Lance Armstrong – Another Divisive Subject

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I wasn’t all that pleased with my ability to write down my thoughts on talking to Lance yesterday. I have a ton of opposite and contrary views floating around in my brain and trying to be unbiased on any subject is not something that I’ve ever especially been good at.

I think my views on many subjects are strong. And as strong as my views are, I was really surprised to see how venomous some of the comments on yesterday’s post are. I guess Lance is just one of those subjects that people have a real strong opinion about.

If you’ve read some other of my posts on the doping issue, you’d realize that I don’t have much of a tolerance for the whole thing. And, of course, I’m outraged by the whole polluted mess.

I’m sick of these guys justifying why they did what they did. I can’t believe the audacity of these guys to actually believe that they were the chosen few. All these guys act like they were the best before taking drugs and that they would have been the best anyway, and that it just made for an even playing field. That is completely delusional. I’ve personally witnessed many riders going from being pack filler, at a domestic level, to bringing in 100’s of thousands of dollars in salary. Many of the current pros that doped, then miraculously quit doping all at the same time, were those very people. Young guys that didn’t pay their dues in the sport, and jumped past a ton of guys that were doing it the right way. It is screwed up on a multitude of levels.

Yeah, some of my views are because I’m pissed off personally. These guys screwed up a good part of my career in the sport. I don’t race bicycles for money. I race bicycles because of the lifestyle and life experiences the sport offers. When I can’t get those life experiences because some hack has stolen from me, for sure, I’m angry.

My views have always been that the rules are not strict enough. Lifetime bans for high potency drugs. Lifetime bans for the enablers. Repayment of salaries and prize money for all involved. Draconian punishments for the foreseeable future in the sport. If there is a way to make drug usage in sports a crime in the United States, then I think criminal punishment should be included also, but that is going to take a long while.

But, none of these punishments have been in place. When Lance first started his career, back in the early 90’s, I’m pretty sure that it was less than a month suspension for a doping positive. The Festina guys only got 6 months in 1997. It is only been since around 2000, that USADA, WADA and the rest of the drug enforcement part of sports have even existed.

Lance has got me thinking a lot about what is fair and what is cheating. Breaking the rules by doping is more than cheating, in my book.

It’s not like you know the speed on the interstate is 65 mph and if you drive faster, you know what the penalty is. I usually drive over the posted speed limit on divided highways. In Kansas, the law is that if you drive 10 or less over the posted limited, then it is classified as a non-moving violation on your license. Same as a muffler violation. I drive a lot and feel that the risk of breaking that law is worth the penalty.

But, fairness is another issue. And maybe Lance thought of doping the same way. He weighed the risks and the rewards and deemed the rewards outweighed the risks, by a large margin, so justified the actions. I can understand this. He doesn’t take into account the effect on other people’s lives at this point, he is just thinking about breaking the rules and the ramifications.

So, when Lance feels he is caught doing the exact same thing as these other guys and gets a death sentence, a lifetime ban, and USADA offers many of the guys that testified “against” him zero, yes, absolute nothing as a penalty, then I can understand why he feels the system is unjust and broken. He’s looking at it from a personal perspective, just as I’m looking at it from mine. Lance can’t really address a lot of what he’s done, because he’s in an indefensible position, so he is going to have to latch on the the unfairness of it.

And I agree, it isn’t fair. Many people are so mad at Lance for his lying, manipulation, and all the other things that make us view him as morally unacceptable, they never get past it. We think that he deserves his lifetime ban because of a long list of things he’s done that repulse us so, that we have no sympathy. But, there isn’t a rule in cycling for being an arrogant prick. Absolutely no suspension for it.

We also think that Lance deserves a lifetime ban because of what he attained through doping. He got the most and should fall the hardest. He won 7 Tours and made a gazillion dollars. But again, there isn’t a rule that says you get a harsher penalty because you are better at doping than the other guys.

And he was better at doping than the other guys. He was smarter at it, had more options at his disposal and thought it through a lot more than many others. But again, if you look at the rules, they aren’t any different for Lance than they are for an individual guy like Dewey Dickie.

Lance got the book thrown at him for many reasons. USADA says it is because he failed to come in and testify. But, in the US, when we are charged criminally, we have the right, through the 5th amendment, to not testify against ourselves. Protection against compelled self-incrimination is implicit in the Miranda rights, which protects the “right to remain silent.” I understand that doping in sports, isn’t the same as our criminal system, but I do think that we, as individuals, should have the ability to not incriminate ourselves by keeping our mouths shut.

And the statute of limitations deal is another one of Lance’s sore spots. He wonders how he “lost” all his Tour titles when the majority of them fall outside time frame of the statute of limitations of the sport. Seems like a valid point.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think that Lance got a harsh penalty. I think these other guys got gifts. But, I don’t like unfairness any more that the next guy. I can now look at it from Lance’s point of view and think, wow, what a fucked up system?

