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Landis Guilty
September 20, 2007 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Say It Ain't So, Floyd. Landis found guilty of doping, must surrender 2006 Tour de France title. previously on MeFi: the original thread about his apparently heroic stage comeback, and the first thread about the doping
posted by yhbc (74 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It was incredible to watch his heroic comeback that day, I'm truly sad that it wasn't real.
posted by foodgeek at 11:45 AM on September 20, 2007


The wheels of Tour de France justice grind quickly, over mountains and across rivers to finally end in triumph in Paris, but they grind exceedingly fine.
posted by DU at 11:53 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


The hearing turned into a soap opera when the former Tour de France winner showed up and told of being sexually abused as a child, confiding that to Landis, then receiving a call from Landis' manager the night before his testimony threatening to disclose LeMond's secret to the world if LeMond showed up.

LeMond not only showed up, he also claimed Landis had admitted to him that he doped. That was the only aspect of the LeMond testimony the panel cared about.

"The panel concludes that the respondent's comment to Mr. LeMond did not amount to an admission of guilt or doping," the majority wrote.


Greg Lemond has really been ostracized for coming out against assorted tour dopers. What a bizarre situation. I really, really wanted Landis to be innocent. The Tour is just a pharmacological cesspool.
posted by craniac at 11:55 AM on September 20, 2007


Well, there goes his sterling reputation.
posted by brain_drain at 11:57 AM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man, this was one ugly, drawn out affair. He may still appeal, so it's not necessarily over, either. But I hope he doesn't and just takes the penalties. He'll still have the chance to prove that he can win the TdF without doping, should he care to.
posted by tommasz at 11:57 AM on September 20, 2007


The Tour world of pro (and high-end amateur) sports is just a pharmacological cesspool.
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on September 20, 2007


The Tour world of pro (and high-end amateur) sports is just a pharmacological cesspool.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:01 PM on September 20, 2007


The Tour world of pro (and high-end amateur) sports is just. a pharmacological cesspool.

(dammit, FoB -- you left me no choice!)
posted by LordSludge at 12:03 PM on September 20, 2007


so thats it then? The panel said hes guilty and we all just believe them over him? I guess I'm naive to say he just sounded so sincere that he didn't do it.
posted by rubin at 12:07 PM on September 20, 2007


These things are cyclical.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:15 PM on September 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


does yhbc = you have been caught?
posted by chlorus at 12:17 PM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


chlorus: from yhbc's profile: It doesn't stand for "you have been" anything - it stands for "Your Humble & Beloved Commissioner", the tagline I have used in dang near every report, poster, email and letter I have done for the fantasy football league I've been running for eleven twelve sixteen long years now - the phrase has become so all-encompassing that it mutated long ago into shorthand, so "Your Humble, etc." is just as recognizable to me and my family and friends as is "H&B", "the Humble and Beloved", and of course "YHBC", to the point where the four letters are the first only thing I think of when prompted to enter a name or whatever.
posted by dismas at 12:19 PM on September 20, 2007


Congratulations, Oscar Pereiro!
posted by cog_nate at 12:19 PM on September 20, 2007


crap.
posted by Dantien at 12:20 PM on September 20, 2007


I guess I'm naive to say he just sounded so sincere that he didn't do it.

I smell an OJ juror!
posted by DU at 12:20 PM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Oh, fuck it. Require doping. Also, motors on those cycles.
posted by klangklangston at 12:24 PM on September 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm having a hard time escaping the feeling that the powers-that-be in the Tour are still grumbling about Lance Armstrong's seven straight victories, and their failure to get him disqualified (despite their best/worst efforts), and they've decided to take it out on the next nearest American they could find and nail to the wall.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:26 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, fuck it. Require doping. Also, motors on those cycles.

Right on. Sickle-bladed wheels, too.
posted by cog_nate at 12:30 PM on September 20, 2007


I want a Truth Machine.
posted by craniac at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2007


I completely forgot about my first comment in the original thread. Obviously, I knew it all the time!
posted by yhbc at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2007


I'm having a hard time escaping the feeling that the powers-that-be in the Tour are still grumbling about Lance Armstrong's seven straight victories, and their failure to get him disqualified.

