Lance Armstrong’s Road to Redemption

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Armstrong Oprah Winfrey

Lance Armstrong to confess to doping? Thanks to USADA there’s already hundreds of pages of evidence. At first the Oprah Winfrey interview looked like a celebrity stunt. Only the story now seems to be going a step further with reports that Armstrong will testify against senior UCI officials, shifting the story away from sofa interview into the saddle of pro cycling.

But the road to redemption will make riding seven Tours look easy. For starters if he wants to reduce his ban, getting it shorter than eight years looks tough and that’s just confronting the textual certainty of the WADA Code. Changing public opinion is altogether different.

Why now? Armstrong’s refusal to admit to anything since the USADA verdict probably owes more to legal worries than personal problems and self-denial. To confess in full would expose him to massive litigation risk. Treading the frontiers of morality, public perception and the law is no easy task. Presumably he has found a way through, or at least a vague map.

Lance Armstrong mist

Armstrong emerges from the mist

Confession vs Apology
You can say sorry without admitting much. See Jason Giambi, a baseball player with the New York Yankees caught in the BALCO scandal. In 2005 New York times reported his apology:

I accept full responsibility for that, and I’m sorry,” he said.
What he did not fully say, however, was what he was sorry for.

Giambi was caught but could not admit to the use of steroids. “I know the fans might want more,” Giambi said. “But because of all the legal matters, I can’t get into specifics.” A fuller confession came a few years later.

Publicity Caravan
It seems Armstrong is going further. A publicity caravan worthy of the Tour de France precedes the Oprah interview by several days, lobbing leaked freebies and supplying drive-by briefings to the waiting fans and media.

Setting the tempo
Armstrong’s been readying public opinion in the textbook way he’d soften up the peloton. Just as he hired Michele Ferrari, now he’s got Mark Fabiani, the public relations consultant who helped President Clinton and Goldman Sachs through difficult moments. Fabiani’s staff plus an entourage of lawyers will have prepared Armstrong as diligently as Ferrari: rehearsing lines, simulating tactical scenarios and measuring word count. Just as Armstrong had a hotline to the UCI in his race days, these days his team are working the phone to USADA.

Out on the road photographer Graham Watson seems to be the first to take a pull on the front for Armstrong train with his blog with gems like the level playing field fallacy and curious relativism: “he didn’t kill anyone along the way, and as a father of five, he’s no child molester either.” Since then many sections of the media have taken pulls with briefings, citing familiar sources to set the tempo of opinion. Like Jan Ullrich putting his Telekom team to work, even Armstrong’s opponents like Sunday Times journalist David Walsh have helped with publicity. All that remains now is for Oprah’s verbal slipstream to lead Armstrong out of the valley of denial towards the a scripted TV confession, preferably with a money-shot “look” to rival the moment he stared at Ullrich on the Alpe. Only there’s no finish line.

The Col de Rédemption
The Oprah Winfrey show is merely a primetime prologue. It’ll set the tone, many will all extrapolate from his performance, but the key stages lie ahead. The hors catégorie Col de Rédemption awaits, its incline lined with a crowd of cynical journalists, angry fans and disgusted cancer patients. There are legal potholes deep enough buckle any bank account plus the slippery descent into a place called humility. Johan Bruyneel doesn’t appear to be in the driving seat. What about all the prize money he earned? Will he flick Hein Verbruggen into the ditch? Oprah is just the start.

Floyd Landis Lance Armstrong

Reports say Armstrong will rat on the UCI

Can you believe it?
For years one of Armstrong’s attack lines was that the likes of Floyd Landis were proven liars who could not be believed. Since they lied for years about doping even when confronted and convicted, how could people believe their allegations against Armstrong? Now this weak logic could apply to Armstrong: he lied and denied for so long so why should we believe him now? I joked on Twitter about onion-doping to get the tears flowing for TV but there’s a serious point: given the lengths he went to with doping and concealment, what chance the full truth comes out now?

For years Armstrong hid inside a fortress of deceit ringed with a yellow moat of charity. Each new lie and every statement of denial made the walls ever thicker. It’s partly why he’s on a different register to contemporaries like Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso or the late Marco Pantani. Climbing out from the rubble will take more than a TV chatshow. That’s why news of talks with USADA matters and now the reports that he will testify against others, notably “officials from the UCI.”

