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I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play on one TV. But I nonetheless found myself spending a whole lot of time yesterday reading over legal documents. It would be cool if I were trying to gain understanding into my legal liabilities if I lead a ride and someone gets hurt. Or perhaps finding ways my auto insurance is legally required to cover myself and/or bicycle in the case of an accident in the saddle. Or how about the technicalities of home owners or renters insurance and a stolen bike.
Nope – as you probably guessed, I was all wrapped up in the USADA Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case. Across the internet, everyone seems to be writing that as “Reasoned Decision” – in quotation marks – as if it is a sarcastic remark. Turns out that a reasoned decision is actually a specific type of document that the USADA was required to release. From the publication itself:
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I’m quite frankly sick to death of hearing about Lance and his apparently inexhaustible ability to be targeted by, and just missed by, doping investigations. More importantly, I’m tired of it being the only story the main stream american media seems able to cover related to cycling. Well, that and a cyclist killing a pedestrian. For americans this was an amazing year in bike racing, but you barely heard anything about in on the talking picture box. Two major pro level stage races in the United States. An American team battling it out in the olympics. American cyclist Chris Horner apparently inheriting the reigns of Cycling Media Ambassador for the american Audiences. These are exciting times for those of us in the states that are paying attention. For the rest of the population, apparently cycling is only about allegations of cheating from over a decade ago.
With all of this hoopla, you think that the Armstrong events were absolutely critical to the sport of cycling. But what impact with the USADA / Lance debacle actually have? Well, only one of two.
Scenario One: The (still) immortal Lance
There will be continued bickering, lawyering-up and public statementifications (read that carefully) until ultimately, some obscure court that no one has ever heard of will completely side-step the doping allegations, In this scenario, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will decide that the USADA has no authority to strip medals and wins. If this happens, historians will need to rewrite the name “Armstrong, L. United States” across the white out they just recently placed across his name.
Scenarion Two: Lance only had 9 lives (and already used up 8)
Alternatively, the ruling may stand. Lance may be stripped of his wins for all posterity. The sport will be cleansed of the evil dopers – oui? No. In fact, almost all of the 2nd place finishers that would be promoted to first if Armstrong is stripped of his titles are themselves accused and/or convicted dopers. That’s progress, right?
Lance’s characterization of these allegations as a “witch hunt” may be true. However, unlike the madness in Salem of oh-so-many years ago, this time around thar be real witches in the woods.
May is bike month. We all know it, and many of us go on about it. We get bike to school day, bike to work day, and in addition a whole bike to work week! Local coffee shops, bike shops and assorted business get the
excuse opportunity to set up tables along popular bike routes and paths giving away free swag and looking very bike-friendly. This should be a month for me to rejoice – to share enthusiasm and passions with the greater cycling community. A time for us to pat ourselves on our collective back and take stock in how far advocacy efforts have come. And May is action packed with a lot more than just advocacy and riding to work. On the racing front, we had not only the grand american race Tour of California, but also the Giro d’Italia. The Tour of Cali was especially engaging for me this year, as I watched one of my personal favorites – and fellow old guy – Chris Horner appear to struggle through the Time Trial with an anchor on his bike. The setback would have crushed the spirits of other folks. But the drama unfolded in the final significant climbs of the race as Horner, Jens Voigt (another personal favorite and fellow old guy) and others took a flyer off the front. Slowly riders from the break away dropped one by one, until Chris Horner had actually made back all the time lost in the TT and then some. He climbed his way into first place on paper – as Phil Liggett likes to say – and had me on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately the herculean effort was not enough and he was eventually caught. But what a way to highlight what bike month is supposed to be about – enjoying all aspects of bicycles. Rolling the cruiser, commuting to work, or ripping the peloton apart.
Unfortunately, this time around all Bike Month managed to do for me was remind me that the other 11 months are not bike month. June came this year to punch me in the gut and drive the point home. June has brought us the apparent implosion (again) of what should have been the best team in the peloton – RadioShack Nissan Trek. Andy Schleck has been plagued by … something … all season. There are already rumors of the Schleck boys leaving the squad. When the team announced their Tour de France lineup, Chris Horner was not on the list. This lead to all kinds of speculation and drama as to why that happened. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the presumed Tour de France GC contender Andy Schleck was not going to make it due to injury. Ahh, but poor Bruyneel wasn’t done with bad news yet. Just when we thought it was over, Bruyneel and Mr Armstrong find themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Yup – doping allegations again. What is a cycling enthusiast to do.
But hold on a second…
I once again started my commute on a bicycle this morning in beautiful San Francisco. I passed numerous folks doing the same thing. I continue to ride my bike and enjoy it. And despite the fact that folks are predicting a guilty finding for Armstrong would “destroy cycling” my bike will still pedal and roll regardless of a USADA decision regarding Armstrong.
So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll let June suck for Bruyneel and Armstrong. Come July, I’ll be keeping track of the Tour de France and enjoying it. Bike Month is irrelevant to me, honestly. I don’t have a bike month, or even a bike year. I have a bike life, and plan to until I can’t turn my pedals any more.
