whoever this guy is is guilty, but I've heard them poisoning the well for years.

You missed the link to the 200+ page report, didn't you? Or is that not enough?
posted by alex_skazat at 9:08 PM on October 10 [2 favorites +] [!]


Not for me. This is all hearsay and innuendo and assumption. I have yet to see any actual test results that show proof of doping. Calling someone a witch may get them hanged, but still does not prove them a witch.
posted by Gungho at 5:41 AM on October 11, 2012


Because all sports at all levels are ultracompetitive endeavours with financial incentives to dope, gotcha.
posted by ersatz at 5:41 AM on October 11, 2012


Ban doping at all but the top tier levels, and make doping at lower levels an instant lifetime ban from top tier competition.

This is on the frontier between "ignorant" and "trolling", so I'll be generous and call it ignorant. If you read cycling memoirs going back through the generations -- much further back even than Tom Simpson dropping dead on Mont Ventoux -- then the common thread is the extent to which racers are utter guinea pigs for whatever crazy shit is pushed their way, whether it's dosing levels or drug combinations without any kind of check on immediate safety or long-term repercussions. (Willy Voet's memoir also made clear that the soigneurs were employed as guinea pigs too.)

It's a fundamental error to apply the premise behind, say, legalising pot to the use of PEDs in the assumption that you could build a safeguarding framework around it. PED use in top-tier cycling may have been honed to an art by Armstrong and Bruyneel, but it was still an art based upon witch-doctoring, third-hand information and experimentation.
posted by holgate at 5:57 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, people are doping for Cat 4 races and Grand Fondos now. The only way to stop it is to stop it at the top. Yes, there will always be times when the technology gets ahead of the testing (although with biological passports, this is increasingly difficult), but without some sort of controls, the risk becomes incredibly greater to everyone involved. It's an arms race.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:04 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also want to put this out there:

They weren't all doping. Lance took clean athletes and turned them dirty in order to support him. HE was the one saying, "You won't make it unless you dope," so that he could have doped riders supporting his racing.

Lance bullied and silenced riders who spoke out against doping.

"Everyone was doing it"? Not so - not in 1999. After the previous year's Festina affair, a lot of dirty riders were scared clean. Lance showed up at the Tour, doped to the gills, laughing about his UCI connections, and beat the piss out of them.

I've tended to take the "if everybody's doping, fuck it, let 'em dope" line in past conversations, or agreed with the notion of a doping tier or what-have-you, but this thread has got me thinking a lot more seriously about the incentives and pressures on young athletes, semi-pro types, etc.

I appreciate that.

I'm an elite cyclist. And I'll be damned if I want to hear people telling me that my sport should be dirty because there's no other way, because what I hear is, "You should do awful, dangerous shit to your body." I don't want to show up to the National Championships and realize that I can only be competitive the way I should be if I spend my money and health on drugs.

the common thread is the extent to which racers are utter guinea pigs for whatever crazy shit is pushed their way,

Indeed.
And, in the "Reasoned Decision" document (I get the extent that some commenters here are opining without having bothered to absorb some of the relevant facts), there are reports of the US Postal team doctors injecting riders with drugs and not telling them what they were - basically, yes, treating their racers like guinea pigs. Experimenting on them, for the greater glory of the team, and of the main beneficiary of all of this: Armstrong.
posted by entropone at 6:05 AM on October 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


Also, ban Johan Bruyneel for life.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:07 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a bit of perspective read about Arnold Schwarzenegger and the gang at the original Gold's Gym. Those guys have all either had heart surgery or died early. That's what doping pressure does.

I grew up in the seventies. Fit people were generally very slender like distance runners and there was just the occasional hyper-muscular person. Maybe 1 in 200 or 300. Now I live near Boystown in Chicago and I honestly think there is a coming epidemic of heart failure due to steroid thinned heart walls that is going to steamroll the gay community as these people age.

That's worth trying to stop even just from a health care cost perspective never mind the awful human toll.

This isn't even just about sports because it has clearly spread to infect even non-competitive fitness standards and it is going to disable those who should have been the most able.
posted by srboisvert at 6:11 AM on October 11, 2012


I have yet to see any actual test results that show proof of doping

The accusations include detailed testimony about how the tests were subverted, athletes warned about them in advance, etc. If you are waiting on corrupted tests showing positive results you will wait a while. It may be better to consider a different standard to use in judging this.
posted by fightorflight at 6:50 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is on the frontier between "ignorant" and "trolling", so I'll be generous and call it ignorant. If you read cycling memoirs going back through the generations -- much further back even than Tom Simpson dropping dead on Mont Ventoux -- then the common thread is the extent to which racers are utter guinea pigs for whatever crazy shit is pushed their way, whether it's dosing levels or drug combinations without any kind of check on immediate safety or long-term repercussions. (Willy Voet's memoir also made clear that the soigneurs were employed as guinea pigs too.)

