It’s Not About Lance Armstrong

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) intends to charge several people with a range of doping-related offences going from the use of banned substances to trafficking and conspiracy. Whilst Lance Armstrong is amongst those facing charges, he is not the only one name involved. These charges relate to the various teams for which Armstrong rode for and involve the senior management and coaching staff. In short this is about the way the team was run.

Many times in the past a rider would be caught doping and the team would express shock or disappointment, usually in a press release printed with ink derived from the tear duct of a crocodile. Because the rules of The Game state once a rider is caught he is totally alone. But this time it’s not about the rider, instead those tasked with running the team and coaching the riders. Those charged are:

  • Johan Bruyneel, a current “consultant” manager of the Radioshack-Nissan team and former manager at US Postal, Discovery and Astana
  • Dr Pedro Celaya, a team doctor at Radioshack-Nissan and formerly with US Postal, Discovery and ONCE
  • Dr Luis del Moral, a Spanish sports doctor and former US Postal team medic
  • Dr Michele Ferrari, an Italian sports doctor and “family friend” of Lance Armstrong
  • Joseph “Pepe” Marti, a Spanish coach who has been working with Alberto Contador and formerly of US Postal
  • Lance Armstrong

USADA says it has witness testimonies, here it becomes a tale of employees being granted some immunity for testifying against their employer. Reportedly Armstrong gets the immediate sanction of being suspended from competing in triathlon. But the focus is bound to turn to the Radioshack-Nissan team and Johan Bruyneel too.

Leak
The story started yesterday without anyone being named. A bizarre UCI press release even referred to a rider and his entourage without names but the unique nature of this press release only pointed to the obvious. The Washington Post was first to name Lance Armstrong and cycling team staff. Soon after the full charge letter was leaked given to the Wall Street Journal and it makes for explosive reading, detailing the charges of alleged abuse of banned substances and more. It cites testimony from ten cyclists as well as others. But the same letter confirms that USADA will hold a review and that the recipients of the letter will find their names redacted – edited out – when it goes to the review panel. However now that this has all become highly public the anonymity is blown. USADA’s rules say the documents used must be anonymous but go no further, so the public disclosure won’t halt things. But it shows how this is a media event instead of a mere issue of arbitration.

Single case
The charges are combined into single consolidated action, labelled the “USPS Conspiracy”. It’s a different approach to the usual doping case where a rider tests positive. Rather than go for a single specific case or even an individual, this is about a series of apparent incidents that form a pattern of behaviour and a collective set of charges applying to several people. It’s hard to know what to make of this. On the one hand USADA appears to be taking all the evidence it has and dumping it into arbitration. On the other the idea is not to make it about a single moment but a continued practice over the years.

Note the absence of positive test. But in recent cases we have seen athlete Marion Jones banned. Closer to cycling, cases like Alejandro Valverde, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich ended in bans despite no positive test. Also if you wonder why Armstrong is named when other riders are not, we can only speculate. First because he was a part manager in the team. Second because of all the other riders and ex-riders invited to testify, only Armstrong declined to appear meaning this is the only way to put questions to him.

What next?
Let’s split this into protocol and possibilities:

  • First the protocol means those named have until 22 June to make any written submissions. A panel of USADA staff will then review the charges and any submissions received. It will then decide whether to proceed with a hearing. If it does go ahead USADA say there will be a hearing this side of November, with time needed by both sides to review the evidence and prepare their cases.
  • The hearing will be done by a panel comprised of representatives from the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Like the Court of Arbitration for Sport the AAA is not a court but an arbitrage panel and used to settle arguments. In this case where the rules of US Cycling , the UCI, USADA and WADA followed or broken. Crucially the AAA is independent and not part of USADA.
  • If the people are cleared, that’s it, end of story. If the charges stick then those involved may likely face lengthy bans from the sport, longer than the simple two year ban for a first offence.
  • If Lance Armstrong is already suspended from competing in triathlon then it could well be that Johan Bruyneel is blocked from bike races. The UCI’s own rules allow for Rider Support Personnel to be suspended. But this could involve the UCI swinging into action and possibly Bruyneel’s local federation, whether his native Belgium or his new residency in Britain.
  • On the possibilities, it could be that Radioshack-Nissan end up in even more trouble. They thought it was a bad week with press over Chris Horner’s exclusion and Andy Schleck quitting the Dauphiné; it turned into a horror once Andy Schleck got an MRI scan. This goes well beyond any sporting lows.
  • Like a storm cloud appearing just as you light a BBQ, some say this story arrives just in time to rain down on the Tour de France. I don’t see the timing as conspiratorial, just procedural. There’s time for things to calm down ahead of the race and USADA started its action within a reasonable period of time after receiving the information from the US authorities and then following up on the info it received.
  • The PR skirmish has started with both sides digging in for trench warfare. Armstrong’s camp have fired a salvo at USADA and the agency quickly got their rebuttal in yesterday. This is for public consumption but meaningless as the case centres on arbitration rather than public statements.
  • Like loyal footsoldiers, fans will take their cues and soon start tearing strips off each other. I can understand both sides. But go for a ride to let off steam as there’s little new evidence here for now.
  • Finally there is a good chance this all drags on and on, ending up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2013 or beyond.

Summary
It’s tempting to see this as yet another attempt to pin doping charges on Lance Armstrong, his celebrity name stands out. Instead this is a wider alleged conspiracy by the management as opposed to employees. All the names mentioned are being charged together in a single action.

After the burst of headlines things will soon settle down. The dull process of arbitration will start with both sides making their representations in private. Perhaps documents will leak, perhaps media games will be played but in reality this is about sifting through many documents and weighing them against USADA’s rulebook.

Finally if you want to comment on this piece below, please try to spare the divisive issues. The mere mention of Armstrong seems to split fans in two, everyone has a view and people quickly get angry. I’ve tried to cover the procedural and public-relations issues involved and would welcome comments on this topic.

fjorthur June 14, 2012 at 10:13 am

The team was sponsored by a US federal agency and if money from them was used in doping, yeah, good luck in court.

Rob June 14, 2012 at 11:41 am

The criminal charges (“in court”) against Armstrong have been dropped already, not sure if they can/will be taken up again? Maybe if new evidence surfaces?

TheRaceRadio June 14, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Multiple investigators from multiple agencies recommended charges. One person ignored them and dropped the investigation before it could go to the grand jury.

I expect that after USADA, the Qui Tam case and Tyler’s book it will not be much of a challenge to file criminal charges

leif June 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

Seems to me like the FDA gathered information/testimonies and dropped the case with agreement that the USADA would follow up with charges prior to the sunset of the seventh anniversary of the retirement win.

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

I don’t know if there any agreement but the evidence has been shared and USADA has been following up on it. For example French radio this morning says it contacted French counterpart the AFLD recently to review things prior to the charge.

Papageno June 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

So there is not much news but USADA is trying. I like the part; “If the people are cleared, that’s it, end of story.” because I am bit fed up with this negative attention to my favorite sport. No one benefits from these new accusations, or is there someone who gains on this?
In fact; why again and again? Who is taking the benefits of this charge? Is it money or honour?

