Lance Armstrong vs Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong has been cleared as the federal investigation into doping and financial irregularities was dropped. An announcement was quietly put out late on Friday.

During a lengthy investigation spanning 20 months, investigators failed to find a single reason to prosecute the seven time Tour de France winner. Grand jury testimony against Armstrong came from embittered former colleagues with proven records of doping and deceit.

The end of the investigation will prove humiliating to federal investigator Jeff Novitzky who hounded Armstrong and recently failed in his bid to prosecute baseball player Barry Bonds.

The move to stop the investigation puts an end to the legal persecution endured by Armstrong. The famous cancer survivor can now resume his role as a charity fundraiser. Cycling fans can now draw a line under the past.

Lance Armstrong is facing fresh questions over his past as the federal investigation into doping and financial irregularities was dropped. An announcement was quietly put out late on Friday.

During a lengthy investigation spanning 20 months, investigators built a substantial dossier against the seven time Tour de France winner. Grand jury testimony against Armstrong mainly came from some of his closest former team mates who decided to speak out.

The end of the investigation could give the last laugh to federal investigator Jeff Novitzky who built the case against Armstrong and was responsible for exposing the doping of baseball player Barry Bonds.

The move to stop the investigation does not mark the end of Armstrong’s problems. The embattled cyclist will now find the US Anti-Doping Agency investigating him. Cycling fans will continue argue over his past achievements.

Long divisions
It is no surprise to find the subject of Lance Armstrong continues to divide cycling fans like nothing else. Having said this morning there was not much to say on the matter it seems many want to have a say, although it seems to involve both sides camping on their positions. If you think Armstrong rode clean then the end of the investigation is a validation; if you think he might have doped then you seek conspiracy or wait for USADA to pick up the baton.

It’s not just fans on forums. Even journalists have been debating today, watching the thoughts of many via twitter shows differences amongst the experts who are paid to weigh up evidence and report facts.

I find it fascinating to watch a concept of two truths, with both sides equally convinced they are right.

49 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong vs Lance Armstrong”

  1. What I don’t find fascinating is this need to re fight this battle over and over and over, until the end of times.

    Move on, people.

  2. Luis,

    I agree – a rehashing of the debate ad-nauseam is old (because arguing with people living in a fantasy world gets old), what should not happen is that the story gets forgotten or that USADA drop the case. Maybe I have a fetish for the truth, and for the historical record to reflect reality, but it would really sadden me if in a few years, Lance gets away with this one.

    Again – I am not angry at him for the cheating necessarily, but to then use his success and take it to another level to enrich himself (and that Foundation of his is an even bigger issue to me than the doping).

  3. Daniel +1.

    Just check out the attack on Luz Ardiden after he got snagged by the muzette.. no current ProTour rider could attack like that and sustain that pace for the length of climb he did. Again, after ‘The Look’ on L’Alpe, an attack of superhuman proportions..

    Full gas attacks in the High Alps or Pyrenees last for a few K’s at best these days due to the cleaner nature (or milder effect) of the juice. Armstong’s performances were the stuff of pharmaceutical legend – anyone naive enough to believe otherwise will doubtless remain convinced until they hear it from the old horses mouth itself.

  4. I can’t help feeling the same way as daniel and BA but the evidence presented to novitsky is either tainted, circumstantial or inadmissible. Its not about what was done, it’s about what you can prove.

  5. This is effectively the end of Lance’s problems…
    As evidenced here and elsewhere, most good folks can’t wait to “move on” (i.e., sweep it all under the rug). Advertisers will take notice. Being a sycophant is “in” again.
    Lance’s money and influence beat back federal prosecutors. With that in mind, you think he should be worried about whom now? Journalists? The hard-hitting commentaries of Phil and Paul? The cycling media? Blog posts? Perhaps the UCI while you are about it?
    Laissez-moi rire! It’s over. Lance got away with it, we can all go back to putting our heads in the sand now.

  6. If I understand right, the end of the federal investigation doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t dope. It just means that they couldn’t prove that he used US Postal sponsorship funds to pay for doping (which would have been a criminal offense). I might be wrong in my understanding, but I’m sure someone will correct me!!

    Despite the USADA investigation, I don’t think you’ll ever convince the world 100% whether he rode clean or not, but that probably says more about human nature than Armstrong himself.

    My greatest regret regarding Armstrong has always been that, in an era where cycling was synonymous with doping, he didn’t use his platform as the figurehead of the sport to lead from the front by vociferously condemning doping. His constant proclamations that he’d been tested thousands of times and never tested positive (which wasn’t technically true anyway) seemed a rather defensive position which always stuck me as odd when he’s so outspoken on so many other issues.