This is a function of doping being illegal. If it's legal and out in the open, you open team owners to liability claims for pushing dangerous drugs on athletes. PEDs should be team sanctioned medical treatment for athletes.
posted by bfranklin at 6:56 AM on October 11, 2012


The accusations include detailed testimony about how the tests were subverted, athletes warned about them in advance, etc. If you are waiting on corrupted tests showing positive results you will wait a while. It may be better to consider a different standard to use in judging this.
posted by fightorflight 23 minutes ago [+]


Like hearsay and innuendo? Why is everyone so Gung-Ho about pinning Armstrong with the doper label? Gaming the testing system may not, on the surface, be the correct thing to do, but perhaps the testing system needed to be better. If it wasn't good enough to catch an "Infamous Doper" like Armstrong, maybe it was because there is no there there.
posted by Gungho at 7:17 AM on October 11, 2012


This is a function of doping being illegal. If it's legal and out in the open, you open team owners to liability claims for pushing dangerous drugs on athletes. PEDs should be team sanctioned medical treatment for athletes.

The problem with this is that many of the PEDs cause long-term harm to riders, even if "properly" administered. If you try to ban those PEDs and limit the sport to "safe" PEDs then you're back in the same position - teams trying to use the banned PEDs to give them an advantage over the teams that only use the safe PEDs, and then you're straight back to drug testing etc. for the banned PEDs.
posted by Mattat at 7:20 AM on October 11, 2012


Um, because the evidence against him took 200 pages to SUMMARIZE. I think once you have two dozen witnesses corroborating something, it goes beyond hearsay and innuendo.

Not to mention the analyses of Dr. Michael Ashenden, an expert in the field of doping analysis, who's concluded that Armstrong definitely doped.

Interview re: 1999 blood samples.

Armstrong's reticulocyte levels have a 1/1,000,000 chance of being naturally occurring.

Not to mention Armstrong tests positive for corticosteroids.
posted by entropone at 7:24 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I used to hate Armstrong, but once everybody started picking on him, I felt bad for the guy. I don't ever get much schadenfreude out of anything even metaphorically resembling mob persecution because the most dangerous/ugly thing in the world to me is when mobs of people start enthusiastically picking on someone in particular.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:27 AM on October 11, 2012


The problem with this is that many of the PEDs cause long-term harm to riders, even if "properly" administered. If you try to ban those PEDs and limit the sport to "safe" PEDs then you're back in the same position - teams trying to use the banned PEDs to give them an advantage over the teams that only use the safe PEDs, and then you're straight back to drug testing etc. for the banned PEDs.

I didn't say anything about banning the dangerous ones. I said PEDs should be team sanctioned medical treatment. If an athlete seeks unsanctioned treatment, that's on them, and they're accepting the risk. If team doctors administer dangerous treatment, they're accepting potential liability.
posted by bfranklin at 7:28 AM on October 11, 2012


bfranklin: If team doctors administer dangerous treatment, they're accepting potential liability.

The obvious counter-argument to this is basically exactly the same at Mattat's from before: how do you know what the team doctor is administering? What stops them lying about administering a dangerous drug?

Some of them have already lied about this and it's really difficult to prove, that's pretty much the point of this thread!
posted by smcg at 7:36 AM on October 11, 2012


I didn't say anything about banning the dangerous ones. I said PEDs should be team sanctioned medical treatment. If an athlete seeks unsanctioned treatment, that's on them, and they're accepting the risk. If team doctors administer dangerous treatment, they're accepting potential liability.

How is this different from the current position where all PEDs are banned? At the moment as all PEDs are banned you can say that if an athlete takes a PED then the risk's "on them" and if team doctors administer any PEDs then they're accepting potential liability.

The problem is that, without strict and effective anti-PED enforcement, the pressure on teams and riders to take harmful drugs is huge. You can't win without taking them, because the next rider is taking the PED. As pointed out above, this filters down through the different tiers (the person pushing to get into a top tier team starts taking harmful PEDs in order to be competitive).