Reducing the ban
What can he get from this? Well a reduction in the life ban is possible but only by bargaining. Here’s the WADA code’s Article 10 (my selection and emphasis):

10.5.3 An Anti-Doping Organization… may… suspend a part of the period of Ineligibility imposed in an individual case where the Athlete or other Person has provided Substantial Assistance … …The extent to which the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended shall be based on the seriousness of the anti-doping rule violation committed by the Athlete or other Person and the significance of the Substantial Assistance provided by the Athlete or other Person to the effort to eliminate doping in sport. No more than three-quarters of the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility may be suspended. If the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility is a lifetime, the non-suspended period under this section must be no less than eight (8) years.

In plain English Armstrong will have to go full rodent and offer up people at the UCI and more, perhaps those linked to US Cycling. But should he help the anti-doping agencies or perhaps the FBI and Dept of Justice catch those further up the food chain, he’s not going to be racing again soon. Because he’s already accepted a life ban and because he did not appeal the verdict  the rules suggest he’ll have to serve a minimum eight year ban.

It seems my interpretation of the WADA Code is the same as USADA’s Travis Tygart as a detailed Wall Street Journal piece recounts:

Mr. Tygart told Mr. Armstrong that he had already had his chance to come clean, and that, at best, if he gave full cooperation, the ban would be eight years.

Conclusion
This is only a sofa interview but Oprah reaches US households in a way that no subdomain of the USADA website can. The TV interview appears to mark the start of choreographed process aimed at redemption rather than a one-off appearance.

Whether this works remains to be seen. There’s talk of a $100 million lawsuit, a suspiciously round number but scary-big all the same especially as it’s not unique: newspapers, races and others want his money too. As much as Armstrong’s media performances can be stage-managed by lawyers, there’s plenty that can wrong because the cast of other actors is so big.

Reducing the life ban is possible but below eight years looks tough. But redemption comes in more ways that a licence to swim, cycle and run. Testifying against others one way to help clear up but it’s near impossible to reverse the damage done.

Surely the hardest part of the story is being a father? Armstrong had many Oedipal comparisons. Maybe you can fool an anti-doping test and delude fans who stand on the side of a mountain? But as a father now how do you tell your children that many of the things they see around them were acquired by breaking the rules, that you’re a cheat? Maybe that’s a question only Oprah can ask?

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{ 107 comments }

InTheGC January 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I suspect there are quite a few people wishing the ground would open up and swallow them right now. If Armstrong tells all, some high flyers heads are certainly going to roll.

Michael Roecklein January 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I hope an 8 year ban is motivation enough to make those heads roll. Though its not like he has to race sanctioned events, so this must be more about cleaning up his name (pun intended).

I imagine Livestrong is working on a non sanctioned triathlon series as we speak.

Skippy January 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Like everyone else CNN News have jumped on the band wagon BIG TIME ! Wish they could get their facts straight , however !
Pedro Pinto claims to have interviewed Lance about Doping in 2001 , and thus said , get this “The well known french rider LeMond “! Another gem was ” LiveSTRONG ” the Cancer Research Foundation , could he be mis-speaking on both occasions ?
Oprah must think she has struck GOLD , since now , we the viewers , will be expected to sit through TWO episodes ! No doubt there will be more episodes created , based on the feeding frenzy already in progress : CBS Morning Show , today , allowed her to cast even more teasers , ” I was satisfied ” & ” He did not come Clean in the manner i expected ” .

Oprah claims She and her Staff were ” Mesmorised and Riveted by answers to most of the 112 questions that she had prepared . David Walsh , Tyler Hamilton , Paul Kimmage and others got a plug for their books on this report . Didn’t hear her mention my Open Letters which were in my Blogs and the links tweeted to her and others !

Raouligan January 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I do wonder how much of this is to head off Bruyneel who’s agreed to go to arbitration, and who is potentially in a position to acuse the same officials of the same thing?

Wh knows we may see a full and frank confession and further detail, that will be confirmed by Bruyneel at arbitration.

It’s just tragic that this level of unpleasantness has received more coverage really than Nicole Cooke’s entire career in the cycling press.

Espresso January 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Nice read. What can LA do to the UCI that they have not already done to themselves already?

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Sometimes the UCI can appear clumsy but there are no outright examples of corruption. We can warm about ethics like taking donations from athletes or the conflict of interest with a team owner sitting on your executive board etc or the odd media gaff but this is not as serious as Armstrong somehow supplying evidence that results in UCI officials having to explain themselves to WADA etc.

Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

When the President of the UCI was himself banned as a cyclist from entering the Olympics by his own country because he defied a worldwide sporting ban on South Africa due to its apartheid rule….? When his son leads the bid for a World Cup host city? Come on…

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Sure it’s not good but the same officials are still there. It looks bad but can you prove the corruption? That’s another step.

DB January 16, 2013 at 4:06 am

Agree that corruption is not the right word but perhaps it conveys they concern we have that these guys are so conflicted, they cannot lie straight in bed, and they have zero credibility in many peoples eyes.

Perhaps the point is this, the UCI proved incompetent in cleaning up the sport after The Festina affair, indifferent after the death of Pantani et al, and marginally interested after Puerto. Perhaps this smoking gun will be the catalyst for a real change in their DNA. Afterall the various ADA’s have decided not to waste their time & money on the review

BC January 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I will believe a far reaching confession, with names, when I hear it.
I don’t buy the line that this is all taking place so LA can run, swim and cycle a little !

Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

He’d make a perfect triathlete, self obsessed w@nker that he is…

Doubter January 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm

+1

Dustin January 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Whooooaaa. Lets not go that far. Quite a generalization!

RobertBB January 16, 2013 at 2:19 am

lol

Anon January 16, 2013 at 11:56 am

that’s an absolute gem

Graeme January 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I was under the impression that the World Triathlon Corporation (who run Ironman events) is a private company, and they could allow him to race in their events even if he’s been banned. Although he might only get his ban down to 8 years, his sudden bout of honesty might be enough for WTC to feel they can allow him to race in their events without getting too badly hammered by the public.

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

They are private but have still partnered with WADA. As you say a private company could reach a private agreement but it can’t push WADA too hard.

Graeme January 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for the clarification – I wasn’t sure on the WADA situation.

Bruno Sousa January 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Although against the rules, I sure wouldn’t mind if his ban went down to 2 our 4 years if as compensation he offered sufficient evidence to bring down Verbruggen and McQuaid.
I follow a bit of triathlon (also against The Rules :) ) and it would be interesting to see how his bike race would affect the dynamics in Kona. Not gonna happen anytime soon.

MaLóL January 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

actually, what is against the rules is to ban any cyclist after a certain amount of years. That is why they can’t ban Riis. And that’s why if anything is found today about, for example, Indurain, they can’t ban him. Amrstring can only be banned if it’s proven that UCI covered him. Otherwise it will be an illegal ban, no matter how much he doped.

Bud January 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm

His lifetime ban is a done deal. It’s not illegal. Every i dotted and t crossed. He lost by default and filed no appeal. His only hope is 8 years, or wada/usada doing a one-off and disregarding 10.5.3.

Paolo January 16, 2013 at 1:15 am

Do you mean his bike race riding clean or doped up? Might not have any effect if he rides clean as a 40+year old.

Bruno Sousa January 16, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Paolo, even riding clean he could mess things up. The top Ironman triathletes such as Chris McCormack and Craig Alexander are around 40. The thing is the bike section is basically a time trial, those guys calculate their watts and move ahead. If you had an element like Armstrong up the road opening a gap, their plans would have to change, because no one would be able to tell how big the gap could get. Also, he’s far more conditioned to change his pace on the bike, increasing and reducing speeds, something triathletes are not so used to do. So he would bring some elements of cycling into triathlon that could affect how things normally get done. And he would have a shot of winning, although the top 10 guys are extraordinary athletes, anyone can win in a good day.

Also agree his lifetime ban is a done deal. Anyways, as a lawyer I found the cover up justification a bit of a stretch to bypass the statute of limitations. Haven’t seen any comments on that or gone into the Reasoned Decision, but looking at it from a Civil Law perspective (I’m licensed in Brazil, so really can’t give my opinion on Common Law matters), it could be acceptable if they considered the breach of rules as ongoing – but if the breach itself is doping or facilitating doping, you could determine quite precisely in time when it happened. It probably wouldn´t hold up in a criminal or civil court in Civil Law countries, but might suffice for WADA purposes.

P. Kirby January 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm

This will the first (and probably only) time I will ever watch an Oprah show. I’m interested to hear not only what he says, but how he says it and phrases his answers. It could be like the Giambi example above, but that would make for really poor TV and the show is 90 minutes long so I’m thinking there’s a little more meat on the bone than that.

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Well the interview is going to be in two parts now, the editors are struggling to edit. So it might be you watch more than once.

P. Kirby January 16, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Indeed. I learned of that this morning. *sigh* Oh well…

Guy January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

‘For years Armstrong hid inside a fortress of deceit ringed with a yellow moat of charity’ – a great turn of phrase.

