A Lifetime Ban

A quick note on Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban which excludes him from competition and also from attending events, including the Tour of Flanders.

Armstrong hardly needs an introduction, he was given a lifetime ban by USADA, the anti-doping agency of the USA, in 2012 along with US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel as well as medical staff Pedro Celaya, José “Pepe” Martí, Luis Garcia Del Moral and private trainer Michele Ferrari. Cycling’s governing body duly recognised the USADA verdict and complies with the ruling, as it has to under the rules of WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A lifetime ban is just that, anyone given this is excluded from taking part in competition and related activities. So you might know Armstrong can’t take part in races, whether as a pro or as an amateur but crucially here he’s also excluded from related activities which is what is causing the fuss at the moment as the Tour of Flanders, in their wisdom, have decided to invite him. Here’s the relevant UCI rule screen-grabbed:

To simply the text it says anyone who has been banned cannot “participate in any capacity in a Competition or activity… organized by… any international or national level event”. So no competition and no activity either. In case you’re wondering what “activity” means note the wording about “other than authorized anti-doping education or rehabilitation programs” so it’s not related to sports activities, it’s a catch-all for anything except a “don’t do it kids” seminar.

Given the Tour of Flanders is organising activities in and around the elite men’s and women’s races then Armstrong and anyone else serving an anti-doping ban has to stay clear, whether it’s a ride or an after-dinner speech.

Hasn’t the UCI got anything better to do?
There have been several “hasn’t the UCI got anything better to do” comments on social media but the answer can surely only be “actually, no they haven’t”. After all if a governing body can’t uphold its own rules then it’s not good for much. If it didn’t try then WADA would and the UCI could be held up as “non-compliant”.

Maybe – maybe not – you feel sympathy for Armstrong and feel he’s served enough of a ban and that’s fine: but ask for his ban to be commuted to something shorter or even lifted. But as long as he’s banned then we can only expect the governing body and others such as WADA or the Belgian Cycling Federation to seek to uphold their fundamental rules in an exemplary manner.

A lifetime ban is just that and the scope extends beyond competition and into “activities”. The very least the UCI can do is uphold its rules. Armstrong may have things to say and some but not all will be listening but it seems odd that the greatest one day race in the world needs to ferment a sideline polemic rather than promoting their essence of their race.

116 thoughts on “A Lifetime Ban”

    • For Armstrong, I’d suggest continuation of his lifetime ban since he is obviously breaking the rules again. For the organizers, the shame of associating with a notorious sociopath will have to suffice as a penalty it seems.

        • Disagreed. He can be banned MORE.

          Here in the U.S. it’s not uncommon for the guilty to receive, 3 lifetime sentences etc. (that’s tweaked)



          But from here, Inner Ring got an arrow-splitting bull’s eye; -right or wrong, the verdict must be enforced.

          Armstrong’s lifetime ban does seem excessive, however, 4 years or something similar would be a farce.

          Armstrong was smug but in the end He cheated, just better…
          It’s a mess.

  1. Exactly. I simply do not understand why such a storied and amazing one day race feels the need to trot this guy around the course for….actually, for what? More press? The story and the coverage should be about the race, not about him. He’s only going to detract from the main focus: The race and the riders.

    • from a balanced discussion on a recent Cyclingtips podcast, the US contributors (Caley Fretz, Neal Rogers) seemed to think the answer to your “more press?” question is Yes. It’s to raise awareness of Flanders (and by association their other 1-day races) to the huge, more casual US audience that don’t know cycling beyond the TdeF that LA reaches – they’ve probable seen the audience figures for his podcast.

      From the organisers perspective ‘real’ cycling aficionados are not going to stop watching or attending the Ronde because LA is there, and teams aren’t going to stop contesting it if the UCI followed through with their threat and removed it’s WT status. It’s one of the most iconic events of the year and it’s UCI status is incidental.

      • Well the casual American fan is probably following his podcast? Where he will be giving a commentary of the race with or without the need to visit the race. The (negative) publicity has already served it’s purpose and we’re yet to even reach Classics Season. Mission accomplished i’d say.

    • Up until now the “jury was still out” for me regarding the entire Flanders Classics business model. I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt as they fiddled around with the route to help with the selling of VIP seats, etc. After all, one can’t fault them for trying to make a profit.
      But inviting BigTex ends it for me. These greedy pricks care nothing about SPORT, it’s all about commerce. If I was the UCI boss I’d make sure I was nowhere near Flanders that weekend, lest someone think I endorsed the idea of the biggest sporting fraud in history being allowed anywhere near the event. Shame on them…a monument like Tour of Flanders deserves better!
      Note to Tex – time to get a life outside cycling, OK? Why not go back to school and learn something? You’re not a dumb guy, you can do it!