The benefit of anti-PED enforcement is that it creates an incentive not to take PEDs - the more effective the anti-PED enfocement, the greater that incentive.
posted by Mattat at 7:42 AM on October 11, 2012


The obvious counter-argument to this is basically exactly the same at Mattat's from before: how do you know what the team doctor is administering? What stops them lying about administering a dangerous drug?

What stops any doctor from lying? Loss of license, I'd imagine. We're throwing the baby out with the bathwater because of a few Machiavellian doctors? There are medical protocols to ensure the patient receives the appropriate and specified treatment.

Some of them have already lied about this and it's really difficult to prove, that's pretty much the point of this thread!

Doctors being evil mad scientists is a very separate issue from whether or not top tier athletes should be able to use PEDs with informed consent. Conflating issues does not amount to a rebuttal.

The problem is that, without strict and effective anti-PED enforcement, the pressure on teams and riders to take harmful drugs is huge. You can't win without taking them, because the next rider is taking the PED. As pointed out above, this filters down through the different tiers (the person pushing to get into a top tier team starts taking harmful PEDs in order to be competitive).

It already is, and player unions don't tolerate enhanced testing that could actually be effective. It's a choice between sham testing that catches late and infrequently (or in the case of weightlifting, barely at all), or just bringing it all into the open.

I don't have a problem with pressure to take PEDs at top tier levels. The pressure is _already_ huge. And again, enforcing a lifetime ban for positive testing at lower tiers is a huge incentive for anyone short of minor league that's on the bubble to avoid taking them. I am inherently skeptical of any "think of the children" argument.
posted by bfranklin at 7:52 AM on October 11, 2012


Like hearsay and innuendo? Why is everyone so Gung-Ho about pinning Armstrong with the doper label? Gaming the testing system may not, on the surface, be the correct thing to do, but perhaps the testing system needed to be better. If it wasn't good enough to catch an "Infamous Doper" like Armstrong, maybe it was because there is no there there.

Everyone is gung-ho about it because -- as was said for years -- he was not only doping, he was bringing the rest of the sport down with him *and* robustly denying it all the while, with a band of supporters shouting down any opposition on the grounds that "he passed all the tests (that he bought)!". Yes, that incites a certain level of pushback.

"May not be the correct thing to do" is like ... I can't even come up with a good enough analogy for how mildly that is putting it.

My smoke detector doesn't have a battery. That doesn't mean there's no fire just because it doesn't beep.
posted by fightorflight at 7:53 AM on October 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is simply wrong to use the terms hearsay and innuendo to characterize and to dismiss the massive amount of evidence in the report. There are numerous direct witnesses to Armstrong's own use and to his leadership of a powerful, organized doping ring. You either don't know what the terms mean (they're not the equivalent of "evidence that undermines my position") or you are wilfully ignoring the record.

But hey, guess what? He apparently didn't start using EPO until after 1995's Milan-Sanremo, and I don't recall seeing evidence of PEDs before that, so it's possible after all that he won the '93 worlds clean! So it's not all bad!
posted by chinston at 8:07 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a function of doping being illegal.

No, it isn't. It is a function of doping being witch-doctoring, a concept that you seem unwilling to accept in spite of ample after-the-fact evidence from participants. "Team sanctioned medical treatment" is just moving the goalposts in an attempt to satisfy a certain bullshit libertarian template.
posted by holgate at 8:15 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, it isn't. It is a function of doping being witch-doctoring, a concept that you seem unwilling to accept in spite of ample after-the-fact evidence from participants. "Team sanctioned medical treatment" is just moving the goalposts in an attempt to satisfy a certain bullshit libertarian template.

I'm not ignoring that evidence at all. I'm arguing that if you bring it above board with transparency, you eliminate the problem. As I said, doctors experimenting on patients is a separate issue from whether or not PEDs should be permitted.
posted by bfranklin at 8:26 AM on October 11, 2012


Like hearsay and innuendo?

innuendo: a veiled or equivocal reflection on character or reputation
hearsay: evidence based not on a witness's personal knowledge but on another's statement not made under oath

INAL but the witness testimony seems to be neither hearsay nor innuendo as they are for the most part regarding things the witnesses actually experienced, did or had done to them.
posted by srboisvert at 10:26 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm arguing that if you bring it above board with transparency, you eliminate the problem.

