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Now On Pez
USADA Case: Readers Respond
Nothing in the history of PEZ has quite fired up our readers like the news from the past 2 days. And why not? For some it’s been a dream shattered, for others a welcome decision and for many just plain exasperation that our sport got to such lows. Here’s what you, the readers have to say on the affair – raw, emotional – it’s all here and it’s uncensored.


*****


The problem with the assertion that Armstrong has done any positive with his Livestrong foundation is that it would never even exist were it not for all his transgressions in cycling. This result, in Livestrong, does not justify the means. The Outside article even brings into question whether the Livestrong foundation does anything to help cancer patients other than give them yellow bracelets and a false, self-promoting priest to follow. And how many careers did he destroy to create Livestrong?

Lance LP.S. (I am also very ungrateful for the tarnishing done to my good first name!)Sacramento, CA


*****


The Tour de France has always been rife with cheats – right from the very start. It’s understandable. Suffer and win the Tour, fame and fortune follow. Tour winners are financially set for life. The thousands that suffered and lost the Tour, go back to toiling anonymously in a lousy job – on the bike or in a factory.

Lance wasn’t the first cheat, and he won’t be the last one. By setting up a second-to-none drug program that was cloaked by his cancer survivor persona, he might have been the greatest sporting scoundrel of all time. Why wasn’t one Tour victory – or 5 – or 7 – enough for him? Why didn’t he quit while he was ahead? Was it the fame? Was it the fortune? Or was it something from his broken childhood, something that gave him an ego that couldn’t stop anything – or anyone – from him getting what he wanted? We may never know.

Now that most sane people can agree that he’s been caught, we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror, and at the sport. There is no evidence that pro cycling is any cleaner than it was during the Tom Simpson scandal, the Festina scandal, Operation Puerto or the USADA report. In fact, looking back 60 years at the doping scandals, Tour results and cycling biographies -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_cycling one can easily see that “riding clean” (or perhaps better stated, “not getting caught”) is the exception, not the rule, in pro cycling.

If the past serves as a reflection of the future, everyone will find out who the 2012 Tour cheats were in about 5-10 years, when the new drug testing catches up with them, or after they’ve retired and written their confessions in best-selling autobiographies while living comfortably in their mansions.

It’s not fair. But then again, life isn’t, either. There have been winners and losers in this fight. Many people lost out and had their livelihoods (or their lives – RIP Marco Pantani) taken away from the drug culture in cycling. In pro cycling and most non-traditional sports, the top 10-50 competitors are doing quite well (Lance was making estimates of $20 million a year) while the rest are scraping by, relying on friends and family and the kindness of strangers to chase their dreams. Meanwhile, journalists, photographers, doctors, coaches, federation officials and a whole slew of others in the pro cycling world who knew what was going supported it by either keeping silent or actively engaging in the drug culture. Why? Because their livelihoods, too, were dependent on the sport. For the past 15 years, professions in the cycling business have been booming.

But maybe that’s the answer. Maybe cycling shouldn’t be a profession. Why don’t we cap pro salaries or take the money out of cycling all together? You can’t pay your doctor $1 million for dope if you don’t have it. Like marathoners, limit racers to a few races a year, with a small prize list. You could even limit, or eliminate, teams.

Racers who want to go “pro” will know what they are getting into (a little fame, a bit more skeptism, a whole lot of suffering, not a lot of money) and their so-called “support structure” of coaches, soigneurs, doctors, therapists, mechanics and gurus will collapse, along with the pressure to cheat.

The founder of the Tour de France, Henri Desgrange, believed that the race was always bigger than the riders. Today, that belief it no longer true. However, once the money is out of the sport, events like the Tour de France will become stronger, truer testaments of a man’s talent, character and will. Careers will be short. Fame will be fleeting. Integrity and respect will last a lifetime.

Brett Stav


*****


Wow, just incredible how far this reaches, but in the end it isn’t all that surprising. Nor are the reactions of a lot of fans, including my wife. I think society wants to have some heroes, and apparently that is at any cost. The argument keeps coming back to everyone was doing it so why was Lance any different. And the answer is he wasn’t, but we held him up to be different, we made him appear different.

If this sport really wants to change and not just go through the motions for appearance sake then some blood must spill (figuratively of course). Although Lance is the most famous name out there it still seems like there are people within UCI who need to be held accountable. This cancer needs to be cut out in its entirety for the patient to survive.
There also seems to be some grumbling about giving some amnesty to those who testified. People feel that their “punishment” was not enough. I happen to feel that their “punishment” has still not been realized. Will the label of “cheater” or “doper” that follows them have any consequences? What about their families moving forward knowing that they cheated to get those results that brought them fame?

Or is this a reflection again on our society/culture? Are the results more important than the way they were achieved? I think for me it falls squarely on us for glamorizing the win at all costs scenario. The fact that so many people are willing to defend Lance at this stage is an indictment against us. If this was involving a French rider would we be so supportive?