      • Flanders Classics IS in the business of promoting a bike race in order to make money. Yes, they like us, they enjoy the sporting side of it. But, without the cash flow there would be no racing.

          • I love business, and cycling.
            It’s the immoral (or, amoral) side that sickens me and is unnecessary.
            As if to justify this you raise the tone deaf old meme, ‘they are in the business to make money’. If you believe that then I feel you share in that tone deafness.

          • They and anyone else who wants to sponsor an athletic event are doing it to make money. Very few do it for charity or for public benefit.

            It’s how they make their money that I abhor. Especially when all the blame, scorn, and penalties are lumped upon the athlete. While the perpetrators of the system (teams, sponsors, race organizers, governing bodies, and the courts) continue to subjegate thebathlete

    • Well, this race (and many other organisers/fans) do/does tend to idolize many other known dopers… so it’s not really a big leap to invite Lance back into the fold.

      • Not a big leap, a HUGE leap. This is the only guy banned from the sport forever vs those other known dopers. If Flanders Classics want to celebrate the guy, they should do it at their non-UCI event rather than a monument of cycling. Perhaps the UCI should show some real cojones and tell them their race will count for nothing if they swan around with BigTex?

        • Look, we know what happened last time the UCI stood up to a racing organiser… Besides, the prestige of winning Flanders will always trump UCI points!!! The top racers don’t care about UCI points. Athletes care about big wins, and the UCI feels they are sending a message by refusing to go to Flanders, give me a break! That decision has zero implications.

          • Agreed; all the UCI has done is galvanized Armstrong they could have verbally dismissed his importance in the sport but their words are meaningless as they have almost no power over a monument race that the best would turn up for regardless of if it was even sanctioned.

            I’m split on Armstrong; his podcasts are excellent and I think he is one of the best of all time and his doping in context doesn’t bother me considering the time period. What does bother me is his collusion with the UCI and Hein Verbruggen who of course was never sanctioned or banned despite the fact that he had heavy influence in the success of the US Postal doping program and was tied financially to the ownership (wiesel).

  2. If the RDV organisers feel that causing some polemic by inviting Armstrong is going to be good for business ie: no such thing as bad publicity, I can’t help thinking they are looking for cheap, sensationalist, tabloid style exposure for what is probably the greatest one day event event on the men’s calendar. That doesn’t tally, not to mention that Armstrong was never a key instigator in the RDV. I can’t make sense of it.

    • American viewership. Many people have forgiven Lance and are interested in his opinions (as is shown by his podcast figures) the hardcore cycling fans that watch the RDV are not going to not be watching the race because Lance is there so for the organizers its a win/win since all this will do is attract new viewership.

  3. You are right on all counts as usual Inring. Unfortunately for the marketing of the sport, Lance was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the current crop of dopers. I don’t remember him puffing on an inhaler or spinning a 36 x 32. Even his podcast “Stages” during the 2017 TDF was more entertaining than the actual race.

    • “Unfortunately for the marketing of the sport, Lance was a hell of a lot more entertaining than the current crop of dopers. I don’t remember him puffing on an inhaler or spinning a 36 x 32.”

      Nope, he just bullied others while sticking needles into himself in private. Slightly more sinister and damaging for the sport!

    • You know, I bet at least half of the Belgian cycling fans don’t give a f*ck (actually this was strongly suggested by a poll on the Sporza site: http://sporza.be/cm/sporza/wielrennen/1.3114381) and many feel Armstrong has been punished too severely anyway. A good deal of the business men paying to attend the pre-race seminar or whatever it is will not pass up on the opportunity to take a selfie with The Boss and trade business cards. They probably even like his style, sociopaths and business tend to be mutually attractive.
      Personally I don’t just think inviting Armstrong is pretty cheap and useless but all of the seminar and other side-events-cash-cows are just a load of bunkum. But that’s apparently what the race needs to spin a little profit (well according to manipulator par excellence Wouter VDH)

      • That’s an idea I had too although I would have written it up more gently but agreed, this is a spectacle and a celebrity will sell dinner table tickets etc.

        The new Ronde route was published in full yesterday. Did anyone notice? Not many, we’re all talking about a literal sideshow.

          • That’s the national public broadcaster, and if anything, that’s a strong supporter of WVH. He started his carreer with them as a journalist and his TV-production firm has been having an exclusivity contract with the vrt for long time. I think this was before he started buying up cycling races but all of his races are still broadcast by the vrt. WVH’s media-group also has ties to one of the two newspaper-concerns that remain in Belgium. Media, cycling, business, politics, many of those are interlinked by deals, liaisons and feuds alike.

    • “I don’t remember him … spinning a 36 x 32.”