I, personally, want a fair system. A system that really discourages athletes from doping. An unfair system isn’t going to do that. Unfair systems encourage people to break the rules.

As you can tell, I have been yin-yanging back an forth about a multitude of things concerning his call. He has his points. And I can’t blame him for trying to do what he thinks is best for him, at this point. I don’t really have any idea what is best for Lance.

I told him that I don’t think that throwing rocks at each other will help anybody here. And that is what I thought George was doing with Frankie, throwing rocks for no reason, which I think is what precipitated the call in the first place.

Okay, that is why I got up early this morning. For me, it isn’t worth losing sleep over, and I did. After reading all the harsh comments, my views are more screwed up and it was just bugging me.

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51 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong – Another Divisive Subject

  1. e-RICHIE

    I have read the other two entries.

    Look, you took the call.
    He got into your head.

    My comment?
    We need you on that wall.
    Don’t get played atmo.

     
  2. Ben Tarwater

    Nice follow up, Steve. Amazed at how much people invest in the past instead of trying to make a brighter future.

     
  3. Ben

    I spent all last summer in a conversation with Lance, and it elicited a lot of the same feelings you’ve had across both posts. But Lance is not just not being honest with himself, he’s not being honest with you either. When he says he wasnt offered the “same deal” as everyone else; that’s true. But what he doesn’t tell you is that he was asked to come in, and that they’d work it out after they heard what he had to say. Lance had been lying for the better part of 20 years and with his personality and history, if you were a prosecutor, would you offer him a deal before you learned what he decided he was willing to tell? I know I sure wouldn’t.

    It’s not about the 5th amendment style protection either. I dont give crap about his bullying and lying. I mean I do, but not in having to do with his punishment. What i care about is the fact that given the opportunity to help the sport he did so much damage to (by doping, by enforcing omerta even before he was a multi-time tour winner, etc) and that wasn’t enough for him, now that his racing was over to make a difference.

    This is a guy who has always wanted to be a hero, he loved being seen that way (really who doesn’t?). But the issue he never seems to get is, if he came clean, gave it all up, and moved forward towards what could be instead of only focused on what is and what was, he’d move a lot further along towards that forgiveness he wants. He doesnt understand why people like Floyd or Frankie, even though they do what he did. Both came clean, both got out of the public light, and gave us time to think and forgive.

    Finally, while I admit I’d like to see longer punishments for the Garmin guys, I value progress and contrition as well. And whether you believe the whole “clean team” myth or not, hiring Phil Gaimon shows me that Vaughters really is serious about clean cycling.

     
  4. Jason

    Steve,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this complex situation. The truth of the matter will never be totally recognized or understood. Where there is money on the line, no matter the sport, people will cheat. I saw a show on the Sumo culture in Japan and cheating last night. It happens everywhere there is something to gain by doing it. In the corporate world and in the local rec league. Human nature is often unpredictable and one must remember we are all just animals, at best, trying to survive as each individual sees fit, right or wrong in the methods. For people to villify Lance seems wrong to me. 99% of the people who seems to now hate him only do so because they let an athlete become their role model. Save the role model for your father, mother, or grandparents. You have the right to be mad, you lost experiences through life beacause of Lance. What did I lose? It could be A-rod, Mark McGwire, Ben Johnson or any other world class athlete and I still don’t have the hate towards them that people have against Lance. (I mean, McGwire has already been back in the leauge coaching for a few years) Everyone needs to give it a rest and move on, Lance included. He cheated, got caught, and lost his credentials as a champion. End of story.

     
  5. Dave Johnson

    As a person, athlete and role model, I can’t stand Lance or his excuses. I know many young cyclists who opted out of cycling when they hit the senior ranks because they knew doing well involved adding PEDs to their training regimen. It’s not like it’s a secret and I doubt anyone, Lemond included, has won the TdF without the help of something. And as I have always contended, just because it isn’t on the banned list doesn’t mean it should be OK to use. The people making the drugs are light years ahead of those trying to stop them. I am not going to pretend to know what the answer is. I don’t think life-time bans and fines are going to change anything. We live in a world where the line between right and wrong has been blurred. I am confident that as long as their is money and prestige on the line, someone is going to cheat. And, I am confident that the pro peleton may be cleaner now, but it isn’t completely clean. All this said, I agree that Lance was treated unfairly. On the other hand, he treated his competitors, fans and sponsors unfairly. But, as we’ve been told since we were children, two wrongs don’t make a right. I agree with you, Steve, that if the sport is ever going to be cleaned up, there needs to be complete and total continuity from what constitutes an infraction to the punishments. I also think that our constitutional rights should be part of this process and every other process. And I believe that it should become a criminal matter, as it is in many countries, with criminal punishments. I don’t think lifetime bans will stop the cheaters, but perhaps 10 years behind bars with rapists and murderers will. If you think about what some people are spending time in jail for, it pales in comparison to the planning and perpetuation of a sporting conspiracy the size of the Lance Armstrong debacle. So many people were adversely affected, some had their lives ruined and so many laws were broken in the process. It is my firm belief that, although I don’t think he was treated fairly in relation to the other riders that were penalized, Lance got off easy. What he did is akin to Bernie Madoff’s ponzie scheme and he should have been punished accordingly. Lance is a criminal, as is everyone that cheats in sport, and they should be punished as all criminals are. Just my 2 cents for what it is worth.