Not just the powers-that-be. I am too. Hooray for Oscar Pereiro.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 12:32 PM on September 20, 2007


...they've decided to take it out on the next nearest American they could find...

If they are angry at Armstrong and the ability/inclination to frame someone, why not just frame Armstrong?
posted by DU at 12:33 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Working on it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:42 PM on September 20, 2007


Armstrong cheated cancer, too. Who will the French persecute for that injustice?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:44 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you believe Armstrong was clean I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
posted by exogenous at 12:47 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Armstrong is too famous, too powerful. Omerta!
posted by craniac at 12:48 PM on September 20, 2007


If you believe Armstrong was clean I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Mediocre people always accuse the great ones of cheating.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 12:51 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tacos Are Pretty Great, the only thing mediocre is your knowledge of the sport. Everyone who stood on the podium such with Armstrong was busted, eventually. Doping in cycling gives a massive advantage so that no clean racer could compete with someone doped to the gills. Either surviving cancer turned Armstrong into a superhuman, or through skill and care he managed to avoid getting busted as a doper, which would not be difficult.
posted by exogenous at 12:57 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Mediocre people always accuse the great ones of cheating."

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Atlas Shrugged.
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 PM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


I heard Lance Armstrong circumcises obese kittens and taught Floyd Landis how to declaw atheists.
posted by cog_nate at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


Well, my friend who used to be a chemo nurse said she believed Lance learned some tricks while he was being treated for cancer. I tend to believe her.
posted by konolia at 1:03 PM on September 20, 2007


Non Doping Cyclists Finish Tour de France (Onion)

"PARIS—A small but enthusiastic crowd of several dozen was on hand at the Tour de France's finish line on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées Tuesday to applaud the efforts of the 28 cyclists who completed the grueling 20-stage, 2,208.3-mile race without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs."
posted by mrbill at 1:03 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


LeMond's role in that circus is one of the weirdest parts of the whole show. I don't want to expend any more brain cells thinking about any of it very much.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:04 PM on September 20, 2007


Ze Tour De France is Dope.....No!?
posted by doctorschlock at 1:06 PM on September 20, 2007


Fuck, have the godawful "Leave Floyd Alone!" youtuberies started to show up yet?
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:24 PM on September 20, 2007


it's not doping, it's freedom chemistry!
posted by matteo at 1:34 PM on September 20, 2007


You can read the full text of the decision on velonews.

It's an interesting ruling, since they did, in fact, throw out the results of the initial test, but found him guilty on the basis of the more accurate carbon isotope test. It's good news, in a sense, because the committee's findings hold that unreliable tests and improper protocol can't be used to ban an athlete. So, in some sense, they've helped establish a precedent for fairness. At the same time, however, Floyd appears to get his due.
posted by dseaton at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2007


Well, my friend who used to be a chemo nurse said she believed Lance learned some tricks while he was being treated for cancer.
I have it on authority from Stan Lee that being bombarded by radiation turns you into the Incredible Hulk.

Not that I wish to dispute the theories of a medical professional, but I'm more bemused with the idea of Armstrong whispering "Lance ... SMASH!" as he tries to complete a time trial.
posted by bl1nk at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2007


Yeah, the advocates of Armstrong are pretty hilarious. People are seriously willing to believe that a cancer-ridden Armstrong is such an extraordinary athlete that he could (repeatedly) wipe the floor with doped-up professionals of comparative ability. But there's no solution to any of it; it's an arms race so it'll the offenders will always win which makes the whole thing just a spectacle. The only reasonable solution is to add some new element to the sport that will radically alter its strategy space... like crossbows.
posted by nixerman at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2007


and it's just awesome how the Italians, the Spaniards, the Dutch, the Belgians, in short every fucking nation in the world has avoided to whine about geopolitcal reasons and has simply accepted that the Tour, il Giro, and most of the sport just runs on illegal drugs.