And I'm arguing that it's a meaningless abstraction. How do you verify that it's "above board with transparency", beyond pinky-swearing? You're just moving the threshold without eliminating the competitive urge to exceed it.
posted by holgate at 10:29 AM on October 11, 2012


How do you verify that it's "above board with transparency", beyond pinky-swearing? You're just moving the threshold without eliminating the competitive urge to exceed it.

I get your point here, but we have criminal laws and medical protocols designed to protect against this sort of thing. It's far easier to pass bylaws for a sport insisting that medical treatments be reviewed by an independent doctor than to try and produce a comprehensive testing plan for PEDs that will make it past a players' union. Providing people with safe medical care is something we have a pretty good handle on and pretty good models for. There aren't any really good implemented models for addressing banned PEDs.
posted by bfranklin at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2012


Like hearsay and innuendo?

You need to review the legal definition of hearsay, because you are badly mistaken.
posted by Chuckles at 10:37 AM on October 11, 2012


saulgoodman: while I agree on the ugly nature of the mob mentality, that's not what's happening here at all. In fact, the mob still overwhelmingly supports Armstrong for some reason.

"When we asked the CBC Community if Lance Armstrong deserved to be stripped of his titles, a whopping 70 per cent of respondents said no."

If this report doesn't convince people, nothing ever will, probably not even an admission from the man himself.
posted by ryanfou at 10:46 AM on October 11, 2012


It's far easier to pass bylaws for a sport insisting that medical treatments be reviewed by an independent doctor than to try and produce a comprehensive testing plan for PEDs that will make it past a players' union.

I disagree ("players' union"? US-centric much?) but that's neither here nor there. In the context of pro cycling -- that is, in the context of this post -- the distinction between "above-board use of PEDs" and "experimentation" is bullshit, because nice "safe" levels of EPO and clembuterol still means calf-blood extract and HGH and pixie dust and cortexiphan and monkey brains and whatever the soigneur heard about from another soigneur and maybe an extra dose of EPO just for good luck on the side.

I sometimes make the comparison between doping in pro cycling and money in NCAA football and basketball: if you love the sports, you have to be enough of a grown-up to know that they're tainted. The difference is that you don't drop dead from a brown envelope of cash from a booster.
posted by holgate at 11:20 AM on October 11, 2012


From the "Greatest fraud in sport history" link above:
"The instinct fans have when they find out about cheating is everyone cheating levels the playing field. But when you look closely at this document and read the story Tyler tells in The Secret Race, you see the opposite is true. Doping distorts the playing field," he explained. "It transforms it from an athletic contest into a chess game of information and access. Who has the best doctor? Who has the best doctor exclusively if you're Lance? Who has the most guts? Who's willing to take the most risk?

"Lance was the guy with the best information, the most guts, the most risk tolerance and access to the best doctor. He won that contest seven years in a row. He didn't invent that culture, but he beat them all at that game."
It's like a Formula One race in which you can use any engine or car you want, including rockets. It's not a Formula One race at that point. Bikers who dope are not bicycle racing.
posted by stbalbach at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


("players' union"? US-centric much?) but that's neither here nor there

2 of the 3 sports I follow are US-centric. Sorry. UNCP is opposed to testing, too.

In the context of pro cycling -- that is, in the context of this post -- the distinction between "above-board use of PEDs" and "experimentation" is bullshit, because nice "safe" levels of EPO and clembuterol still means calf-blood extract and HGH and pixie dust and cortexiphan and monkey brains and whatever the soigneur heard about from another soigneur and maybe an extra dose of EPO just for good luck on the side.

That's the point, though. This is all back alley dealings, so the product is being cut with whatever some guy told you will get you a better high. Legalize and you end up with science taking over. Again, we have working models for ensuring that medical treatments are conducted with informed consent.

Doping distorts the playing field," he explained. "It transforms it from an athletic contest into a chess game of information and access. Who has the best doctor? Who has the best doctor exclusively if you're Lance? Who has the most guts? Who's willing to take the most risk?

It already is information and access. You can give plenty of bottom finishers tons of EPO and they aren't going to win tours. A huge amount of the sport is dependent on training protocols that are information and access. And at the top tier, a huge portion is winning the genetic lottery.
posted by bfranklin at 11:46 AM on October 11, 2012


stbalbach: "It's like a Formula One race in which you can use any engine or car you want, including rockets. "

Or as I like to call it, my dream sport.
posted by mullingitover at 11:47 AM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"When we asked the CBC Community if Lance Armstrong deserved to be stripped of his titles, a whopping 70 per cent of respondents said no."

