Tag Archives: Lance Armstrong

USADA consider banning Armstrong from uploading rides to Strava

Following on the heels of news yesterday that Lance Armstrong’s life-time ban from cycling included participation in his old lieutenant, George Hincapie’s Gran Fondo charity fun-run in South Carolina this weekend, having previously registered, The Cycle Seen has learned from a source that the USADA, in conjunction with the UCI, are now aiming to have Armstrong banned from uploading future rides to Strava.

“Simply prohibiting Mr. Armstrong from participating in any capacity in an event or activity authorised, recognised or organised by the Union Cycliste Internationale doesn’t feel like enough, “whispered the source. “It seems only right that Mr. Armstrong be banned from uploading rides to Strava where he is currently eligible for segment records.
Continue reading USADA consider banning Armstrong from uploading rides to Strava

Advertisements

Thoughts on Truth and Reconciliation

Last week two cyclists -– one a former drug cheat, the other a current day pro believed to be as clean as they come -– were speaking out for and against the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) process for the sport of cycling. To think about it immediately you would imagine the drug cheat would be the one against it with the clean cut modern day pro desperate for the cheats that came before him to announce themselves so his generation could move on with their careers. But it isn’t so simple. Lance Armstrong is the retired/banned cheat; Mark Cavendish is the current pro.

To Cavendish it is the egos of the cheats that will ensure they don’t come clean and it’ll only open the door further on cycling’s skeletons, something that he and his fellow professionals will be left to deal with. He no doubt fears that sponsors and TV networks could walk away if more and more scandals are unveiled and further bad press heaped upon the sport. In Armstrong’s view the sport needs a T&R to move forward. He believes that to throw the door open on the said skeletons would be to clear it out once and for all and save the problems coming out in drips and drabs for the next decade, something that would be worse for cycling and its sponsors and TV networks.

I suppose it is safe to say that both have a point and the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, as ever.

The only way I see a Truth & Reconciliation process working is if it happens quickly and at one go. Have everyone who has raced in the last twenty years meet for a private interview with the UCI and talk about what they experienced. Take those interviews and produce a complete document … a documented history of doping in cycling 1993-2013 as seen by the cyclists themselves and release it for us all to consume in one go. The bad press it would generate would be huge of course but it would be limited to the time it takes for the mainstream media to get distracted by something else allowing the sport to press on. Present it over a winter so that come the new season we’ve gotten over it and are ready to enjoy the racing rather than be distracted by it.

We could read it, digest it, learn from it, ensure the same mistakes are not repeated and then move ahead. The riders would have cleared their conscience at the same time and everyone would feel better.

Right?

Well, not so fast. How would you get everyone to willingly come forward? Is a retired professional who may have taken drugs but who never got caught taking drugs going to come forward and tell the truth? And what about active riders who tell the truth are they served with any form of punishment?

Lance thinks they should be and he thinks the punishment should be equal. Or in other words, that people like him shouldn’t be landed with life-time bans while those who testified against him get six months on the UCI naughty step. Armstrong must see the possibility of a T&R as his ticket back into competitive sport -– albeit sport that is well down the rung from the professional cycling he once competed in. He knows that if he’s offered a shorter ban -– one equal to the rest –- then he has plenty to tell them. It’s why he’s been coy on certain subjects in which he has been interviewed on. To have told it all to Oprah would have been to leave all his cards on the table and to leave him without a invite to any potential T&R party.

Lance is right though. The punishment should be equal. Where I differ on Lance is that there shouldn’t be any punishment at all. If there’s punishment to be dished out, a T&R would become impossible. Go back to the retired pro who may have cheated but was never caught. Why would he come forward if he risked getting results stripped? And what of the active pro? Would he want to open up on his transgressions only to serve a ban, receive a fine and risk unemployment for it?

Of course you could put in place some condition that if you are later found to have lied or if you didn’t tell everything (or anything) that a large penalty awaits you. But then again, the retired pro from yesteryear only has his reputation to gamble –- they can’t fine him or ban him -– so he might think it worth the risk whereas the professional of today would have more pressure on him. It only skews the playing field in similar way to which drugs did in the first place despite the illusion that it equaled it.

As someone once said, between the idea and the reality, falls the shadow. The idea of the T&R is great, but the reality of pulling it together is different altogether.