I was under the impression that American sports fans had more balls than that -- Landis took drugs the way all other athletes did, regardless of national origin. why is it so hard to digest, it is beyond me. if it's about jingoism, it's much lamer to get one's ass kicked by the Iranians at the soccer World Cup than to have a Tour de France title revoked because of doping.

unless one hates the frogs more than one hates the Iranians, which strikes me as interesting.


I'm having a hard time escaping the feeling

it's a good confession of your modus operandi, ie that you don't want reality -- drug tests, absence of WMDs -- to interfere with your prejudices. I respect you more for the sincerity. really -- it's credo quia absurdum applied to jingoism
posted by matteo at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Unless poor Pantani was secretly American, and the Italian chemists were actually Frenchmen in disguise. Same for every other non-American athlete who has ever been found guilty of doping)
posted by matteo at 1:42 PM on September 20, 2007


Yeah, yeah, we heard you the first time, Steve.

If you still believe Landis was clean then you are so incredibly far removed from reality as to be in a parallel universe. Dragging nationality into it just degrades your position to outright undebatable.

Why don't you sublimate your Whaaamerican victim complex into some, you know, actual caring for the sporting standards (which have been going downhill steeper than Alpe d'Huez for the past few decades or so) of this once beautiful, honorable sport?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:46 PM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Well, my friend who used to be a chemo nurse said she believed Lance learned some tricks while he was being treated for cancer.

RSR13, a drug that improves oxygen uptake from hemoglobin, is used in cancer treatment, and is now on USADA's Banned Substances List, was available (and not tested for or banned) during most of Armstrong's tours. There's evidence that he may have used EPO in 1999, before the test for it was developed. This isn't such a crazy thought.

I'm not saying he did or didn't, I'm just saying that anybody who thinks Armstrong would not have at least considered every possible advantage is being awfully naïve.
posted by dseaton at 1:54 PM on September 20, 2007


I'm having a hard time escaping the feeling that the powers-that-be in the Tour are still grumbling about Lance Armstrong's seven straight victories, and their failure to get him disqualified (despite their best/worst efforts), and they've decided to take it out on the next nearest American they could find and nail to the wall.

Who are "the powers-that-be"? The Swiss based UCI? The independent French lab that did the test? The US Anti Doping Agency?

Or are they all in cahoots with the Tour de France organisers (who lost millions in sponsorship deals in the months afterwards) in a vast anti-American conspiracy?
posted by afx237vi at 1:54 PM on September 20, 2007


Tacos Are Pretty Great, the only thing mediocre is your knowledge of the sport. Everyone who stood on the podium such with Armstrong was busted, eventually. Doping in cycling gives a massive advantage so that no clean racer could compete with someone doped to the gills.

First of all, eponysterical.

I'm admittedly ignorant about the Tour, Landis, country pride and rivalry, but why do we pretend that we know anabolic steroids help long distance endurance athletes (yes, I know it gives strength and helps repair muscles quicker, but it's hardly useful enough to a cyclist to be bandied about like the evil it is)? EPO is the main offender for endurance dopers.

Is it because all this stuff isn't legal that nobody wants to be clear about the uses of each drug? So basically I'm curious what "doping" is giving everyone on the podium massive advantage; it's certainly not what Landis is charged with.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:55 PM on September 20, 2007


The thing that always has and continues to confuse me regarding the Landis-bust is: Why Testosterone?

The dude was piss-tested every day that he wore the yellow jersey, right? And several days into the daily regimen, he spikes artificial testosterone?

Testosterone is something you'd dope with before a race, to build muscles. One dose of testosterone during a race should not make a big difference in performance. It is something that takes time to act. EPO, a blood transfusion, or even amphetamines might help you during a race. That's what I'd expect to see on race day. Testosterone? What? Why?

That's why I've tended to believe Landis here. 'Cause nobody has ever explained to me how doping once with testosterone during a race could help. It's getting harder to believe Landis, however.
posted by u2604ab at 1:57 PM on September 20, 2007


You know what's dumb about this? The people the dopers beat were also dopers. Which pretty much means the winners really were better. It's the stubborn pretense of fairness that I find the hardest to swallow. Which is why I tried new JusticeJuiceTM. JusticeJuiceTM: When the bitter illusion of fairness makes you gag, juice it! Now 100% Pride-free. Ask your doctor if JusticeJuiceTM is right for you!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:58 PM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Reading through the comments, I'm obviously deluded, but why the hell does anyone care?