A lot of Canadians thought Ben Johnson got poor treatment too, because he was so successful too. In contrast Carl Lewis has retained his gold for the 1988 100-m sprint even after an Olympic official stated in 2003 that they had positive doping results for him. Double standards are a huge part of this. The public love a winner.

Taking down Armstrong is important because it shows no one is too important to not get caught. That feeling, that only the loser riders would face the penalties, that the UCI and the teams woudl protect the winners, was, I think, a large part of the problem in cycling.
posted by bonehead at 11:59 AM on October 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


a whopping 70 per cent of respondents said no.

I don't like Armstrong, but I kind of feel that way myself. I think he needs to be taken down, but I have trouble deciding what should be done about the results.

It already is information and access. You can give plenty of bottom finishers tons of EPO and they aren't going to win tours. A huge amount of the sport is dependent on training protocols that are information and access. And at the top tier, a huge portion is winning the genetic lottery.

Fair enough, but.. Have you done any reading on the notion of hyper responders? Should how well you respond to EPO or testosterone really dictate how successful you are?
posted by Chuckles at 12:09 PM on October 11, 2012


On many levels this is about the relationship between sport and parenting. It is easier to concede that adult athletes, given risks (death, cancer, small balls) and rewards (money, international fame, hot partners willing to overlook small balls) should be able make their own decisions about pursuing a career in a sport that requires the risks of PEDS to achieve the rewards at the top of the sport.
BUT...almost every sport begins with commitment during childhood. PEDS are far from the greatest risk (think auto racing, dirt bikes, surfing, gridiron football) for youngsters, and yet parents make these decisions all the time.
When your child hoists an Olympic medal or the world cup trophy, the sacrifices seem worth it; when your child dies on a football practice field, or is paralyzed doing a trick on a bmx bike, perhaps the sacrifice is not.
So why PEDS as a risk moreso than these others?

Also.
I was struck while reading the report by the way the riders spoke about Dr. Ferrari. Almost all of them mentioned his role in testing their blood values and performance metrics, and it seemed to me that the focus was more on his role in making them quantifiably better than on beating the tests (i may be misreading this).
If Ferrari were in the business of using his knowledge to make battlefield soldiers or pilots or astronauts better would society feel the same way about him (set aside feelings about war in general please)?
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:15 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


a whopping 70 per cent of respondents said no

I get it. Seventy per cent is a big number. I don't need no stinkin' "whopping" to figure that out.
posted by digsrus at 12:30 PM on October 11, 2012


Legalize and you end up with science taking over.

I don't know what your soigneur has been injecting you with, but I don't think it's EPO.
posted by holgate at 12:50 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's a short video interview with Stephen Swart published this morning in NZ.
posted by maupuia at 12:52 PM on October 11, 2012


The folks over at The Clinic are pulling together clues to figure out who the unnamed riders are.

Velonews is trying to followup on why Andre Birrote stopped Novitzky's investigation.
(lots more in that Velonews link that I haven't bothered reading)

Another offshoot, where Garmin appears to be playing things straight, Team Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep are omerta all the way.

Considering that Dede Barry is strongly implicated but might fall through the cracks, I'm wondering about another Berry defender, Clara Hughes... Like, just when did EPO hit women's cycling anyway?
posted by Chuckles at 2:30 PM on October 11, 2012


Lance Armstrong (flanked by Hincapie, Leipheimer, Vande Velde) vs. Paul Kimmage at a 2009 Tour of California press conference. If the statements of the riders are to be believed, only Armstrong was still doping at that time.
posted by Chuckles at 2:40 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am under the impression that the tests for blood doping, hgh and epo are not nearly as clear and established scientifically as claimed. There seems to be limited expertise in these areas and questions about how certain conclusions can be.
posted by humanfont at 4:07 PM on October 11, 2012


I am under the impression that the tests for blood doping, hgh and epo are not nearly as clear and established scientifically as claimed.

Hence the advent of the biological passport with its continued measurement of physiological markers to try and identify extraordinary variances rather than indicators of PEDs or PED byproducts or PED masking agents.
posted by holgate at 4:44 PM on October 11, 2012




Trek, Giro, Radio Shack and A-B have all dumped him, too. When Oakley goes, then I'll know it's all over.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2012


The Coming Confession
Lance is getting ready to confess. He’ll make the announcement in the next few days, or he’ll wait until the UCI strips him of his titles and announce it then.

I’m predicting the former.