Personally I will still wear my Livestrong bracelet for what it represents. We have two cancer survivors in my family and I wear it for them. I don’t know if I will ever be able to go back and watch all those DVD’s I have of Lance winning the TdF.
For some reason “The Look” just lost some of it’s luster for me. Who knows, maybe Lance was just trying to gauge if Jan had doped that day.

Rod


*****


While I appreciate those riders coming forward with what seems to be like a bit more transparency into the world of pro cycling and the subsequent attempt to “clean” it up, I really couldn’t care less about the case against Lance.

I honestly think that the focus on Lance has now opened a can of worms into the entire history of bicycle racing. It’s not that I think the systemic doping in any way should be a continued part of our sport (and like I said, I appreciate the new transparency – if it takes hold) and I see this as about the best possible outcome.

But here’s where I see I real concern and problem.

In the investigation’s focus on Lance Armstrong and subsequent sanctioning, we lose sight of the real issue… that this is a problem that might be much bigger than anyone thought. The problem goes way beyond Lance Armstrong, but in the focusing on him they make it about the evil bad guy. Guess what… there are I am sure a lot more “bad guys” out there in the sport. (I honestly think the ones who should be focused on are the doctors and directors).

And in focusing on Armstrong and attempting to strip him of all his titles long after those titles are won, a problematic precedent is set.

If we can go back through history (whether it’s five years or one hundred) and analyze and test according to current standards, technology, and beliefs in order to rewrite the records, were does one stop? If a consistent application of what has been done with Lance Armstrong is carried forward, do we even have any real winner of the Tour in ANY year?

And what does this do those riders we have idolized from the past? All the great cyclists have admitted to doping in one form or another… does this mean we now strip Merckx of all his wins? Coppi? Do we see them as any less of cycling deities that embody the very romance of bicycle racing?

I’m no Armstrong fanboy, but do see his accomplishments as quite incredible and every bit as valid as those of Pantani, etc.. Did I think he was on the juice? yes! … but so was everyone else. This isn’t an acceptance of doping culture and I’m glad to see a new trend in bicycle racing.

It is more of a call to truly consider the greater and more historical impact of continually focusing on Lance Armstrong as the protagonist in this play… he is nothing more than just another character actor.

If something is to be done and the sport really is to move forward in a “cleaner” manner, the problem needs to be addressed on a global scale, the true protagonists defined, and action taken accordingly… not this band-aid on a broken leg crap!

Matthew


*****


Nice comments on your website… I totally agree. I am very disappointed in what has happened. Kind of like silverware getting tarnished. But it will start getting shinier as time goes on and new “clean” stars show up. Cycling’s future is bright.

The problem is that every great performance will be looked at “out of the corners of our eyes” wondering……

Mark Young


*****


All of this is a bittersweet pill to take. One on the one hand, it feels right and good that the truth is finally revealed; however, on the other, it’s a bummer that the UNITED STATES Postal Team truly comes to light. We, as Americans, are probably the butt of many international jokes right now.

As a cyclist I’m definitely not a PRO, but I can still understand the pressure that these guys must have been under to do the things they did. That’s the issue at stake, I think. The source of that pressure. I don’t think the issue should be how severely these guys are reprimanded, but why they were forced into doping in the first place. I believe we could insert any sport into the blank and see similar problems. Look at all levels of American baseball and football. These sports are arguably the most popular in the U.S. and are rife with cheats, dopers, bullies, you name it. Why is our sporting world contaminated with these characters? I think it’s because it’s Swiss-cheesed with immoral financiers who are worried only about their profits. Team owners need ticket and jersey sales to stay high, if not perpetually higher. Athletic directors need those alumni dollars to keep rolling in at the rate of millions so that 18-year-olds (who can’t legally buy a beer) can play a child’s game. Director sportifs need sponsors. I’m not a genius, but I can see that money drives all of this. For the individual athletes, money is probably not the main driver; however, at some point, it has to be. Honest people work for a living, so do/did these riders. At the end of the day they had to choose between holding onto job and holding onto their principles. That has to be the worst position in which to be.

As a fan of cycling and sports in general, I hope that those involved in sports can escape the ever-increasing grip that greed seems to have. It will be tough battle and probably just one in the never-ending war against the dark side of human nature, but it is nonetheless a battle very much worth fighting.

Thanks,
Eric


*****


What to say.. Lance helped so many people around the world through LiveStrong. He helped me explain to my 5 year old daughter that a cancer diagnosis was not a death sentence and that Lance had won a few races, got cancer, took some time off and then come back and won a few more. She understood that and felt that if Lance could then Daddy could as well.

But.. he worked the system. He manipulated the controls, hired the best doctors and the best lawyers that money could buy to intimidate any one who challenged him and paid off others to keep them quiet.

