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Showing posts with label Doping Investigation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doping Investigation. Show all posts

09 June 2014

George is still here

George Hincapie is like the relative who came to visit and never left

How can I ever heal this broken heart if he keeps bringing up the same topic at the dinner table? That is why I won't be reading George's new book The Loyal Lieutenant. I shudder just to say those words in combination.

He is sort of like the Ex you don't want to hear from anymore. I am trying to be courteous to a man I once believed in, but that fool me twice thing kicks in before any other thought or interest allows me to hear more about George Hincapie.

I hate to pay good money to read another excuse book, but I ponder whether I am missing out on learning more real cycling history? I think I will have to take that chance.

I did read this, an interesting commentary piece on VeloNews by Steve Maxwell, June 9, 2014: Hincapie’s ‘Loyal Lieutenant’ rationalizes doping choices.

I also read this blog post by Fat Cyclist. Fatty says the things many of us think: Review, Part I: The Loyal Lieutenant, by George Hincapie.

Fatty wrote his Part I book review on June 5th, he hasn't written Part II yet, maybe because a topic that he states as being interesting to him, is still not a feel good topic. It leaves one feeling sort of empty, disillusioned and yes - peeved. Plus the subject won't go away because it feels like George is still in the guest room! Please leave.

George Hincapie has once again returned to Colorado this week to ride Ride the Rockies, that bucket-list of an event ride with six super mountain days of climbing. George carries on his nice lifestyle free to ride and write his history while enjoying the beautiful Colorado mountains with friends and a lot of followers.

Timmy Duggin (2nd from L) is featured in this photo with George, Nelson Vails is not pictured. Photo by Road Bike Action

What is the first impression you have when you look at this photo? Do you want hours of that same feeling? If the answer is yes, read the book. If your answer is no, read the two reviews above and forget the book.

Or better yet, grab your bike and train for the 2015 Ride the Rockies yourself. But if I ever hear you mutter the words (as George did about his doping administration experience), “I exited the bathroom a changed man. I felt completely at peace. […] This was a new me, one without limitations, and one without the deck stacked against him,” you are definitely not invited to dinner at my house. I fear you might never leave.

Related post by Pedal Dancer: 2014 Ride the Rockies Route

12 March 2014

Book Review - Juliet Macur's

Cycle of Lies

Notice how I titled the piece Juliet Macur and not Lance Armstrong. That is because I am a bit tired of the subject. Yes, I watched a bootleg copy of the recent movie The Armstrong Lie. I was left numb and without energy after watching the movie. I also felt disappointed that nothing new was revealed, other than witnessing the movie director being manipulated like everyone else had been.

The author of Cycle of Lies, Juliet Macur (bio), is different. She is a highly respected NYT sports reporter since 2004, who has been paying attention to doping and legal issues in sports for a very long time. She studied and observed the destruction and finally has written a book. The result is that she actually has new stories and insight to share.

Read excerpts from Juliet Macur herself

This is the piece that Juliet Macur wrote for The New York Times highlighting her newly released book Cycle of Lies. It's free and worth a read: End of the Ride for Lance Armstrong, By Juliet Macur, NYT. Once you read this, you will probably want to read more.

Book Reviews

I am right there with you if you don't want to spend another dime on the Lance Armstrong topic, but at least you can read these two recent book reviews.

The Drug-Fueled Uphill Ride and Headlong Crash of a Secular Saint, By Mark Kram Jr., The New York Times.

Cycle of Lies review – Juliet Macur's unflattering portrait of Lance Armstrong, by Tim Lewis, The Observer.

Does anybody care about doping anymore?

It's all about the gas these days: Giant Shimano and MPCC call for Xenon gas ban, By CyclingNews.

Yes, the subject still lingers. I am personally more fascinated in the skinny drug and the use of drugs in local amateur races, but if you are interested in what is happening in the world of doping in the pro ranks, this is a good summary catch-up read by Joe Lindsay of the Boulder Report: A Partial History

Check out this tidbit of ancient doper history - Hamilton, Mayo, Armstrong, Ulrich - on Alpe d'Huez, 4km from the top in 2003 and going a little too fast. I was such a sucker.


31 July 2013


*The label is clear, so if you do not want to read about doping anymore, then return tomorrow when I will be writing about bikes or travel again. Last time I visited this topic was October 2012. It's about time to address it again.

What is a generation?

1a : a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor.
1b : a type or class of objects usually developed from an earlier type.
2 : the average span of time between the birth of parents and that of their offspring.

This generation is about 2 years old. 

It's like fingernails on a chalkboard every time someone uses the phrase "the new generation" of cyclists. I hear this phrase a lot. I also hear: “Our sport is much cleaner now.” The problem is - memory. It is impossible for fans to erase memory as recent as two years and consider it as old or worthy of classifying as a previous generation. Especially when our Doper cups are refilled and overflow every few months with news of yet another doping revelation.

