Thursday, May 20, 2010

What’s your integrity worth?

“It's our word against his word. I like our word.”

-Lance Armstrong, in response to accusations based on eyewitness accounts by former teammate Floyd Landis that Armstrong doped

The only thing surprising about today’s news that Floyd Landis has come clean in remarkable detail about his doping, is that he admitted it. That he doped should come as no surprise at all.

LA finds himself squarely in the crosshairs, and all he can come up with is another lame denial. “I’ve been tested, I’ve never tested positive.” “Our word against his.” Ulrich didn’t test positive either. And neither of your word is worth very much, but only one of you has any vested interest in lying at this point.

Phil Ligget, whom I quite enjoy listening to as a cycling commentator despite his propensity to blow sunshine up the ass of Lance specifically and any member of team radioshack generally with every other breath, remains hopelessly naive and loyal:

“Well. It’s easy to name names. Now let’s see the proof. Then I’ll have a comment.”

Apparently Phil never read From Lance to Landis. Or how about the simple fact that Armstrong beat guy—who are known dopers—seven years in a row? In a race with margins that narrow, it’s simply impossible for a clean Armstrong to beat a doped Ulrich.

There are still some riders whom I hope are clean. Evans, Cancellara, Farrar, Voigt to name a few. But as much as I love the sport of cycling, I hate that every man in the peloton falls into one of two categories: almost certainly doping/vainly hope he isn’t.

Thanks, Floyd, for finally coming clean. Took you long enough. But I guess at this point you had nothing left to lose.

20 comments:

  1. What I don't understand is how Landis only tested positive once despite years of doping. Even the time he failed the drug test, he now says he was taking hgh, not the steriod he tested positive for. I guess that shows the testing is so flawed/behind the times that Lance's failure to test positive means little.

    Like you said, if those around Lance have been doping, how can Lance consistently beat them (and beat them bad)?

    I really don't see Landis getting any benefit out of naming Lance since he will be an even further outcast than he already is. He was a teammate of Lance and I am unaware of any feud between them (but I could be wrong about that). It seems like he is coming clean, not doing this as a personal vendetta.

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  2. I am no Lance apologist. I would not be surprised to find out that he is part of the unlimited league and they are all doping. It is curious that Floyd attacks all major US cyclists. Floyd took money to write a book stating he was clean and also took money from the public to fight his court case. Then he comes out and says he doped. Floyd has no credibility. They may all be on something and seeing what they do I would not doubt they are doping. To me this seems to be Floyd lashing out at the people who no longer want him on their team.

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  3. One other thought. I am excited to hear Lemond. I bet he is organizing a press conference right now. Can't you just see him rubbing his hands together and licking his chops.

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  4. Yeah, Landis has no credibility and should be vilified for cheating for ALL of those years, not just the year he won the Tour. Can't believe he took money from sponsors/friends/supporters to fight his doping charge when he knew he was doping. Apparently, he even lied to his mother. LeMond is probably doing a little jig!

    Is he on a team? I thought he dropped off the map and was basically in forced retirement.

    In any event, if WADA and other doping testers can't catch Landis despite years of doping, how are they expected to really catch anyone? Surely most riders know how many others are cheating and getting away with it. What then is the incentive not to cheat? Sure, it's not ethical, blah, blah, blah. But cheat and win - you get $$, media exposure/celebrity treatment, women falling for you, etc.

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  5. I think the pro teams have beating the testing down to a science. They know exactly what will get detected and what won't and they go right up to those limits.

    As for Landis, I applaud his admission of doping, although that doesn't excuse what he did. And it seems lame to rat out other riders. Sure it's tempting to lash out when you're in the hot seat, but without proof it doesn't mean anything except to stir people up.

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  6. all i gotta say is good job Floyd, owning up to past transgressions is difficulty and life changing.

    He does the right think with the whistle blowing as well. Not lame, necessary.

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  7. Walter: That Landis doped all those years and didn't get caught makes Lance's "never tested positive" claim that much weaker.

    Blackdog: Agree with you about taking fans' money for his defense. Before he did that would have been a better time to come clean. I can't decide which is more despicable, Landis taking defense money from his fans, Armstrong allegedly paying off Verbruggen, or Verbruggen allegedly accepting the bribe.

    Kris: Got to agree with Bob on this one--Landis speaking out against other racers was the right thing to do and completely necessary. Eyewitness testimony is enough to convict people of murder. What more do you want in the way of proof? What more is available? Unless this omerta amongst the few riders who test positive goes away, there will never be a true disincentive to dope given the pathetic rate at which testers actually catch the dirty racers.

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  8. I used to lean on the "never tested positive" defense, clinging to that "hope he isn't doping" point of view, with Lance and others. But then it dawned on me that the UCI, WADA, USA Cycling and others benefit tremendously from having someone like Lance in the peleton. how many times has a positive test result simply been "misplaced?"

    I think it's a better that he speak for himself however. It comes off as petty to drag someone else - however guilty they are - into your own self destruction.

    Although, I quite enjoyed this (thanks to Bob for linking it). Pretty Boy Floyd. Admittedly, I did not fully grasp the juxtaposition with the bank robber Floyd.

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  9. Landis' confession reminds the public doping is still a problem. And to some extent his allegations of other rider's doping also does this. And the public can help push change, so perhaps what Landis has done is helpful.