      You remember wrong, then. A bit of a divergence from the point in hand but Armstrong was well-known for his very high cadence. Since he had the benefits of EPO that meant he was probably “spinning” something more like 39×21 as opposed to, say, 39×25 but the point stands.

        • The point that Armstrong and Froome both spin a high cadence, although admittedly LA’s gearing was higher and thus he moved faster thanks to EPO. Even if Froome does use 39×28 or 38×32 it doesn’t matter. Any cyclist who’s used a power meter will know that pushing 450w is pushing 450w – it hurts whatever gearing you use.

  4. A clear description of why he shouldn’t be at the Tour of Flanders. Thanks.
    That being said, I vote for time served. The hypocrisy of the system is apparent to anyone not purposely trying ignore it.
    Virtually everyone was doping during this period. And arguably, it is still occuring en masse.
    Being an A-hole is not grounds for a ban, no matter how much of an a-hole you think he is/was.

    • I see that a lot of people have got short memory or lack information, when saying about Armstrong: “well, he was doping as the rest; then, he was an a-hole, but that’s not something you get DSQd for”.

      Unluckily, this post came out after I had a lengthy OT on the subject in the Riders to Watch comment section.

      In short, Armstrong’s case is way different from more or less every other cyclist who was caught doping. His role both within the team and towards institutions was a power role. He obtained relevant leverages of control over those who should have been controlling him and used his position to make the rules totally meaningless for him and his team, while suggesting they had to be enforced against targeted rivals. The whole thing wasn’t about “beating the system”, it was *being* the system – it’s upper part. Calling the game. Beyond drugs (and even in the case of drugs, taking drugs or being induced to take drugs – which is what happens with most cyclists – is different from pushing others and beign a facilitator, which Armstrong did placing himself in a worse position, along with team doctors and DSs)… well, beyond drugs, the problem was the level of political manipulation which made the whole sport meaningless, something which can’t be said even about the 90s. Also remember, among other things, that doping isn’t about what substance you’re taking, the big difference is the *how*: and being able to take more or less whatever and whenever, just taking care of optimising the process, makes a difference which goes well beyond *what* product or technique you’ve access to.

      I’ll happily read about any other cyclist that was found to be in such a power relation with top level authorities both within and outside the sport – and whom we know to have used such power as Armstrong did.

      • this was a role assumed by many at one time or another in the peloton, it wasn’t unknown for riders to get spots on a team or dropped from a team when the rider didn’t like it, similarly there had often been a matriarch of the peloton, who decided when to ride/race.

        yes he may have had a different leverage, but some of that was due to the time that he existed and the also the context of being an American superstar and the leverage that that provided for support externally, there are many sports America where the players become the team.

        Merckx held that sort of power, along with other riders – however the open access to news, journalism and other media outlets wouldn’t have ever made it such common knowledge

        • I don’t think you got the extent of what happened with Lance… and Merckx isn’t precisely the best example around. You’re guessing, I suspect.

        • Name the other rider who did this:

          (3) Trafficking of [drugs].
          (4) Administration and/or attempted administration to others of [drugs].
          (5) Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.

          You can’t and that’s why you changed the subject to completely avoid the drugs issue in your response. (LA was so much more than a patron of the peloton: he was running his team’s doping and had hefty connections with the governing body.)
          If you could, that person should be banned – it still would not be a reason to excuse LA.
          Larry is spot on with the ‘“But Mommy, the others did it too” world tour’ – that has been LA’s raison d’etre since day one. Astoundingly, some are falling for it.

      • +1 BigTex continues on his “But Mommy, the others did it too” world tour. Flanders Classics are serving as enablers to the BigTex World BS Tour and should be called out on it.
        I might start paying a little more attention if Tex put his money where his mouth is and started writing some fat checks to those he’s screwed over…but the greedy prick will never, ever do such a thing.

  5. The UCI can withdraw the sanction and UCI status for a race. Without that the race has no currency (points) for riders and teams, nor would officials be permitted to officiate. Race organizers really should respect the anti doping rules. Deliberately flouting then does no one any favours.

  6. The decision of the organizers to invite LA says a lot about the organizers’s attitude about doping, namely, that it ain’t such a bad thing. It sends the wrong message to all riders, pros, amateurs, young and old. Perhaps LA has something over the organizers to force their hand? Seriously, whatever the reason might be, he just needs to go away. If he wants to stay, then he needs to get his life time ban lifted first. Even without the ban, I personally don’t want to see him lurking around any major races as if he was some star from the past–because he ain’t!

  7. It does seem odd. If it was some Belgian ex doper or at least someone who had been dominant at this race it would make a degree of sense. In terms of the classics, specifically the cobbled classics, Armstrong was only ever a bit part player. And now he’s a very tainted former bit bart player. Surely they could have got Cancellara or Boonen to do the job?!