Dave January 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Was just about to say the same thing – it’s positively poetic!

Chuffy January 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I enjoyed “full rodent”. Nice – one of your own or have I just missed a pop-culture cop show reference?

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I just had the “Landis rat” photos and if Armstrong wants to reduce the ban he’ll have to give “substantial assistance” to USADA which means being a big rat too.

Paul O'D January 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Any chance his suspension is backdated, perhaps to his retirement in 2011? That would put a small dent in the 8 years. Although it would stretch the bounds of credibility, perhaps his first retirement could be ‘credited’ to the 8 years too. Seems far fetched but not much more latitude than was given Contador or any of the guys who testified to USADA, no?

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

That’s possible, you can subtracting here and there, life to eight years and then shift the dates.

TG January 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm

He may have retired from the pro peloton but was he not still competing in UCI sanctioned events?

toddbhowman January 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I like how you equated this to a stage race. “the Oprah Whinfrey show is merely a primetime prologue”
brilliant!

Abdu January 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm

It’s always claimed how much money LiveStrong has raised, but I haven’t seen a journo check out how much they actually put towards research or treatment? Lazy journos happy to feed off his gravy train and rehash Press Releases, none seem to question if the charity feeds back into his lifestyle or how ‘efficient’ it is with donations.
Much like the Shane Warne Foundation, which ‘employs’ his family, doesn’t publish accounts (despite reputable charities doing so) or confirm how much $ is genuinely spent rather than just funding his lifestyle and hosting parties for him…

Sam January 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Abdu – not strctly true. Bill Gifford wrote this artcile for Outside Online a year ago
http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/athletes/lance-armstrong/Its-Not-About-the-Lab-Rats.html?page=all

RogerH January 15, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Next Thursday 9/8c, eh? So is this one of those web purchases where you can pay what you think it’s worth? Think I’ll go for 8 cents rather than 9.

Dave January 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

For those who haven’t read it yet then the statement released yesterday by Nicole Cooke announcing her retirement makes interesting reading. “Cheats win on the way up as well as the way down” (or words to that effect) was a line that stuck out for me. On this basis, do we really need to give LA Inc any more publicity?

Nick January 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Yeah, it was an incredible statement on so many levels.

David C January 15, 2013 at 10:30 pm

When Pat and Hein are forced out after Armstrong’s interview, I think Nicole Cooke would make an interesting choice for head of the UCI. Maybe in a few years…

Dave E January 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Now there is a thought, a rider who cares about the female side of the sport being head of the UCI, a refreshing change I think.

Wheelsucker January 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Yup, she had a lot of very interesting things to say.

Abdu January 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm

By last count, in the 18 team Pro Tour management there are 42 ex dopers, dope facilitators (dodgy doctors and managers) and just plain ‘unlucky’ types in management who seem to go from team to team dope scandals in their wake. Every single team in the pro peloton has a murky manager/staff. Heck, Ochewicz is pretty unlucky having managed Lance at Motorola but never known or seen anything, now at BMC he didn’t know about that Siognie either…never questioned George either.

They’re all glad the heat is off them.

Haven’t even questioned what the UCI is doing about Vino’s LBL cheating, etc.?

Sam January 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Och, Rhis, the lot of them, just keeping their heads down in the hope that the storm will blow over

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

The UCI was supposed to have held a hearing between Vino and Kolobnev earlier this month but there’s no news on this, it could have been moved.

Salsiccia January 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Who’s going to believe this is anything but a self-serving admission?

How much of it can we actually believe? He’s lied for so long, could there be more just to make him look better? We all suspect Hein and Pat were in on it, but if Lance comes out and says it, does that make it more believable? Or could it just be Lance throwing others under the bus to redeem himself slightly?

Gator Pete January 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm

After Friday can we focus on the 2013 season ? PLEASE ?
Lance did what everyone else was doing, he was just better at it maybe (?!).
Cycling is tarnished BUT the one thing that remains true, is the fact WE ALL LOVE TO RIDE. That will never be tarnished.

P.S. I think everyone with an “inring” t-shirt will be the coolest cats at their bike shop/coffee shop.

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Sure and I’ve not been too interested on the Armstrong story but wanted to explore what he’ll get from this, for example if he can reduce the ban.

Greg Keller January 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Brilliant post, one of my favorites. The last graf would be a good place to point out how Lance even used his own children as props in his lies. Here’s what he said in “Every Second Counts” -
“Luke’s name is Armstrong and people know that name, and when he goes to school I don’t want them to say, ‘Oh yeah,your dad’s the big fake, the doper.’ That would just kill me.”