     
  6. catwalberg

    I agree with you. The reason we feel like he should be treated more harshly is that he has been a jerk to so many people. But, you’re right, our country doesn’t mete out punishment based on being a jerk.

    I like that you itemized what makes us so mad about Lance’s behavior and than juxtaposed it against what the rules do and don’t allow in terms of punishment and the lack of consistency in the application of the punishment.

    I’d have to think about whether a person’s perceived contriteness and lack of the “jerk” quotient justifies a lighter punishment, even when many of those people profited greatly. You present very clearly the question that we’re struggling to answer, does Lance’s apparent lack of remorse and arrogance mean he gets punished exponentially more harshly? And it’s more than that, he shattered our dreams and made us question whether we can believe anything amazing. We wanted to be impressed that he came back from cancer and won over and over the hardest race out there. We wanted to believe he was a generous person who gave back by funding the cancer research. We idolized his riding and his mind (remember the Meet the Press speech?) Now, we find out he was a total poser who ruined the legitimacy of many a race. And he isn’t alone. I feel the same way about many a racer (I’m sure now who were cheating) who I watched and wanted to emulate. I watched with the belief they were going above and beyond and overcoming the desire to just quit when it got tough. The doping takes on the trueness out of the effort. The effort was fake.

    None of that answers the question you raise. But, I think your underlying premise in this blog is correct, we have to be careful about letting how much we like or dislike a person in penalizing a person. It needs to be based on the facts and rules and be more or less consistently applied across conduct. Yet, despite the lack of consistency as compared to the others, I still believe Lance deserved a life-time ban. He should have quit while he was ahead. He was a fool to come out of retirement both times. Maybe that’s what makes us so mad is that he was just flouting his drug enabled ability in our faces. Plus, unlike everyone else, he got a lion’s share of the glory. The others were sort of cogs in the machine. They might have got moments; but, they didn’t get day after day, year after year, glory like he did. In many ways, Lance’s insatiable appetite for the limelight made him an idiot. He could have just walked away while he was ahead.

    What I like best about your post today, though, is it makes us pause and think about fairness. You’re right that the “mob-mentality” can be a dangerous thing. We never want to base penalties on “liking” or “disliking” someone. It has to be based on facts and rules. Whether Lance was treated “fairly” as compared to others or even as compared with himself will be up for discussion for the rest of the century.

     
  7. SalRuibal

    If a black kid in the ‘hood gets caught with a joint or a fingernail of crack, the criminal justice system stomps down on him pronto. Lance was a drug abuser, too, plain and simple. Because he’s rich and used his drugs to win bike races instead of to just get high, he will spend no time behind bars. He wasn’t just evading sanctions from the UCI and USADA, he and his team transported illegal drugs across international borders. You can parse all the rules and laws and such until infinity, but that does not change the fact that both laws and rules were broken in pursuit of wins and the money that comes from those wins. There was conspiracy on an international scale. Lance is a very likable guy and I certainly enjoyed access to him in my job as a sports writer. There was an aura about him during the TdF years that was powerful. I’ve never met a more confident human being. But I wonder, if at night, he awakes and thinks of all the damage that his doping has done, especially to his mother, who doesn’t deserve one second of hate for what her son has done. Same thing for his kids. But they are suffering. If it stopped at just cheating to win, the situation would be different. But Lance’s efforts to not only discredit his critics, but to ruin their careers, was diabolical. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and I failed to find a way to show the real Lance to my readers. For that I will always look back at those TdF years as a professional failure.

     
  8. Asocratic

    I have said this before, I think the problem can be solved. The 2 big things that need to change the first complete separation of policing and judging, second punish those working with a doper (Team, coaches…. regardless of knowledge but obviously less severely)
    1. We need to punish whole teams for doping violations.
    2. All lab results (not conclusions) need to be immediately public.
    3. Need to give teams an incentive to test and enforce within. Which means if a team finds a rider is doping or suspects they need a way to avoid having the whole team punished. They need to be able to withdraw the rider from competition and pay for 1 year.
    4. Get a third independent testing party involved. For example, if every rider (team) had to purchase a 1 million dollar bond/insurance that would be paid if they got caught doping. The insurance companies would look after their money and possibly test, investigate, charge more if you had a history of minor doping…. The insurance company does not care if the rider or team wins races. i.e. independent

    The UCI and USAcycling are not independent observers or enforcers. This must be fixed or the issue completely taken out of their hands. That said you can’t give the enforcing power to an organization that is only rewarded when someone is caught. That would just cause a different type of corruption.