Let these dudes "dope" themselves up to the max, and then let's see how fast they can go.

I do tend to be in the minority in this opinion, as in my support of "PEDs" in MLB, NBA, NHL ... Landis' victory was thrilling entertainment. If "doping" makes a usually boring spectator sport exciting, I'm all for it.

On preview: You know what's dumb about this? The people the dopers beat were also dopers. Which pretty much means the winners really were better. It's the stubborn pretense of fairness that I find the hardest to swallow.

Indeed.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2007


u2604ab: Testosterone? What? Why?

"There was a significant improvement in recovery. There was no cumulative fatigue when I used [testosterone]."
posted by dseaton at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2007


"Testosterone is something you'd dope with before a race, to build muscles. One dose of testosterone during a race should not make a big difference in performance. It is something that takes time to act. EPO, a blood transfusion, or even amphetamines might help you during a race. That's what I'd expect to see on race day. Testosterone? What? Why?"

He really wanted to bang some Spanish chicks, and he heard they respected the macho.
posted by klangklangston at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2007


Why testosterone?

I'd like to present a hypothesis: If attitude and state of mind do make a difference in an athletes performance, and if increased levels of testosterone can affect a persons mood or state of mind, could a single dose of testosterone be used for this reason rather than for muscle building?
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:26 PM on September 20, 2007


From dseaton's link:

Papp added that he passed two anti-doping tests while using testosterone, then pulled out a small packet and handed it to Barnett. The USADA counsel placed it on the overhead projector, revealing a blue and green pouch labeled ANDROGEL Testosterone Gel.

Androgel comes in 50mg, 75mg, and 100mg (100mg is two packets, what my partner takes) packets of which 10% gets absorbed over a 24 hour period (5 to 10mg absorbed per day). My partner uses Androgel (legally) and I can assure you he can give the exact opposite testimony that Papp gave.

...Papp explained, adding that the effects could be felt within 30 minutes...


The packet says "all patients showed an increase in serum testosterone within 30 minutes" so it's nice how he lifted that right off the literature that comes with the drug. My partner calls bullshit. Your tested blood shows the increase in testosterone, yes, but it doesn't feel like anything. (You also have to be freshly showered and clean for the drug to absorb. If you're sweating or dirty it's difficult to get on and doesn't absorb well.)
posted by birdie birdington at 2:33 PM on September 20, 2007


mrgrimm: Let these dudes "dope" themselves up to the max, and then let's see how fast they can go.

Talk about a defeatist attitude. Doping will eventually kill the sport of pro cycling, which believe it or not, some people actually enjoy watching.

Doping is absolutely rife throughout the pro ranks and even stretches down to the semi-pro and amateur levels (see the article about Joe Papp linked by dseaton).

It'll eventually come to a point where parents will say this is not a sport I want my son or daughter competing in. Doping is dangerous. Over the past decade it has killed numerous amateurs in Europe, who simply go to bed one night and don't wake up in the morning (EPO induced heart failure). These are not top level athletes, but regular club cyclists competing in weekend races. That's how endemic doping is. There was a story a few months ago about Spanish juniors using EPO and testosterone to win races. No sport can survive with stories like that doing the rounds. Where is the next generation of pro cyclists going to come from?

Furthermore, you only have to look at the number of sponsors and teams running away from the sport. No company wants to be associated with this, and they are the only source of income for the sport. This year alone, cycling has lost Discovery Channel, Cofidis, Unibet, Credit Agricole and numerous other smaller teams. None of them have found a replacement sponsor.

Each team employs 40 cyclists and dozens of background staff. Hundreds of unemployed riders (and most domestiques are on a very modest wage) with no team for next year.

The Championship of Zurich one-day classic race has been held for over 100 years without a single break, surviving through 2 world wars. This year, it's main sponsor cancelled their agreement because of all the negative publicity and it was cancelled for the first time ever. That's what doping does for cycling.
posted by afx237vi at 2:37 PM on September 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


birdie birdington: why do we pretend that we know anabolic steroids help long distance endurance athletes

u2604ab: One dose of testosterone during a race should not make a big difference in performance.

birdie birdington: My partner uses...

