Phil Liggett on Lance – “I built him up.”

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Phil Liggett is announcing down in Australia and is heading over to New Zealand to announce at the Legends of Cycling gala, so the New Zealand Herald thought they would do an interview with him.  Man, can Phil put his foot in his mouth nowadays.

I’ve known Phil for a very long time.  He was the promoter of the British Milk race the first year I went there over 30 years ago.  He is a nice guy and pretty knowledgeable about the sport.

But somewhere he took a 90 degree turn and lost his way.  I understand what he thinks his job is and how he feels he needs to place, or align himself, to do that job.  But come on.

I believe he would do better for himself if he’d just stick to announcing and quit injecting personal opinions into the mix.  He has been pretty adamant about his support of Lance over the years.  I guess that is commendable, in some regard, but when you are on the wrong side of the truth, it doesn’t go so well publicly.

To the Herald, Phil said, “I built him up. I created him into a great cyclist, and he was, even though he took drugs.”

This statement is crazy.  I’m not sure that a race announcer “can create a great cyclist”. Whoever wins the Tour de France, who previously had already won the World Road Championships, in my view, has already established his abilities.  I think just about anyone announcing the Tours, those 7 that Lance won, would have to acknowledge that Lance was better than everyone else. I don’t think any specific person announcing could really take credit for having “built ” Lance up.

It is like Phil is taking credit for making Lance famous or something.  I think that Lance did that pretty good himself.  On and off the bike.

In my opinion, Phil has stuck by Lance, even when the obvious was obvious.  They have a common background and rumors have it that they were in business together.  Phil admitted he’d “MC’d his gigs around the world”.

So, he has his loyalty.  But Phil, said this now – “I wanted absolute proof before I spoke against him and, despite what they say, they never got the proof.”  They never “got the proof”?  Where has Phil been the past few years?  It is really embarrassing for him.

Anyway, like I said above, I’ve known Phil a long time.  He was super nice to me early in my cycling life. When MTB racing was taking off, he flew over to Hawaii and announced the World Cup finals. I helped him out a little getting him up to speed on this aspect of the sport.  But then Lance came along and started winning the Tour and then the media jumped on board the road scene.

So, really looking back on it, maybe Lance was the one that built Phil up?  Maybe Phil just got mixed up on what he was trying to say and he meant that?  I hope so.

I just figured it out. I bet it was mixed up in translation. Phil was getting interviewed by a New Zealand newspaper and he is British.



This video is from 2012.  The part about Lance starts around 2 minutes in.  Phil is still sticking with his 2012 views it seems.


21 thoughts on “Phil Liggett on Lance – “I built him up.”

  1. scott

    Liggett lost all credibility with me years ago with his never ending & unprofessional adulation of Armstrong, despite the obvious. It remains a perfect example of placing financial consideration before the truth, in which the entire cycling industry was complicit.

  2. Touriste-Routier

    I think this might be a case of British English vs American English interpretation. I took his words to refer to the building the hype surrounding Lance. This would of course be self-evident.

  3. Michael S. Gacki

    Phil sounds like someone in this interview who has much more of a “relationship” with the uni-baller, than just a casual friendship or someone who has “mc’d a few gigs”…..Go back, go back to the tapes, DVD, what ever you had “Dopestrong’s” 7 victories on…and watch them and listen to Phil… his accounts no one else should have even been in the race with the greatness of Lance. Liggett knew….he had to know…he was too close to the situation…..there was a song in the 1980’s…..”Money changes everything”.

  4. channel_zero

    who previously had already won the World Road Championships, in my view, has already established his abilities.

    To win on PEDs? He was doped/doping on Wenzel/Carmichael’s development squad.

  5. Fausto

    They will be forever locked together. Nice that Phil is loyal but his friend LA made a fool of him and 90% of the rest of the press. Phil is no journalist, just a play by play announcer. Velo News, his co-authors, Bicycling Mag, etc, everyone rode the “no evidence, so let me get paid, just part of my job” role. I get it from the mainstream media who jumped on the bandwagon and know nothing of our sport, but from the people that were there, no excuse. To report the race is one thing, but to help promote (getting paid for it) outside of the race was poor judgement. I love Bobke too, no disrespect, but he is no different than Phil. My biggest issue with Phil now is he is just bad at his job, constantly calling out the wrong riders in a break, missing action, etc. For all of us English speaking only crowd, the question would be if you were listening to Italian, French or Spanish TV/Radio during those tours, was the commentary more questioning of the LA performance?