     
  9. Doug

    Another perspective…I’ve never been a pro bike racer, just a part-time amateur. I am a father, however. Naturally my view differs. What makes me the angriest about Lance, and sport doping in general, is the health risks to athletes. There appear to be no laws in the US against sport doping. I find that fact to be bizarre when one considers the billions we spend as a society to attempt to stop other drugs.
    To succeed in sport today at the highest levels, it is almost always necessary to start young. I am as sure as I can be that most dopers started taking PEDs as minors. Where is our concern for our youth? Why are not the adults responsible for providing PEDs to minors pursued and prosecuted? In high schools all over America, young athletes are facing a decision to dope or not. Doctors agree steroid use causes cancer- at least. Yet we turn a blind eye to our drug-soaked gyms and schools. This is for me why the Lance story is so dangerous. To earn millions, be a hero..that is a great temptation, is it not? And the worst implication by far is to believe if one gets cancer, it can be cured, like a cold.

     
  10. Dog

    Lance (via George) was using the only tool he had left in that Detroit Free Press article. The tool of creating turmoil in Frankie’s marriage.

    Betsy never asked to get sucked into this mess. And her testifying in the SCA case was not a volunteer act. But she was just smart not to lie when asked. And look. It turned out she wasn’t lying after all!

    Lance and George are using a completely innocent woman as their anger management punching bag.

     
  11. Dog

    The saddest part, is that no one has focused on closing the door on what allowed powerful prescription-only products like these to get into the hands of guys like these.

    Lance should be willing to provide info on shutting down the flow of the drugs themselves. Or was he instrumental in the trafficking? This stuff still needs to be answered, and he is still focused on suspensions from competition.

     
  12. Max

    Everyone “including Lance” needs to move on. The problem is that we as cyclist are soooo passionate about our sport that we can’t let go of the fairy tale and a fairy tale IS exactly what it was! It’s like telling a kid that Santa isn’t real.

    Lance himself needs to just accept that he was not some supernatural athlete. Whether he views it as being fair or not, why should any of us care. It was all a sham. I don’t care that he was competing against other dopers.

    Lance YOU CHEATED virtually your entire career! You have millions of dollars to show for it! Don’t you get it? ALL of you dopers never truly deserved to be on the big stage. You cheated just to even get there. You are not THE GREAT Lance Armstrong! You are the DOPER Lance Armstrong! Just go play your golf and let it go.

     
  13. H Luce

    You write: “But, in the US, when we are charged criminally, we have the right, through the 5th amendment, to not testify against ourselves. Protection against compelled self-incrimination is implicit in the Miranda rights, which protects the “right to remain silent.”

    You have the right, under the 5th Amendment, to not be *compelled* to testify against yourself. In a grand jury proceeding, you may be *compelled* to give self-incriminating testimony if immunity is given – the Fifth Amendment right is absent. The Miranda *Warning* is not a “right”, it is an explanation of the implications of the Fifth Amendment rights and the consequences if those rights are not acted upon (“Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.”) It should alert you to the fact that the policeman is no longer Officer Friendly, he is your adversary, your enemy, and it is his job to accuse you and to ensure that those accusations stick, so you may be either fined or imprisoned.

    In sport, as in the other professions, the Fifth Amendment does not exist. Instead, there is an Honor Code. Here is the West Point version: “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.” Implicit in this code is the obligation to self-report – to incriminate oneself – and this is true across the professions as well. An honor code is a mutual contractual obligation, entered into voluntarily “without mental reservation or purpose of evasion”, and whose duties are sharply defined, as is due process within that Code.

    “Honor, as it is understood by the Corps of Cadets, is a fundamental attribute of character. Honor is a virtue which implies loyalty and courage, truthfulness and self respect, justice and generosity. Its underlying principle is truth. It is not a complicated system of ethics, but merely “honest dealing and clean thinking.” If a cadet is true in thought, word, and deed, there is no question about his meeting the standards of the Corps. On the other hand, quibbling, evasive statements, or the use of technicalities to conceal guilt are not tolerated at West Point.” Major General Maxwell Taylor http://www.west-point.org/users/usma1983/40768/docs/taylor.html

    The usual penalty for violation of this Honor Code: “Cadets who are found guilty of violations of the Honor Code are either allowed to resign or required to stand trial by court-martial. Cases of trial are comparatively rare, for most erring cadets prefer to leave the Academy quietly. Records of all alleged violations in which the evidence does not warrant trial are kept in a confidential file as long as the cadet remains at the Academy. When he leaves, this file is destroyed.”