Tour riders and their doctors believe that tesoterone helps them recover, and they use it all the time. And that is in addition to the expert testimony you so easily reject.

There was also an AskMe last year - Is Landis a dope?
posted by Chuckles at 2:56 PM on September 20, 2007


There are lots of other cyclists who've been busted for testosterone use, including Matthias Kessler and Patrick Sinkewitz in recent months, so it must do something to help them.
posted by afx237vi at 3:02 PM on September 20, 2007


the other possibility, in regards to the sudden appearance of testosterone is that Landis blood doped (reintroduced more of his own blood) that day, and mistakenly used blood from an earlier training period when he'd been taking steroids.

One of my best friends was busted for steroids- she was a staunch spokesperson for anti-doping in the running world, and professed her innocence even after she was served with a two year ban. She later appealed, and some over-the counter supplements tested positive for traces of the substance found in her positive test. Although she was found to be innocent of knowingly doping, the ban was upheld since all athletes are ultimately held responsible for anything they ingest, regardless of intent.

Therefore, I tend to give athletes the benefit of the doubt when at all possible when a positive test turns up. Looking at all of the details of the Landis case, though, I'm 99.9 percent certain he was dirty.
posted by stagewhisper at 3:34 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


actual caring for the sporting standards of this once beautiful, honorable sport?

It's been like this for awhile... since the middle of the 20th century, it seems. Except it used to be amphetamines.
posted by anthill at 4:26 PM on September 20, 2007


He can always have a second career in baseball. I hear the SF Giants are hiring a few new dopers soon.
posted by Nelson at 4:45 PM on September 20, 2007


Landis is what - 31? 32? The Giants have enough old dopers - bring us some new blood!
posted by rtha at 5:44 PM on September 20, 2007


I smell an OJ juror!

OJ never testified at his actual trial, only his civil suit.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 PM on September 20, 2007


Lance Armstrong rules. He is, without doubt, the best asset that cycling has ever had. If they could have caught him doping, believe me, the French would have done it. They went after him with everything they had. They changed the rules of the TDF just to make it harder on him every year after he began winning it--and he just kept on winning. In the meantime, Armstrong revitalized the sport of cycling, and it hasn't been the same since his retirement.

I think Armstrong is ahead of the curve in technology. I think he's smart and savvy and was ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. It's possible he used drugs that weren't yet banned, but if that's the case than he didn't cheat, and still deserves his wins. He has always maintained that you could test him anywhere, any time, and he never wavered up until his retirement. His lung capacity is amazing, twice the average. His heart is 1/3 larger than the average man's. He's like the Grinch in reverse.

Don't f*ck with Lance. He's my hero.
posted by misha at 7:12 PM on September 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


So many experts here. Anyone actually read his book? Go to his site(s) and see the effort he and the people who support him have put forth and the evidence they have gathered against WADA and USADA?
The theory, he won therefore he doped is true ignorance.
This whole thing reminds me of the French judge in the winter Olympic ice dancing debacle.
posted by a3matrix at 7:38 PM on September 20, 2007


misha: It's possible he used drugs that weren't yet banned, but if that's the case than he didn't cheat, and still deserves his wins.

If it's true (and it probably is), then Armstrong morally cheated. The spirit of the rules, regardless of whether a specific substance is on the list, is that chemical substances should not be used to gain an advantage. But in the case of the 1999 tour, it's worse than that, because there's solid evidence that he was taking EPO. And EPO was on the banned substances list in 1999 -- there just wasn't a test for it yet. So he cheated and got away with it.

Armstrong is the reason that Discovery signed Basso, who everybody knew was doping, but he didn't care. That's because he cares about winning at any cost, including breaking the rules or even destroying the sport itself.

Meanwhile there are guys riding clean, getting tested all the time, trying to save the sport from itself. They've earned their modest success the hard way, yet nobody calls them heroes. They're just guys who ride bikes.