Igam Ogam June 14, 2012 at 10:38 am

Lawyers always gain from this kind of stuff and ultimately cycling will profit from a cleaner image and a reduction in doping (we hope).

Roadie61 June 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

I have to echo what Papageno is saying…cycling and all who love our sport benefits!!

Rid the sport of those who have long been suspected of covering up rampant PED-use and you’re left with a much cleaner sport. Granted, there are others not named in these allegations who are also long tied to doping, but these six who are currently charged are a hefty bunch, perhaps the dirtiest the sport has ever known? Collectively, they potentially got away with a mass conspiracy for seven years.

This case will potentially set a precedent and send a strong message to those still lurking in dirty waters.

Matt Rose June 14, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I’ll tell you who benefits from this. Every single young cyclist today who doesn’t have to make a choice between keeping his job, and keeping his health. People like Kimmage who have spoken up against doping for 20 years and been vilified. Cyclists like Gord Fraser, who went over to Europe and then came home, giving it all up as a bad job.

It may be the past, but if this is true (and, personally, I have no doubt of the fact), this must be punished. Cyclists have been saying that the accusations lying at the heart of this have been standard practice for years, not just at USPS, but at teams like Festina, ONCE, T-Mobile, Cofidis, and others.

I’d just like to see one of them get busted for it. Just so that a sweet kid like Joe Dombrowski doesn’t have to make choices like Floyd Landis, or David Millar, or Jonathan Vaughters made.

This is the fucking tragedy in the sport of cycling.

Simon June 14, 2012 at 10:19 am

Is there any idea of what the timescale is going to be in getting this before a panel, and how long they might sit for?

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 10:25 am

There’s some above: 22 June for submissions, a panel will consider the case after this. It could then be dropped, it could then go to a hearing. If there’s a hearing it will be by November says USADA but we’ll see. Then it could go on for some time, Marion Jones’ case certainly did.

Simon June 15, 2012 at 12:06 am

Thanks for taking the time to reply – much appreciated.

Geoff Bumble June 14, 2012 at 10:23 am

Great article, as ever. And I agree with your urge to responders in this comments section to avoid opinionated confrontation.

I don’t have a view one way or the other on Lance Armstrong. What I do know is that the period during which he was most successful has been shown to be one where many riders in the peleton doped and that many teams were involved in systematically ‘supporting’ their riders to do so. Matt Rendall’s excellent book on Pantani was a real eye-opener in this regard for me.

I also know that there is a lot of circumstantial or suspicious ‘evidence’ that Armstrong and his team were involved in organised doping. This has fuelled a long debate about whether Armstrong rode clean when winning his Tour de France titles.

What is clear to me is that we need some sort of closure on the whole issue, and I am hoping the USADA case might help achieve this. At a time when it seems the peleton is finally becoming cleaner, and we can begin to trust (at least some of) our champions again, it would be great if we could draw a line, one way or the other, over the whole Armstrong-doping debate. Wishful thinking?

Tim Byrne June 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Well said. He raced with his peers and as nobody has proven to be superhuman you could expect he followed similar protocols.
I want 100% clean sport but after 10 years of dragging this around what is there to gain but further muck raking.
I hope the whole TDF coverage isn’t besmirched by commentary of a rider who has retired (twice).

Igam Ogam June 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

Good piece and it reminds me eloquently not to pre-judge. Gut-feeling is that this investigation will turn out to be long, draw-out and inconclusive too.

Great idea about going for a spin!

Kasper June 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

I remember Lance, in relation to the last dropped case against him, saying something about that he wouldn’t fight anymore charges. What would that mean in a case like this?

Rider Council June 14, 2012 at 10:51 am

This was a long time coming and lets be thankful there are people out there who are really fighting the fight. But 1999? That was 12 months are the shock of the 1998 Tour. Here we are in 2012 and now this is finally in front of us, but are we ever going to learn?

John June 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

Excellent analysis.
So, USADA thinks they can be successful when the Federal investigation was dropped presumably beacuse they felt that adequate proof was not there? It just all seems so late in the game to spend tax payers money on this. I am convined LA doped; to me it beggars belief that he didn’t. I think most involved the sport believe this. But time has moved on.

Rider Council June 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

……that’s exactly the attitude that’s needed to help nourish more of the same in the future.

Martin June 14, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I think the federal investigation was dropped because they couldn’t find evidence of embezzlement of tax payer’s money. They weren’t looking specifically at whether there was systematic doping on the team. This USADA investigation certainly is looking at that.

Hence, the LA Press Statement about this being all the same evidence that was rejected by Feds a few months ago is a bit misleading, since it’s the same evidence but the charges are different.

Go Cadel! June 15, 2012 at 4:38 am

. . . or was the fed case dropped because it’s an election year and the idea of putting a national hero (and political player) under such heat was just not palatable?

rouleur June 16, 2012 at 7:22 pm

exactly…..it’s an election year and look at all those twitter followers LA has on his account.

Marty J June 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

No need to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” at an arbitration. Thus the trashcan approach of USADA. I agree that this is a PR event, thus the timing. Every mid-June new allegations come out. Be aware that a review of the USADA annual report will show that the agency is almost entirely funded by federal grant money. They need to justify their existence.

Philip June 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm

The FDA and the USADA have quite different procedural and functional protocols in this case. The FDA investigation convened a grand jury, the forum for prosecutors to present evidence to the “peers” of the accused, in order to decide whether the weight of evidence merits an indictment. This process is often used to issue sealed indictments, so the accused remains unaware of the proceedings and can be apprehended for trial (think drug distributor with a private jet). Obviously, the standards of evidence here are quite different than the arbitration process now underway by the USADA. This is neither a civil or criminal trial, and just because the grand jury did not find enough evidentiary merit to warrant an indictment, the arbitrators may take the same evidence and rule against Armstrong and team management, especially since the goals in each forum are different (policing/deterring cheating in sports vs. prosecuting illegal conduct).

As far as the USADA spending our tax dollars, I believe most of their operating budget comes via contract with the USOC, as well as federal research grants (similar to the science department at your local university). They are technically a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization. The FDA and federal courts are funded through congressional appropriations.

See here: http://www.usada.org/ar-audit-report

Toe Strap June 14, 2012 at 10:54 am

Seems a shame Lance is barred from Triathlons. Was looking forwarded to seeing how he coped with a marathon after 180k around Nice.

Toe Strap June 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

And when did Bruynel become a Brit?

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

He lives in London. Normally you take out a licence based on residency. For example if a Belgian rider lives in Monaco they have a Monaco licence. Or we saw Jan Ullrich race with a Swiss licence because he moved to Switzerland.

DB downunder June 14, 2012 at 11:11 am

What is not clear to me is what is to be gained from this? It seems to me my beloved sport has learned its lesson and is getting better at trying to ensure we have credible winners. Isn’t that what the charter of the various ADA’s is about, promoting clean credible sport?

At the end of 2013 or perhaps worse, deep into 2014 if the Contador case is any precedent, what are the possible outcomes:

1) Settled out of court with no admissions and each side claiming victory (Difference from now is what?)
2) Everyone worn down and indiferent by a never ending case that produces a phyric vistory for one or the other? (Difference from now is what? No evidence either way will persuade the respective true believers)
3) Restrospective bans / fines for Armstrong & Co that achieve what? The equivalent of Andy Schleck and Oscar Perero (sic) being handed a jesey in an unsatisfactory setting with zip publicity and appreciation. Bjarne Riis & Eric Zabels names are still on the honour rolls …. and they still have their jerseys in the garage somewhere.

