Being down in Austin, about everything that Lance Armstrong does or says gets printed. In today’s local paper, The Austin American Statesman, this article talked about the ongoing Federal Investigation into drug usage by cyclists. Pretty much the same article came out on Cyclingnews.com yesterday, which can be found here.
I’m not sure I got what Lance was trying to say. I don’t like what I think he was saying, but I’m not sure that is what he meant. Here’s the quotes that I’m having trouble with.
Other sports have done a good job ignoring whatever issue they may or may not have; or dealing with it internally, or dealing with it through a players’ union or teams’ union or governing body.”
”Our [issues] most of the time play out in the public eye, [with] people popping off in the press. As long as that kind of anarchy exists we’ll never move forward.
Like I said above, I’m not sure to what Lance is referring. The article is about a Federal Investigation involving drugs in cycling and how it is affecting him. I think, if I’m reading it correctly, that Lance is saying that it would have been better to ignore the problems of drugs in cycling or deal with it behind closed doors, than allow it to play out legally and through the media. I must be missing something here. That just doesn’t sound like something he would/should say.
I had to look up the word anarchy, to make sure that I knew the definition. I did know the definition. But, I’m not sure how it applies here. Here is the definition of the word anarchy-
Anarchy (from Greek: ἀναρχίᾱ anarchíā, “without ruler”) may refer to any of the following:
* “No rulership or enforced authority.”
* “A social state in which there is no governing person or group of people, but each individual has absolute liberty (without the implication of disorder).”
* “Absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder.”
* “Absence or non-recognition of authority and order in any given sphere.”
* “Acting without waiting for instructions or official permission… The root of anarchism is the single impulse to do it yourself: everything else follows from this.” 
* Anarchy is the basic rule of a no rule society.
Sports in general, and especially cycling have been overwrought with drugs for a very long time. That is a fact. But, it was getting worse and worse as the drugs got better and better. Up until the late 90’s and maybe a little longer, it had gotten so bad that there was close to anarchy with the enforcement of rules and laws concerning drugs in cycling. It was systemic. Whole teams on systematic programs of drug abuse. The Festina affair brought some of it to light. But, it was other teams also. PDM, Telecom, etc. Every rider on most of the Tour teams were on the program, with virtually no enforcement by any governing body. Anarchy.
I think that exactly the opposite of anarchy is happening now. Finally. We allowed the governing body, the teams and the riders to have their way and it finally got to a tipping point. When that tipping point occurred, others got involved. First, the police and governments of many countries. And the media. Then WADA and other organizations that, in theory, have no ties to the UCI. This is what is changing the atmosphere surrounding drug usage in cycling. The “old guard” is publicly applauding the efforts, but privately they are resisting. It is going more and more underground. Like I’ve said before, riders that sit out their 2 years, never seem to have a problem getting rehired and resuming their career as soon as their suspensions are over. You have to really go against the grain, such as Michael Rasmussen, to have problems reentering the sport.
Lance says later that, “You can never come to a consensus, which is fine. But some of it should be dealt with behind closed doors – among the teams, among the riders who [must] come to a solution that should be the approach they move forward with. But it’s not. People walk out of these meetings and immediately … start popping off [to the media].”
The media is an important part of transparency. In politics. Business. Now in sports. Suggesting that the media should be excluded from the process is not well thought out.
If Lance thinks that the Pro Rider’s Union (CPA) or Teams (AIGCP) are the channels to address the problem of drugs in the sport of cycling, he needs to rethink this notion. They had their opportunities and it came to this. Also, I’m pretty sure that those organizations have little or no budget. And, why would the riders themselves what to probe into drug usage in the sport of cycling? It doesn’t make any sense. Behind close doors? Wow.
So, I’m hoping that a lot of this interview, which was done for an Australian newspaper, was taken out of context and that it isn’t really what Lance wants to convey to the general public about the problem of drugs in our sport and how to eradicate it. That must be the explanation? Lance states later in the article that he has no voice in the sport now that he “is 40”. He is wrong in this regard for sure. He has the loudest voice we have in cycling. I hope he uses it wisely.