13 October 2012

"Betsy will kill me"

Many paths to truth

Hospital rooms have a way of simplifying life down to the very basics. There is no rest for the weary and there is no point in spending time on anything but the truth.

So why, when a man facing the hardest battle of his life - one for his life - would he lay in a hospital bed listing his history of medications to the doctor trying to save his life, and lie? It makes no sense. Unless he didn't lie, unless Lance Armstrong was telling the truth way back in 1996 when Betsy Andreu first spoke up to say she had personally heard Armstrong's truth. Lance Armstrong had doped, and left unfettered would continue to dope for years. 

Why in the world did anyone doubt that Betsy Andreu was telling the truth? Because they didn't, they knew she was right, but they attempted to dismiss Betsy, to silence her, to make her go away as if the truth would go away. I believe most people knew the truth at some point in the past 8-10 years. Ask yourself, did you know Lance Armstrong doped? Yes, you probably did. I did, I realized it in 2003 standing on Alpe d'Huez during Stage 8 of the Tour de France, the speed was simply not human. I later realized the sport was cleaning up when the riders began to arrive well behind the official estimated arrival times, we stood on the roads in France wondering "Where are they?".

Time will tell

It is interesting how each person involved in the recent doping admissions and denials walked the path toward truth in their own unique way. This is a story that touches every athlete and support staff member, every sponsor and family member, every journalist and fan. Some responded with honor, some with malice. Consider how these individuals must have made decisions, perhaps 4-6 times a day for years, to either continue the lie or struggle for freedom from that lie. It took a LOT of effort to lie. I ask the questions: What could have been if Lance Armstrong had never been allowed to cause so much damage to the sport of cycling and to so many individuals? And could Armstrong have been effective in the fight against Cancer acting as an honest man and athlete?

Cancer is ugly enough

I would like to see some other faces step forward to be the face in the fight against cancer. I would like to see some other men in charge of the UCI. I would like to see new leaders of the teams (bye bye Johan and Matt White). I wonder if we will see a continuing trend as riders rightly voice their frustration and anger over the semi-oppression they have managed and reasoned with in private. Those who did not dope were as much victims as those who did dope (Thank you Fabain for speaking up). 

The USADA has given approval for riders to now demand better for themselves and expect better from each other.

Frankie Andreu's wife Betsy was strong enough to doggedly speak out against doping, and adamantly tell her husband that she would not tolerate his involvement in doping. "Besty will kill me" was a stand-out phrase in Daniel Coyle's book The Secret Race, with Tyler Hamilton. Betsy will kill me ; we should all have someone in our lives strong enough to have our back and fight for our best interest. 

Last August I sat in the press room of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge at the Limelight Lodge is Aspen, Stage 3 had just concluded and behind me on a table sat Frankie Andreu, swinging his legs, he was nonchalantly scanning the room of working journalists. I turned and said, "How was your day Frankie?"  "Good," he smiled broadly, "no complaints," he added with a deep breath, as if foreseeing a bright new beginning. It was August 22nd and the next day the big news that Lance Armstrong would give up the fight and not contest the overwhelming evidence of charges by USADA would hit the news. Frankie Andreu knew that every journalist in the room was about to undergo a major refocus. He also knew that an enormous burden was about to be lifted from his family. His wife Betsy would finally be vindicated. I will always remember the look in Frankie's eyes and his statement of no complaints. He meant it, he was ready for the next chapter.

We will be okay

We will get through this you know. We will do it better next time. But the stories are not over yet. I have missed out on writing so many thoughts during these past weeks as I have spent very long hours with my Mother daily sitting in a hospital room in California. She will come home soon, but I learned nothing else much matters when it comes down to simple decisions of life and family. We all learn these lessons in different ways and at different times. I can also happily report that my oldest brother made it through a tough second battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma and is gaining strength daily. We all hate cancer but I want to see a new representative of hope and honesty for a disease where in the end all we really have are friends and family, and perhaps honesty.  

Update: After 34 days in the hospital my Mother finally returned home. 

From the Front Page of the Observer in the UK

and perhaps humor -

Sorry I have been away, I have missed writing, I trust you have had plenty to read in the headlines of late as story after story has been released. Thanks for hanging in there, someday we'll all look back and say, yay, I hung in there through the doping days ... and I am still a fan of cycling.

Related reading: 

Statement From USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart Regarding The U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy, Ocober 10, 2012, (also read the Appendices) 
Case closed: Armstrong doped, by Bonnie D. Ford (exceptionally well writen)
Betsy Andreu: No longer a voice in the wilderness, By Daniel Benson, CyclingNews
The Explainer: I’m shocked, shocked, I say, By Charles Pelkey for Red Kite Prayer
After the Fire By Joe Lindsey 

To learn more about anabolic steroids and blood doping, their history, use and adverse side effects, please read: Performance Enhancing Drugs: History, Medical Effects & Policy, Yu-Hsuan Lee, Harvard, 2006.

For updates and excellent links to stories that will keep you in the know, please follow on Twitter: and , both review and disseminate headline cycling news.