Armstrong is the ultimate in realpolitik. He showed his hand when he walked away from the arbitration hearing, betting correctly that there was no way he would beat the testimony of his closest confidantes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:31 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Paul Kimmage again, with Big reveal of Cancer Jesus:
His book -- It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life -- had portrayed him as Jesus. His ghost-writer, Sally Jenkins, had made him sound like Jesus. His fans waved their wristbands and reached for him like Jesus. And by the summer of '05, as he reached for the microphone on the Champs Elysees after his seventh Tour win, even he started to believe it.

"The people who don't believe in cycling, the cynics, the sceptics, I feel sorry for you. I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles."

His cancer had made him untouchable. It was his weapon and his shield.

posted by smcg at 4:37 AM on October 22, 2012


Now that he's been stripped of his seven Tour de France medals, are cancer research organizations going to give back all the money Lance Armstrong raised for cancer research?
posted by orange swan at 10:57 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lance is getting ready to confess.

I see the reasoning, but I just don't buy it. I don't think he's going to confess to squat. I think he'll go to his grave claiming that it was a big witch hunt and that he's totally innocent.

I do agree that if he does confess, he won't actually admit that he did anything wrong (it was justified, you see. Everyone else was doing it. It was just that one time. And that other one time. He'd have won even without the drugs).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:59 AM on October 22, 2012


humanfont: "I am under the impression that the tests for blood doping, hgh and epo are not nearly as clear and established scientifically as claimed. There seems to be limited expertise in these areas and questions about how certain conclusions can be."

Relevant AskMe. If someone made EPO in cultured human cells (for example the famous HeLa cells) and used it while testing hematocrit to ensure it is within limits, I don't believe they could be caught by any test: everything involved (EPO, hematocrit) looks just like it does in a normal athlete.

I'm sure that other forms of doping are undetectable as well (e.g., autologous transfusion probably), and am convinced that the doping/testing arms race is one in which the monitoring authorities inevitably lag behind the resourceful and intelligent doper.
posted by exogenous at 11:17 AM on October 22, 2012


Armstrong pressured younger riders and created a framework and system for doping. He also bullied the UCI and other governing bodies. It's everything he did to hide the doping, including destroying Greg Lemond, a clean racer, that leaves me with no sympathy for him, even though I agree that he's an amazing rider.
posted by mecran01 at 11:25 AM on October 22, 2012


From page 150 of the report:

2. Tyler Hamilton

As set forth in the affidavit of Tyler Hamilton, after Mr. Hamilton had testified about Mr. Armstrong’s doping and after Mr. Hamilton’s cooperation with federal law enforcement officials had been publicly reported, on June 11, 2011, Mr. Hamilton was physically accosted by Mr. Armstrong in an Aspen, Colorado restaurant.

819 Mr. Hamilton has testified that in connection with this altercation Mr. Armstrong said, “When you’re on the witness stand, we are going to fucking tear you apart. You are going to look like a fucking idiot.”

820 Hamilton further testified that Armstrong said, “I’m going to make your life a living . . . fucking . . . hell.”

821 Mr. Armstrong’s statements and actions plainly constitute an act of attempted witness intimidation

posted by mecran01 at 11:42 AM on October 22, 2012


I'm sure that other forms of doping are undetectable as well (e.g., autologous transfusion probably), and am convinced that the doping/testing arms race is one in which the monitoring authorities inevitably lag behind the resourceful and intelligent doper.


There are two ways to detect autologous transfusion (blood doping with one's own blood). One is through tests for plasticizers - basically, chemical traces of blood having been stored in plastic bags. The other is through the "biological passport," which monitors a variety of blood values including levels of reticulocytes, which are basically immature red blood cells. Their rising and falling levels can indicate when the body is creating blood, and when it's not due to artificial manipulation.
posted by entropone at 7:52 PM on October 22, 2012


I doubt Armstrong will say anything more about this. If he talks, those statements can be used against him. The report makes UCI look pretty bad. They were setting up races they knew were full of drugged riders. They took bribes and actively covered up the extent of doping in the sport. Apparently no one will be prosecuted at UCI. No officials will be banned for life. The USADA has succeeded in making Armstrong into the kingpin and scapegoat for a decade of lies.
posted by humanfont at 9:14 PM on October 22, 2012


One is through tests for plasticizers - basically, chemical traces of blood having been stored in plastic bags.

Does glass-bottle IV equipment still exist?
posted by stopgap at 8:29 PM on October 23, 2012




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