    If people want the sport to be cleaned up, perhaps the answer would be to adopt an honor code similar to that used at West Point.

     
  14. Robo

    Steve, thank you so much for this post. I’ve been one the people applying “pressure” ever since you mentioned Lance’s call the other week. I was disappointed in yesterdays post because it focused too much on what Lance was feeling/thinking, and not how you felt, reacted or thought. But you pretty much ripped the cover off the ball today. This is by far the best piece of writing I’ve ever read from you. It had some excellent points and perspective on the whole Lance debacle, but it was also incredibly sincere. Thank you again for sharing YOUR thoughts and feelings. I especially loved this one:

    “Yeah, some of my views are because I’m pissed off personally. These guys screwed up a good part of my career in the sport. I don’t race bicycles for money. I race bicycles because of the lifestyle and life experiences the sport offers. When I can’t get those life experiences because some hack has stolen from me, for sure, I’m angry.”

    You’ve shared that sentiment before (that you were robbed of life experiences by dopers). However, I should tell you that your stories on here seem pretty rich. I recall one where you were trying to give Tylenol to someone in a 3rd world country, but she couldn’t accept it without giving you something in return. I remember thinking to myself ‘Wow, what an incredible experience – all because of cycling.’ Sure, if it weren’t for dopers you could have made more money and raced on a bigger stage and who knows what kind of experiences that would have produced. But even though that didn’t work out, you’ve still had an amazing journey and most of us would gladly trade places with you. How would you like to occupy the cubicle right next to mine… 40-50+hrs a week… for the next 20+ years?

    Your cycling career has been noble and admirable – you’ve done it all the right way. And I suspect it’s been rewarding (through experiences, relationships, memories, etc., if not financially). You’ve got 1,000’s of followers on here to prove it. Thank you again for sharing your life and experiences with all of us.

     
  15. H Luce

    You write: “But, in the US, when we are charged criminally, we have the right, through the 5th amendment, to not testify against ourselves. Protection against compelled self-incrimination is implicit in the Miranda rights, which protects the “right to remain silent.”

    You have the right, under the 5th Amendment, to not be compelled to testify against yourself. In a grand jury proceeding, you may be compelled to give self-incriminating testimony if immunity is given – the Fifth Amendment right is absent. The Miranda *Warning* is not a “right”, it is an explanation of the implications of the Fifth Amendment rights and the consequences if those rights are not acted upon (“Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.”) It should alert you to the fact that the policeman is no longer Officer Friendly, he is your adversary, your enemy, and it is his job to accuse you and to ensure that those accusations stick, so you may be either fined or imprisoned.

    In sport, as in the other professions, the Fifth Amendment does not exist. Instead, there is an Honor Code. Here is the West Point version: “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.” Implicit in this code is the obligation to self-report – to incriminate oneself – and this is true across the professions as well. An honor code is a mutual contractual obligation, entered into voluntarily “without mental reservation or purpose of evasion”, and whose duties are sharply defined, as is due process within that Code.

    “Honor, as it is understood by the Corps of Cadets, is a fundamental attribute of character. Honor is a virtue which implies loyalty and courage, truthfulness and self respect, justice and generosity. Its underlying principle is truth. It is not a complicated system of ethics, but merely “honest dealing and clean thinking.” If a cadet is true in thought, word, and deed, there is no question about his meeting the standards of the Corps. On the other hand, quibbling, evasive statements, or the use of technicalities to conceal guilt are not tolerated at West Point.” Major General Maxwell Taylor

    The usual penalty for violation of this Honor Code: “Cadets who are found guilty of violations of the Honor Code are either allowed to resign or required to stand trial by court-martial. Cases of trial are comparatively rare, for most erring cadets prefer to leave the Academy quietly. Records of all alleged violations in which the evidence does not warrant trial are kept in a confidential file as long as the cadet remains at the Academy. When he leaves, this file is destroyed.”

    If people want the sport to be cleaned up, perhaps the answer would be to adopt an honor code similar to that used at West Point.

     

  16. Jamie

    I am starting to think there is justice in the world – it just works REALLY slowly at first.

    Lance no longer controls his own narrative and public opinion currently holds him in ‘pariah’ territory. An added bonus is not seeing his mug all over the commercial landscape. I truly hope he enjoys hanging with the fat dudes playing golf.

    It is beautiful that Floyd is now held in greater esteem than Lance, and should soon be quite a bit wealthier as well.

    It is also beautiful that LeMond has returned to cycling and is set to release new road bikes and professional team sponsorship again.

    Justice has definitely been too slow in coming, but in the larger picture, I guess it is now being served quite briskly.