Perhaps the sight of Armstrong beings slapped, similar to Jan Ullrich, with a meaingless ban will give someone the satisfaction of saying “We got him*!”

… * with a wet lettuce leaf.

I am agnostic in relation to Armstrong and how he achieved his results. His achivements are fantastic but perhaps there will always be an asterix besides the results … no matter what.

Bemused, I’m off for a spin.

Slapshotjc June 14, 2012 at 11:17 am

I’m pleased that finally some official organisation has actually pinned something on him as part of the over all conspiracy charges, this isn’t just about him it’s about the systematic doping culture they created, advocated and demanded the team be party to. I’ve heard comment about why no other rider have been indicted, none of them ever won anything or if they did have had it taken away through previous actions, Hincapie announcing his retirement is the last of them. This one will take longer than the Contador case to solve!!

Roadie61 June 14, 2012 at 11:25 am

As is widely reported, with Armstrong already banned from any upcoming triathlons, it seems logical that Bruyneel is/will be also banned from his managerial duties at RSNT.

Kim Andersen is busy at TdS and one other race (can’t recall which), but will he now be available as DS in the potential absence of JB for the TdF? Not that this matters much now, as Andy is out and questions abound whether Frank or Jakob Fuglsang will lead the team. I think Frank without Andy under the current circumstances may not be a wise choice. Fuglsang may get his big debut, but morale is low and hence all RSNT riders will likely be affected by this latest news.

With the leader of the ship allegedly in very hot water (understanding that those charged are innocent until proven otherwise), the end of a “legacy” seems highly possible. The timing of this potential outcome feels appropriate now more than ever. “Conspiracy to cover up” is no surprise, nor new news to any of us as these allegations have been boiling for quite awhile.

I hope that justice is truly served once and for all, as I believe the collective testimonies against the accused are credible. If all six who are charged are found guilty (as one), this will be a huge step in ridding the sport of some of the most entrenched figures who have been like a “cancer” to pro cycling.

As for RSNT, the team has been imploding all season long, and sadly, the victims have been the Schlecks and their teammates. The team’s riders were doomed almost from the start of the season.
I believe that most would suffer in this environment of poor management, poor communication and questionable use of the media by one JB. Watching Andy Schleck crack, mentally and emotionally, is not surprising, and ultimately sad. I do believe the breakdown of his body is the cumulative effect and direct result of the building stress on this team.

Yes, this year’s Tour will sorely miss Andy, regardless of the varying opinions of him; his presence would have added a much needed dimension to this year’s edition, TTs notwithstanding.

Anonymous June 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

It does seem that Flavio Becca, president of Leopard s.a, will need to have a meeting with his general manager and decide how to react to this development. I don’t know the legal relationship between Leopard s.a. and Mr. Bruyneel (is it an employment contract, consultant agreement, or some other arrangement?). In any event, Leopard s.a. – which does not seem to be directly implicated in these allegations – will likely need to take action to separate itself from the consequenses of the allegations.

Zac June 15, 2012 at 12:03 am

I just read that there is a possibility that the Radioshack-Nissan team could be excluded from the Tour because of this…. Is this true? It seems that Bruyneel could be punished but could they really punish the whole team? Presumably, the RSNT team hasn’t done anything wrong, just one person inside the team though he is a huge part of the team. But it seems extremely unfair to punish the whole team for something 1 person may have done in the past….

Simon June 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

A random legal question – would lying to the Arbitration panel be perjury? It’s fairly obvious there’s a lot of bitter people in cycling who want to hurt Armstrong (Landis). Is there any consequences for them making up a load of crock about seeing Lance dope?

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Not sure about perjury but making sworn statements accusing someone of wrongdoing is a serious thing and can indeed land someone in legal trouble. The question is whether the 10 cyclists and others who have given testimony have themselves conspired to “make up a load of crock”.

Touriste-Routier June 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Rules are dependent on the rules of the body administering the arbitration; rules of evidence are different in arbitration than they are in courts; generally they are looser in arbitration. Typically, testimony is sworn testimony, and the truth is expected to be told. However truth and credibility are not always straightforward, and it is up to the arbitrators to determine/interpret the evidence. Arbitrators are often experienced attorneys and retired judges, who have a good sense of truth, and are expected to exercise their best judgement when evaluating testimony and evidence.

If testimony or evidence is successfully challenged as being false or fabricated, the consequences are not good for the party proved to be lying. At best the evidence is thrown out, but it could effect the outcome of the case.

Arbitration is typically used in lieu of using civil courts (you often waive your ability to seek remedies in courts), and binding decisions are not easily appealed to civil appellate courts. Perjury is a criminal charge, so arbitrators have no authority to directly punish those who have lied. As for criminal perjury charges being brought against a party, I believe that is up to the rules of the arbitration body conducting the hearing, as well as the rules of the court(s) in that particular jurisdiction (Municipality/State/Federal Government) , and whether they allow the matter to be referred elsewhere.

For a criminal charge to be brought, should it be legally possible, there would need to be a prosecutor who agrees to investigate the matter, take on the case, and to file charges. Verbatim transcripts are often agreed to or required during the arbitration hearings, so records of testimony are typically available, and witnesses to the testimony/evidence are easily identifiable. However, a criminal court would still have to rule on whether the testimony or evidence was indeed false and subject to charges of perjury.

Marty J June 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I like the comment about attorneys having a “good sense of the truth.” Lol.

JoeP June 15, 2012 at 12:17 am

Re. lying at arbitration but then being found out later: see the anti-doping case of Phil Zajicek, who was charged w/ doping violation(s) by USADA but beat the rap – initially (by lying under oath and giving false testimony). USADA went back to work and appealed the original decision, resulting in Zajicek being suspended for life and fined a significant amt. for his pay grade, after USADA proved that not only did he dope but he lied about it (under oath) and induced others to lie on his behalf.

Cat 6 June 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I think this might not be a simply academic distinction.

For the past number of years, whenever he was pressed on the issue of doping, Armtrong’s public statements have effectively implied that he never doped — but he has never said so outright, the way he clearly did this week. A typical exchange with the press, particularly during the Novitsky investigation, would be something like this:

Press corps: Doping?
Armstrong: No positive test. Most tested athlete ever. Financially motivated accusers. Waste of tax dollars. Fight cancer. Haters.

Rather than this:

Press corps: Doping?
Armstrong: I do not now, nor have I ever, doped. Period. End of story.

Until now.

Armstrong has now placed that language front and center on his website: “I have never doped…”

I find it a somewhat troubling coincidence that he had not stated it point-blank until he was effectively out of the woods as far as any criminal court case was concerned.

I’ve done quite a bit of fundraising for Livestrong, so for many years I’ve been waiting for him to deny the doping allegations outright. That’s how I became keenly attuned to the consistent pattern of deflection in the responses from Armstrong, and why I notice the very clear shift now.