It's cool that Armstrong's your hero, and I'm glad he survived cancer and has been able to focus attention and funding on a serious disease. But he's not blameless, so it's ridiculous to suggest that he's beyond reproach or criticism.
posted by dseaton at 10:06 PM on September 20, 2007


None of this would be an issue if we weren't such a society of watchers. How about we all just run, ride, hit, kick (etc...) the things ourselves?
Enough entertainment already, we need to get off our asses.
posted by infomaniac at 10:48 PM on September 20, 2007


exogenuous wrote: "Tacos Are Pretty Great, the only thing mediocre is your knowledge of the sport. Everyone who stood on the podium such with Armstrong was busted, eventually."

I don't claim knowledge that he is clean nor that he is dirty.

I do know that many sports have had athletes who, simply put, were on a different level than everybody else in their time.

Tiger Woods won more money this year (even excluding the Fedex Cup) than Mickelson and Singh combined. He did so despite playing in 16 events while they played in a combined 48. If they were doping, he would almost assuredly still stand victorious, though likely by a smaller margin. He has dominated the entire field for years.

Wayne Gretzy still holds almost every scoring record in NHL.

Nearly every sport has a figure like this. Somebody who stood head and shoulders above the rest, because of some combination of genetic quirks, drive, ambition and quality coaching.

Maybe Armstrong doped. But maybe he was just that good, worked that hard, and succeeded.

I simply hold open the option that the latter is possible.

Also, that it is morally pathetic to claim somebody committed a wrong when one's evidence consists of something as lame and flimsy as "but he beat some cheaters".
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:54 PM on September 20, 2007


I do know that many sports have had athletes who, simply put, were on a different level than everybody else in their time.

Yes, but how many of these guys could have been clean if everyone else - in their time - was dirty? This is the point. The difference between top althletes is hair thin. Being primus inter pares is one thing, being number one when all the number twos are using substances KNOWN AND PROVEN to significantly enhance physical performance - and to stay on top for seven years in a row - is an extraordinary physical achievement. Unparalled in sport I would say.

Lance Armstrong is most definitely one hell of a he-man, but he ain't no Tiger Woods in terms of outstanding skill in sport. I don't think he could have possibly remained clean and king of the mountain when many others were doping and gunning for him.
posted by three blind mice at 5:41 AM on September 21, 2007


misha: Lance Armstrong rules. He is, without doubt, the best asset that cycling has ever had. If they could have caught him doping, believe me, the French would have done it. They went after him with everything they had. They changed the rules of the TDF just to make it harder on him every year after he began winning it--and he just kept on winning. In the meantime, Armstrong revitalized the sport of cycling, and it hasn't been the same since his retirement.

Sorry, but when did they ever change the rules to make it harder for Armstrong to win?

Lance Armstrong was a great TdF rider, and it's great that he's a cancer survivor and fundraiser, but he is no saint. You only have to look at his pathetic chasedown of Fillipo Simeoni in the 2004 Tour.

What was that for? Simeoni testified against Armstrong's personal trainer Michele Ferrari, saying he instructed him how to use EPO without being caught. Armstrong's actions on that day was a blatant attempt at intimidation.

And no way did Armstrong "revitalize cycling". Armstrong treated the sport of cycling - everything else apart from the TdF - with contempt. Great champions compete in races. Why did he never compete in the Giro or the Paris-Roubaix? All he did was bring in a horde of fairweather fans who thought the cycling season lasted 23 days, and have subsequently abandoned it now that he's retired.
posted by afx237vi at 5:44 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


three blind mice: Tiger Woods could spot his competitors 4 strokes/tournament, and he'd still be the top-ranked player. As such, he'd win even against somebody who was cheating at a fairly significant level.

The margins are usually hair thin, but sometimes they aren't. That was my whole point. Sometimes the margins are huge. Sometimes somebody is just amazing.

There is a non-zero probability that Armstrong was simply that good. It's not unheard of to have such talent, even when opposition wasn't playing fair.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 12:59 PM on September 21, 2007


And no way did Armstrong "revitalize cycling". Armstrong treated the sport of cycling - everything else apart from the TdF - with contempt. Great champions compete in races. Why did he never compete in the Giro or the Paris-Roubaix? All he did was bring in a horde of fairweather fans who thought the cycling season lasted 23 days, and have subsequently abandoned it now that he's retired.