    I believe Lance’s own ego is tearing him to pieces as his ‘reality’ splinters away. Someday we will have fireside tales of “Lance Armstrong” to be passed along with a lesson of ‘don’t be an Armstrong’. Quite poetic actually.

    I believe the others have gotten off too lightly so far, but I have a funny feeling everything is not done yet with them. Seems poetic GH, DZ and VDV are now retired – can’t really imagine Ryder has much value coming at his contract expiration. TD still racing, but he also seems to live in ‘pariah’ territory outside the World Tour Peloton – again poetic isolation.

    Things are looking up daily!

     
  17. jpete

    Another thing no one seems to address is the access to products still in testing, or not approved yet. I think there are some pretty dark corners out there that the light has not gotten anywhere near reaching. I think drug companies whose unapproved drugs are found to be used for doping should pay a MAJOR fine. I imagine there are some pretty influential people involved in creating these pathways. There is a lot more corruption I think than just the riders, their bosses, the owners, and the UCI. I would also wonder about organized crime involvement on some level.

     
  18. Oldster

    Lancey Pants, I know you’re reading this – so I’m gonna give it to you straight. The neat thing about public ridicule is that it isn’t fatal.

    You made millions by cheating, and for all intents and purposes you’ve gotten away with it. That is in and of itself pretty genius. To worry about your “legacy” and your perceived level of fairness in the giant cluster that has become Pro Cycling is pretty narcissistic, but I have come to expect nothing less from you.

    If someone had told me 25 years ago that I could dope to the gills, pummel everyone on the bike, make millions while doing so, survive cancer, pull massive tail, get busted, keep a chunk of the cash and the only caveat was that I couldn’t race triathlons? Well incinerate my sleeveless jerseys and aero bikes, sign me up.!

    Take the cash and ride off into the sunset, the world owes you nothing …but the reverse is not true. That’s how you can rebuild your legacy, evolve and forget about bike racing – it’s a hobby now. Travel the world, spend time with your kids, score a few more hotties while you can, spill your guts about everyone and everything, harass e-Ritchie until he builds you a gravel grinder and never work again. If you are going to call Tilford, it should be to get some home maintenance, car repair tips or to ask about adapting one of his kittens. Steve’s work boots have more class than you have in your whole body, you could stand to learn a little something.

    Good luck, but for the love of God – forget about the bike. That could be the title of your next book, I am sure Sally Jenkins has nothing better to do these days

     
  19. channel_zero

    I also think that our constitutional rights should be part of this process and every other process.

    Except sporting infractions are not a part of the judicial and law enforcement systems. I see lots and lots of comments with legal references and none of them apply. It’s an arbitration procedure and there is plenty of half-truths and outright lies “under oath” in arbitration that simply pass without comment.

    Should there be criminal laws for some aspects of doping? Yes, for sure. But the law would have to be easy to apply/prosecute in order for a politically charged case to go to trial with popular sports figures and his/her suppliers. The American groups interested in seeing no such laws are quite powerful, USOC, IOC, NCAA, NFL, NBA, PGA. Probably needs to be done.

    I thought Steve did a good job presenting the circumstances in a balanced way.

     
  20. channel_zero

    If Lance is ever going to talk to Tilford again, it needs to be arranging an apology and some consequences for stealing races from Steve. Lance had no problems stealing from Steve years ago, so it’s never going to happen.

     
  21. Byron

    If Bernie Madoff called you from prison, he would tell you his arguments as to why he feels they made an example out of him too.
    I wouldn’t buy his argument or any argument from Armstrong either.

     
  22. Roberto

    You people are all missing the point. You all think this was just about cheating to win a race, It wasn’t. This was about taking it to a whole new level. Long before Lance got there, the European Peloton was doped to the gills. You couldn’t win a major race in Europe, without being on something. Blood bags were the norm, not the exception. Lance was chosen to be the guy, who would beat them at their own game. To bring the United States, to the forefront of the sport. He had the right set of abilities, he was the right age, and he had the arrogance to make it work. And he did make it work. He destroyed all the cheaters. His whole life was about the bike. That made him different than the others. They had lives outside the sport, he didn’t. They partied through the off season, he didn’t. Instead of hating Lance, you should applaud him. He beat the dirty bastards at their own game. But instead of that, you cuss him and hate him. All those dirty cheats still have their titles. They all cheated to win, everyone knows it, and still they’re considered champions. Where’s the equity in that. Where’s the fairness. When Lance lost his titles, who screamed “I got cheated, give me my title”. Nobody, that’s who. Because they all know they got beat. And they got beat by their own set of rules. You may not like the set of rules they played by, but that was the playing field they made. Lance didn’t invent it, he just beat them on it. American teams (baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer) used to get beat badly in the Olympics, by Russian and other European teams. The American players used to complain, it’s not fair, all those European players do is practice. We have to go to school, or have a job. So what did we do….we changed the rules, to let Professional athletes to play. The difference is just semantics. It’s all about winning, and proving we’re better. And that’s what Lance did. Get over your holier than thou selves. Lance did what we all expected him to do, HE WON!. All the guys he raced against get it. When are the rest of you idiots going to get it.