I still detest cancer, and I think that what Armstrong did for cancer awareness is an absolutely unparalleled feat of advocacy in the history of sport. I would very much welcome someone coming forward to prove my memory faulty on this, because I have cared about so many people who literally carried to their too-early graves the conviction that Armstrong was clean.

Even if he wasn’t, my respect for him as a tenacious advocate against a horrific disease would still stand.

But I believe we do everyone a disservice if we confuse and conflate his cancer-fighting work with the question of whether or not Armstrong ever doped.

Jason June 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

First of all LA was the reason I started watching and got involved in cycling and I assume that this is the case with many people out there. If you consider that I live in Greece where there is no cycling tradition you can understand that his impact on the sport has been massive. So the inclusion of his name in these charges is also massive, just imagine that the person who broke all recordbooks might infact not be part of them in a few months…

If found guilty we have the following results (!!!):
1999 Zulle
2000 Ullrich
2001 Ullrich
2002 Beloki
2003 Ullrich
2004 Kloden
2005 Basso

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

When Bjarne Riis make his admission the result did not change. But if there is a formal ruling from an anti-doping organisation then yes the results will have to change. But this is obviously an unsatisfying solution, it is just a procedural step.

Jason June 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

They will also need to change names of the bends on Alpe D’Huez..

Kris June 16, 2012 at 1:33 am

Good one :-))

Sam June 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm
Ablindeye June 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Thanks for the link, interesting read. Indeed the full article on that site is a good read.

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale June 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Yuck. I’m all in favor of the truth, and my personal belief (as a guy who got hooked on cycling watching Lance climb mountains into yellow) is that the prosecution is a lot closer to the truth than the defense. But it has been 12 years, and cycling was dirty from top to bottom during the era in question. That list of “new winners” is absurd on the face–except for Beloki, all are definitively linked with doping (Ullrich and Basso have actually been suspended for it), and I highly doubt that Beloki was clean himself.

The fact is that the entire era was filthy. And the sport can’t count on being 100% clean now, either. Find the truth, but don’t change the results. Riis admitted he cheated when he won and has not been stripped of his jersey; I’m perfectly fine with that. It seems probable to me that he was not the first EPO user to win the Tour, which I will leave at that. He wasn’t the last.

I think it is important for the truth to come out, particularly if there was unethical behavior going on. Other teams have already been exposed, it makes sense to have the information on Postal as well. But don’t artificially change winners.

If you vacate Lance’s victories, you’ll have to vacate 15 years of results. It’s a slippery slope that I don’t want to slide on.

Tom June 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm

On the other hand, if it’s decided we can’t hand Tours to second-placed riders with a “history”, we could give it to the third-placed rider… 99, Escartin; 2000, Beloki; 2001, Beloki; 2oo2, Rumsas, 2003, Vino…

Er, hold on a minute…

Jack Thurston June 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

USADA’s letter states that:

“The witnesses to the conduct described in this letter include more than ten (10) cyclists as well as cycling team employees.”

and that

“In every instance the conduct described in this letter has only been relied upon by USADA and described in this letter if the witness has confirmed to USADA that the information is based on his or her first hand knowledge.”

and that

“USADA sought to give the riders an opportunity to be a part of the solution in moving cycling forward by being truthful and honest regarding their past experiences with doping in cycling.”

Lance’s immediate response to the letter says:

“These charges are… advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity.”

Some interesting questions here:

1. Who are the ‘more than ten’ cyclists? 2. Where they offered immunity/anonymity in exchange for cooperation with USADA, as Armstrong’s has claimed? 3. Will they remain anonymous?

A key figure here is George Hincapie. We must assume that he was approached by USADA and that he cooperated. The Armstrong camp has been fairly effective in impugning the reliability of Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton as witnesses, at least in the realm of the media circus. It would be much more difficult to rubbish Hincapie. His public persona is that of a pretty straight kind of guy and he’s not said anything in public as yet.

Any ideas on who the other cyclists might be?

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

A couple of Garmin riders are believed to have testified but I don’t know if this was to USADA, as opposed to the grand jury for the federal case.

Alex June 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Were those Grand Jury interviews automatically released to USADA at the end of the federal enquiry?

leif June 15, 2012 at 10:02 am

Tygart was in the room with Novitzky at the Grand Jury interviews.
Plan B.

Karl June 15, 2012 at 12:53 am

Is Hincapie announcing retirement a coincidence?

RichardJ June 16, 2012 at 6:35 pm

In essence, all the riders from those teams should also be charged by their national entities. Hincappie, Levi, Horner, Contador, etc. It would be strange to charge one and not the other. This is no longer a case of immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony.

sillyoldbugger June 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

So, let’s get this straight. Contador tests positive to a banned substance and is allowed to keep racing for 15 months whilst the process (presumed innocent, blah, blah) continues until he is found guilty, wrecking the results of 15 months of races, including the TdF and the Giro.
Armstrong is suspended immediately after 500 tests, without a single positive result, despite the USADA letter claiming he is innocent until proven….. He is charged based on testimony from known drug cheats and is the only rider involved.
Something is rotten in Denmark. Perhaps the Democrats are getting in an early strike to keep him from politics??

Jason June 14, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Had not considered that!! Maybe, but the question here would be why did they not put pressure for the FDA to press charges that would be a bigger blow.

Imagine the wrecking of 10 years of results….

Alex June 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Contador WASN’T initially allowed to ride. But he was after being cleared by the RFEC. He was then found guilty after appeal by the UCI and the ban was applied (at least partially) retrospectively.

It seems there is no innocent until proved guilty in any of these doping cases. The charges are only brought after the agency in question believes they have proof.

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Exactly, Contador was provisionally suspended following the test. A and B samples were checked and pending the hearing he was suspended. Armstrong too is suspended pending this hearing.

Under the anti-doping code an athlete can be suspended for several reasons and a positive test is only one. These peremptory suspensions are not extraordinary. Think of a surgeon, accountant or other professional charged with malpractice, it is likely they are suspended – but often receive pay – until a hearing clears or convicts.

jollyrogers June 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Armstrong was not suspended immediately by WADA, USADA, or USA Triathlon. The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), a for-profit company that puts on all “Ironman” (TM) branded events is not allowing Armstrong to race. Armstrong is free to race non-WTC triathlon events, at least in the U.S.

C Grade Cyclist June 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Whatever the outcome, I am just hoping it all gets wrapped up relatively quickly.

I think one of the most damaging things to the ‘sport’ is when these investigations, trials, hearings, etc drag on for months or even years… So let’s hope we aren’t still discussing procedures & protocols and ‘what hearing is next’ this time next year!!

Aaron June 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

To those saying this is old news and should be left behind, the letter does actually say that several of these violations are ongoing (which, to me, is the biggest and most troubling news in the story). If you look on p.6 of the letter posted by the WSJ, there are charges for possession, trafficking, administration, etc. that are all listed as violations occurring from ‘2009-present’ and ‘2003-present’. As far as I can tell, Armstrong is the only one -not- listed as having evidence suggesting that doping is ongoing. All of the support personnel (including Bruyneel, notably!) are listed as being investigated for violations from ‘1999 through the present’.