  7. regarding BA’s_Mohawk’s comments i’m not a big Lance fan but he would have been stupid to return to the tour using drugs so i think we can assume he was clean during the comeback. On the first attempt he was sec0nd and performed one of those ‘Full Gas’ moments on the petit saint bernard and if it wasn’t for a bad day on the pave and crashes on the Avoriaz stage he could have had another podium. Not bad for his age.

  8. @Karsten :

    Lance bridged back up to Bertie’s group that day. He didn’t attack full gas for 11Km and destroy everyone in the race. He caught the bunch and just sat in. There’s a big difference.. I suspect it has three initials. He didn’t even finish inside the top 10 that day and eventual winner Mikel Astarloza was found to be on the juice too!!

    Watching Lance in 2009 and 2010 was like watching Vino last year. The performances are based on a bedrock of training and racing over a period of a decade of using PEDs.

    I like Lance and Vino too. They had/have the right mentality for racing. It would be good to see some of the newer talent with their style of aggression. The Schleck sisters..etc..

  9. Who cares about the legal side, he knows he cheated, we know, he knows we know… every time he does a public event he’ll be secretly nervous that someone in the crowd isn’t a fanboy and boo’s him. That is MORE than comfort enough for me, a cheater squirming in his own skin is the best punishment possible.

  10. Very nicely presented – both for and against.

    As “gek” also commented: end of story, unresolved, each side wins / loses. Arguments to look forward to (or not) for many years.

    Can we now get on (Contador in the wings for the moment, of course) with some real pro cycling, please?

  11. What I find interesting is basically nothing was said other than investigation is over new investigation starting and folks are filling in all kinds of blanks and writing whatever story they want to bolster the vindication feeling.
    Regardless of how this proceeds or ceases I don’t think history will be kind to the most tested athlete in all of sports. The fact that a 7 tour winner divides cycling fans right down the middle says it all I think.

    The comeback was a bad idea.
    That we can all agree on, right?

  12. The point that too often seems missed is that this investigation was not re. whether Lance doped but whether he broke federal laws by defrauding the Postal Service or conspired to do so under RICO laws. It was always a stretch that the feds could prove this. It also seems highly unlikely that US-ADA will ever get their hands on the grand jury evidence (see C. Pelkey for legal reasons. Do I think that Lance doped, sure. Does the end of this investigation w/out any real case or trial show a conspiracy or the giant power of Lance’s lawyers, no. This legal case was never strong and we shouldn’t interpret its end as anything else.

  13. Innocent until proven guilty. Why is it so hard for you fools to believe that he was clean? Don’t you think that the HELL he went through during his cancer treatment was 100% harder than anything he could have to endure on his bike afterwards? Dropping those other guys in his Tour victories was easy for him, because his mind was stronger than his legs, not because he had juice flowing in his veins. Sorry boys and girls. He’s innocent whether you like it or not. LIVESTRONG

  14. Let me guess, Phil – “It’s not about the bike” is your favorite book, right? The naivette of people like you depresses me – selectively accept facts to suit their beliefs, instead of basing their beliefs on facts.

    Re-read what you wrote – it does even make any sense.

  15. “You have to give Armstrong some credit. How many others can legitimately lay claim to ruining an entire *color*?”

    thank’s BLT 🙂

  16. Perhaps I should split the comments in half? But as usual on here most people offer very civil views, thanks.

    On the subject of illness giving added determination, it is quite possible especially over the course of a season. But Armstrong was extremely driven prior to his illness; and note others in the peloton have had chemo.

  17. Nice presentation of the polemic. As you stated, most media is presenting one side or the other. As usual, the best analysis is on INRNG.

  18. The only thing I would ‘credit’ Armstrong with is the ability to buy off (or have a hold over) anyone associated with him. He is a liar, a cheat and a fraud. Anyone which still believes in him is either stupid or is wearing blinkers. I hope someday all his deceit comes back and bites him.

  19. While the case is still a derisive subject, what no one here has picked up on yet is the UCI’s reaction as showcased:

    Their attitude is to let sleeping dogs lie, which seems to be in direct conflict with WADA’s mission and the retention of samples for retroactive testing. So how long does a skeleton have to hang in a closet before it is too old to consider, should it rear its ugly head?