Larry T. January 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Then there was the load of BS he spewed in Paris after his 7th “win”…..looks pretty hollow in retrospect. This guy really is a piece of s__t in my opinion, not fit to wipe Greg LeMond’s a__. All those who weren’t fooled must be feeling pretty good right now after being vindicated by the FACTS.

Bill Ward January 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Has anyone looked into trying to establish a figure for what Lance has generated for his sponsors (subjective I know) over the years? Nike as a percentage probably smaller but for Trek or some of the smaller Co? They’ve ridden that cash-cow for years and profited handsomely..

Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

From Nicole Cooke’s retirement statement;

“When Lance ‘cries’ on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward – just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances.”

The full statement is worth a read. It’s printed in The Guardian, here;
http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/jan/14/nicole-cooke-retirement-statement

Lance Armstrong should be stood in front of a judge to confess, not sat in front of a talk show host. That’s the only way he can even begin to redeem himself, and by taking the punishment that comes with it. The man is a complete fraud and should be tried as such.

no one really January 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm

cooke has a point but lance is hardly the only reason for cycling being in the state it is in, and he never has been (see post above regarding mgrs, riders, by Abdu).

to lay all the blame at the foot of one person avoids looking at the broader issue which then makes it impossible to fix the problem by refusing to accurately identify it.

Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm

She’s not saying Lance Armstrong is the only reason for cycling being in the state it’s in. She also goes into some detail about Geneviève Jeanson, someone who she herself competed against;
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2007/09/20/jeanson-doping.html

She also gives mention to Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, and the UCI itself. No one can lay the blame at the foot of one person because the list of names goes on and on. In the end many of the ones who get caught come seeking redemption, either via a media interview or by writing a book.

The rest of us would face a court of law for committing fraud or drug trafficking – all manner of corruption, and rightly so. But many of the cheats seem to profit from it, earning more from their confessions than the clean riders make in a whole career.

I think that’s one of the points she’s trying to make, and I agree with her.

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

It’s a great statement… but it’s being buried by the Armstrong story. If she’d done it a week earlier or later a lot of the media would have listened but now it’s background noise. Not that she should time these things for maximum impact, rather the media will miss a lot of what she’s saying.

Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 9:21 pm

On the contrary, and with all due respect, Inner Ring. Maybe she timed it just right because she’s getting an awful lot of publicity over it, in the UK at least – the way she speaks her mind on Lance Armstrong and others. She’s also earning herself a lot of respect for it into the bargain. Radio and TV interviews, plus lots of internet coverage. Some may argue that her timing was near perfect.

Just Google her name, the results are there for all to see. She’s even getting mentioned on The Inner Ring for goodness sake – something that may not have happened had she not announced it this week of all weeks? … and in such a manner.

Not many cycling stories will top the Lance Armstrong one over the coming days, if any at all. But Nicole Cooke chose to announce her retirement from the sport this week, and take a massive parting shot at some the people responsible for almost bringing it to its knees – including the women’s side of the sport.

One thing is for sure. More Nicole Cooke’s and less Lance Armstrong’s and cycling would be in a much healthier place right now. At least the former bowed out with a lot more dignity than the latter – bad timing or not.

Fuga123 January 15, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Yes, read Nicole Cooke’s statement the other day – that is the sort of cycling story i want to read. I’m sick of Lance. I want some inspiration… More Nicole, less Lance

Dan January 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Inner Ring – like you I hope it isn’t buried. I retweeeted the story yesterday with the comment that I would ensure my 15 year old daughter read it.

Will you be able to find time next week to do a full piece on her statement?

Alex January 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I think the real scandal here is the number of times Inner Ring has reused that ‘yellow skinsuit le tour man’ photo.

Simstim January 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm

That’s because it’s Inner Ring!

The Inner Ring January 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I think this only the second or third time? It’s because I have to pay for the photos. But it brings a lighter touch to the darker problems.

TheDude January 16, 2013 at 1:55 am

-100

Peter Minde January 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

My first thought, some months ago: What did Lance tell his kids? What does he tell all those who rode clean, that he cheated? I’m glad I don’t own a functioning television: I’m not interested in watching the drama.

Touriste-Routier January 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm

The question I haven’t seen asked or answered: Is Lance or LiveStrong being paid a fee or is any money changing hands for this exclusive appearance? Considering both Lance & Oprah are “retired”…

anderson January 15, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Best piece of writing on this subject that I’ve seen yet. THanks

Higgins January 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm

What a ghastly circus this is all turning into.