So what do they do?

Well, if they can’t pull everyone together for one big weekend of truth telling then the only thing they can do is let us make up our own minds and move on with our lives and our enjoyment of the sport.

Let me explain.

Most cycling fans by now have a fair idea as to how bad the sport got in what I now like to refer to as ‘the era’ -– that time between about 1990 and 2010 when blood doping become prevalent. In fact, we have more than ‘an idea’. I think it’s safe to say we know fine rightly that almost all of them were involved in some form of blood doping or another then -– certainly anyone with any degree of big-time success -– but that in recent years a corner has begun to be turned and steps have been taken to move things forward.

That isn’t to claim doping has been purged from cycling. Where there is money to be made and success to be gained there will always be cheating. Every sport has issues with performance enhancing drugs and probably always will to some degree or another, but should cycling continue to be singled out? Yes there will be some out there in the peloton still cheating, but you’d be deluded to think that it’s as bad as it was and that steps haven’t been taken in both testing and the culture of the peloton to change things.

And remember, this isn’t the testing of the Armstrong era when they couldn’t test for EPO and when they did little out of competition testing, but rather an anti-doping era that should be the envy of the sporting world. It’s time to accept the past is for what it was, that confirming what we know means for little and stripping results left right and centre would be to try and pretend that it never happened.

The younger generation of riders -– the vast majority at least -– are coming in with a different attitude. Even the old hands who might once have dabbled in the dirty stuff in a time when the culture of the sport left them with little choice if they wanted to make it -– like Ryder Hesjedal, Tom Danielson, David Miller, and so on –- have left it behind and turned over a new leaf. Heck even Alberto Contador looks a shadow of the former all-conquering grand tour rider we knew before he fell afoul of some bad beef at the 2011 Tour.

It all adds up to whether a T&R into the history of something we already know about is going to serve today’s peloton well if all it amounts to is another scandal and another opportunity for the mainstream media to point the finger at cycling as a joke sport despite the changes that have occurred in recent years. Can it be handled any other way? The more I think about it — the more I think of the impossibility of getting it all done in one foul swoop with everyone involved in the process — the more I doubt it.

Some people want a T&R not so much for the good of the sport but because they love a juicy scandal. Nothing would interest them more than for it to be dragged out over weeks and ideally around the same time of the Tour de France. Some people have become obsessed with the subject of drugs in cycling. Yet these self same people will watch other sports without raising so much as an eyebrow. You can see why Cavendish is also saying that other sports need to do something … why should it be cycling that is doing everything? An element exists on the likes of Twitter or comment sections of cycling related websites who care little for the sport itself but get off hardcore on the subject of doping in cycling. It’s pathetic and it’s what could ultimately drag down any potential good in a T&R session.

As a cycling fan first and foremost, the last thing I want to see is another scandal for the sake of another scandal. Not because I would prefer to ignore it, but because I don’t quite see the gain of going looking for it?

Heading into 2014 there’s so much to look forward to in the sport. It’s time to enjoy the racing like we can enjoy our other sports, to allow it to entertain us as it so often has this past season, and to let the anti-doping control worry about catching the cheats. If the last decade has taught us anything it’s that more often than not if you’re cheating, you’ll eventually get found out.

Yes, feel free to question what you see now and going forward, but don’t let it dominate your enjoyment of the sport. Truth and Reconciliation of cycling’s history is all well and good in theory if it ultimately draws a line in the sand allowing us to move on, but what it’s more likely to do is leave some with more questions unanswered and leave those seeking a cycling scandal with more wood on their bat with which to beat the sport. Cycling is a beautiful sport that brings so much more than just drug stories and scandalous speculation, and now more than ever it should be treated as such.

So who will win tonight’s Lance v Oprah race? And will it become an annual two-day Tour?

Note that amidst early information on the Cycling News website about the 2013 Vuelta a Espana and Tour de France, and the opening race of the WorldTour — the Santos Tour Down Under — appeared the newest race on cycling’s calendar: Lance Armtrong Oprah Interview. It’s a two person race over two days with the first stage going tonight live on Oprah’s website.

