20 August 2010

Armstrong's ratings are plummeting

The more I know, the more I am concerned
I am curious about the progression of this doping case. This experience is new, this is not the typical Ricco, Millar, Vinokourov, Basso, Ullrich, Landis, Hamilton doper story where the only question was whether the cyclist would admit doping, or not. I have become accustomed to witnessing the accusations, the dismissal from the team, the two year ban from competition, the attempted comeback, and the subsequent short-term memory of most fans and sponsors. This doping case is going to be very different.
Two days ago on my lunch hour, I was sitting in the park eating a sandwich next to my dog Jack. I was intently reading the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. I had just finished reading about the unemployment rate, the northwest housing crisis, and the double-dip, when on page 22 I stumbled upon the Armstrong graph. His graph appeared no more positive than any of the economic graphs. Poor guy.

In the graph above, notice how sharply we gave up on Lance Armstrong once we determined he would not win the 2010 Tour de France and underperformed on July 11th, again after the Tour was over, and again amongst breaking news of the worsening doping scandal. Of course the graph doesn't show the effect of bashing the French hotel business (on August 14th), and his recent weeks of Cancer fighting campaigns.

I am glad my popularity is not grafted for all to see. I am more glad I am not Radio Shack, riding a sinking PR ship (although they are not giving up the ship). The graph clearly shows how Armstrong has taken Radio Shack down with him. Poor company. This is the time to remind ourselves why doping is bad for Sport: it creates cheaters, it can harm the health of individuals, and it is bad news for sponsors. (Not to mention, as a fan, I can't keep track of who wins a title on a given day, but who the actual winner was when the title is later revoked).

One thing is for sure, Lance Armstrong sure puts himself out there, a lot. I believe the more you are in the public eye, the more you are likely to make public mistakes. The more you speak under oath, the more likely you will say something inconsistent under oath - if there are inconsistencies to be said.

At a minimum, the new trend seems to be to indict the US based doping cases on pergury and false statements. These charges still translate to jail time. They do not have to actually convict Armstrong of doping. Yesterday it was announced that American baseball player, Roger Clemens was indicted on obstruction of justice, pergury, and false statements in the investigation into his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Today Lance Armstrong announced he has hired Mark Fabiani, (I probably would have avoided an Italian name) a high-powered legal and communications strategist.

It appears that Armstrong has circled a damage-control squad around him. His team includes Bryan Daly, a Los Angeles-based attorney and former federal prosecutor, Tim Herman, Armstrong's longtime Dallas-based personal lawyer, and Mark Fabiani a former White House special counsel who represented former President Bill Clinton and his wife, current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during the mid-1990s and the Whitewater investigation. Do you remember the "Master of Disaster"? That was the name Newsweek magazine gave Fabiani. Yes, he is that guy, and now that guy is representing a road cyclist.

my picture of Lance Armstrong at the Tour de France in Salies-de-Bearn in July 2010

I have a bad feeling for Armstrong. This is the point where we all naturally transfer our thoughts to his 5 children, and the good he does for Livestrong and Cancer awareness. Have we ever had such an effective spokesperson against Cancer as Lance Armstrong? That is one disease I would like to see demolished. Please, can he have more time to make headway. Five to ten years from now we will know how this story ends, for both Armstrong and hopefully Cancer. I hope there is a happy ending in there somewhere.

The Wall Street Journal: Cyclists Armstrong, Hincapie Broaden Legal Teams

Update 06/08/11: Armstrong has bolstered his legal team in recent weeks, adding John Keker and Elliot Peters of Keker & Van Nest LLP to the fold. The two new additions are directing the legal team. Other members of the team include Bob Luskin, Tim Herman, Mark Fabiani, and Bryan Daly.