     
  23. E Peogh

    Tillie you have always been a great competitor. I like your website because it’s 100% you, the history of the sport, and, well, you.

    Lance: kinda like Motley Crue: “Lance, don’t go away mad, Lance just go away”.

    Hopefully enough said all around.

     
  24. Anonymouse

    I personally would like to thank LA. He made me look smarter than I really am, where it matters, in the eyes of my daughter.

    I was a Lance fan back in the early tour wins*. Of course my daughter fell in line and started cheering too as did my Grandmother since we spent several tours in front of her TV. My opinion soon formed that the whole professional peloton was filled with cheating scumbags and there’s no way LA is beating them all clean. So my stance turned. The little one had a hard time understanding why I was so negative about what was once someone I cheered for. It was during the time when the many rabid Lance-fanbois would come out of the woodwork if you said anything negative about him.

    Once the castle started to crumble, it all culminated, for me at least, with the Oprah interview. The little one, who wasn’t so little anymore, had since started having her own misgivings about LA. Sometime during the broadcast she said – “wow Dad, you were right all along”. I nearly fell out of my chair. It wasn’t too long after that we were having fun burning the books, yellow bracelets, I even tossed in a Livewrong jersey. Thankfully I didn’t have to burn the Oakleys. A change of ear socks and popped icons did the trick.

    Have we moved on? Of course we have. We don’t give a damn about Lance and never will. I get tired of reading about him. My least favorite posts on this blog are about any of the professional peloton. I just don’t care anymore. There’s been a few times where her and I have been to a race or just out cycling and there goes Tilford. We both act like we just saw the president or something. I don’t think Tilford will ever disappoint us! 🙂

     
  25. becomingblue

    “It is beautiful that Floyd is now held in greater esteem than Lance, and should soon be quite a bit wealthier as well.”

    Why is this beautiful or cause for celebration? It’s moving wealth from one cheater to the next. I recall Floyd’s actions from when he got caught until now were pretty crazy. And he was heavily criticized for his doping and his dopey actions afterwards. Now many people seem to be glad and hold him in high regard that via a potential whistle blower judgement, he stands to get maybe millions.

     
  26. The Cyclist

    I fear that professional cycling by its nature (just like the Wall Street) unfortunately is very very far from the Corps of Cadets and its code of honor. Just as politics, banking or any other business where ppl make money by cheating other ppl. Can’t really blame cyclng or Lance for creating this goddamned culture we all live in. Just look at the religions, world wars, oil wars, the extinction of species and rain forests. It’s all based on lying and cheating and stealing. The hole planet is going to hell while the rich are getting richer.

     
  27. Mike Rodose

    Taylor Phinney.

    The new messiah. We all know he’s clean. Came from clean parents, clean system, clean coaches, clean team. Mr. Clean

    Not Taylor Phoney. Taylor Phinney…rhymes with skinny. And he’s a clean USA rider.

    Finally we can spotlight on a drug-free rider. Taylor is pan y agua. A clean rider.

     
  28. Justin

    Constitutional rights are simply not an issue here. Lance tried to block the USADA arbitration in federal court, arguing that the USADA arbitration proceeding did not satisfy Constitutional due process – the federal court ruled against him. Had Lance proceeded to arbitration he would not have been compelled to testify – he did not even have to personally show up for the arbitration hearing. Nor was his own compelled testimony used against him – he was sanctioned based on the sworn testimony of other witnesses. Having chosen to skip the hearing that was offered to him, it does not sit well to hear him complain that it was not fair.

    On the topic of fairness generally, it can be both a shield and a sword. It is worth remembering that the Vrijman Report, which served to postpone Lance’s sanction by six years, employed the same concept of fairness, and the same ide of a fair hearing, to twist Lance’s positive test for EPO into a critique of WADA and the testing laboratory:

    “Article 8 of the WADA Code provides that any person ‘who is asserted to have
    committed an anti-doping rule violation’ is entitled to a fair hearing. Nevertheless,
    the conduct and statements of WADA and its President, the LNDD and its Director,
    have effectively asserted that Lance Armstrong committed an anti-doping rule
    violation when they all knew or should have known that there was no evidentiary
    basis for such an assertion and that the current rules and regulations would not
    afford Lance Armstrong the opportunity to respond to these assertions by means of
    a fair hearing.” (Vijman Report Section 1.19)

     
  29. Devin

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say no pharmaceutical firm would ever knowingly sell drugs “on the side” to enhance performance- there are massive risks for a ludicrously small profit, compared to legitimate sales. If athletes are getting drugs still in beta-test they’re getting them from crooked doctors.