    We need to keep in mind that other than temporary humiliation happened to Riis, Zabel, and others of that era after their implication and later admissions. Perhaps this is as it should be; and a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

    However, if the UCI is really in the fight to combat doping, they probably need to declare a definitive policy that is consistent with WADA and their affiliates, not only with current issues, but defining how far back they will look. But inconsistency (going after some, while ignoring others) just reeks of corruption or cronyism.

  20. Touriste-Routier: I saw that yesterday and found it astounding. “Look to the future” is an odd idea given the UCI is seeking to overturn the result of the 2010 Tour de France with tomorrow’s CAS verdict and suing Paul Kimmage over his past statements. As you say consistency is a real problem, they don’t seem to realise how bad they look. And worse, if a few of us groan at the clumsy public statements, the volatile nature of the sports governing body impacts the image of the sport, sponsorship and the development.

  21. I started cycling at age 37 after tiring of running. The Armstrong phenomenon caused me to start watching cycling and riding. A seasoned campaigner of Fondos and Etapes and avid watcher of races big and small, I am now much more knowledgeable about the sport. I have come to believe that Armstrong likely doped. The fact that many (most?) of the other “heads of state” were doping wouldn’t excuse his actions. It does however provide context. Did he? Didn’t he? We may never know with the certainty of 2-dimensional fact, to borrow a phrase from an earlier post. Do I wish/hope he raced clean, yes. That said, this middle age guy is just thankful that the Armstrong phenomenon brought me to the bike 10 years ago. When I pound away on the turbo during the Winter I still find myself loading the DVD player with vintage Postal/Discovery era Tours. I know the Blue Train will shred the field. And I know Armstrong will drive the stake through the few, often known dopers, that remain on the final climb. Regardless of if he DID or DID NOT, to quote Floyd Landis, “he was a badass on the bike’.

  22. I’ve never been able to admire Armstrong’s achievements, whilst watching his many tour victories always in the back of my mind was the fact that he was obviously a bully, maybe this is just my English love of the romantic ideal of Sportmanship but I like to admire my heros as people, not just as winners at all costs, winning because of hard work and passion rather than just a desire to stop the other guy from winning. Then creeping in over the years have been the facts and hearsay about his links with doping, making his impressive achievements even more tainted rightly or wrongly.

    The federal investigation seemed tightly focused upon whether US Postal Service money was used to procure PED’s within the team and therefore whether fraud occurred but as Charles Pelkey states in (almost as good as Inrng!) Rule 6 seems to prohibit use of the investigations findings for all apart from attorneys and agencies engaged in enforcing federal criminal law. Because doping is not itself a federal offense in the USA there seem only a few ways that the information could come out, all could be argued against by Armstrong’s lawyers but it’s not impossible: Rule 6 indicates a possible sharing with foreign government, could this result in a sharing of information with Interpol?; USADA could try to use the UNESCO ‘International Convention against Doping in Sport’ that the US signed up with to make the Grand Jury share the information; or someone could leak it all… but this would probably prevent any future convictions. Then again, I know nothing about how all this works.

    I’m not going to say what I think about the UCI’s comments, they don’t deserve comment other than there is a big difference between deciding not to charge someone with fraud and being innocent of doping. I think I trust Lance more than Pat!

  23. I have close to zero doubt Armstrong doped. Probably more than Hinault and Induráin, just to mention his peer predecessors. But surely not more than Ullrich, Pantani and Beloki, to mention his contemporaries. I am all for thorough investigation. I want to know what he took, when and how. But not in order to sanction him, one way or the other, officially or unofficially. He’s a great champion with 7 GTs, and will always remain one. Yet we want to know all the details we still don’t know. Pro cycling history is like this. Fignon was one of the greatest, but I want to know if he overdid cortisone in 1983-4. I’m glad Willy Voet tod us why King Sean Kelly failed in Pyrenees in the one TdF he could’ve won (clumsy doping in 1983). I’ll always want to know more about how Maertens and his Flandria team were so overwhelming in 1976-77-78. And what about PDM, were they or not the EPO-mavericks? How could Delgado improve his TTs so much with them? A million fascinating questions…

  24. Serge,
    I do not necessarily mind a “bully” so to speak as a competitor. In fact, I think most of the great ones need that edge. But “bully” once the race is over? That is where I have an issue with Armstrong and his entire behavior pre-and-post race.

    But again – the issue to me is just ensuring history and the public know the “truth”. Someone who has (in my mind) gotten ill-gotten benefits from lies, deceits and coercive tactics while most of us try to play by the rules get under my skin.

  25. “I find it fascinating to watch a concept of two truths, with both sides equally convinced they are right.”