  8. Thank you for this.
    FWIW it’s a immense relief he and others are banned for life, or before you know it he’d be running a team, like say Riis..!

  9. Seems odd from de Ronde organizers… it’s not like he has a particularly strong history with the race unless I’m missing something. Surely there is a save face option – have him sit on an anti-doping panel the night before the race or something?

    • He’s said a few times that it was the best one day race in pro cycling, and even had a discussion with Hincapie about it on ‘Stages’ with GH obv liking for Roubaix

  10. This does smack highly of a ‘it’s either him or me …. ok i’ll cancel my hotel!’ and personally feel it’s one of the first significant losses of Lappartient – previously he’s been such a strong political figure, and at playing the politics game.

    The struggle I have with the Armstrong scenario is that there people who aren’t accepting of him seem to fall into two camps, those that don’t like the drugs and those that don’t like the ‘attitude’ –
    With some cross over in the middle.

    The drugs issue is one that he has been given a life ban for but a widely stated Virinque, Riis, Merckx, Museeuw et al have been welcomed backand aren’t vilified y the same folks in the same way, and then last time I checked he can’t be banned for being a d##khead…. so really trying to understand people s problem with him being there.

    This heavily smacks of whilst we have the largely irrelevant Lance Armstrong (in terms of impact to clean sport in the year 2018) being used a publicity figure for Flanders, Lappartient is also using him as a tool for his own message…

    … either that or FCR don’t like how cosy ASO are with Lappartient!!!!!

  11. Like others, I find RCS’s decision incomprehensible: so little to gain, so much to lose.
    As for the argument that LA should be treated like other dopers, he was banned for life because he did so much more than just dope: he instigated, facilitated and organised the doping of the entire team. Then, you add – albeit perhaps without absolute proof – his collusion with the authorities to cover his own doping and the capture of his competitors. But that is an aside: he was given a lifetime ban for his involvement in doping others – not just himself.
    Besides, I’d rather see other dopers treated like LA than have his ‘sentence’ reduced in order to match those of other dopers.

    • From USADA:
      The anti-doping rule violations for which Mr. Armstrong is being sanctioned are:

      (1) Use and/or attempted use of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.

      (2) Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfusion equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.

      (3) Trafficking of EPO, testosterone, and corticosteroids.

      (4) Administration and/or attempted administration to others of EPO, testosterone, and cortisone.

      (5) Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.

      That’s not just doping, that’s doping others, hence the lifetime ban.

  12. Armstrong is banned for life, whether we agree or not. He is not allowed to be a part of any event organized under UCI rules.

    It appears once again that the UCI, and Lappartient in particular are prepared to sit on their hands, rather than implement the difficult decision their own rules dictate. The UCI President appears more concerned with mechanical doping and publicly implying that Froome should ignore the UCIs own rules, and suspend himself from competition, rather than applying the rules in this blatant case. Money talks.

    Cookson was far from perfect, but this man appears to lack any form of judgment, common sense or even what his organization’s responsibilities are to the sport.

    The real question is: What is the purpose of the UCI in its current incarnation ?

  13. The Armstrong event appears to be organised by a company called Golazo (who also are involved in the sportive), as much as Flanders Classics. Are Golazo a UCI (or Belgian cycling) member organisation?

    Also, I don’t think you can read the word “activity” in the rules to cover absolutely anything. Generally speaking, Belgium is a free country, where people can do as they please, except that Armstrong happens to be banned from cycling and related activities. For instance, UCI licence-holders aren’t banned from having dinner with Armstrong, or giving him a lift from the airport.

    You have to interpret the word “activity” in the context of the rest of the rule, so something like a “Competition” (a defined term), or elite/national level “sporting activity”. Does this cover a business conference put on at the same time, and using the same name as the RVV? That’s not clear to me; particularly as it seems aimed at the people who’d go to the sportive as much as the race. It’s certainly not as clear as it would be if lunch with Armstrong was part of one of the official hospitality packages.

    As a counter-example, if L’Equipe or La Gazetta della Sport invited Armstrong to write a column, would that put ASO or RCS in breach of the rule above? I’m not so sure.

    • Completely different scenario.

      AC did not traffic peds, engage in a team wide conspiracy to take the ped, use his leverage and power to cover up his wrongdoing or bring down those who dared to call him out.

        • It might be the same to your mind, but it’s not the same to the regulations enforced.

          For an historical example, England used to apply the capital punishment to petty thieves in the 18th Century – it deserved the same punishment in their eyes to murderers or traitors. I’d say most of the Western world agrees those are in a different scale.