One has to think Lance Armstrong will be heavy favourite given his experience of racing bikes by comparison to Oprah, but don’t rule out the old day-time woman’s-chat TV host. If Lance Armstrong is today admitting that he has used performance enhancing drugs throughout his career there is a chance that he’ll actually compete clean tonight thus rendering him beatable.

It’s sure to be captivating.

EXCLUSIVE: THE REAL REASON LANCE ARMSTRONG ADMITTED TO TAKING DRUGS: If Lance Armstrong is a pathological liar, then admitting he took drugs means that he actually rode clean!

It’s a revelation that will shock the cycling world to its very core: Lance Armstrong was actually clean. By showing up on the set of Oprah to tell the world that after years of denying he did it, that he actually did do it, Lance Armstrong has done nothing more than to force everyone to shift their belief in him.

You see, nobody believes anything Armstrong says anymore. He could tell you that the world was round and you would suddenly tread carefully with the fear that you might stumble off the edge and into the abyss at any minute, such is the man’s credibility right now.

To hear Armstrong utter the worlds, “I took performance enhancing drugs,” during his interview tomorrow night will be confirmation than he actually has, in fact, NOT taken drugs.

All this will serve to do is cloud the whole situation further and put pressure on the USADA and UCI to reinstate his titles and lift the lifetime ban he is currently serving. And what will that mean for all those who testified against him?

But be careful. The Cycle Seen has learned that this was a ploy by Armstrong all along, to make everyone think that he was still lying thus allowing him back into the sport. Saying that, I have yet to establish how he could perform such a fine stroke of reverse psychology given that it would require him to at one point tell the truth. What I mean is that to say the words “I took performance enhancing drugs” would be factually true, something that Armstrong is not physically capable of.

I once read that if Lance Armstrong were to tell the truth it could lead to two possibilities: One, telling the truth would put him into shock and he’d simply pass out. Or two, the action could create a time paradox. The results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!… Granted, that’s the worst-case scenario. The destruction however might be limited merely to our own galaxy.

You see as Peter Griffin once said on Family Guy when he stated that he was excited to go into space like ‘Lance Armstrong’ only to be told that it was ‘Neil Armstrong’:

“He lied about his name too?”

Lance to tell the truth, most of the truth, and almost nothing but the truth

If you’d told me six months ago that I’d be sitting in January 2013 getting ready to hear Lance Armstrong admit that he took performance enhancing drugs I’d have thought you were on some form of recreational drugs, but the cycling world was very different back then and so much has changed from a drug related angle in the past half a year.

A USADA investigation found Lance Armstrong guilty of a slew of doping offences and their decision to strip him of his seven titles and ban him from the sport for life was ratified by the UCI. Tyler Hamilton wrote a tell-all book, a number of former team-mates of Armstrong came out and told their stories of doping, David Walsh — the journalist who has been on the hunt for Lance for nigh on fifteen years — wrote his own book ‘Seven Deadly Sins’, and Lance Armstrong became the dirty name of professional cycling.

Lance was really only left with two choices. Accept his fate but continue to stick to his guns and go quietly into the night, gradually slipping out of the public consciousness, or come roaring back with an admission that will keep him in the spotlight and perhaps open some avenue for him to still make a bit of money. He has this week choose the second option.

At least we assume he has. All talk is that Armstrong will appear on the Oprah Winfrey show next Thursday ready to tell the truth about his use of PEDs during his career, though wouldn’t it be amusing in a perverse kind of way if he came on that show and continued to deny it? It would send many into a fury, but I think I’d find a way to chuckle at the madness of it.

That’s not likely though. Any good PR man worth the wages Lance is paying him would never allow Armstrong to create such a scene. If he want’s to keep denying he’d be better laying low. No, this will be the moment we’ve all been waiting for:

The truth, the most of the truth, and almost nothing but the truth.

I say that because I find it hard to believe this man will actually open his heart and accept his wrong doing’s. He’s been living the lie far to long for that. I desperately hope I’m wrong on that, of course. I’d love to see him tell everything and see how those who have got a strange kick out of hating him react to the sudden turn in attitude? Though I doubt that anything short of him opening his wallet and donating his entire life’s earnings to cyclists who didn’t dope with everything left over being split equally among all good cycling fans, would appease some.

No, I expect crocodile tears, I expect some form of a confession, and I expect that confession to be dressed up to make the audience feel sorry for him.