L_Islandais June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Might it be that one or even two of the ten be from Luxembourg?

Ben H. June 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

This reminds me of a Star Trek TNG episode, “The Drumhead”. Trying to prove a point way past the moment that few people care about.

Papageno June 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

If Mr. Armstrong used doping then we can assume that everyone did that day. And than he is still the fastest but also the smartest. (note: I do believe he did not used doping)

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for the comment but if possible, let’s try not to judge him today because many have views but we could all trade opinions… but go nowhere.

Aaron June 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

… particularly since the point of this particular post was that it’s the team that’s at the center of the conspiracy, which is for me why the “through to the present” aspect of the accusations against people still involved with the team and in the sport more generally is most troubling!

Ablindeye June 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm

To be clear I am not stating here that any one rider did or did not dope.

What I will say is that, without thinking about it too much in the past, I assumed that, in a scenario where doping was widespread, an almost level playing field would exist. Thinking about this logically however, and given qualitative info I have read, it makes sense that any drug, whether recreational, medicinal or performance enhancing, will affect people differently being more effective for some than others. So my conveniently assumed level playing field is probably misconceived.

ave June 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

It will not stop at Armstrong, will it?
JB is in deep ****.
There’s Ekimov too, who was happy to receive the olympic gold from Hamilton.
And there’s Contador, who was on JB’s team for a few years.

This case is serious stuff, blimey.

Dave June 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Beautiful: “…in a press release printed with ink derived from the tear duct of a crocodile.”
Say it like it is, INRNG!

Niall June 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Personally I wish we could just put a line in the ground and say we start from here.. All this digging into the past serves no one. If you look at all of the top 5’s from Lance’s wins only Andrei Kivilev and Haimar Zubeldia appear to have got away without being implicated in a doping case. Now can you say that just because they managed to finish in the top 5 they must of been cheating??

The sport has gone through a massive change since Lance and Johan’s days and it is all for the better but ask anyone on the street today and will they know who is riding well at the moment or will they know that “Another cyclist has been caught doping”…

The only thing I am grateful for in this whole affair is that unlike previous years those responsible for the publication of the allegations have not, in a fit of self promotion done it in the final hours leading up to the Tour.

Simon June 15, 2012 at 12:24 am

I kind of thought that putting a line in the ground and saying we start from here was more or less the whole point of the Festina affair…

Steve G. June 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

As the author headlines, this is not just about Lance. And the USADA letter outlines that it is not just in the past. What’s most disturbing is the systematic, over many years, programmatic involvement of many riders and staff, to the present, doping across many teams. If it were a few riders acting on their own many years ago, and the sport is now cleaner, great. But the USADA action outlines it is pervasive, at the rider and management level, across many teams, to the present and detailed by many riders.

RSN is a current, active team run by staff charged in this action. Bradley Wiggins’ representatives have been reported to have proactively approached TdF officials to demonstrate how his recent domination has been achieved in a clean fashion. A leading passport authority and board member resigned from UCI earlier this season and commented on the lack of passport testing in recent years. Leadership of UCI appears to remain conflicted between regulating and promoting/financially benefiting from cycling. Riders from the top (e.g. Contatdor) to the bottom of the peleton continue to get banned.

Is the sport now cleaned up or at least getting cleaner? All we get is anecdotal evidence (PR) from the peleton and cycling press that it is. This USADA action witnessed by riders suggests that it is still present on at least one major team. Little evidence (e.g. passport control data) gives us confidence one way or another. I will still ride and follow riders but with eyes wide open that this not about what Lance did many years ago. This is about a sport that still is not clean and needs actions like this USADA one and a more aggressive and motivated set of riders and management to make it so.

Owen June 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I know there are many who think this process is part of a necessary healing part of the sport, but I must confess that I have a hard time seeing it.

I think its very hard to reconcile the pursuit of charges against a retired, aging, and well-worn superstar of the sport against the very commercial nature of pro-cycling. With sponsors not renewing their commitments and teams merging to merely ensure their survival, surely this continued pursuit of these allegations of the sport’s most recognizable star are going to make pro cycling less and less marketable.

cd June 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

+1 I think LA is a d*ck and would love to see his comeuppance but I have to agree with Owen on this one. Everyone already knows he doped. Let’s just move on.

Bundle June 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm

The novelty here is the attempt to use of testimonies as evidence by anti-doping authorities. It seems reasonable enough to me at first glance, but the question of the validity, with regard to doping, of evidences that are usually employed in criminal cases is still there. We’ve seen in Puerto and other cases, that the Spanish courts do not accept as evidence of anti-doping violations elements of proof obtained by means that would be acceptable in the prosecution of theft or terrorism. Let’s see what the US legal system allows for here.
As for Bruyneel, who I think is the main target here, if he’s still got a Belgian license, USADA would have to send all its evidence to Belgium (including the identities of the witness), and we’d need to see what Belgian system is made of. I don’t see anything coming out of there.
As to rewriting old results, I doubt it’s legal. And anyway, I don’t wanna see it happening, as I defend the “hand of God” principle: if you cheated and got away with it, you got away. There’s no point in keeping the results eternally open to review.

benDE June 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Finally a comprehensive investigation by a governing body. This should have been done by all federation directly following the leaks of Puerto, Gallo, take your pick. I agree, a line needs to be drawn. Better late than never, but still WAY too late. Where are you UCI??!!!!!!!!!!!!

Niall June 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

“Lance Armstrong’s doping is further evidenced by the data from blood collections obtained by the UCI from Lance Armstrong in 2009 and 2010. This data is fully consistent with blood manipuliation including EPO use and/or blood transfusion”

Errh… why are we only hearing about this now?

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Presumably the burden of proof. I might have a pile of banknotes in a sack under my be, this would be fully consistent with the robbery of a bank… but it does not mean I committed the crime. It comes down to opinion and assessing the evidence. The data could be consistent with altitude training, dehydration and other things too, proving a link is another step.

Bill Ward June 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I was under the impression that suspicious haematocrit levels (over .5) resulted in an immediate 14 day suspension pending further investigation a la Rob Hayles which pre-dates this alleged offence? If they’re saying this was the case it had to be followed up otherwise he’s as innocent as any other rider who had suspicious levels that were explained / resolved etc?

Where’s Columbo when you need him..

Mick June 15, 2012 at 7:37 am

The 50% threshold was created as a way to help get a semblance of control during an era without a EPO test (late 90’s) …No more Bjarne “Mr 60%” Riis, … By creating a threshold there was hope that some control (& sanity) could be regained without the fallout of branding a rider a “doper” (and the legal fallout that would certainly follow since there wasn’t a test certified at the time)…thus the 14 day Health TO was invoked.
A very simplistic test… certainly many steps behind doping tech. Dopers were able to get around this rather easily… With some warning (of a test) & an IV , that threshold was easily met
(Although Pantani was the most famous victim of this test. He never tested positive, but was tossed from the Giro … the start of a sad downward spiral for Pantani)…
The era also lacked the current passport system (as effective or ineffective as you view it) The suspicious values (’09/’10) refer to more technical blood values (not just hematocrit )…Much more technical & involved to explain within the context of this forum.