It is convenient to focus on lab tests from 1998, it makes it seems like so long ago - certainly at least a generation, wouldn't you say? 1998 was 15 years ago. Yet we know for certain that Armstrong doped through his last Tour de France win in 2005, followed by a steady stream of convicted dopers who kept us busy across the years including Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Floyd Landis, Vinokourov, Petacchi, Ricco, Hamilton, Valverde, Alberto Contador, Frank Schleck and so many many more.

The topic of doping always seems to pop up in conversation about cycling, but mainly with those who don't know a great deal about the sport, for those of us who do, the recent revelations in the French Senate report on doping were not that surprising, what we watch for are the reactions, the reverberations; the resulting path to change.

The Ones That Got Away With It

Bjarne Riis confessed to doping 11 years after winning the 1996 Tour de France. Never testing positive, denying it for years, he finally admitted to doping, had his Tour title stricken only to have it reinstated a year later, and never paid a price. He now owns and manages Team Saxo-Tinkoff. Alexander Vinokourov has a healthy career as General Manager of Astana, the same team he used to ride for when convicted of doping.

Andy Rihs and Jim Ochowicz have dirtied their names over "alleged" financial doping, and "allegedly" backing many dirty riders over the years. They continue business as usual at BMC. Axel Merckx's name was on the French Senate report last week listed as suspicious. He remains directeur sportif for the Bontrager Pro Cycling Team.

Team Garmin-Sharp is currently run by an after-retirement-confessed-doper who has seen little to no punishment - Jonathan Vaughters. Far from coming to peace with his past, Vaughters struggles to affect change in the sport while holding a steady paying job with the team. He is quite vocal about anti-doping while housing sentenced/paid the time (6mns-2yrs) active cyclists Tom Danielson, Thomas Dekker, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, and David Millar.

Andreas Kloden continues to ride with RadioShack-Leopard, somehow under the radar.  Matt White stepped right back into his role with Orica-GreenEDGE without barely a missing beat. I am personally baffled how popular Jens Voigt somehow skirted around his Crédit Agricole and CSC years, surrounded by dopers, seemingly unscathed, but want to (almost need to) greatly believe in his innocence.

Paolo Bettini, Oscar Freire, and George Hincapie were all riders with titles and contracts throughout the "era of doping" who conveniently retired at just the right time. 

We just celebrated Rui Costa and Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar) at this year's Tour de France - two historical dopers. We celebrated with Stuart O'Grady on his magnificent 17th Tour de France and Team Time Trial win only to find out a day after the Tour ended that Stuey was going to retire, and then in surprising timing, that Stuey was a doper; a doper who recently stood up and voiced his opinion about how dopers were ruining the sport. Oops.

In my own opinion, perhaps the saddest is Chris Carmichael. Some saw him as a front man, a veil of deceit that Lance Armstrong hid behind using Carmichael as a "coach" screen, a charade of distraction that saw Carmichael "unjustly enriched" through promoting his own lucrative coaching business. He has never had to pay the real price. While Johan Bruyneel deservedly became the symbol of all things bad in the sport.

Now Management and Staff are paying the price 

Vladimir Ekimov was a prominent member of the US Postal Team, a team now proven to have doped throughout its ranks, but he never tested positive. Eki has a nice job as general manager of the Russian Team Katusha. Eki himself was responsible, in some strange twist, in laying-off Erik Zabel as the teams Sprint Coach after Zabel's name was included on the recent French Senate report.

Erik Zabel had just days prior resigned from his position on the sport's Professional Cycling Council (UCI). A lack of honesty is what bit him. His previous admission had been acceptable and he was welcomed back into the sport as a staff member on a couple teams, but it seems a doping confession should be complete and not partial. Bobby Julich (now with BMC) lost his job with team SKY in 2012 as a result of the USADA/WADA fallout and his confession, which now appears to have been complete because his name is also on the French Senate Report. No matter, Team SKY has a no tolerance for history or active doping.

Typically it was the rider who suffered, management and staff seemed to get away with barely a scratch, but now they are being gleaned from the sport. Jeroen Blijlevens, Sport Director of Belkin Pro Cycling, left immediately after news of being included on the 1998 list of positives. The technical director of the Vuelta a Espana, Abraham Olano, was also forced to resign last week.

So much for any hope from Truth and Reconciliation making an impact, no matter if you confess or someone forces your confession - you could be on the street, and fast. Laurent Jalabert (JaJa) the beloved figure of French cycling had a strong career as a French TV host, but lost face just before the Tour de France this year when news of the report was leaked. He saw his announcer and personality status crumble.  

Frankie Andreu is now directeur sportif of 5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda, an American UCI Continental Team, although Frankie paid a high price over the years for his unwillingness to continue doping while on the US Postal Team and his subsequent confession, he has worked hard to regain a job in this sport. I can't say the reaction to doping is fair, but neither is doping. I can't say I dislike all past dopers, because I do not.