          • I read it as people suggsting:

            I don’t mind my junky doper stealing results, endorsements, prise money and livelihoods through the use of PED’s from clean riders because unlike that other junky doper who stole results, endorsements, prise money and livelihoods through the use of PED’s, my junky doper didn’t encourage others and wasn’t a bully about it.

            Of course, it could be suggested that your junky doper didn’t encourage others because he wanted to get more results, endorsements and prise money for himself

            But I know my words are wasted, because your junky doper is a “Grand Champion”

  14. When the UCI can get their stuff together in terms of consistently applying their own rules (ie. Chris Frrome) then perhaps people will start to listen.

  15. More importantly; who cares. If he wants to go to the race and watch then by all means. I can’t believe people can be so upset about something that has literally zero impact on how the actual race unfolds.

    Sometimes I think cycling fans care more about the drama than the actual bike racing.

    • Yes, but he’s not going to the race to watch. He’s going to give a key note address to abusiness conference organised in association with the Ronde and organised for and on behalf of Flanders Classics. And presumably he’s going to get paid for it.

      I do not understand what the organisers think they are doing. If I were the CEO of a belgian based business I would not go anywhere near this event and instruct my staff likewise I would not want the ethics of my company associated with those of Mr Armstrong. I just hope the Belgian business community agree with me and Mr Armstrong is left addressing an empty room.

  16. Thank you for laying out the facts about the ban.

    I believe we have a responsibility to make up our own minds about the case, and for me the case is part of a bigger picture. I don’t blame the man for his desire to win, this is part of why we love cycling. I believe doping with EPO can be part of a desire to win, and I believe that riders in this era thought it was a must to use EPO – and by all accounts it was if you wanted to win. For me, if you are living off cycling and you are convinced everyone else uses EPO then it is absolutely human to take the decision to use it too. That, or going back to the hole you came from. (NOTE: I am an amateur cyclist myself, and I have never been tempted to using anything myself because I do it for fun, there is a big difference here).
    Further, I believe that all Armstrong’s former teammates had the choice to say no to doping. They did not. Whether it was Armstrong himself or someone else in the team serving it up the first time, could probably just be about logistics – who is to say that Bjarne Riis didn’t do the same when he came to Telekom in ’96? Who is to say there hasn’t been similar programs, cultures, “this is how we do it” in all teams since the beginning of cycling? We don’t know because nobody told.

    I believe it is wrong to disregard Armstrong for the rest of his days. Why? Because we can learn a lot from this man, why he did it, what drove him, what was too easy to cheat with, in which instances did the UCI assist his schemes and so on. What can be done better? Imagine applying Armstrong to be president of the UCI for instance – I know you are going to call me crazy and/or insane and I don’t blame you, this is only a thought experiment. But try to follow my logic, think “Catch Me If You Can” the movie where the forger is a natural expert in spotting forgery: He knows all the loopholes, he knows all the ways to cheat, he can see right through various agendas.

    And I bet you he would get shit done.

    Alright. Commence the talkback version of the Apocalypse below:

    • Riders are punished for not saying ‘no’ – when caught. They are responsible for not saying ‘no’.

      LA was responsible for doping others. Hence, the lifetime ban.

      We don’t know if other riders have done this – what you suggest is speculation, nothing else.

      Anyone who had done something similar should be banned for life.

      To put it in its most basic terms: it is nonsensical to suggest not punishing someone on the basis that others may have done the same thing, but we don’t know about it.

    • I agree with your take and have thought this way for over ten years. But, you exclude the guilt ifbteam team management in the doping process. Teams inbtheirnquesybto attract sponsors are the real culprits in this scenario.

      Produce results or be terminated. Use peds to achieve results. Then live by the Omerta when caught or be black listed. Tough choice for young athletes to make when being roughed up by an established and protected system. This is more true of the domestiques who if they cannot keep pace or perform their roles will lose their minimum wage jobs. Especially if they have no other marketable skill to fall back on.

      And I am certain a career as a bike messenger or retail worker hold zero consolation for living up to some delusional moral code.

    • Armstrong pretty much screwed up (sorry, I meant “harmed”) cycling from most POVs in the very short to middle term, despite the instant flood of easy-come-easy-go mass spectators and sponsors he brought in while he was racing (and only *where* he was racing, disrupting from day one the rest of the ecosystem).
      I don’t know whether he really didn’t care about the sport, or he wasn’t smart enough to understand the consequences of his actions, or he just cared more about his ego (they’d all be valid explanations and don’t exclude each other)… anyway, at least one or two of those were part of the man, and it looks like they still are.

      It’s not precisely the sort of qualities I’d love in a person who gets in charge of the sport.