Bill Ward June 15, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thanks Mick, interesting read in itself.. There’s no public knowledge of the ’09/’10 suspicious blood results though is there? Surely procedure would have been followed then otherwise some institutions are going to face questions too? It seems to me that USADA is implying it was covered up and Armstrong couldn’t do that by himself..

Marty J June 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Victories are consistent with doping. In fact, cycling is consistent with doping.

Igam Ogam June 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I think it is fair to say that this is not the first time that the cycling world has seen doping accusations levelled at Lance Armstrong. For example, L’Equipe published an article based on journalist matching supposedly anonymous lab test serial numbers with a signed anti-doping acceptance form (in 2005 I think…).

Each time the finger-pointing has been dismissed by fans or his legal/PR teams seem to have managed to stop or stall further proceedings.

Q June 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Honestly, the blood doping allegations is the only part that interested me. All of the other stuff is old news that most of the public has formed an opinion about one way or the other, and digging it up again will bore me to death and won’t fix anything for cycling. But blood doping after the retirement–that’s another story. If they have solid evidence of that, I want to see Lance pay for it.

David June 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I thought “records, orders and subpoenas relating to grand jury proceedings shall be kept under seal to the extent and for such time as is necessary to prevent disclosure of matters occurring before a grand jury”

So exactly what did USADA get from Grand Jury Testimony? Surely those would be sealed. USADA “anticipates” testimony so these will be new hearings surely?

Vera June 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Since the very nature of pro cycling is commercial, I can’t imagine team sponsors being very happy about their company names constantly mentioned in a doping scandal. Most pro-athletes have “morality clauses” in their contracts to deal with scandals. It is customary for sponsors to do the same with teams? Just curious.

jeffdreadnought June 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

It’s fascinating that they have chosen to go for the full conspiracy. The old adage that if you’re caught you’re on your own has long applied, as you mention, so to see the whole thing moved up a level is a long overdue development. With the references to ten+ riders it seems that it will be a weight of evidence job and although this doesn’t rule out a silver bullet, it perhaps reduces the chances that one exists.

i wonder what will happend to JB and the others named, especially those still involved? You mention they could be suspended also, so we’ll have to wait and see. The knock-on effects at RSNT could be interesting, and that team looks less likely to exist in this form come season end as each day passes.

Felipe June 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm

What I found quite curious is that when it was a Federal investigation, and perjury was at stake, LA declared ‘he had never failed in a drug test’. Now that he’s not facing any criminal charges, he declares that he had never doped is his life.

Rooie June 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Good point! I was thining the same, although I haven’t read or heard all his earlier statements

David June 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Damn. Just realised Hein Verbruggen isn’t on the list of names…

Chris June 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I’m not going to get into my opinions of whether they were doping or not. What I struggle with in all of this is how much tax money is being spent to fight this fight again and again. Multiple groups, agencies, institutions, individuals…Yet we have homeless people all over the place. Unemployment is still rampant. Our troops are still over seas fighting. I can’t help but to feel that this more about personal gain and fame for a few folks out there. Hey, if we can’t get him that way, lets try this. It just keeps going! You certainly don’t see nearly as many stories in the press about the Mr. Olympia winners/contestants! You can’t tell me they were born that way and they look like that because of their diet and workout routine. The elite body builders you see on the cover of all those supplements and magazines are a direct result of modern day science! There is a whole secret world when it comes to body building and it is a billion dollar industry! Yet, you don’t hear much about any agency performing tests on them or that one of them failed a drug test do you?

Andrew June 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Err tax dollars are being used as they were allocated to i.e. defend clean sport.
I do like the rest of your post which goes onto a Chewbacca defense of LA, by mentioning homeless people and unemployment.
http://www.youtube.com/topic/DTFykJsdjNQ/chewbacca-defense

We are talking about cycling and keeping it clean, and sending a message to riders who ever even toy with the idea of performance enhancing drugs “You may get away now, but someday it will come back to bite you in the ass”.

Has big George’s retirement announcement come at this time for some reason? Perhaps he will apologise to Fillipo Simeoni for the way he was treated too?

Rider Council June 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

nyak nycak nyack……Fillipo Simeoni??? that dude had a noose around his neck and sang to save his own ass. No honor amongst thieves as they say…… the rest was just pure TV in that one race of the year most people only watch.

Igam Ogam June 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm

As Andrew points out the money is probably up-front for anti-doping activities and I doubt that USADA will continue with this action if there is there little chance of securing a definitive result. If they do stop the investigation it will the ensuing doubt will do little to clear Armstrong’s name in the eyes of most people.

It is difficult to compare cycling and bodybuilding on many levels but the fact that bodybuilding is unregulated is the main reason it cannot be accepted as an Olympic event. Leaving aside the actual aesthetics of the two activities Cycling is about ability not looks and bodybuilding is the reverse…

Rider Council June 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Inrng, I think you are underestimating the American press, NY Times have not yet dug into this, yet. Talk of leaks is irrevelant and certainly this is no ordinary scandal. In fact, I would say the bigger the sh.t storm the better, welcome it. It’s time, and maybe the Texan has a lid on his bar b Q but while he is flipping and cooking he will find his guests have gone for cover.
Yes it’s not about Armstrong but it has to be about something, anything we can even remotely relate too. Whatever it is or whomever they might be they have to have a significant influence on our lives if we the fans are to find the will to ‘help’ the fight to change things. We can start by squabbling at each other in postings but we have to take a more active role as a society to fight dope. Or its bla bla bla until it goes away yet again for while or two.

JimW June 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

What an amazing train wreck of fandom denial this is going to snowball into. Should prove very entertaining to say the least.

Breakaway league anyone?
I’m thinking next season is looking very different as the UCI’s remaining credibility is getting awfully thin. Who could blame the teams and organizers of the sport for starting anew. Divide up the money fairly, stabilize the working conditions and a large portion of the cheating will remedy itself.

This could be the best agency action the sport has seen so far.
Throw the bums out!

Gerrald June 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Whatever will happen, the rumours around Armstrong are so strong and will be so strong until adequate and open, transparent responses and explanations are given about all that happened that we will have investigation after investigation until this is cleared. What I hope is that this case helps to get more evidence out, and that after this, the UCI itself will become under investigation. For me, the main cause is still at the UCI, and until that is cleared up, everybody who follows cycling knows that justice has not had its course.

Dave E June 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

My two cent…If and I stress IF anyone is found guilty on this matter I hope that it will be on clear indisputable grounds because, and I am sure I speak for a few fans, we (the loyal fans of cycling not personalities) don’t want to hear what in my opinion amounts to a fudge such as “it was…caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement”

JT June 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Boy, I bet Armstrong is really regretting that comeback. I think he would have ridden off into the sunset without any official investigation by the FDA or USADA had he just stayed retired. You got to know when to fold ‘em, walk away, or run (or something like that).

As others have said, I am particularly interested in the evidence of doping during the comeback – 2009-2010. It will be another interesting test case for the validity of the bio passport as evidence of doping.

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale June 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

My thought when he came back was that, with new bio-passport regs, Lance believed he could ride and succeed in an environment where doping was much easier to detect, thus bolstering his “clean” reputation. Then again, perhaps he felt that he would have a competitive advantage if he could “beat” the new rules better than anyone else. I don’t know.