For some reason, the whole thing reminds me of those images of OJ Simpson’s station wagon cruising down the highway followed by an entourage of Police vehicles and every moment captured for the world media audience…

Steve January 15, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Yes, and with his five kids dragged behind him for all to lament.

Sad, but it will only make pro cycling stronger and more transparent.

Thanks Everyone as it is a circus on wheels.

Team Spy January 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Despicable as the man is, at the end of the day Armstrong is a small fish in the whole sordid story. This is a side show compared to getting to the bottom of why the criminal investogation was stopped and who took that decision and why. Even if Armstrong names everyone in UCI down to the tea lady and they have to turn all the lights out and lock up, there will still be the real big rats (pardon the mammalian and picine references…) further up the food chain who not only turned a blind eye to all of this but actively discouraged bringing this to the obvious conclusion at the time of the Novitsky investigation. If that had been allowed to take its inevitable course Armstrong and his UCI cronies would have been banged to rights way back and Armstrong wouldnt be able to use ratting as his get out of jail card.

The Landis case will also go the same way because the big rats will ensure that the US government doesn’t jump on board and without them the case will fail.

SeeingElvis January 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Inrng,
Outrageously good writing: ” lobbing leaked freebies and supplying drive-by briefings,” Graham Watson taking a pull…, just great stuff.
To make such a sad and despicable tale entertaining is an art. Chapeau!

SeeingElvis January 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm

…and cheers to Nicole Cooke for a simply amazing career. She deserves a proper send-off, but is overshadowed, of course, like everything else cycling these days, by one Mr. Armstrong.
Her statement is indeed both sad and chillingly instructive. Wishing you well, Nicole.

Oh, and Paddy? They’re comin’ for ya, Lad! Time to peruse the want-ads!

Big Mikey January 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Gotta say that watching this is actually more exciting than watching bike racing…….
Looking forward to more heads rollin’

Anon January 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Firstly, brilliant piece, again. Thank you.

Secondly, I think this is for another challenge. He clearly wants them. Look at all the events in his life. This guy is obsessed with conquering challenges, which is admirable – but looking at the cost and effects it just shows what maddening desire/ego can do to a person and the people around them.

I always think that Lance would’ve been a darling to the Americans anyways with the cancer comeback and Livestrong foundation. He didn’t need to win a thing after that. Just getting back into the peleton from a 10% chance of survival is already freaking amazing – that, in itself is a dream for a lot of cancer survivors – just getting back to normal.

jonnyvelo January 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Hi Inrng – glad you picked up on Graham Watson. When I read his blog I was gobsmacked, below is my message to him. It’s very emotional but it’s how I felt at the time:

Dear Graham – you are one hell of a sick bastard. Having to fawn to that lying, cheating, bullying psychopath when he was on top is one thing. Not honourable but as you write “Let’s face it, I’m not likely to utter any bad words about a cyclist who helped so much to escalate my earnings …..”. But to continue after the USADA report is inexplicable – unless he’s offering you something in return. Are we looking forward to some exclusive pictures soon?

He may ‘not have killed anyone’ but do you think Emma O’Reilly, Simeone, Basson (to name but three) would agree with you that he’s ‘not the manipulative bully’ he’s being made out? Oh, you must have forgotten the people he crushed.

Graham I have absolutely no respect for you. Phil Ligget may have spoken like a fool before he read the USADA report but he had the sense to shut up since.

You don’t blog for 5months but then find the time like others to soften up the public in advance of his TV confession. It’s so fucking depressing – I hope the money is worth your reputation.

Guy January 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Pretty much sums up my feelings about him too.

the lower depths January 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

when reading Watson’s POV, i too was struck by the oddness and kiss-up nature of it, but then i reflected for a minute and thought “just because he takes nice pictures, doesn’t mean he’s a smart guy” …

SeeingElvis January 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm

jonnyvelo, respect for your missive to GH. Philsy has been deservedly losing my support for many years (simply amazing how often he misses obvious tactical moves), but I always admired Graham’s work- still do, from a photog point of view, own at least 2 of his books, but that was a pretty lame blog on his part.

Can’t wait for some racing! Allez, Fabian and Tornado Tom!

James January 15, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Just a quick message – Thanks for the amazing blog, even better than the usual high standards. It’s a great summary of the issues surrounding Armstrong over the coming months and years.

