Reaction to USADA / Lance Armstrong Case

Facebook friend asks: Do I think that Lance’s decision not to fight USADA is an admission of guilt or the action of a man who refuses to fight anymore…

The answer is … I really do not know … But we all speculate right?

What I said:

“Good question. Not a 100% sure. The fight against federal charges figured to be the decisive battle but they dropped the charges, leaving a gaping hole in people’s sense of finality. Fact is, people thought Clemens was definitely guilty and the Feds could not prove it, so they maybe had too much to prove in order to say one way or another. We might say tired, but I’d have to note the expense of fighting … Guilty or not, the cost has to be enormous. Pie in the sky, twinkle-eyed folks will say they’d always fight to clear their name, but when you run through your money (not saying that he has) knowing you could’ve sent your kids to college on what you spent to fight this, might put it into perspective.

All that said, my personal opinion hedges on the testimony of the five who gave deposition in the federal case (where’s wiki leaks when you need them). But, it seems the strategy to not engage USADA keeps that info out of the press, while LA figures on taking the decision to strip the titles to the actual organizations that organize international cycling and the Tour, claiming that the vacating of the titles is out of USADA’s jurisdiction.

What’s most painful to me about all this is that I have to keep living to keep seeing it unfold. An episode of Law and Order CI back in the day meant you’d wait an hour — two tops — to find out what happened (and the criminals always gave it up in the end). But here, there’s rumor, innuendo, sealed testimony, hard-boiled investigators, but no smoking gun.

I have a book on cycling which talks a out performance-enhancement within the history of the sport (YouTube Tom Simpson for a dreadful shot of imagery). But drugs of some sort have always been in the sport. I go on a club ride and hurt myself to death, but I don’t have to do it every day. Meanwhile for these guys, that’s their office. The book goes on to say that like the Mitchell Report (was that what it was called — the official recommendation to Major League Baseball on what to do about performance enhancement in baseball), the best thing to do is ramp up the enforcement and not take too much stake in looking backwards, because it’s a bunch of expense and leaves people wanting.

To read Jonathan Vaughters New York Times opinion article published recently, a lot of people came to cycling innocently enough and soon enough, they are right in there doing the misdeed, because there was professional gain and personal pride, not to mention a living to be lived. If the culture was that the whole peloton is involved, it raises the question of what exactly is fair? And, as for LA, if you compete, and win the TdF with the help of lieutenants who are performance-enhanced (something already proven) to what degree does that infringe on the notion of clean wins?

When I saw in the news that a guy who won the mountain climbing on the NY Gran Fondo (which is a ride, not a race in which the climbs are timed) tested positive for a PED it made me realize just how much is really at stake in having sports be understood to be giving proper results.

I think the positive I can take is that from a sport perspective is that controls HAVE to be in place so that there are no more Festina affairs (Tour de France, 1998) or 70+ home run aberration years (Major League Baseball 2003) and the sports can’t shrug their shoulders as if it’s not their problem.

How’s that for an answer?”

…And to boot: one should read Lance’s website: he has a point. At what point does a win at all cost prosecution risk damaging the system of presumed fairness? And how can, theoretically, USADA claim jurisdiction over the TdF when there are questions regarding that…

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