Whatever his reasons, they have indeed blown up in his face. I think I agree with you that these subsequent legal issues would not have happened with this kind of severity if he had just let his past stay in the past.

Noah, age 9 June 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Nothing is going to happen. This same thing happened in February and nothing happend .
It will be forgotten.

bluesky June 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

u can run but u cant hide…….. lance doped/cheated/manipulated/bullied ……..the noose it tightening and it will not be forgotten…………………..

Nancy June 14, 2012 at 6:44 pm

What about Hincapie’s retirement annoucement earlier this week? Is it strange that both events happened in the same week? Can USADA asked him to retire in exchange of collaboration-testimony-and anomynity and no supplemental sanction?

xyz June 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Hi Inner Ring, thank you for yet another good post.
One of the things that confuses me is, as I understand it after having read the 15 pages from USADA that they are sending the papers to the relevant people with all the names redacted except the mail to the TRI union regarding Armstrong, here his name is not redacted, so they can provisionally suspend him, but all the others who receive the papers can not do anything as they do not officially know the names of the people mentioned in the 15 pages (never mind that we all now know the names). The FEDs in Belgium, Luxembourg or Spain (or any other country) have not received the papers, but maybe they will get them from the UCI, but the UCI also don’t know the names officially, so that is no help.
I guess that this redacting of the names is something that is law in the USA, but in this case it also prevents the national FEDs from provisionally suspending Bruyneel and the doctors. Do you know when the names officially will be released? my guess would be that it would be when the review board has finished looking at the case and concluded that the case shall go on, do you know the time limit for the review board, if the hearing will be in November the board will have to have finished its reviewing in some time before that.
When reading about all this all over the internet I feel that this is one aspect that needs some more explanation, I mean the reasons for why Bruyneel and the others are not suspended now.

MerlinAma June 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Without regard to his personality and/or whether you like him or not, the French would have liked nothing better than to have found him guilty. They couldn’t. The US attorney who was vacationing around Europe trying to convict Lance of something (ANYTHING) couldn’t come up with credible evidence. Now USADA is trying?
I’ve learned over the years that governing bodies justify their existence by making rules, changing rules (often for the sake of change) and also going on witch hunts if necessary.
At this point in time, that money could be put to far better use. FAR better use.
People need to get past the Lance Armstrong era in cycling. It is over.
PS – the other thing that I remember is that no one ever was more meticulous in preparation and training than Lance. Could that have had anything to do with his results? Maybe just a little?

Besserwisser June 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Idiot!

STB June 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

This is about more than Lance. Also implicated are people still active in pro-cycling. Bruyneel, Ferrari, Pepe Marti (Contadors ‘coach’), Celeya, etc. Doping is usually more than a single cyclist acting alone. It needs organisation, planning and structure. If the sport is to clean up it needs to pursue suspected offenders and kick them out. If they are found innocent all well and good. But the investigation is necessary.

Adrian Holman June 14, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Does the Statute of Limitations not apply here?

dbrower June 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm

This isn’t old stuff — the charge is a continuing conspiracy that was going on as late at 2009/2010. So statue of limitations wouldn’t apply to that.

The open question is how far back results would be in question, and a recent arbitration ruling suggests that yes, it is possible to go back further in the event of a continuing consipracy.

Michael K June 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I believe there is also reference to statute of limitations being waived if there was a pattern of false statements/representations to anti-doping officials (i.e., cover-up) during the time events are alleged to have occurred.

The Inner Ring June 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I think this is correct, I’ve seen legal experts say this and USADA is citing this too.

Rp June 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Your article is well written and takes an interesting look at this on-going saga.
Two points from me:
1 – All results could be invalidated from 1998 onward [as USADA vs Hellebuyck was used]
2 – This is not just about Lance Armstrong [it appears as if the USADA are after the instigators]
Thanks
Rp

Kevin June 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm

To invoke the Chewbacca Johnny Cochran defense from the Chef Aid South Park episode…..This does not make sense!

JimW June 14, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Are you kidding me?!
That was right up there with the magnets comment .
It was humorous and most definitely applicable.

Well done Andrew!

Josh Barrett June 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm

well said, thank you!

Recreational sideliner June 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm

One question I have is this: If this big conspiracy and the secretive techniques was so good at concealing Armstrong’s doping, how did all these other “cyclist accusers” riding under these same coaches and doctors, riding at the same time with Armstrong, get caught by the drug tests and LA never did? Didn’t the coaches and doctors go to the same legnths to hide those riders’ doping? They would have the same thing to lose by doping those riders.

Everyone else gets caught by the drug tests but LA doesn’t. What is Lance’s secret method to go undetected that no one will share with other riders? All the while winning 7 TdF’s and God knows how many other events / races.

Frankly, I’m with the guy that said we have people starving on the streets, wars overseas, unemployment, lack of basic health care for many. Why we had the fed govt spending so much effort chasing this issue is beyond me. Look at the Roger Clemens trial – pathetic prosecution that gains nothing.

The USADA is funded privately through USOC and participant fees, so I really don’t care how they spend their money, and riders deserve to have them go after dopers who break the rules everyone is supposed to be following. But I suspect there’s just a tad bit of self promotion by the General Counsel and the staff, and this case should have been brought years ago, not now. True believers. Good for them.

The standard of proof in the USADA “prosecution” is only along the lines of “more likely than not.” compared to the investigation that was dropped by the feds. A “conviction” won’t mean very much in this case, but a “not guilty” verdict will say a lot about USADA.

Slim Jim June 15, 2012 at 4:43 am

You only need to look at how many of his team-mates got busted cheating after leaving his team.

Off the top of my head:
Basso
Beltran
Heras
Landis
Hamilton

It suggests that a solid portion of Lance’s “meticulous training” was performed off the bike. When these guys left the team and the structure that was in place; they were unable to replicate the same results.

FWIW I don’t necessarily think Lance was clean; it’s very hard to look at an athlete that DOMINATED the biggest race of the year; whilst the majority of his rivals were busted one way or another for doping.

In a squeeky clean peleton I still think he would have performed admirably in Le Tour.

brian carless June 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm

here we go again,i am not swearing for any man,but the man has been tested over 500times already and u dont find anything,so y now u go digging again?
listen the 1st 5time french champ said that u cant win the TDF of mineral water alone. from the dawn of cycling riders have been seeking a little more boost. but almost all the riders name have been mentioned or even been tainted. this wont go away. all the riders are taking something. u cant ride a gran tour on water gatorade and pasta. simple.
what now if lance is found to be tainted he done won seven tdf already. and dont be fooled taking these banned stuff u still have to go out and train and ride ur ass off.
if u can watch or reach about lance chasing number seven. it cant on fit tv a few yrs back. the rider who wins is the one who is most prepared…….

Jambo June 15, 2012 at 12:33 am

I am fascinated about why Johann would move to Britain?

Why is that? What is the advantage over Belgium? Is it tax?

Touriste-Routier June 15, 2012 at 5:38 am

JB has been a long time resident of Spain, starting in his racing days; he competed for ONCE (a Spanish team) during 2 different intervals of his career. It is unclear when the last time he officially resided in Belgium was. I have no idea why he would change residency to GB, but there could be many reasons.