Kemelberg January 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi all, the idea that LA wants to compete again in triathlons seems delusional , no?
With an 8 year ban served, LA would be 48-49yrs? I don’t really follow triathlon, but that seems an age beyond competing at top level?
So what would he gain from competing again other than a failed comeback ? No sporting reason behind any of this whatsoever and for that reason I am out!

Kemmelberg January 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Hi all, the idea that LA wants to compete again in triathlons seems delusional, no?
Even with an 8 year ban served, LA would be 48-49yrs? I don’t really follow triathlon, but that seems an age beyond competing at top level?
So what would he gain from competing again other than a failed comeback ? No sporting reason behind any of this whatsoever and for that reason I am out!

Steve January 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Some of you ” US senior vets” may remember Inga Thompson a past olympic road race champion.

She also like Nicole , had a few choice words on doping and cheaters with as posted as a letter on velonews.
velonews.competitor.com/2012/12/analysis/opinion-thompson-says-cleaning.

Big Mikey January 16, 2013 at 4:17 pm

That is an amazingly well-written article, and should be a must-read piece of work. Extremely well spoken.

The link is here:
http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/12/analysis/opinion-thompson-says-cleaning-house-is-the-only-way-forward_267849

OJT January 15, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Superb piece. Armstrong has come back from the dead once. Doing so metaphorically must be easier than doing so literally.

OJT January 15, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Read ‘It’s Not About The Bike’ (again). Here is the very core of what Armstrong is: a man reduced to nothing who, through intense determination and self-belief, claws his way to the highest echelon. He uses every means necessary to accomplish this. I hate him but I have to respect him for being the very opposite of a quitter.

steppings January 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm

A session or two on the sofa, a spell in the Jungle, a couple of seasons in Panto and I can really see a good future for Lance!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch sad to see Nicole Cooke retire this week but I surely hope her future will continue to ruffle some feathers in the cycling world. A way to the top is not all “marginal gains”.

ave January 15, 2013 at 11:31 pm

So what if he throws up Verbrugghen? He’s on the IOC, corruption is a must. :|

Whatever he says, he still doped, lied for years, and made life tough for many. There’s no way to make all that disappear.
***** cheat.

Ken January 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I have to admit, I’m tired of the Lance Armstrong soap opera. But, if he brings down the fools heading the UCI, it just might be worth all the fuss. Good reporting!

ds January 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I wonder if Mr Chris Horner has now an idea about the behavior of his buddy Lance…

SeeingElvis January 16, 2013 at 6:34 am

Chris is a good tactical rider who spent enough time on US domestic teams (read- middling salary) to know who buttered his bread when Lance finally came knocking. In fact, he joins Phil and Paul and Graham, the astounded, the last hangers-on, “Well, I never…”

Memo to Paddy: start cleaning out your office, Lad.

slim jim January 16, 2013 at 12:32 am

I was really hoping he would come out in this interview and continue to deny deny deny – not because I want to believe him (I haven’t for quite some time) but because it would take some serious moxy.

TheDude January 16, 2013 at 1:51 am

I’m sure Sir Lancerat has plenty of pesetas stashed in off shore accounts around the globe far from the long arm of any underfunded bureaucratic g-men trying to recover a few quid for the benefit of the people. This seems fun, or better yet, compulsively necessary for LA’s black hole size ego. Not being neck deep in sycophants has induced some serious psychological DTs for the mench.

SeeingElvis January 16, 2013 at 6:07 am

Well said, Duderino. Nice Marmot.

TheDude January 16, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Strikes and Gutters, Man. :-)

PT January 16, 2013 at 4:32 am

Well written and you’ve captured a lot of Armstrong’s campaign strategy but kind of beside the point for me. For the sake of cycling, lets hope its not just about Lance.

If all that comes of this is that USADA or WADA or UCI can say “we got Lance” then its an opportunity missed. He may have done some terrible things and be the biggest villain on the block but he’s not alone. As several others have commented above, there is a lot of activity around the various organising bodies that does not smell great and could frankly do with a little sunshine. I saw a mention somewhere else that Lance is prepared to testify – but not against any other cyclists. That in itself is hard to draw a line through but if true it shows an interesting intent.

Scott January 16, 2013 at 5:34 am

I’m curious as to the other aspect that this confession may have – could LA face criminal charges for perjury for the video deposition he gave a few years ago – I think it was regarding the lawsuit where he was being refused a bonus for winning one of his last Tours. Or is there a short statute of limitations on perjury in the USA?