      You can easily see the difference with the character represented by that (frankly mediocre) movie, who was fundamentally a good person (which makes the movie so poor) and was rather smart, wasn’t he? He had some ego, sure, but he finally found the hand of a father-like figure to guide him. Should we recruit good ol’ Tom Hanks to make for Lance’s daddy and set the guy’s moral compass straight?

    • I actually agree with you. On his Stages podcast, he’s had some really interesting discussion re problems with cycling’s business model. And as far as I can see in re cycling’s past, it’s been dopers of some kind all the way down (turtle analogy). Many were caught; many doped and were not. I eye roll at the adulation of P, M etc. All of cycling that isn’t actually cycling is pretty rinky-dink, not up to date and gossipy.

      • Anyone noticed its only Americans who have an issue around cycling’s business model? That those who run the teams don’t become incredibly rich like the owners of ‘franchises’ in the States seems too much for them to believe.

        • Haha… what? Only Americans have problems with the business model?

          I believe Brian Cookson, a Brit, tried to fix it while he was UCI head. Similarly Mr. McQuaid (not an American), Verbrughen, etc. have tried to change/fix it. Oleg Tinkoff, definitely not American, and many other current/past/failed team heads had issues with the model. French fans don’t like that much of the focus of cycling is now on non-traditional cycling countries, etc. It’s pretty clear the model needs fixing.

          And yours’ truly is Canadian and wants this fixed.

        • Most (regardless of nationality) believe the dogma of our society – money is the answer to everything.
          They look at cycling’s problems – which are sporting, including cheating – and decide that a better business model is the answer.
          Cycling doesn’t need to make more money or be more popular, but those are the parameters that people live by.
          Money won’t make cycling more entertaining or more fair.

  17. My memory might well be failing, but as I recall, Armstrong was actually sanctioned for refusing to attend an anti-doping hearing. The punishment for doing so was clearly stated in advance (in a clear “turn up or else” fashion) so he really only has himself to blame for the fact that he got hit with a bigger stick than anybody else…

  18. Alrite, so Lance was the biggest (proven) cheat in the history of cycling – a real accomplishment, given cycling’s history – and you can argue, as Gabrielle + others have above, that the difference him and other proven cheats isn’t merely a matter of degree but qualitatively a different thing. And LA himself is a thoroughly despicable person who deserves no one’s sympathy. I have no problem with the lifetime ban.

    It’s possible for all that to be true and at the same time find Lappartient’s cynical handwringing laughable and irritating. It reminds me of the NFL, which only began to do something about player safety, domestic abuse, etc when forced to by public outcry. Granted the UCI is far less powerful, but also seems very much to care only about public appearance. As many have noted, cycling is rife at every level with former dopers, even if they don’t reach LA’s depths.

    Of course it’s impossible to eradicate cheating, which has and always will be a part of all organized sport, but surely a more consistent, normalized level of acceptable illegality could be sought? Or perhaps not, this after all being cycling.

    Those are my feelings, anyway.

    • I’d say that Lappartient has already shown in several occasions, beside this one, that his declarations are more appropriate for a political campaign (and even in that case barely so, at least to my very personal taste) than for a top-level institutional position who should represent *the ruling* of the sport, in a sense.
      Moscon, Froome, and now this… I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, he may as well be absolutely right in terms of content, what doesn’t *feel* right is the moment, the tone, the attitude; IMHO, it’s just that – *given his present position* – he’d better come out with something better, let’s say something like what inrng wrote above. Inrng for president?

      PS How can you define what the “acceptable illegality level” is? We don’t even know what the current level of illegality in cycling is actually like (we can presume, surely, but we don’t *know* much). From what starting point should we be seeking “the new normal”?
      Any comparison with other sports or other periods of cycling itself will show a wide range of *different* situations, but you could hardly say what’s “more” or “less” legal. In the 80s cycling authorities usually didn’t disclose what you gave positive for and decided in a quite arbitrary way about suspensions. Tranfusions were legal during several years, as – say – salbutamol.
      The NBA practically legalised most of what we’d call doping – does that mean it’s all very legal? However, some things are forbidden but aren’t normally checked for. Quite similar to cycling in the 90s. Should we speak about swimming? Endurance winter sports?
      Most sport federations all around the world dedicated themselves to cover up positives (it’s still happening, feel assured), unless those AAFs could be used in some political struggle, within the sport or even “against” other disciplines in a CIO perspective. Or, imagine that, to make some geopolitical point, State against State.
      How does that score in an illegality level measurement?

      • Absolutely. That was really my point, which I could have stated more clearly. Given the slippery, elusive nature of trying to define illegality in sport, the best we can hope for is rules/policies, with at least a modicum of common sense, that are applied as consistently and uniformly as possible. Which I’m sure you’ll agree is far from the situation in cycling. Easier said than done, of course, and there are often as you mention commercial, personal, even geopolitical factors applying pressure.