I think Bernhard Kohl is interesting. He was caught, confessed, retired, talks about it and now runs a bike shop. He retired in 2009, exiting by making the famous statement that it is "impossible to win without doping." I am guessing Bernhard is not perpetuating or covering up doping for himself or anyone else by running his bike shop.

Throw the bunch out!

Reading through these names and realizing there really is no sense in logic to the pattern of accountability or punishment or outcome to doping cases, I am about ready to take the Sky side of no tolerance and flush them all out. All the way to the top with the IOC allowing convicted dopers to compete in Olympic events, or to the UCI claiming this doping issue is in the past. It certainly is not, not as long as a heavily influenced and influencing governing body is in charge of regulating the sport it profits from advancing, and the league is structured on World Tour licensing dependent on performance.

The primary incentive has remained unchanged. Win. Winning means everything to teams and to individual riders. It makes a career. It makes a future for any rider, who can dope now, apologize later, and then become team management with a salary. As my brother asked me, "Is Ricco any different than Jonathan Vaughters?" Does attempted good deeds later make up for knowingly deceiving your fellow competitor? This question takes much consideration.

Cycling is a beautiful sport

I enjoy watching American Football, baseball, swimming, track and field, tennis and a number of other sports plagued with doping, but I relate to cycling because I can get out and ride on the same playing field and I can dream of traveling to the locations where bike racers race.

I like this sport in spite of the people in it. What if every person with a connection to doping in the past was wiped away? Following the team SKY approach of no tolerance, period. We could start fresh with the same incredible sport of cycling. We could appreciate the event, the equipment, the endeavor, the competition. Within one season we would all have new heroes to follow and cheer. More Kwiatkoskis, Bakelants, van Garderens or Talanskys. And the Sponsors could get all the ad impressions they desired without worrying about harming their corporate image.

Are they doping or not?

This is not as confusing an issue for long-time fans as it might seem to be. History has hardened me, I am not falling for the latest campaign of a "Next Generation." I chose to take this on a case-by-case basis, instead of dividing riders by age group. I don't believe this sport is totally clean, certainly not when our reigning Olympic gold medalist is Alexander Vinokourov, a medal earned in 2012.

There are too many unclean people running it with far too much to gain with an approach that has worked for them in the past. Cleaning house, or truly impactful financial punishment are the only approaches that will change this sport (without the IOC terminating the sport of cycling all together). Honesty is exacting respect, but without significant changes, this is all talk and short term memory.

Am I still a fan - sure. 

It is not as simple as saying I am not expecting a clean sport, but more that I know that man is fallible.

Truth is, I am happy enough when I see true human suffering in a give-it-your-all competition. Cycling offers me that; but I can barely watch a stage in ignorant bliss these days without someone interdicting, "he's a doper." I follow the five-rules of cycling: Don't believe too much; be in the moment of battle; it's okay to be disappointed in your fellow-man; know that life is not fair; move on. And by all means don't blame others for what you should have known. And remain enthusiastic, because this sport is a guaranteed roller-coaster of you love him / he done you wrong.

Definitely worthy of a country song.

If you are going to look at every rider and label him as a doper upon success, or if you are going to look at every race as if it were fixed, then I believe you are diminishing your own joy of sport. We each have to come to terms with this reality, we shouldn't stop questioning, but need it override being able to watch sport and suspend disbelief?

The best written articles I have found to explain the current state of recent developments: French Senate names 1998 Tour de France dopers; O'Grady and Durand confess, By Simon MacMichael for And one by CyclingTips, today: Missing The Point discussing the steps to correction.

List of 1998-99 Positive:
Manuel Beltran, Jeroen Blijlevens, Mario Cipollini, Laurent Desbiens, Jacky Durand, Bo Hamburger, Jens Heppner, Laurent Jalabert, Kevin Livingston, Eddy Mazzoleni, Nicola Minali, Abraham Olano, Marco Pantani, Fabio Sacchi, Marcos Serrano, Andrea Tafi, Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel.
List of 1998-99 Suspicious:
Stephane Barthe, Ermanno Brignoli, Giuseppe Calcaterra, Pascal Chanteur, Bobby Julich, Eddy Mazzoleni, Roland Meier, Axel Merckx, Frederic Moncassin, Stuart O'Grady, Alain Turicchia, and Stefano Zanini.

"All cyclists dope"

I dislike this statement so much, yet I wish I could bust the myth that "All cyclists doped." I am not sure how I could even start to dismantle this belief. I don't like this excuse used to defend those who did cheat. I don't like this reasoning used to discredit the entire sport. All I know is that there is a chance that in the present and in the future, I could rightly say, "some cyclists don't dope."

If you watched the Tour de France this year, you too saw men who suffered, men who had varying performances day to day, men who suddenly ran out of gas ("sugars"), men who fell off the back, and men who looked absolutely wiped out after a stage. These are very good signs. Racing should never have a known outcome or be easy. 