Your rant isn't exclusive to cycling... the most hated teams in sport are nearly always the greatest: the Yankees, Ferrari, Manchester United.

The "real" fans always denigrate the great teams, claiming foul play because of cheating, favoritism, unfair budges, etc. They claim the fans aren't "real" fans. This happens in every sport.

Armstrong made a splash, and he made me turn on Outdoor Life Channel to watch the daily coverage... the whole thing made me want to bike, want to go to France.. and i loved watching the competition.

I didn't watch the race this year, not because I'm a fairweather fan, but because I'm so sick of the doping bullshit. Everybody wants to accuse the winner of cheating. They do so by claiming everybody else is also cheating.

The logic behind these assaults is utterly insane (either he was not cheating, and beat cheaters, which is amazing... or he was cheating and beat cheaters, which is also pretty good work.), and I don't care for it at all. It spoils the race for me, hearing this whining.

And it also spoils the race for me when self-righteous jerks like you claim that I somehow don't have the right to enjoy the race, because I'm not as deeply committed to all bicycle racing as you are... because I have not passed your elitist bullshit test, required to be a "real" fan.

Armstrong did great things for cycling. It's too bad you're too blind to see them.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2007


The margins are usually hair thin, but sometimes they aren't. That was my whole point. Sometimes the margins are huge. Sometimes somebody is just amazing.
...
Your rant isn't exclusive to cycling... the most hated teams in sport are nearly always the greatest: the Yankees, Ferrari, Manchester United.

The thing about afx237vi's rant that makes a difference in this debate, though, is that Armstrong didn't dominate his sport in quite the way you suggest. He did dominate the Tour de France in the way Tiger Woods dominates golf, but he didn't do anything else in cycling. Maybe Lance Armstrong is to Eddy Merckx what Mark McGwire (or Barry Bonds, if you like) was (is) to Babe Ruth, for example.

That might overly marginalize Lance, of course, I don't understand the sport of cycling that well myself.. But, the other thing you miss in arguing that some people are just that good is timing. Gretzky was the greatest ever, don't get me wrong, but he also happened along at exactly the right point in hockey history for it to show.
posted by Chuckles at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I used to read books by Chris Carmichael (Lance's coach) to develop workouts for my clients when I was a personal trainer, and also to come up with ideas for Spinning class. And the detail and specificity of the workouts that Lance did leading up to the Tour were incredible. He trained on a grueling periodization schedule that had him peaking just as the Tour began.
While some (even top-notch) riders were looking at a particular climb for the first time during the race, Lance had ridden it more than a dozen times in training; he knew where to attack, knew exactly what line to pick for the best ride.
He followed a strict diet, even in the off-season, when European riders were downing pints and rich food. Image if Jan Ullrich had actually trained as hard as Lance? I think Jan was purely gifted as a rider, and could have taken Lance down if he'd actually given a crap about training.
Did Lance dope? Maybe. But even if he did, he was also much better prepared for the race than the majority of the competition. There has to be some advantage in that alone.
posted by mtevis at 2:31 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interesting Sportsfilter comment from a chemist.
posted by yerfatma at 3:45 PM on September 21, 2007


Performance-enhancing drugs are leagues more effective in aerobically-reliant sports like cycling or cross-country skiing than in hand-eye coordination sports like golf, to the point where I'm confident that I'm confident that a strong amateur bike racer (of whom I know a few) who embarked on a doping campaign would have no problems competing at the professional level.

Moreover, drug testing inherently lags behind the development and use of performance-enhancers. 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.

I don't exclude the possibility that Armstrong won seven tours as a clean rider, but the odds of this are, IMO, vanishingly small.
posted by exogenous at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2007


This Joe Papp interview describing the effects of multiple drugs (EPO, Steroids, etc.) is chilling:

http://www.velonews.com/train/articles/13149.0.html
posted by mecran01 at 6:50 PM on October 9, 2007


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