    I think you may be right about organized crime though, I’m sure there is a market for stolen performance enhancing drugs (think hospital and pharmacy, and the distribution companies that disperse drugs to same)- and where there’s that kind of market there’s a crime syndicate with fingers in the pie at some level.

     
  30. H Luce

    Well, as regards the European peloton, of course, you’re right, Roberto, and there’s a long history of doping going back to the very beginning of the “sport” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_cycling and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doping_at_the_Tour_de_France#The_Convicts_of_the_Road) That’s why American riders kept losing, losing, and losing for many years, because they chose the course of honor – to obey the written rules. No honest rider – except for LeMond – stood a chance of getting on the podium. Is the solution, then, to be dishonest, and to be a better cheat and liar than your competition? Is that the sort of person we want to set an example for the youth and people of the US to look up to and emulate? I think not; in such a situation it is far more honorable to compete to the best of your natural ability and lose, than it is to cheat better and harder, and win at any cost.

     
  31. Bill K

    Steve, you got it as right as anybody could.
    Dopers are going to keep on doping as long as they aren’t given the “Armstrong treatment” when caught.
    I hope that sometime in the future, Armstrong gets some of his wins back. Maybe they’ll let him race again when he’s in his 50’s, if he puts in 1000 hours of community service talking to Juniors. He needs to put something back into the sport.
    .

     
  32. mike crum

    when i research all the cyclists caught on drugs over he last 50 years,it just amazes me.. and all the comments i hear on forums like this one and in magazines and cycling sites are “its always a level playing field.. so looking back to eddy merckx’s era, he got busted, as well as shawn kelly in his era, guys were busted in andy hamsteds era as well as lances. so a level playing field, must mean ALL were on something, some got caught and some didnt.????? so if lance beat steve tilford in races like one of he above pots states, and its a level paying field, does that mean steve was on them too, but didnt get caught?? thats how i read into this drug situation.. everyone says its a level playig field, and every decade going way back, racers get caught some dont…, all i get out of that is all pros cheat(level playing field) .im new to cycling, but this is i read into this. hear it a hundred times everywhere, its a level playing field. so that makes me think they all cheat.. please explain..

     
  33. Adam

    Lance was better than everyone else. Guys like Tom Danielson are the true wankers of the doping peleton because if it weren’t for peds they would be working at k-mart. You suck Tom D!

     
  34. Dog

    UCI came up with a farcical version of an honor code some years ago. They pressured teams and riders to sign it, and it eventually farted dust.

     
  35. geezer

    Actually I read an article a few years ago that described an audit of epo sales in europe. The gist of it was that only about 25% of its sales could be traced to legitimate use. I suspect the pharmas do implicitly know that they profit a great deal from off-label use of their drugs.

     
  36. Jeff Rowe

    This is a great thread. I salute all of the commenters here who used their actual name. I wish I could filter the comments accordingly. Thanks.

     
  37. Just Crusty

    Mike Crum,

    For clarification, I would suggest you reread the above post by Steve Tilford, the post immediately preceding, and the 120 related comments attached to said posts.

    Crusty

     
  38. Carl

    Applying Lance’s argument would mean rationalizing away all punishment unless all violators get equal sentences. How lovely and conveniently unattainable! Let’s even assume that you buy into the ‘unfairness’ of the situation as presented by LA – he was still among the biggest violators and (I’m being kind here) resisted any attempt to cooperate and lessen the sentencing. Two massive differences between his circumstances and those he cites as receiving different treatment. His motives and actions stink to high heaven; the logic (sic) of his challenge doesn’t hold water. Strawman debate at best.

     
  39. jeff

    Ditto the above sentiment. This is by far your best effort at writing, Steve.

    I get the sense you did a fair amount of self-editing, or, at the very least, typed out each sentence with great care. Keep it up.

     
  40. mike crum

    crusty, i reread all of them. all i come up with is a lot of cyclists say they didnt take drugs to get better and got away with it, and a lot of cyclists say they didnt take drugs to get better and got caught. i’m glad the cheats got caught, and i hate the cheats the got away with it..

     
  41. Larry T.

    Here’s a suggestion for BigTex regarding what seems like a non-apology tour. Do like BP did when they fouled up the Gulf. Contact all the folks you screwed over and ask them to submit a claim. Start with Mr. LeMond and go from there. Any and everyone who was deprived of income because of your actions could submit a claim. Next, hire the guy who looked over the BP claims to decide whose claims are valid, then start writing the checks. Once that’s over, start apologizing to those you weren’t able to ruin financially – the ones you just fu__ed with. Then, after all this has been completed, someone might actually care about your “unfair” treatment by the nasty ol’ USADA. Otherwise STFU, as they say.

     

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