“Our sport is much cleaner now, I want people to understand that.” ~ Jacky Durand

Yes it is cleaner. I don't believe 100%, but that's ok, I am watching change happen.

This is a GENERATION, this is hope.  Photo© by Karen of Pedal Dancer®
Oh, um, and Jan Ullrich thinks we should reinstate Lance Armstrong's Tour titles ... because ... this doping thing is in the past now. All better.

25 January 2013

I don't need a hero

Don't tell me who to admire

If social media and exposure has done anything in the past twenty years - it has removed our naivety to human failings. Nobody is perfect. Admiration emerges from the simplest places and nobody should be telling us who to consider a hero. Those most deserved of admiration are seldom those in the spotlight.

Months ago I had a lessons of life conversation with my 17-year old nephew Kevin. We talked about how being a good person should never be granted simply by public image. That there are plenty of people contributing daily who never receive fame or attention. That those without good grades and sports achievement should never be seen as lesser or bad people. Being a good person is separate from achievement. Kevin is blessed with smarts and amazing athletic ability (and a scholarship to Stanford next year), but an incident that happened to his classmates at school last year prompted our conversation about the need to cultivate integrity and honesty separate from attention given by others.

Poor Lance Armstrong never learned that lesson (and his Mother knew it long ago). I was disgusted this week when I read an article published at stating that our new hero should be Greg Lemond (dribble). What? Out with the old, in with the old? I don't want Greg Lemond as my hero. I don't need a new hero. Offering admiration and respect is not something I want dictated, and am now more than wary of giving freely to public figures.

I am fascinated by the study of human behavior. The sport of cycling has given much to feed that interest of late, juxtaposed against the fact that bike racing continues, as if nothing ever happened, at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia and at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Yep the teams are back to racing and the 2013 racing season has begun anew. 

Back on US soil, next in line for an interview is Travis Tygart, who will share his side of the USADA story this Sunday on 60 minutes. Sure I am tired of Lance Armstrong (really tired) but I am not so tired that I would miss out on hearing Tygart's response to Lance's confession.

Travis Tygart on 60 Minutes on CBS news, Sunday, January 27, 2013. 

Achievement does not equate to integrity. Sorry, Lance confessed and Betsy is still rightly miffed at him and others (I almost expected Oprah to contact Betsy to discuss the art of forgiveness). At least we had the humor of George Carlin and Bike Snob: The Power of O to laugh over this past week. 

Let's move on, but please - no one ask Mark Cavendish about Lance - he fears Armstrong has tainted his sport forever and he is mad. I fear Armstrong has tainted the idea of heroes forever. I'm not mad, but I have a strong dislike of the color yellow. That is why the Tour Down Under is so cool - NO yellow jersey!

The Leader is in Orange!  Thomas Gerraint (SKY) in the Santos Tour Down Under Leaders Jersey.  
Photo from Team Sky Website News
I also liked Bradley Wiggins nun too emotional remarks made today:

Watch some bike racing - visit Steephill.TV Tour Down Under 2013 Live Dashboard for all the links, rosters, photos, and results from racing in Australia (finishes this weekend).

Current standings Tour Down Under (Australia):
General Classification after Stage 4
GBR  1  THOMAS, Geraint (SKY PROCYCLING)                          12:59:09
ESP  3  MORENO BAZAN, Javier (MOVISTAR TEAM)                   +  6
BEL  4  HERMANS, Ben (RADIOSHACK LEOPARD)                       +  8