        I’m not trying to hold up other sports as shining paragons of virtue, far from it, but while everything will have some degree of looseness between written rules and their enforcement, cycling seems worse than most in its incoherence and inconsistency. Think about baseball, which had its own EPO style obvious mutant cheating era in the 90s – at least now when a player gets popped for PEDs, the punishment is always the same. People may gripe, but they can live with it. They’ve managed to get beyond endless embarrassing legal dramas and so on. (this isn’t to say baseball or any other sport isn’t still likely rife with cheating)

        I guess I really just wish there would be less hypocrisy. Which is a futile wish, I know.

        • The difference between baseball and all major American sports is that there is a collective bargaining agreement between the Billionaire owners and the millionaire athletes who are represented by a union.

          In cycling no collective bargaining agreement exists nor will there ever.

  19. I can see why he would he would be an I interesting draw for addressing the Oxford Union, but he is still toxic to cycling.

    That said, there is a real cognitive dissonance with unrepentant dopers.

    Virenque is still a media darling. Hell,the Etape route a couple of years back was lined with posters that exclaimed, with photo, “le courage de Virenque”

    I changed a few with my lucky autograph sharpie to

    “le dopage de Virenque”

  20. I’m not keen on him being there but it’s all a bit weird if he is being paid by a separate organisation and the event is timed to coincide with Flanders what actually can the UCI do?

  21. All fine, I understand the rationale. But still, where is the border between the activity under the scope of ToF organization and simply a public activity? Considering it is an open-air event spread around hundreds of square kilometers, what is an activity that ToF can legally keep him away from, is hard to determine. He still is, even though convicted of doping, a human being and constitutional rights and other Belgian legislation applies to him as well, being in Belgium at this point of time. We are talking about the freedom of movement etc. I’m not really sure what exactly he plans to do at ToF but IMO, if he wants to be there, he can always find a way to do it. Legally. And IMO also morally…as Bakelants said last year after the final TdF stage in an interview…we need to stop demonizing with Armstrong…Virenque, Jalabert, I don’t know who else are involved as commentators and holding other functions and they are always around, wherever they want to be. I know Armstrong was an ultimate d*** and also an American, which gives him even an extra portion of scrutiny but it is just simply crazy.

    Talking about UCI rules…Demare changed direction in that infamous sprint last year at TdF. Many others do that all the time. And riding on sidewalks at ToF and PR and so on. Nothing happened. So yeah, UCI has rules in place that they enforce…IMO it’s an all or nothing principle here. Be 100% strict or allow discretion. Discretion currently is allowed, so there is a chance to let Armstrong come and record his podcast or whatever is he willing to do.

    And also…my opinion about life time bans….they should apply them for all kind of doping. What the hell?! If you’re not allowed to dope you’re not allowed. Why giving someone a cool-off period at all. You dope, you’re done. Period.

    These were my 5 cents…

  22. I can understand why the internet is keen to see Froome hung drawn and quartered (mostly thanks to a Mr D Brailsford rather than himself specifically) but isn’t it the case that Froome’s ‘analytical adverse finding’ or whatever it’s called, was actually leaked by either the UCI or WADA, in which case it’s a bit much for ML to suddenly decide it’s distasteful for all this to play out in public rather than behind closed doors as the rules require?

        • Frag man… all things considered, maybe they did it themselves to control the narrative if someone (genuinely or not) pulled a Fancy Bears threat to disclose things.

          As far as I can remember the UCI likes to hush everything. WADA was more “active” with Dick Pound, but still easy target for lawsuits. Who knows?

  23. It’s all a bit hypocritical though isn’t it? I mean what is the difference between Armstrong and others that are welcome back? There are (ex-) dopers still riding or in charge of teams like Vinokourov or Matt White to name just two.

    • The difference is they don’t have a life ban.

      We can ask about why not etc but as long as Person X is banned for N years they can’t race etc. Certainly there’s a whole spectrum of those with life bans, those serving bans, those who have been banned down to those who admitted but never got suspended, to those suspected of it and so on.

  24. Wow, what a hipocrysy!:)! There was no single guy clean during LA era yet 90% of them kept their titles and stolen money. And no one asks questions! There are couches, dir. sportives who took part in that circus and still ARE in the sport couching kids in many countries around the world… They show up in tv, they’re commentators. Why there’s no rumour about it?: )

    There is scandal after scandal in SKY, crotisteoirds, bags, stolen computers, TUES for King Froome and Wiggins, salbutamols 2000 and you still blame Lance? : )He’s paid his price like no other, he will pay more, but what UCI does is just a hypocrisy. Let Armstrong go and take care of CURRENT BUSINESSES because actually cycling dies thankx to TUE(=steroid area) and total paralysis of UCI. I know they say “these are the rules, we can’t do anything’ – but what these rules are for? They’re ridiculous. Amstrong is bad but Froomey and Brailsford are your heroes?