OJT June 15, 2012 at 12:42 am

Sharp analysis yet again. This story is big news but as many have said it is too little too late. I’m not expecting to see Jan Ullrich receive his three yellow jerseys from Christian Prudhomme. Schleck picking up one is understandable but the problem with looking back 10 years is that there are too many question marks over who ‘did’ and who ‘didn’t’. Unsavoury.

Bill Ward June 15, 2012 at 1:00 am

I’d go with a ‘Who Didn’t’ list if you’re short of time..

James Jolly June 15, 2012 at 12:59 am

What was interesting to me was Lance’s immediate reaction.
To be cynical, it feels like all the time Lance was building up a good-guy image, because it would one day be the basis of his defense. ‘ Hey are you kidding?! I have never failed a test, and besides, I have made millions of dollars for charity. Is that something a doper would do?’
This image helped him in his days as a rider; think of Riis telling Basso he must attack Armstrong, whilst Bjarne himself was wearing a yellow wrist-band in support of Lance’s other endeavors. Lance knew Basso wasn’t a threat because of the cancer link between Basso’s Ma and himself.
Now, whenever Lance is accused his reflex reaction is that it’s out of spite, or jealousy. But because of the timing of this and all the other parties that the charges encompass, it’s difficult to think that is the case. (Not that I did before.)

James Jolly June 15, 2012 at 1:13 am

And I might add, Lance’s own attorney described the charges as a ‘lynching’. There is so much wrong with this, and the use of the term ‘lynching’, it is difficult to put into words.

Another Dave June 15, 2012 at 1:43 am

So another ‘Icon ‘ of our sport bites the dust or so we seem to be all debating for the last decade or so
May we all remind ourselves of the heroes past that may not have been so innocent either but history has been forgotten and ‘Legends’ live on
May the findings of this epic journey truely shape us as human beings and stop all the innuendo and hearsay
Long live the Ride and wind in our face

The Pelican June 15, 2012 at 5:14 am

Can USADA ban Armstrong from competing at WTC (Ironman) events? WTC is an independent privately held company (owned by venture capitalist player). It is not connected to Olympic distance triathlon and as far as I can work out, doesn’t fall under their auspice. Interesting to see if he still ends up racing Hawaii.

On Lance: I don’t like him/trust him, but do feel he is being victimised in this case. Just drop it and move on.

Touriste-Routier June 15, 2012 at 5:31 am

USADA can’t ban him, but WTC can. Apparently WTC have a clause in their athlete agreements that calls this out. See http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/12115/WADA-Ironman-Livestrong-and-USADA-react-to-charges-against-Lance-Armstrong-and-others.aspx for a quote from Andy Messick.

RooBay June 15, 2012 at 6:45 am

I am personally very tired with all of this. I just hope that the truth is laid bare (whatever that is). It is really beyond the point of vitriol, arguments about his innocence or guilt, etc. The bottom line is that unless we have been part of his inner sanctum we simply don’t know what did or what didn’t go on. Maybe USADA have a greater insight with access to the testimonies of other riders from the Federal investigation, maybe not. We don’t know.

Lance has never tested positive – any rational person would acknowledge that this is not a complete defence. For those that keep trumpeting this fact please read Willy Voet’s “Breaking the Chain”. On the other hand his test results probably the best measure that we currently have and they do go a fair way to support Lance’s arguments, but not all the way. We don’t know.

Yes Lance has done so much for cancer, yes he has brought big $$ into the sport but (based on what you read) he is a very complicated character with some very questionable relationships (Ferrari, etc). All of this in the context of a sport that has a long and storied history of PED abuse and PED abuse denial. It is hard to think that this history immediately ceased in the 1990’s. We know it didn’t.

All of the evidence in the public domain, either in support or against, is circumstantial at best or from sources with real credibility issues (Landis, Hamilton). This investigation is a good thing because we need to get to the truth and put it to bed for once and for all. Lance deserves to have this settled too – if he is innocent as he says, why should he constantly be subject to all of this innuendo?

It ends here. Truth please.

Northof40 June 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

Great article.

Out of this one thing still has not been made clear – will the effort, cost and impact of these activities make a sustainable change on the sport? It feels like from above, it may well not. Rather than retrospective actions, what proactive actions are being taken to stop these issues? its mentioned in the USADA news that they have evidence of Armstrong’s blood consistent with doping practices – through 09 and 10, then what for the blood passport program and the apparent lack of effective governance?

As many have rightly pointed out above, these issues need to go away as they detract from the sport we all enjoy so much.

David June 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

I think those 2009/2010 blood values are significant but if Armstrong’s hematocrit level went above 50% then the UCI would have had to take action. We have to then surmise that it must be other blood values that are suspect in this case – maybe high reticulocyte levels. The problem here is that the science can never give a black and white answer – it will only be “consistent with” or “in all probability” – never a definitive Yes/No. See Ashenden’s Testimony (UCI Blood Expert) at the Contador CAS hearing. INRNG touched on this already (http://inrng.com/2012/04/whats-up-with-the-bio-passport/). I think Armstong’s lawyers will make this go away…

Rooie June 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm

@david

Claudia Pechstein, a german speed-skater, received a two year ban because of high reticulocyte levels. She went to CAS, but lost her case.

Labrador of Perception June 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm

If Lance is proven to have doped, will this have implications for him arising form the SCA case, since he provided sworn testimony.

bluesky June 16, 2012 at 12:01 am

ok….. lots of people get over ‘the cancer’ (and lots dont coz i know coz my dad died in april this year from ‘the cancer’ ….. lance got over ‘the cancer’….chapeau to u lance…..ur legacy is built on guilt….. the more money u raise the deeper u bury the shame of cheating ………. i sleep easy …. do you ? ….. i don’t think so….. and to think i had u up there as a someone to inspre me.. …………. fallen dreams

Kris June 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Same here. My mom died of cancer a few days after Lance equalled the record of Eddy Merckx (5 TdF wins). For her, Lance was an inspiration. I always liked Lance more than Ullrich, for the simple reason that he was much more professional, he revolutionised training methods in cycling, he showed himself in the Spring Classics and he had guts. At least before he became arrogant like hell and started to chase down guys like Simeoni. Lance is also a victim of his time, just like Ullrich, Pantani, Vandenbroucke, Jimenez, Virenque and so on. What has bothered me more and more is that Lance insists on being a saint amongst a whole peloton of epo and blood transfusion customers. That is not right, and there he lost all my respect. The indirect evidence he has done the same as all the others is there for many years, just come clean and be a real man, Lance. You will save face! Nobody needs to take away your seven TdF titles (who would they give them to?), but at least come clean just like everybody else has done. The same goes for Bruyneel: admit just like Riis did, don’t deny, just admit and we all will move on in peace.

DrDave June 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

This is again so sad for this amazing sport of cycling.
One thing has always worried me!

Several years ago ,Vanity Fair published a damning expose on the whole LA affair.
With such a direct attack,I always wondered why LA did not suit them for defamation and and and………

An old latin saying comes to mind.
Silentio Te Consentire
Silence is Consent
Just my feeling
DD

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