Current standings Tour de San Luis (Argentina):
General Classification after Stage 4
Pto  Dor  Nombre                                 Nac  Equipo                                        hh:mm:ss
 ~~~  ~~~  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  ~~~  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~      ~~~~~~~~
   1º   3    KWIATKOWSKI, Michal     POL  OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK S 12:30:37
   2º  86   VAN GARDEREN, Tejay     USA  BMC RACING TEAM                  23
   3º  74   V.DEN BROECK, Jurgen     BEL  LOTTO BELISOL                          42
   4º 206  DINIZ, Alex                          BRA  FUNVIC BRASILINVEST           45
   5º  71   DE CLERCQ, Bart                BEL  LOTTO BELISOL                         54
   6º  21   CONTADOR, Alberto          ESP  TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF                01:10
   7º  11   DIAZ, Ricardo                      ARG  SAN LUIS SOMOS TODOS         01:12
   8º  95   ULISSI, Diego                      ITA  LAMPRE MERIDA                         01:12
   9º   2    CHAVANEL, Sylvain           FRA  OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK S      01:24
  10º  63  HERRADA, Jesus                 ESP  MOVISTAR TEAM                        01:24

Need a pick me up after the week? The well-grounded Ted King believes "...that the newest generation of riders is different." Read The Best-Kept Secret, then please follow his own personal blog (I am Ted King) where his unique writing style and humor shines through. 

I like Ted, Ted is my new hero. 
Well that didn't take long. 
The last time I saw my hero
Ted King at Cross Vegas, Las Vegas, September 2012. Photo by Pedal Dancer

17 January 2013

Cycling is in the News Big Time

A time to broaden our small world of cycling
The interesting point of having the topic of Lance Armstrong and the sport of cycling move outside of the usual cycling circle of journalists and bloggers, is that we get to read the well written words of others looking from the outside in. I hope you have been keeping up with articles in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Telegraph, and other local and national newspapers. Their insight is helping to expand and expose the world of cycling beyond our regular cycling news sources, those sources which have often been intimidated into silence over the years. The infusion of fresh thought is greatly needed.

Being a cycling journalist, over the past fifteen years, could not have been easy. It is tough to try to hold onto a job while facing moral decisions. Access is everything in journalism, more important than exposing the truth I fear. I remember months (or was it years) ago I wrote a honest piece about what I believed was the writing on the wall of the impending fall of Armstrong (I believed he would be found legally guilty of perjury and might do jail time). My own father was so upset with me.

How could I speak out against a man who had done such good? I had family members struggling against cancer. How could I dare to speak up against him when Lance had "never failed a test"? I realized that some people would simply get very upset over the topic. For families who had been touched with cancer (more like hammered, and mine has) Armstrong was a spiritual leader, a sign of hope and strength. I learned to treat it like a political party preference, it was best not to discuss the topic of Armstrong's doping. 

Armstrong used his cancer leverage to shield his doping lies

According to the CDC, "Each year globally, 12.7 million people learn they have cancer, and 7.6 million people die from the disease. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease; it kills more than half a million Americans every year." CDC's Interactive Cancer Atlas (InCA). According to the National Cancer Institute, among the US population, "It is estimated that 1,638,910 men and women (848,170 men and 790,740 women) will be diagnosed with and 577,190 men and women will die of cancer of all sites in 2012."

These are shocking figures, but my point is this - Lance Armstrong is not the only person to have been inflicted with and survived cancer. The disease affects millions every day. Each one of them a hero for triumphing through their fear and suffering. Cancer is a terrible enemy and deserves to have an honest face to represent the battle. I appreciate what Lance Armstrong tried to do, and none-other had the platform he was given, he could have done more than good, he could have done great. But Lance Armstrong's time is over. A disease as horrible as cancer does not need dishonesty.

This is a unique time when excellent writers are writing about cycling. The sport is in the headlines.

I realize in devouring so many of the articles lately, that man, the best in the biz sure can write! At this point we need fresh ideas, new words, new actions, because I believe the inside of this sport is about as dirty as it gets. Spring cleaning is needed. 
I like these words:
"We likely will not have a definitive answer to most of these questions at the conclusion of the interview. We might have clues, but the truth will lie in gray areas that will become clearer as Armstrong carries this burden for the rest of his life. Apologies are promises to change. Like promises, we cannot judge them fully in the moments they are spoken. Wrongdoers need time to search for the deepest values that orient their lives and to begin rebuilding their futures with habits that honor those principles. Although it may not make for good television, this sort of persistent growth creates good people. Moral development does not occur within a news cycle." By Nick Smith in the Wall Street Journal

I like this reaction:
"I love a good myth. (So did those guys in that bar. They ended up acknowledging the magnitude of Armstrong’s lies, but had a tough time walking away from them, though, like me, they eventually did.) And I should say, as I have here, here, and here, that I bought it all for many years, and no doubt hell also hath no fury like that of a gullible, humiliated fanboy." By Michael Specter in the New York Times 

I am happy to see possible changes. Meanwhile I will be out pedaling my bike, and watching races in Australia and Louisville, Kentucky. Because riding a bicycle is still an excellent thing to do.  