    But will other riders confess because Landis outed them? Not likely. Will they be convicted based on Landis' testimony? Also unlikely.

    SBJ, while an eyewitness may be influential in a murder conviction, that alone is rarely enough for a conviction. Credibility of the witness is crucial. Just how credible is Landis? LeMond has been vocal about the doping he says he saw, I don't think that's gone particularly well for him. Now if another rider would corroborate Landis' account, then you'd have something. Or if Landis had evidence (photos, video, blood bags, syringes, etc.) his case would be stronger. But just one person's word against another is not enough. Nor should it be. Would you like it if one person's testimony could land you in jail?

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  10. Kris: One person's testimony does not a conviction make. But the more important thing about Landis speaking out is that perhaps it will end the silence. If doping riders know that not only do they run the risk of getting caught, but also that other doping riders may finger them if they're caught, it creates another disincentive against doping.

    Until Landis and Kohl coming out and saying "not only did I dope, but so did______" there was a law of silence. If you got caught, you suffered. But you didn't take others with you. It's like omerta and the Mafia. But if people who get caught start naming names, especially if doping authorities offer an incentive to do so, the notion that it's easy to get away with may go away. That's why I think Landis speaking out is a good thing.

    Lance hasn't been convicted, and I'm not advocating denying him his due process. He and anyone else should be allowed to compete until such a time that there's an actual conviction. But if eyewitnesses speak up rather than remaining silent, hopefully those convictions will be easier to come by. And hopefully the sport will become cleaner as a result.

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  11. Lance isn't doping. He was abducted by aliens. They cured his cancer then inserted anabolic aids to ensure his rise to cycling stardom. (When all else fails pull out the ballistic science fiction card.)

    Incidentally, words don't describe that fatal day. The day in which I learned that Landis was doping (way back when). And he lost his Tour Title. Serious bummer 'cause that is still my favorite France Tour, like, ever. Then there was the Rassmussen scandal. Heck I was just as broken up when Tyler Hamilton got caught. It does look rather fishy, however, that all of these people have been busted when the guy who beat them all has gone clean...

    (I just realized that I repeated pretty much what everyone else said. But dang it! I want to be heard today! hehehe)

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  12. Another thought, I have a friend who ran the 100 in college. She went to nationals and took eighth. Five of the people above her, Marion Jones being one of them, have been disqualified for doping. (Eight minus five is three, therefore my friend would have placed third at nationals.) But that's 7 years later, so no one really cares.

    It seems that athletes are able to hide the fact that they are doping until they become old news. At that point, no one really cares enough to cover their asses. Marion Jones is a prime example.

    Being as Armstrong is superhuman (and alien aided), I doubt he'll become old news and people will continue to cover his ass. That is, of course, if he is using.

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  13. Rabid,

    The thing is, with alien abductions, there is always that danged Anal Probe.

    Lance needs to explain that to me. Cause, i mean, maybe that has something to do with it, really, I'd ride my bike faster too.

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  14. I just want to know why Valverde is allowed to keep racing and winning big races when the DNA evidence is right there. How does the peleton pussyfoot around this fact that there is a huge bag of blood that is a perfect match to Valverde? Everyone else in Puerto was banned or pushed out of the sport. I think cycling has come to the point where names like Armstrong have such an influence, like Tiger in golf, that if he were to topple, the sport would be damaged to a point of no return. The stars of the sport are now too big to fail, just like the banks. Too much is riding on them now.

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  15. Also Frankie Andrea confession of doping and him and his wife's revelation about Lance's statements when he had cancer really intrigue me too. People threw Frankie under the bus then too, but I have more faith in Frankie's integrity than most right now too.

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  16. I believed Frankie the first time around. Nothing to gain and everything to lose by saying what he did. Landis is in the same boat. Well except that Landis has nothing left to lose.

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  17. Also the lastest pro to get popped with EPO was microdosing. He said the only reason he got caught was because he did not drink the required 2 liters of water after taking the microdose and was tested at 6am the next morning. If the tester came a day later or he drank the water like he was suppose to he would have been in the clear and another doper would have passed the tests. I agree, saying I never failed a test doesnt mean shit!

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  18. Today, I heard Landis called the Jose Canceso of cycling. I think that's a great description. Both are nut jobs and easily dismissed by everyone with a vested interest. However, over time both their claims of massive doping have been and will be proven to be essentially true.

    You have to be blinded by the LA myth and star power to ignore the evidence of his doping. It wasn't just him, nearly every rider in the peleton was doping in the late '90's through the mid 2000's. You had no choice if you wanted to be a Euro Pro.

    The sad part is road cycling's current popularity is almost entirely due to LA's compelling story and Tour success. If you have worked in the industry, you can atest to the remarkable differnce in the pre-LA and post-LA business environment. It's not an overstatement to say without LA, we would not enjoy the selection of highend equipment we do today. Hopefully, road cycling has matured enough to survive this hit.

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  19. SBJ, I was speaking about the testimony / evidence needed to get an accused pro banned. You seem to be talking more about the pressure such accusations can exert. I agree the court of public opinion can cause change, and perhaps Landis' statements will add some cracks to the wall of secrecy / silence. Hopefully some good will come of this.

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