Headline: “Cycling has another week riddled with news of doping and not much else”
Well, at least that is what you’d think if all you read is the mainstream press, or even the mainstream cycling press. We’ve already had racing action this season. First in Australia with the Tour Down Under, and the Tour of Qatar just started. Now honestly though – how many folks do you suspect actually know the standings of the early season races? I’m betting a fair sight less than the number that know that 1) Lance Armstrong is off the hook, and 2) Contador has been stripped of his 2010 wins – including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
And this season is promising to be a great showdown. The combination of some of the riders from both Leopard Trek and Radio Shack into one team. Renshaw free to clash sabers in the sprints without having to focus on delivering Cavendish to the front. This is real racing drama – happening now. Armstrong doesn’t race anymore – remember? And now Contador won’t be racing this year until the Giro either. So let’s focus our attention on the people out there trying to beat each other on the roads and single tracks – not in the court rooms, press rooms and headlines.
If only we could get as much coverage of our race winners as we do the doping circus… Just one man’s opinion.
If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the 60 Minutes interviews with Tyler Hamilton regarding the doping allegations against Lance Armstrong, I’ve included the video below (parts 1 and 2).
So now the question is – what do you make of this situation? Is Hamilton believable? If so, what does that mean for cycling? For the Livestrong foundation?
I’ve also posted this same question over in the Pro Cycling forum on VeloReviews.com. Share your opinions and thoughts on where we go with this.
Hypocrisy is something that drives me particularly nuts. I am especially sensitive to situations where I find myself acting or thinking in this way, and strive to stamp it out. Thanks to Alberto Contador I’ve actually found myself in one of these situations, and I’m still trying to figure out where my thinking may have gone wrong. Specifically, I’m realizing that I’ve not been judging Lance Armstrong and Contodor by the same standards. Even more so I’ve found myself holding the exact same opinion of Contador that I previously criticized others for having regarding Armstrong.
Team Radio Shack has just announced their team lineup for the Santos Tour Down Under to be held in Austrailia in January. That includes or still-not-quite-retired rider Lance Armstrong, who will also be participating in the Cancer Council Classic.
The full team for the first race of the 2011 Pro Tour is made up of (in alphabetical order):
Video posted toYouTube shows the immediate aftermath of the crash on Stage 8 of the Tour de France. In retrospect this may be viewed as the moment that ended Armstrong’s hopes of the Yellow Jersey in what he himself has declared his last Tour de France.
According to an article posted at Wall Street Journal online, Floyd Landis has engaged “in hours of interviews with The Wall Street Journal in May.” This article is apparently a distilled transcript of those interviews with little to no commentary on any other points of view aside from a couple “no comment” or “I deny everything” quotes. To be fair to the Wall Street Journal, however, those accused in Landis’s statements have been fairly tight lipped on the issue by choice.
I’ve approached this issue with some skepticism since it first broke. I’ll agree with other statements that have been made that the credibility of Floyd Landis is somewhat in question. However, I’m neither a Texas flag waving Armstrongian, nor a Texas flag burning anti-Armstrongian. While I would find it very disappointing, I concede the possibility that Lance Armstrong may have a couple of bags of blood hanging in his closet next to whatever skeleton may also be there. It was with this open mindset that I was actually looking forward to reading this article – hoping journalistic impartiality would prevail at the WSJ and I could get some compelling information.
Instead, I got hundreds of words of direct quotes from Floyd Landis, followed by this gem:
One evening during the camp, a handful of team members piled into a black Chevrolet Suburban for a night on the town, with Mr. Armstrong serving as the master of ceremonies.
Mr. Landis had met Mr. Armstrong briefly in the past, but most of what he knew about the world’s most famous cyclist was what he’d read in Mr. Armstrong’s 2000 memoir, “It’s Not About the Bike.” Mr. Landis had devoured the book, in which Mr. Armstrong chronicled his comeback from testicular cancer and portrayed himself as a modest and devoted family man.
Mr. Armstrong took the wheel of the Suburban and roared off through the streets. Stop signs didn’t rate more than a tap of the brake, Mr. Landis said. Some traffic signals were wholly ignored and speed limits went unheeded. In the middle of the trip, Mr. Landis said, another rider asked, jokingly, “Are there no cops in this town?”
The journey ended at the Yellow Rose, a strip club on the north side of town. Don King, the club’s general manager, said Mr. Armstrong and other cyclists on his teams have been coming to the club for about a decade. The riders were ushered into a booth. They ordered drinks and mingled with the dancers.
Later that night, some of the cyclists drove downtown to the offices of the agency that represents Mr. Armstrong. There, the party accelerated, according to Mr. Landis. Four strippers arrived at the offices with two bouncers and began performing a private show for the cyclists and others, he said. Mr. Landis and another young rider who attended, Walker Ferguson, said some people were snorting what appeared to be cocaine.
It is right here that any hope of honest journalism faded. Notice it is no longer clear in the article that these allegations are the unsubstantiated words of Floyd Landis. Instead, reporters Rhaveeed Albergotti And Vanessa O’Connell have shifted to present Landis’s claims as fact. It was at this point my opinion started to shift towards one side of this debate. Given that parties, strippers and cocaine actually have nothing to do with doping in pro cycling, this started to take on the odor of a smear campaign from a disgruntled Floyd Landis as some have claimed. And of the Wall Street Journal realizing the sensational nature of those claims and throwing journalistic due diligence out the window in favor of sensational words. Shameful.
All of this being said, there is definitely a part of me left with a nagging soundtrack of Perl Jam’s song “Jeremy” ringing in my head as I mull all this over. “Floyd Landis spoke in… class today.“