Again, if you are interested in watching the Oprah Winfrey interview of Lance Armstrong tonight, links can be found on my post from yesterday: The Interview 

16 January 2013

The Interview

He is attempting to reset his image

Lance Armstrong, featuring Oprah Winfrey in a planned orchestrated pre-taped interview

Will you watch the Lance Armstrong confession interview with Oprah? It is after all scheduled during prime time entertainment hour on TV. Which I am grateful for because most of Europe, and the world, will be asleep and will not have to endure seeing how gullible Americans can be. Still I am curious. I only wish the interview had been in front of a live audience and the TV screen could show a graph similar to our presidential debates with viewer reactions of sad and pitiful / somewhat believable / total BS / LIAR.

Where to watch the Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong: The interview is now spread over 2 NIGHTS, Thursday 17 January and Friday 18 January. Tune in on your OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network, find OWN on your TV) Channel or watch the interview on Live stream at 7pm MST (9pm-10:30 ET/PT). 

In addition, Discovery Communications (owner of OWN) will make the Internet stream available to Comcast, DirecTV, Verizon, and DishNetwork, which will offer access to it on their websites. I signed in to find 'watch live TV online' in the right column. Also rebroadcast on the radio at Oprah's XM (111) and Sirius (204) radio stations. The interview is not truly live, the broadcast is live, the interview was taped last Monday.

In the UK the interview may be seen on Discovery Channel UK on Friday 2AM & 8PM (Sky520 Virgin212)

What we have learned 

Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs
We already knew this, but now we get to hear his side of the story. Keep in mind that truth usually comes in degrees after a long lie, so we will learn more in the future beyond this 2-part interview. Video: A discussion about Lance Armstrong's doping confession

Lance Armstrong was not the best endurance athlete ever
If we've learned anything it is that an unremarkable athlete is made more remarkable by drugs (a talented athlete made outstanding), and that there is no fairness in cheating or doping. The only leveler is truth. Time to kill off the myth that Armstrong was an exceptional athlete. is not cancer research
Don't refer to Livestrong as cancer research when is patient advocacy and support. "The LIVESTRONG Foundation unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer." See Where the Money goes at is a for profit website. The Livestrong Cancer Research Center was not started until April 2012, odd timing. Outside Magazine wrote an enlightening piece on the Livestrong Foundation It's not about the Lab Rats.

Armstrong is carefully targeting his audience for forgiveness
Remember when the Inner Ring blog informed us, "Do you know who the biggest watchers of bike races are in France, Spain, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland? The over-60s. And the second largest component of the audience? Women aged 35-55." Do you know that the Oprah Winfrey Network's favored audience is women age 25-54. Lance Armstrong chose Oprah not only because they both have places to stay (Oprah has a home) in Hawaii and she is kind, but because her audience might likely also be kind and forgiving. If he was serious about making right from wrong he would have privately walked into Travis Tygart's office to confess.

He will race again
Ok this just scares me, so I'd rather ignore this truth. 

Lance Armstrong will continue to manipulate

You never know how narcissists with power will react or behave because they just don't think like the rest of us. That is why I really don't know what will be in this interview. I do know he has master-minded this event just like every other. People are always ready to forgive, but Lance Armstrong's legacy might indeed be to teach us what we will not tolerate in sports. Forgiveness or not, he has changed the sport of cycling for the worse. (status with IOC)

Don't be fooled, he intends to change your mind about him

Redirecting image is a far cry from a moral confession. Lance Armstrong is not a changed man, nor is he a living example of trying to do right. There is another motivation for his recent tactics and that is what I am waiting to see discovered. Sure Armstrong laid low for awhile, but you can bet every recent news leak, every meeting or sudden appearance was planned and calculated to either test the waters or lead us, the poor unknowing ready to forgive folks, down the path Armstrong wants us to walk.


"You don't hold the keys to my redemption," he (Armstrong) said, according to the person familiar with the meeting. "There's one person who holds the keys to my redemption," he went on, pointing at himself, "and that's me."" These words were spoken as recently as last month to Travis Tygart at a meeting between Armstrong and Tygart in Denver, Colorado, as reported in an article by The Wall Street Journal (Behind Lance Armstrong's Decision to Talk). Armstrong had requested the meeting to gauge if Tygart would be willing to reduce his life-long band of competing in Olympic sanctioned sports. The meeting didn't go so well.

I believe we have been fed leaks through the media with the intent to lesson the blow, to test public opinion, to soften the real news when released. As my brother said, "it's as if they formed focus groups and tested the effectiveness of statements or scenarios." What do the people want to hear, what will it take so that we will again admire Lance Armstrong and return his power?

Lance Armstrong needs our admiration and he needs the freedom to continue his pursuit of anything he wants. I believe he is solely interested in himself. Surely there are plenty of triathlons he could race, evidenced by the number of Triathlon events last year willing to dump the USAT backing to allow Armstrong to compete (and increase entrance numbers and thereby money). Armstrong could have taken his millions and built another parallel Ironman series and competed in his own races. Are a few triathlon competitions worth the millions he will surely pay in legal suits and fees?

Watch for manipulation