    I don’t know if I would call it fascinating, but it sure is something. The discussion and viewpoints put forward by some on Twitter and the interwebs where a little worrying for my taste. It goes to show that no matter what the verdict had been, they would turn it around and use it to further manifest their own beliefs pro or against a single person.

    Maybe he doped, maybe he didn’t. We will see the same from the Contador verdict tomorrow. If he gets suspended, one camp will blame CAS or conspiracy of the UCI, the other will say he got what he deserved. Turn that scenario around if he walks away.

    What people don’t seem to understand is that a decision from an authority/system has been made. If they don’t agree with that decision, be it for or against, it’s not really the athlete that is the problem, is it? It’s the system that’s wrong. But because people get caught up in all this person based rubbish, they blame Armstrong for wrongdoing because he got off. If he doped and he didn’t get caught, then direct your attention to the system that failed to prove it.

    I love the way this piece was structured btw.

  26. @ CAT4Fodder
    I agree, I think. On the road you need the self-confidence to win, the belief that you deserve your space on the road more than the rider next to you and more than the one in front, but this is a self-confidance and determination to dominate a race, the only cost to others should be not being able to come 1st. Armstrong bullied on and off the road – I’m thinking here of the time when a rider who had spoken out against Armstrong was in a break and as Armstrong chased them down (to not his race benefit) the escape group forced the rider out so that they had a chance to remain free. (I don’t remember the rider or date offhand so maybe my memory is elaborating). Petacchi on the otherhand – as mentioned in Wednesday Shorts – went too far in trying to dominate the race in Turkey but was man enough to apologise.
    I now just want to hear the truth about Armstrong’s doping (or indeed not) from a fair-minded independent investigation, not from hearsay or just from riders who might be holding a grudge.

  27. With Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton as star witnesses, how else did anyone expect this to end? I’m glad the prosecutors had the sense to drop the case. Old news, let it rest.

  28. The only thing I want to add to this is PLEASE do not let this blog end up like Velo, where the comments are mostly of the “you suck”…”no YOU suck!” variety. This has spread over to that other blog you mentioned along with the two writers who recently joined it. Inner Ring (so far) has been mostly free of the uneducated, “don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up!” vitriol. Mr. InnerRing guy – if you have to start moderating (meaning rejecting obnoxious and plainly stupid comments) it will be sad, but WAY better than letting your excellent meeting place degenerate into a shouting match. I hope all the folks who comment here will THINK before they post so moderating will not be required, especially as the “Il Pistolero” case news will (we hope anyway?) come out tomorrow.

  29. I agree Larry T. Velo started using facebook for comments a few days ago and I noticed people have been a lot less nasty. It amazes me when nasty people have to use real names they become nicer.

  30. Does weighing your pasta or triple measuring your saddle to crank height or using a friction lever provide you with enough of an edge to smoke your admitted/lab discovered juiced opponents on an international three week marathon? I don’t know.

    Can supreme genetics, a team of loyal super domestiques, and a very focused training regimen overcome an army of dopers? Possible. 7 times in a row? That’s a galactic stretch…

    I think he starts the debate more than anyone else because of what he’s won, the fame, and the legacy. It’s easier to forgive/forget some random 3rd place finisher who forgot to flush the evidence versus someone re-writing the history books. Maybe we all hate the overachiever or the guy who keeps taking cookies from the jar – especially when dopers are missing the mark. As an example, would we all be okay with Evans/Sastre being positive, so long as he didn’t win this year or the next 6 years in a row? If they tested positive for their respective winning years, would we have as much venom towards these guys as opposed to Tex?

  31. Anon,
    You forced me to go through some thought experiments on this. I really like Cadel…maybe it is because he seems like a genuinely nice guy (yes – snippy with the press, but I think that is more to due with his shyness than vitriol and arrogance). Same with Landis. I actually liked the guy throughout all of this. What this made me realize is that a lot of my anger for the doping with Lance is more to do with the fact:

    A) He seems to be getting away with it;
    B) He was a jerk to everyone
    C) He carries himself now in a way that is not endearing, with a “Foundation” which is nothing more than a ploy to enrich Lance.

    Maybe if he were more humble this whole thing would be easier for me to take. Maybe if all he did was race his bike, and stay below the radar….I would be okay. Maybe if his messaging which has influenced the opinions of millions of Americans was not so effective, I would be okay.