“I had no choice. I wanted to win and do it for all those suffering from Cancer and taking drugs only ensured I could,” will sob Armstrong as Oprah hands him a tissue. “I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t let you all down by finishing second.”

The concern among cycling fans is to what degree Oprah will peruse him. Will she really ask the hard questions? How much does she know about the background of it and those affected by Armstrong’s drug use? Will she ask him how he feels about how he treated Christophe Bassons? What about how he feels now regarding Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Betsy Andreu, Emma O’Reilly, or David Walsh? Wouldn’t it be brilliant Armstrong’s face if halfway through Oprah turned to the audience and said: “Will you now welcome Floyd Landis onto the stage please?”

Will Oprah push him into a corner regarding certain elements of the dark world of drug use in cycling that he perhaps doesn’t want to talk about? Will she ask him about donations to the UCI? What about positive tests that are reported to have been covered up? Will he implicate his old boss and buddy, Johan Bruyneel? And what will he say about Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid? Will she keep him under the spotlight until all these things are answered, or will the pre-recorded show take the redemption angle that Armstrong must surely hope it does?

The producers of the show have said that no question is off limits, but that doesn’t mean the end goal of the whole thing won’t be a feel good story. American’s love a tail of the bad boy comes good, and if that’s the road it takes Armstrong will be all over it.

You see, Armstrong has lost his sponsors and he cannot compete either. He has a fortune but a lot of it may go on lawyer fees and other such lawsuits in the coming months. It won’t leave him on the street or having to take a job at the local McDonald’s, indeed, with whatever he has left we all could live very comfortably without having to work another day of our lives, but you become accustomed to a way of living — the private jets, the entourage, and all that — and Armstrong doesn’t want to lose it. Lance knows that if he can sell this well, if he can tell the average American viewer that he was a bad boy but for good reasons deep down, then maybe he’ll win back some old fans and slowly in time, some sponsors might even come his way again.

If not, then there’s always the book deal.

Right now we have nothing but a lot of questions as to how this might go. Let’s hope all our questions, as well as Oprah’s, are answered.

UCI confirm that I won’t win the Tour de France

The offices of Pat McQuaid at the UCI headquarters

For weeks now, ever since USADA’s report broke with their recommendation that Lance Armstrong be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, I have been living in hope that perhaps the UCI will see fit to grant them to myself. I had two reasons to believe this might be possible and so you can see why perhaps I was a little saddened yesterday to learn that they were giving them to nobody. I had to assume too many people — like numerous kids screaming for not enough chocolate — led the UCI to say, “right, if that’s how you’re going to behave, nobody’s getting them”.

The first reason I thought I stood a chance was because I was a bike racer who has never doped. In the grand pyramid of the cycling system, with Mount Everest being the top where Lance once stood (he’s currently swimming the with fishes), and the bottom being the depth of the deepest Ocean, I’m probably hovering in and around the Titanic. But there had to be this chance that they were all a bunch of dopers right the way through the system as far as me and that’s why I was as low down the ladder as I was and thus the best option to reward those Tours to. Heck, for a while I even pronounced myself “7 time winner of the Tour de France … by default,” on my Twitter page.

The other reason I had for being hopeful was that they might run a raffle draw for them. You know, drag Bradley Wiggins onto the podium in Paris next year and this time take him seriously when he says, “now time for the raffle,” before ramming his hand into a ‘hat’ — a huge hat given the likelihood of interest — and drawing out seven names to come forth and stand on the podiums backdated between 1999 and 2005.

Neither of these appear now to be likely and I’ll have to make do with the knowledge that I have now won as many Tours de France as Lance Armstrong. Heck, I won as many Tour de France titles as anyone did over a seven year stretch through the last year of the twentieth century and the first six years of the twenty first.

So what now for me? Well, I suppose I’ll slump around home for another few days yet looking at the poor weather outside that gives me a good excuse to be lazy, before November 1 when I have sworn I will kick myself down to the gym and kick my winter training into gear so that when the next cycling season comes around I can enjoy my racing and enjoy doing it clean. I guess it’s the next best thing to winning the Tour de France and certainly better than losing those titles for cheating.