  6. kmak

    I agree. In the context of the article, it seemed to me he was saying (in his peculiar fashion) “I promoted him as a great cyclist..”

  7. Fsonicsmith

    IMHO, LIggett knew damned well that Lance and just about every other GC contender over a span of 20 some years was juicing. There is a bizarre aspect of human consciousness, some syndrome that psychiatrists have not yet specifically attached a label to, that allows people to become numb to a fact, to compartmentalize it far away in some remote area of the brain and leave the rest of the brain to think that some alternate version of reality is true. And, this is what LIggett apparently succumbed to. I suspect if you hooked his cranium up to some electrodes and zapped ten car batteries hooked up in series, he would jolt out of his fog and start blabbering something unintelligible about not knowing where he has been for the last twenty years.

  8. devin

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

  9. Krakatoa East of Java

    Liggett was always a nice voice to help us pass the time on long TDF stages. He knew a little bit about all of the riders (usually), and that made him a great entertainment resource. Good for a nice witty comment and a pleasurable tour-watching experience.

    At some point, journalists started paying attention to what he thought about the inner-workings of the sport when off-camera. They assumed he had some special insight (or access). He didn’t.

    Let’s stop assuming that he’s some special brain on cycling. He’s not. He just has a high-profile position on the Telly.

  10. Krakatoa East of Java

    While everyone else is at the Tour witnessing and experiencing, Phil and Paul are in a TV production trailer doing VO’s, recording promo spots and reviewing notes. Then they’re driven to the next location, they collapse at the hotel, and they awake the next day to do it all over again. What do you think THEY know that you don’t? And it’s their job to “stay positive” and attract viewers to Le Tour. You think these guys are journalists? They ain’t. They’re facilitators.

    It’s a job.
    Go rent a DVD called “Broadcast News”. William Hurt. Holly Hunter. Phil is like the William Hurt character.

  11. Krakatoa East of Java

    “My biggest issue with Phil now is he is just bad at his job, constantly calling out the wrong riders in a break, missing action, etc.”

    Bingo. He is constantly getting the info wrong. It was way easier before the helmets and sunglasses.

  12. Corvus

    Yes. Concur. And taking this one bit, out of context – is misleading. fmk_rol did the same disservice on Twitter.

    I have to say that, even the way Steve looks at it, what Phil says in that one sentence has some truth in it. The LA/TdF phenomenon literally grew the sport English speaking markets, and particularly the US. Phil and Paul, and even Bob Roll, were very much a big part of that. It wasn’t Phil alone, but he certainly was part of the team that made that happen. So was Lance. But without the airtime, it would not have been what it historically was – massive growth for the sport. And without Lance’s victories, it would not have been.

  13. dave

    Who really know’s what lance would have accomplished in his racing career or any of the riders if they trained and raced straight-up clean? That’s everybody’s loss. We’ll never know. ’93 WORLDS? His earliest wins in 91-92? Whatever he actually cheated for in the past, comes back to haunt him. He won’t ever know what he might have done straight-up.

  14. Jim

    Man, can Phil put his foot in his mouth nowadays.

    Nowadays?? As is pointed out above, he has been doing that for the last 20-25 years. He is simply awful at his “job”. So many of the comments already made are right on point.
    I wish he would just retire and go away for good.

  15. James

    Did he build him up? Absolutely. Do we expect a commentator to be and investigative reporter? No. But Phil, Paul and Bob would drone on incessantly about how Lance and his various teammates would train harder, train more, recon the course, spend more time in the wind tunnel & generally paid more attention to detail than anyone else. Sure? The other teams & their top riders didn’t? And now all three have a bit of a credibilty gap to deal with IMO.

    Nevertheless, Phil, obviously way past his prime, keeps the gig. Like an aged athlete, you’d hope he would recognize or receive good counsel and retire.

  16. Larry T.

    Don’t forget Jeckel (or is he Heckel?) was the PR guy on Tex’s team back-in-the-day. Both of these clowns could retire and the TV broadcasters could just use computer-generated catch phrases of theirs for eternity. “Suitcase of courage” “Roundabout 20 kilometers” “At the head of the main field” “Heads of State”….AGGHHHHH!!!! Make it stop! I have to mute the sound within seconds when these bozos start their schtick.


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