A decent person with integrity does not go around saying what a good person they are, they don't need to, their behavior speaks for itself. Armstrong has had some terrible behavior in the past 15 years. A decent person also does not bring others down with him, they stand on their own failed heap and take responsibility. Don't believe Armstrong if he attempts to tell us that everyone doped, that all pro sports are corrupt, that he followed his teammates, managers, and doctors. Don't believe him when he talks of the good he did, how his competitors would say he deserved to win the Tour de France. He cheated, he harmed, he repeatedly lied. (Video compilation of Lance lying).

Good tough men can win without being a loser

Please remind yourself prior to and during the interview that Armstrong has sued, mocked, intimidated, harassed, coerced, bribed, bullied, and lied to not only a select few, but to all of us. Everyone. Over and over again. Sure he carried some people along, those who took advantage of their connection to Armstrong to promote their coaching, nutrition drink, books, photographs, apparel, bikes, or health causes. He also inspired individuals facing their own battle with cancer. But in his wake he left many real individuals with shattered lives.

I like a tough sportsman, give me the Badger on a bike (Bernard Hinault) any day and I will show him great respect, but I will not give respect, forgiveness or absolution to a man who does not truly understand what he did wrong. Even if the words are there, there is something missing in Lance Armstrong that makes him powerful, but not a man I would want as a friend and certainly not as an enemy, and never again as a hero.

Can't he just go run bike and swim in private?

Do we need to offer Armstrong our forgiveness? Do we need to let him orchestrate and determine our opinion of him? I think we are smart enough, even if somewhat uninformed or not privy to all the details, to make up our own minds. I am tired of Lance Armstrong, tired because others are more deserved of our attention. But I would like to say this - Lance you are wrong about your redemption being in your hands - it is in ours. Each one of ours. People forgive but we do not forget.

Is cycling done?

Last night's interview on Charlie Rose with David Epstein (Sports Illustrated), Daniel Coyle (Author), and Juliet Macur (NYT) was exceptional in it's content and clarity. Please watch this interview video: A discussion about Lance Armstrong's doping confession

During the interview, in one brief inhale, Charlie Rose made the statement, "okay, so cycling is done," then carried on to the next question. What, cycling is done? How sad. How tragic. To me the word cycling has always described far more than professional cycling. When I think of cycling I think of kids and their first bike, I think of friends meeting for a weekend ride together, I think of the fun of bike maintenance, or the good of exercise.

Still I believe Frankie Andreu is correct in saying that Lance Armstrong holds the key to cleaning up the sport of cycling because he was the leader, he knows how it was done. I refuse to think the fate of cycling rests solely on Lance Armstrong. Just as we hold the decision of Armstrong's redemption, I would like to think we collectively hold the future of cycling. 

I'm not sure which quote applies more for the day

"The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long." or "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me"

There was no Oprah couch at the 2.5 hour interview, which was moved to a Hotel in Austin, Texas, with nice decorative glass bottles. I can't wait to hear what was said in that room.
Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey helping each other make history. 
AP Photo/Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc., George Burns

A lot of background history to read prior to the interview tonight: Analysis: What USADA’s case file means to those involved. By Neal Rogers for VeloNews

22 October 2012

Armstrong erased

Get out the erasers - they did the right thing!

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Monday, October 22, 2012 -- 7:46 AM EDT

Lance Armstrong Stripped of His Seven Tour de France Titles for Doping

New York Times ..."Lance Armstrong Stripped of His Seven Tour de France Titles for Doping. The International Cycling Union announced on Monday that it will not appeal the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s ruling to bar Lance Armstrong for life from Olympic sports for doping and for playing an instrumental role in the team-wide doping on his Tour de France-winning cycling squads.

That decision to waive the right to take Armstrong’s case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest court in sports, formally strips Armstrong of the Tour titles he won from 1999 to 2005. The Amaury Sport Organization, the company that organizes the Tour de France, will erase Armstrong’s name from its record books."

Score: USADA 7, Armstrong 0

15 October 2012

Quote of the Day: Exactly whose fault is this?

What? - The UCI blamed the spectators for doping 

Today's quotes comes from an article today by VeloNation about a previous exchange between WADA president Richard Pound and UCI’s previous president, Hein Verbruggen:

....“I said ‘Hein, you guys have a huge problem in your sport.’ He said ‘what do you mean?’ I said ‘the doping.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘that is really the fault of the spectators.’

“I said, ‘I beg your is the spectators’ fault?’ He said, ‘yes…if they were happy with the Tour de France at 25 k [km/h], it would be fine. But if they want it at 41, 42, the riders have to prepare.’”

The VeloNation article goes on to state, "The UCI recently denied that it had any culpability in the doping epidemic which afflicted cycling in the past. Its current president Pat McQuaid told the press that the governing body did everything it could at the time and was blameless."

Anyone willing to watch a clean peloton of cyclists average 25km/h over 3,497 kilometres in 3 weeks - now would be a good time to speak up and say "that is fast enough." 