***

In other news filtering out of the corridors of power that is the UCI headquarters (see above picture), the UCI management committee has announced that an external independent commission be established to examine “various allegations made about the UCI relating to the Armstrong affair,” most likely headed up by two blokes by the name of Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen. Complete coincidence that they share the same name of cycling’s evil version of Batman and Robin, of course.

The commission will look into allegations that Armstrong may have bribed the UCI to make a positive test from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland, go away. Real cloak and dagger stuff here folks. Chances are the result of the investigation will be that nothing untoward took place but that some drug testing equipment was purchased for them and that this won’t be allowed to happen again. They’ll agree that yes, something maybe could have been done to perhaps foresee this whole Armstrong saga of the past few months and that there wasn’t enough all round vigilance, but this wasn’t the fault of any one person. In summary we’ll hear that there was no clear sign of corruption, and that the intentions of messrs McQuaid and Verbruggen were entirely honourable and so both shall not only keep their jobs, but earn a hefty pay raise. All UCI members fees … up ten percent.

***

But that’s not all. Yes it was a busy day for the UCI. As part of this investigation they have decided to suspend their pathetic, waste of time and (my member fees) money, legal pursuit of journalist Paul Kimmage. For those who haven’t followed this little sideshow, Kimmage had dared to speak his mind and give his opinion, which in the minds of the UCI regime, was absolutely unacceptable. ‘How dare you speak ill of the great leaders,’ and all that, and, in the classic ‘we’re rich and you’re not so we’ll scare a retraction out of you by threatening you with letters from our team of lawyers’ mode, they pursued Kimmage.

Now, with the knowledge that Kimmage isn’t going away and that in fact his public support is so great that he has raised quite the sizeable defence fund via public donations, the UCI have used this timely investigation into themselves as a good excuse to suspend the hunt of Kimmage, in the hope that it’ll just fade away now.

Kimmage however, with a little financial might now on his side, appears to have no intentions of going quietly into the night. Tweeting late yesterday he went all Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator on us. “How do I feel? I feel like Maximus as he prepared for battle … On my signal, unleash hell. … Hope to deliver that signal very soon.”

McQuaid: “Armstrong has no place in cycling” … won’t resign himself

 

What a waste of time that turned out to be. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Lance Armstrong is on more than just drugs now … he’s on a banned for life list courtesy of the UCI. As I sit here writing this, I have now won as many Tours de France as him and that’s quite the achievement for someone who has won but two mountain bike races (all this year) in the past decade.

Yes, pull up Wikipedia and search ‘Tour de France winners’ and already you’ll see the word ‘Vacated’ in place of where it used to say Lance Armstrong seven times between 1999 and 2005. Greg LeMond is once again the only American to have won cycling’s biggest prize.

Speaking before a collection of cycling hacks, UCI head-suit, Pat McQuaid confirmed what we knew and did what we expected he would do when left with no more rugs with which to sweep allegations against Lance Armstrong under. He confirmed his old pal, Lance Armstrong had been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life.

“Armstrong has no place in cycling,” slammed McQuaid. “Something like this must never happen again,” he continued as he withdrew his head from the sand. After years of refusing to listen to those former team-mates of Armstrong who were willing to speak up, and the likes of Floyd Landis whom he preferred to chase around with a lawsuit rather than to consider what he had to say, McQuaid took the road of pretending this was all new stuff. “I’m sorry that we couldn’t catch every damn one of them and throw them out of the sport at the time.”

When it came to the point where he perhaps should have announced his own resignation, for in part not doing more to seek out the truth when there was an investigation to be had, McQuaid said the fight against doping is his priority and that “there’s still more work to be done. I have no intention of resigning.”

Who will win the seven Tours between 1999 and 2005 remains undecided. Rather than meet before today’s press conference to discuss the answer to such an important question, McQuaid said a special meeting would take place on Friday.

You would like to think nobody will be awarded them, but rather left blank as a reminder as to what happened then and as a reminder that we never want the sport going back there. McQuaid said that “Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling now,” and that might be so, but the story shouldn’t be forgotten because if it is, it’ll only happen again.

For Lance however, today is the end of the road. Oakley, his final sponsor left standing, pulled out and with an almost universal acceptance now that he did cheat, I think only a wrath of lawsuits are stopping him from coming clean once and for all. A Lance admission could only be good for cycling, but I’m not sure we’re going to get it this side of his death bed.