    • I’d guess you’ve not bothered to read Christophe Basson’s book? http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/book-extract-a-clean-break-by-christophe-bassons/
      As I wrote elsewhere, Tex’ “But Mommy, everyone else doped too” is the same BS that comes out of the mouths of children.
      So far Tex still seems to be sitting on a pile of ill-gotten loot so your claim that he’s “paid his price like no other” is simply untrue. Tex is one of those sociopathic narcissists who’ll work his con on anyone who’ll listen. Sadly, some people still listen to him.

      • Totally agree although unfortunately Tex conned me into taking a proper interest in cycling for thr first time whilst watching him in the TdF.

        1% of me is still grateful to him for that.

        • When my late mother was fighting cancer I used to try to cheer her up in any way I could. So I told her the story about a young cyclist who after fighting with cancer went on to win TdF seven times.

          I thought at the time that I was telling my mum the truth, in fact what I was telling her was not a fairy tail but a hideous lie. I am still furious with him and I cannot help but wonder how many people still feel cheated by LA ?

          • I did the same, and yet – despite what I’ve written above and everywhere else – under this respect I don’t feel I’ve cheated her nor myself (please note that, at a personal belief level, I’ve always known about Lance’s crimes since minute zero).
            The core of the message I was passing her stands true. You can get back from all you’ve got to pass through and still be a strong person, for good or ill.
            Even if I feel Lance must be stripped of his Tours, it’s not like what he did was only down to doping and manipulation. He’d be back to be a great athlete in an imaginary clean world – although he’d never win any TdF probably. But he’d be a great athlete after cancer.
            Lance used cancer several times for his agenda. I’ve been knowingly using Lance for mine. And it worked fine.
            He’s not the only example available, but adding him to the mix I knew that the message I was sending to my mother would be hugely enforced by the whole media world – so it was.
            And, again, he wouldn’t have done that if I felt that the core of what I was telling wasn’t true.
            What Lance was able to do in his life, beyond doping and manipulation and sporting feats and instrumental foundations, was indeed extraordinary.
            It’s not like that all notable people are good. It’s not like that every example must be exemplary under any possible respect.

          • I often wonder how many people were made to feel more despondent when hearing LA’s story. The narrative seemed to be ‘Look at this guy, he’s superhuman, he’s beaten cancer and now he’s a top athlete’. One could hear that as ‘What about you?’
            He was lucky, pure and simple. Cancer doesn’t care how brave you are and survival has nothing to do with strength, physical or mental – it’s just dumb luck.

          • Even when spread to the lymph nodes, the survival rate for testicular cancer is 96%. He’d have to be very unlucky not to survive.

            There are a lot of top athletes who have survived testicular cancer and continued to perform at the highest level, it’s just they don’t make such a song and dance about it. My personal hero is Matthew Rees who continued to play international rugby after recovering.

  25. for me it’s more than the ban for doping.

    LA is a bully who ruined many lives and never apologised for it. He only confessed when he got offered enough money en thought it would be good for his PR.

    Wouter de opportunistische kabouter doesn’t care about that, he only sees the money.

    By supporting this kinda thing, you support the bullying and the cheating.

    Try to explain that to your kids next time you say they need to be honest..

    Bunch of hypocrites

  26. To belabor the point, sbs for me nails it.

    Furthermore B.R> If bullying, cheating and running an organization with a strong will is criminal, I would submit that Rupert Murdoch, Larry Ellison, Jack Walsh and Donald Trump should be banned for life.

    • Your talking about 2 seperate things

      1. LA cheated bigtime –> he received a lifeban
      2. LA was an asshole doing so –> he doesn’t deserve (my) respect

      If any of the persons you mention cheat (break the law) and its proven they will receive a penalty(maybe banned for life aka lifelong prison sentence)

      If you still think these people are great after that, that’s your right.

      Call me old fashioned but I like sincere honest people instead of douchebags who think they can get away with everything, then don’t take responsibility f they get caught and blame everyone else for it.
      Everybody can make a mistake, but if you just stick to it like he did, why should people respect him

      He’s a cry baby

      again, that’s just my opinion.

  27. Just to add a bit of something to the conversation. Whatever happens with Lance Armstrong will always be better than what has happened with Diego Maradonna in the football world. Banned three times for using banned substances on top of being filmed taking cocaine on the pitch in 1984…and blowing the lid on wide scale use of banned substances by him and his team mates throughout his entire career…

    And yet there he is this year giving out awards at the Fifa annual awards ceremony…you couldn’t make it up…

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