What did one arrogant cyclist turned TV commentator say? Something about you can’t turn a pig into a Tour de France Champion? Well you can turn an excellent athlete into one, especially when helped by the best illegal pharma available.. I wonder if that journalist will ever make an apology..

Probably not.

Lance doped and he sued and won many law suits where people “defamed” him. I think the shoe will now be on the other foot and those maligned by Armstrong will now have their shot at redemption and justice. I also really feel for those members of his team that doped. I do believe the pressure was on them to do so and they did. They came clean and so did the others who were caught.

Lance never did and I guess that’s why I don’t think he deserves any respect or support. An admission of guilt will be monetarily expensive but it at least clears the air and he will have to pay back that money anyway.

Now I want to see what story of apology and ignorance the UCI brass will come up with. For the first time now in 11 years I am no longer wearing my LiveStrong bracelet.

David Wilson, Canada


*****


My own thoughts are that it is really a sad day as it does tarnish the sport and Lance’s legacy. Moreover, I agree that if you strip him of the titles, who gets them? Its pretty clear they were all doing it so I say the titles stay — with an asterisk.

Its also clear that the testimony came when the others were found out. But that’s how organized consipracies are brought down. See Sammy ‘the Bull” Gravano. None of them are squeaky clean but implying that somehow that means they cant be telling the truth is a delusion.

Lance is a complicated guy: he has done many good things for cancer fight and for cycling (though I must confess I liked the sport better when it was less mainstream); but he is also a self centered bully who appears to believe a bunch of his own press. If he had not gone out of his way to destroy folks (Simeoni; the Andreaus, Tyler, Landis, etc.) and if he had simply said “I deny it, passed all the test and thats all I am going to say”, he might not be in this spot. To me he is getting the cosmic payback for being an as—–.

Finally, its easy to sit in our offices and say the riders should have fessed up long ago and walked away. This is the theme on other boards. But is it realistic to think a 25-30 year old kid with no real job prospects, who has hit the big time/achieved his lifelong dream is going to have the moral courage to up and publicly and loudly walk away? Unlikely. To me, this is the chance to clean up the system – clean house at the UCI; get the doping agencies to try and help the riders to ride clean not only look to prosecute them, etc.; and get rid of folks like Bruneel and the “doctors” that surround the sport.


John Gillan
Texas
PS – keep up the good work Pez and we need some more moto gp bikes!!!


*****


I just want to say that as big as this Armstrong /UCI issue is (and there is no doubt that the two of those go arm in arm when it comes to the deceit/deception), for me there are more culprits to be caught.

I do not think it is healthy that a certain large pharmaceutical company who go on the ‘Livestrong’ roadshows/conferences, have a factory in Olot/Girona, which coincidentally (or otherwise) just happens to be where Xavier Tondo came from. Something not quite right about that or the fact that so many professional (and their teams) have their base there.

Regarding the tragic, ‘freak’ accident that befell Xavier Tondo, remote from Girona, I’m afraid there’s an awful lot more to that than meets the eye. I cannot for the life of me understand why a more thorough investigation of that incident has not taken place.

I’m afraid it’s a case of the usual suspects and I’m more than a little suspicious that the young Victor Cabedo’s accident wasn’t quite as it seemed either, enough accurate details have not emerged from this incident or the Tondo one.

I think the riders who interacted closely with Tondo and Cabedo, I think there may be some common denominators, need to be investigated. Somebody has blood on their hands, at least metaphorically, if not actually.

Therefore there are bigger fish to fry in this dreadful scenario. It’s one thing to have won tours as a result of drug use and peddling, but if people have been killed, as a result of the paranoia of those who seek to maintain their eminent positions within cycling, then that is something else altogether. If cycling is to be cleaned up satisfactorily then, to use Paul Kimmage’s analogy, I’m afraid there are many more cancers that need to be removed. I don’t believe that they can be while the UCI is in existence. This should be just the beginning of a very thorough clean up.

I’d appreciate it if these opinions /contribution could be anonymous. Many thanks.

Kind regards


*****


P. McQuaid
Hein V.

Cyclists everywhere must ask themselves what has the UCI in its present state actually done for cycling.

In my opinion these two have caused untold damage during their reign over the UCI and pro cycling.

They have to GO and GO NOW!

And all those complicit in this sorry shambles should be brought to task. Even the riders who have admitted culpability in doping should be gone, possibly sparing them the full treatment as they have admitted guilt. But really what about all the people that have been ruined and bullied like Filippo Simeoni bullied to the point of having to retire?

Greg Lemond bullied by LA and what happened between Lemond and Trek, was that a result of LA’s influence. Walsh et al and Kimmage must be now recognised for their stand on the doping issue. The money these crooks have amassed should be taken from them.