  32. Simma February 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm
    “Who cares about the legal side, he knows he cheated, we know, he knows we know… every time he does a public event he’ll be secretly nervous that someone in the crowd isn’t a fanboy and boo’s him. That is MORE than comfort enough for me, a cheater squirming in his own skin is the best punishment possible.”

    In your case the assumption is that the cheater is not a sociopath, right, so they would then be bothered by their awareness of the distastefulness of their own deeds. If one truly doesn’t care about the wrongness of what they’re doing at the time of the violation – which certainly might seem to be the case here – why would they be bothered by it afterwards?

    Floyd revealed his true character when he finally broke down and told the truth after lying his ass off for years. But he only had that chance because the circumstances created by his deceit broke down the layers of self delusion that permitted the duplicitous behavior. I hardly expect a 7x TdF winner to have to move to a cabin in the mtns someday…

  33. I agree with you Jody, folks seem to be extra-nasty when they can hide behind some fake identity rather than put their own name on their comments. But should that be required? As some here have posted, they need to be able to hide who they are to avoid problems with expressing an opinion that may reflect on their employer, etc.

  34. Wow. There is enough circumstantial and witness evidence out there to convict LA many times over. Tyler, Floyd, Hincapie (you think he didn’t drop the dime on LA to the grand jury? you lie to the grand jury you go to jail), Postal team employees, former doctors, masseuses, the fact that he beat the pants off of admitted dopers for 7 years, etc. Any argument to the contrary has been reduced to faith: he fights cancer, he must be innocent; he never tested positive; larger heart/aerobic system. The only way you don’t think the guy doped is if you don’t WANT to believe he doped. The long, long list of evidence against him is impossible to logically ignore.

    It’s well-pointed out that the federal investigation was to determine if federal funding went to doping, and it was a tenuous link at best, difficult to prove. Personally, it was a fool’s errand anyway, and a massive waste of taxpayer money; there’s nothing to be gained in it anyway.

  35. Is there anyone out there who changed sides in the Lance saga as the result of the latest news?
    When was the last time anyone changed their opinion?
    Just curious

  36. Slightly off topic, but not so much…
    I don’t think my opinion about whether Lanced doped or not matters, so I won’t bother sharing it. (In fact my opinion on the matter seems to waffle, but it really doesn’t matter.) What bothers me is how focused everyone becomes on specific cases, individuals, & issues. We loose sight of the big picture. Cycling is a well-established sport with a long organizational history, involves large finances, and has a huge following. I keep failing to understand why it is so poorly managed. The governing bodies, at all levels, seem out of touch, promoting selfish agendas, and personal vendettas. They fail to promote cycling, “the sport” in a positive way. Often quite the opposite. You & I won’t stop riding, but the pro teams are very likely to atropy into shadows of what they are now, for a multitude of reasons. How does cycling reform its organization? Can it move on to dealing with the present and future?

    So, we can ponder did He or didn’t He. It may be Lance, or Contador and all the others. Yes, doping needs to be curtailed, cheaters punished. The rules, the tests, the failure threshold, the punishment, and the time frame must be specific. Leaked test results, 1 -1/2 years to decide a case, and the fact that we even debate if Armstrong did or didn’t, certainly point out that there are things sereiously wrong.

    Off topic?

  37. What I find most egregious is all the money spent on RETIRED athletes. Who cares! At this point it’s just “he said, she said” because the evidence is long gone and forgotten. But no, prosecutors must have nothing better to do.

    Lance probably doped, as did most others, but proving it is another thing completely. Jan Ulrich was Lance’s main competitor and he was certainly doping, so I consider them on equal footing. The chance to prove he doped lives and dies with the samples he gave when he was a pro. If they want to peruse someone for crimes who is now retired, let them prosecute george bush for war crimes.

    And as far as doping tests go, they should test at least the top ten riders, in both the GC and the stage, every single race, no exceptions, so no one can “gift” a stage race win to one of the support riders and avoid being tested.

  38. Had he been pronounced guilty a lot of people would have complained. But the argument would be: The Court has spoken – the man is guilty – so shut the f… up.

    Now he was pronounced not guilty. But his critics seem not to give a damm about the law. So he’s still guilty. It’s just not been proven.

    Another thing that would be very interesting to know: How much money did the FDA & Jeff Novitsky spend to end up with this defeat in the courtroom? The Balco investigation cost the american taxpayers about 11 million dollar. The Armstrong/US Postal investigation could very well be much more expensive. And all for nothing …

  39. INRNG: Thank you for the option to post comments. Please, please do not force us to use facebook as the only option to comment, if at all possible. I hope your readers will not abuse the privilege of the current comment format.

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