Supposedly the 1903 winner of the Tour de France averaged 25.679 km/h (on paved and unpaved roads), between 1980 and 1990, the average speed of a Tour de France rider cranked up to 37.5 km/h. Lance Armstrong had the fastest Tour victory, completing the 2005 Tour de France with an average speed of 41.654 kilometres per hour (25.883 mph). But that's not really a record anymore, or a victory. In 2011 Cadel Evans won the Tour de France with an average speed of 39.79 km/h. Bradley Wiggins was only slightly faster in 2012 winning with an average speed of 39.83 km/h over 3,497km. We probably should take into account advancements in equipment technology and training, but that seems more than fast enough, they could slow a couple kilometers and I bet hardly a spectator would notice, or complain. 

Read Tour de France winners and their average speeds or Every Tour de France winner listed from Garin to Wiggins

I couldn't tell - was Tejay going 35 or 38km/h? It sure felt fast enough to me.   
Photo by Karen at

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.

13 September 2012

News, Stories and Movies

A movie about Bradley Wiggins?
I've been reading a lot lately, taking in the news about Lance Armstrong and The Repenters (now there is a title for a movie, or a band). I appreciated Joe Lindsey's recent reminder that we are all allowed to form our own opinions but not our own facts. Like many of you, I have been busy finding the facts to support my own opinions, isn't that how this works?
In the end I have discovered - nothing. We already knew this!
  • Power corrupts
  • Power and money can buy success
  • Doping pays
  • Cheaters point fingers
  • Each man is responsible for his own behavior
  • Medical Science advances quickly
  • The truth will eventually come out
  • Bad people don't always get their due
  • Knowledge will give you power, but character earns respect
  • Journalism exposes truth, courts determine truth
  • It is not cool to give your time to something only to be deceived
  • People forgive 
  • Everyone likes a happy ending

Feeling a little foolish that I should have known 
My opinions mostly center around certain key ideas. These include 1) we knew much of this a long time ago, but people who lie are motivated to keep a lie going - a long time, 2) this is the tip of the iceberg, after a long lie, increasing degrees of truth come out, 3) doping pays, and 4) even though I knew, I still feel foolish to learn the extent and depth of cheating.
1) Hindsight is 20/20. History makes sense looking back. If you read this conversation between Frankie Andreu and Jonathan Vaughters printed in 2006, you will realize we already knew all this a long time ago, long before Vaughters wrote his NYT confession. But liars wasted our time and made life miserable for those who attempted to tell the truth, destroying careers in their wake. Read: CBS Sports, In-Depth: Cycle of denial: Implicated on the Internet (from 2006).
2) It's only the tip of the iceberg. Be prepared for rolling seas for the next 2-years as some facts are locked-up due to pending court cases and Organization tug-of-wars. This will take some time to shake-out, unless Vaughters continues to out everyone in the name of his No Man is an Island campaign. We also have Vaughters to thank for complicating the course to correction by spreading the level the playing field theory which only served to give the uniformed an easy excuse to latch onto to proclaim that no one did wrong because everyone did wrong. Following this theory two wrongs make a right even when some were more wrong than others. Personal opinions are welcomed, but if you find yourself using the level playing field excuse or the he never tested positive explanation then you haven't read the news since initially making up your mind that you would never accept that Lance Armstrong doped.
3) Money money money. Anyone else frustrated to see dopers making the bucks? They made money then, they paid money, they make money now. They received contracts to race, they received jobs after they raced, they receive money for books written and movies made. Those who did not dope did not. How many people read Gregg Germer's confession that he did not dope? How many people read and paid for The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton's confession that he did dope?

4) Ignorance was bliss.

Movies have a happy ending
Books may not always have a happy ending or make you feel good, but movies like happy endings. After years of talk about making a movie about Lance Armstrong, his story proved to be a tough one even by Hollywood standards. How quickly we shift gears onto the newest guy on the top of the podium. That guy is Bradley Wiggins. This morning wrote that Hollywood (the notion that movies come from Hollywood is like saying extra virgin olive oil only comes from Italy - it's a label) is moving forward on a movie about Bradley Wiggins because, “Bradley is a larger-than-life personality and his story really appeals to movie executives.”
Bradley Wiggins is larger than life? 
How did I miss this fact? Bradley Wiggins seems like a pretty normal guy to me. He even mentioned his Mom while standing on the podium of the 2012 Tour de France. The only person larger than life in cycling is Mario Cipollini and that is because he has built his (Bond) brand around the image. And maybe The Badger (Bernard Hinault), anyone who at the age of 58, instinctively throws (video) an invading person off the stage at the Tour de France is larger than life, and whose reaction to the entire Lance Armstrong affair also happens to have been, “I couldn't give a damn.” 
Does this look like a larger than life individual?
Bradley Wiggins
The news is that British actor Rhys Ifans could play Wiggins in the movie. What do you think?
Rhys Ifans
Rhys Ifans was the zany actor in Notting Hill. The only problem is that Ifans is 45-years old. Anyone want a job as a cycling stunt-man double, and happen to look like Bradley Wiggins and Rhys Ifans?   
Rhys Ifans in the movie Notting Hill, or is it Bradley Wiggins?
After a couple weeks of lousy news about our fragile sport of cycling, the hard races up north in Canada and the fun of the Tour of Britain were fairly good distractions. I welcome the World Championships next week, 15-23 September 2012, in Limburg, Netherlands. How can a fan not get excited about riders representing their countries and themselves to really prove who is the fastest on a bike.  
This jersey IS larger than life
This week someone else wil be wearing this jersey...
Current World Champion Road - Mark Cavendish