Best wishes
Peter Howard


*****


Considering the staggering amount of evidence, one can’t help but wonder why none of this has been the subject of any (doping) inquiry earlier? The Reasoned Decision does provide a few hints, all pointing to the UCI. That’s one thing that demands investigation. It’s also clear now from the Reasoned Decision that just about every pro team that was active at the turn of the century had a doping program in one form or another. Each and every team should be obliged to start a thorough investigation into that period. Saying “Oh, that’s a thing of the past. That can’t happen anymore nowadays.” will not do anymore since yesterday. Only when it’s all out in the open can we fully understand the mechanisms that lead to widespread doping, and can we start thinking about restructuring the sport in such a way we won’t ever find ourselves in the Dark Ages again.

It’s kinda like road rash: every speck of dirt has to come out before the wound can start to heal.

Arjan H


*****


I agree with the comments by Dave Aldersbaes and Alastair Hamilton, particularly the dispelling of the “level playing field” myth, and the loathsomeness of the bullying and intimidation by Lance, Johan, Hein…

I found that reading the individual rider affidavits was very moving. Levi’s testimony was sad to read, particularly about how he was treated on Radioshack after he testified under oath. Dave Z’s testimony was sad to read about the conflict he felt with regards to his father taking drugs and his commitment to never go down the same path. CVV’s testimony was sad to read about how he was bullied to adhere to the doping plan. Danielson’s testimony was sad to read about how the doping frayed his nerves and took away his racing instincts. JV’s testimony was sad to read about being forced to abandon the Tour because of the bee sting and the treatment (cortisone injection) being banned – yet knowing that everyone at USPS was doing this exact thing for performance reasons, not medical, and getting away with it. These
stories really put a human face on this saga, and many of its participants. The conflict they seem to have felt during these times casts Lance’s steadfast denials, lack of conscience, and desire to win at all costs into a stark and harsh light.

The attempt that Lance and his cronies make to deflect these
accusations with his work “fighting cancer” are transparent and cheapen cancer charitable work by association. Besides the fact his foundation does’t even fund cancer research (since 2005), his association tarnishes its work: is Lance here to serve LiveStrong and cancer patients, or is LieStrong here to serve (protect) Lance (from criticism)? And little surprise that Nike et al continue to support Lance; they’ll do so until they decide (if ever) that they’ll make more money by calling a spade a spade than they make from marketing black and yellow sneakers.

I disagree with Pez that this is a kick in the gut for cycling, and take a more positive view of it all. Perhaps this stems from my believing/knowing this was happening all along, but to me the publishing of this evidence is cathartic for the sport, and hopefully will lead to a cleaning out of the sport and the people who run it. I commend those who testified for what they have done, and I think that there’s a shred of hope in the ending that so many of them seem to have found a home together in JV’s team at Garmin with a professed commitment to riding clean.

Sincerely,
D Harvey


*****


With the release of the USADA report on Lance, it could be looked at as a sad day for cycling. With the revelations of Lance’s former teammates once could also deem that cycling is a sport that is eating itself to death.

However, at the same time, with the comments made by Tom D, CVV, Dave Z, George and Barry, I am encouraged. They felt compelled (drawn in) to do what they did because they did not want to stop doing what they loved to do – race their bikes. Yes, they were wrong, but I still admire them. Even more now after reading their stories.

If we were all honest, many of us have probably done something to enhance our on bike performance at some point. We did not take EPO, but we probably had an extra espresso, coke, or even No-Doze to get a brief advantage or pick-me-up (I did the latter and I was not even racing!)

Are we any better than these guys!
Mark


*****


I am saddened by this week’s confessions by the 11 athletes that admitted to using PEDs at some point during their cycling career. Since all of them also admitted that they have been clean since 2006 and that the sport has “changed for the better”, I’m not sure what their admissions do other than satisfy someone’s personal mission to defame Lance Armstrong. (A mission funded by our tax dollars) I tend to believe that, in exchange for their statements, these athletes were coerced with a six month ban/wrist slap, (during non-racing months), and no legal fee burdens vs an expensive drawn out legal battle to defend their own reputations. Does this revelation change my love for the sport? No. Will I still believe that Lance was the greatest cyclist of the modern day era? Yes. What this event does prove to me is that there is too much fat in our government. The fact that an entity funded by US citizen’s has the ability to waste my tax dollars on events that happened ten years ago is the real tragedy here.

Jim Glynn


*****


And that’s just some of your views! This affair is of course far from over with lots more to come – especially with the upcoming cases of Bruyneel and Ferrari etc in the coming weeks and months.

Can our sport move on from here and win back the hearts and minds of the public it has lost? Should we move on? Let’s hope in any case that this affair will actually bring about some changes in our sport for the better, unlike the Festina affair which seems to have had little or no effect.

As always keep it tuned to PEZ for more and keep those comments coming at content@pezcyclingnews.com


 

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