PT January 16, 2013 at 5:58 am

@Scott, this will raise questions such as the one you point out. The testimony you mention was for a private company (SCA in Dallas as I recall) and not in court so I don’t know if there would be a criminal charge – a civil case might be more likely. There are different statues in different states in the US I believe – not to mention other countries – with regards to perjury, retrospectivity etc. Lots of folks seem to be lining up to get their money back, time will tell how successful they are. Their lawyers will need to be sharp.

Stephen_M January 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

PT – I’m not sure I follow your point, but if my memory serves me correctly…

The ‘SCA case’ refers to Tailwind Sports (inc. LA as a self-proclaimed 10% shareholder, at that time) taking a civil action against jointly SCA Promotions & Ted Lyonhamman insurers over the matter of an additional $5M bonus payment for the 6th Tour victory. It was apparently at Armstrong’s insistence that they went to court. The action was laid at the Dallas County District Court, but LA’s testimony was recorded in Tim Herman’s office. As part of the video, it is made very clear to LA that the penalties of perjury were attached to his recorded deposition, just as if they had been made in court.

Obviously, a perjury trial would be nothing to do with money. There would be scope for LA to settle any claims and make suitable statements to recant any comments which would probably settle matters. The witness intimidation might be harder to make go away though…

J-Lo January 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

Depending on what LA chooses to say, there could be some big ramifications from this:

http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cycling/cycling-could-face-olympic-axe-pound-20130116-2csjk.html

Calum Mackay January 16, 2013 at 11:44 am

Alleged fraud, trafficking, conspiracy, etc, aside, would LA also open himself up to possible criminal charges by a confession, in countries where “simple” self-doping is a criminal offence?

jonnyvelo January 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Hi – just thought you may like to read the response from Graham Watson to my email I copied on Inner Ring yesterday. I’ll leave you to make up your mind:

Hi John, thank you very much for your extensive e-mail. I enjoyed reading
it just now, and have consigned it to a special folder I keep for such
correspondence. I am sorry you feel the way you do, but I understand -
Lance is either loved or hated, with nothing in-between. I was never
bullied by him, quite the opposite in fact, so why would I call him a
bully when he was not, at least not to me? I can only write it the way it
is, honestly, and I am sorry you feel so strongly against my honesty.
Everybody who loves cycling will be dealing with the Lance saga in a
multitude of different ways, my principal method is to remember the
thrills he brought everybody back in the day but now move on. Better times
lie ahead.

best,

Graham Watson

Jason January 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I agree in part with Graham Watson that LA should be treated with greater respect.. he has offered much for the sport and most of all publicity, at first good and now bad.. I assume that many people in the sport owe his legacy much of their financial success.. just look at this blog, whenever an LA topic comes up the comments go over 100!!

Rocks Roots Road January 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Sigh… some people just don’t get it!

Jason January 16, 2013 at 3:12 pm

@rock roots road please elaborate as I really do not get it.. I am unwilling to crucify or swear at someone who at some time inspired me.. his punishment (as Inrng corrently points out) is to explain his deed and ethos to his children.. On the other hand nobody can deny that LA’s name still makes money for many and when you have received some of that money then you must have a degree of respect (and in that I agree with Watson)..

Doubter January 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Errrr……….you still don’t get it.
That behavior deserves no respect. Shameful.

Rocks Roots Road January 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Jason, If LA inspired you through his cancer survivorship – then fair play. On the other hand, Lance Armstrong made $millions through cheating his way to the very top of the sport and this was not just a one off. It was systematic and carried out over a number of years. He bullied people and he tried to silence people when they spoke out against him. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Being a cancer survivor doesn’t suddenly give you the right to deceive and manipulate for your own personal gain. I personally admired the man who survived cancer, who wouldn’t? – but over the year’s – I gradually realised that the myth was not real.

diamondjim January 17, 2013 at 7:58 am

Oh, Mr Ring, you have outdone yourself this time. This entry is a veritable cornucopia of outstanding and appropriately excessive simile, metaphor, analogy and – dare I say it – good old fashioned cliché (the likes of which Phil&Paul would be proud).
You have indeed gone full-rodent with this tour de force (or should that be tour de farce?)
Chapeau!
:-)

fjorthur January 18, 2013 at 5:15 am

Who cannot wait to buy L A’s new book, It’s Not About the Bile, at Walmart’s for 1.99 ?

suckkkk January 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm

he is fuck lied whole
betrayed others.
NEVER FORGIVE
NEVER REDEMPTIOM

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