There is so much one could write about this. And yet, I don’t feel like writing much of anything. Go figure. The king is dead. Long live the king. A new monarch shall ascend to the throne. One always does.
Lance Armstrong said Thursday night he is finished fighting a barrage of drug charges from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, putting his unprecedented string of seven Tour de France titles at risk along with his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists in history.
The decision sets up a likely lifetime ban from the sport and the possibility that Armstrong will be stripped of his signature achievement — the extraordinary run of Tour titles he won from 1999-2005.
Armstrong, who retired last year, declined to enter arbitration — his last option — because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof of his innocence. http://espn.go.com/olympics/cycling/story/_/id/8298135/lance-armstrong-fight-usada-charges-used-performance-enhancing-drugs-unprecedented-cycling-career.
I’m glad he’s pointing at something. He should use his middle finger. I am. And, I’m pointing at Texas.
When I think back of all the years this has been going on, I almost cannot believe it. He was the Teflon Don. Nothing stuck.
In 2004, a Dallas-based promotions company initially refused to pay him a $5 million bonus for winning his sixth Tour de France because it wanted to investigate allegations raised by media in Europe. Testimony in that case included former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy, saying Armstrong told doctors during his 1996 cancer treatments that he had taken a cornucopia of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.
Two books published in Europe, “L.A. Confidential” and “L.A. Official,” also raised doping allegations and, in 2005, French magazine L’Equipe reported that retested urine samples from the 1999 Tour showed EPO use. Id.
Besty Andreu is hard as nails. History will remember her well.
Armstrong decided to exit through the little door, as he has already strode through the big door, la grande porte, once before upon his first retirement. That would have been best, but his pride could not allow it. Too bad, eh? That which drove him forward so relentlessly, the need to win at all cost, also destroyed him in the end.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now,” Armstrong said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. He called the USADA investigation an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”
“I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999,” he said. “The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.” http://deadspin.com/5937480/lance-armstrong-drops-fight-against-doping-charges-will-likely-be-stripped-of-tour-titles-and-banned-for-life.
This has all been about the court of public opinion, because he didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. USADA has jurisdiction over the matter. And they plan on exercising it.
Velonews has a good piece on the subject. The title choice is telling, Commentary: Armstrong the martyr changes the conversation by refusing arbitration. Solid gold summation:
So, here we are. Did Lance Armstrong dope during his historic career, as USADA and a collection of its witnesses allege? Armstrong, coy as ever, made the only decision tonight that he could. By accepting a lifetime ban, he turned the conversation for many from whether he doped, to whether, in the big picture, it really matters. Id.
Yes. It matters. It has always mattered. Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs throughout his entire career. I have no sympathy for him. He destroyed those who crossed him. The stories of his arrogance are the stuff of legend.
He’s trying to change the conversation. And so am I.
You like apples?
How ‘ya like those apples?
Armstrong’s full statement below:
Lance Armstong’s Statement of August 23, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas – August 23rd, 2012 – There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.
I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA’s motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.
If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?
From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own 8-year limitation. As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges. The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA’s improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority. And as many others, including USADA’s own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process. USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honor its obligations. At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach. On top of all that, USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today.
The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced. The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It’s an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It’s just not right.
USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.
Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet. http://lancearmstrong.com/news-events/lance-armstongs-statement-of-august-23-2012.
I wonder what Jan Ullrich is doing right now? I wonder what Alex Zülle, Joseba Beloki, Andreas Klöden, and Ivan Basso are doing? How ’bout Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, and Greg Lemond?
August 24, 2012
USADA announced today that Lance Armstrong has chosen not to move forward with the independent arbitration process and as a result has received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 through the present, as the result of his anti-doping rule violations stemming from his involvement in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy (USPS Conspiracy).
Following the dismissal of Mr. Armstrong’s lawsuit on Monday, August 20, 2012, by the federal court in Austin, Texas, Mr. Armstrong had until midnight on Thursday, August 23, to contest the evidence against him in a full evidentiary hearing with neutral arbitrators as provided by U.S. law. However, when given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him, and with full knowledge of the consequences, Mr. Armstrong chose not to contest the fact that he engaged in doping violations from at least August 1, 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions. As a result of Mr. Armstrong’s decision, USADA is required under the applicable rules, including the World Anti-Doping Code under which he is accountable, to disqualify his competitive results and suspend him from all future competition.
. . .
Numerous witnesses provided evidence to USADA based on personal knowledge acquired, either through direct observation of doping activity by Armstrong,or through Armstrong’s admissions of doping to them that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from before 1998 through 2005, and that he had previously used EPO, testosterone and hGH through 1996. Witnesses also provided evidence that Lance Armstrong gave to them, encouraged them to use and administered doping products or methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2005. Additionally, scientific data showed Mr. Armstrong’s use of blood manipulation including EPO or blood transfusions during Mr. Armstrong’s comeback to cycling in the 2009 Tour de France.
. . .
USADA’s rules provide that where an athlete or other person is sanctioned because they fail to contest USADA’s charges in arbitration, the sanction shall not be reopened or subject to appeal unless the athlete or other person can demonstrate that he did not receive actual or constructive notice of the opportunity to contest the sanction. Because Mr. Armstrong could have had a hearing before neutral arbitrators to contest USADA’s evidence and sanction and he voluntarily chose not to do so, USADA’s sanction is final. http://www.usada.org/media/sanction-armstrong8242012 (pdf file also available).
“The End of every maker is himself.” Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274).by