Cheater. Liar. Deceiver. Those words could very soon be describing a 7 time Tour de France champion. For many years the rumors of Lance Armstrong doping have run rampant around the world of pro cycling. The Lance camp has always been hasty and direct in shooting down anyone who points the finger in his direction and accuses him of cheating. Somehow the accusations come and go and never offer much traction into the truth. That is changing, and changing fast.When Floyd Landis made his accusations a year ago, it sent shockwaves through the sport. Many believed Floyd. A good number of people also doubted the claims. Landis had his Tour de France title stripped for a positive test for testosterone and mounted an expensive defense. He lost his case in appeal and last year decided to come clean. The Lance camp immediately denied all claims levied against them and attacked the credibility of Landis. I believed what Floyd said and still believe him to this day. I heard many people say via Twitter and around the web that another person needed to step forward and back up Floyd’s claims. Enter Tyler Hamilton. On the CBS News program 60 minutes, Hamilton described the doping culture on the US Postal team, including seeing Lance Armstrong participate in illegal practices. This time the Lance camp started their smear campaign days ahead of the program being aired on television. They said Hamilton just wanted publicity for a book he was planning on writing. They also denied everything. I believe every word that Tyler Hamilton said. I am sure Floyd Landis does too. The most damning piece of information from the 60 minutes program to this story of Armstrong was not related to anything Tyler Hamilton said. CBS reported they had spoken to someone with the knowledge of the investigation. Whoever this was, told them that George Hincapie had testified that he had doped while riding for the US Postal team and so did Lance Armstrong. This was the equivalent of an atomic bomb being dropped into the dead center of the Lance camp. Why you may ask? The Lance camp cannot smear George Hincapie. Lance has often said that Hincapie was like a brother to him. I guess even brothers get tired of covering up wrongdoings sometimes. If this information is true, it could single handily seal this case. What baffles me is the massive amount of people who believe Lance is clean, despite of all the information that keeps surfacing. There are some that feel he should get a pass because of what his Livestrong organization has done. While I respect whatever good has come out of Livestrong, this does not give anyone a free pass for wrongdoing. I know for a fact there are people who found hope in the story of Lance Armstrong, and now feel cheated. People who were wearing the yellow bracelet in memory of someone have now ripped them off their wrist. For me, this is the saddest part of this story. A hero too many is now being seen as a villain. And the world loves to see a villain brought to justice.
I am stunned at the moment while trying to focus my efforts back into work related tasks. While eating my lunch today I was watching the Giro coverage when the news was made official of the passing of Wouter Weylandt. Even though I never met Wouter, I am deeply saddened by his passing. Wouter’s girlfriend Sophie was expecting the couples first child in September. My heart felt prayers go out to Wouter’s friends and family. My prayers also go out to the peloton, as this siutation has to be weighing heavily on them. It’s also a stark reminder we do no chose when we leave this place, so live each day to the fullest.
One year ago, for the sake of my conscience, I admitted to having lied about having used (performance-enhancing drugs) during my cycling career. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d face retribution by those who stood to lose when faced with the exposure of their fraud.
Having felt the vitriol and invective directed at those who must bear the scarlet “D” for being exposed, I met with USADA and pled with them to subject none of my former colleagues to this opprobrium but rather to offer confidentiality and immunity to those who came clean and who offered a glimpse into the corruption within cycling. In return for turning on many of my former friends and colleagues I was assured that they’d be granted lenience and never have to suffer for my actions or theirs. Indeed in recent discussions I’ve learned that many of them have chosen to clear their conscience and have confirmed to USADA many of the allegations that I’ve made which were written off by the perpetrators of the fraud as “sour milk.”
However in light of the UCI’s attempt to collect defamation damages against me and the resulting necessity to have to defend myself, I now will have no choice but to depose those cyclists and expose them and for that I’m deeply sorry. I had hoped that in spite of whatever any current Federal cases may expose, as few of them as possible would need to speak publicly or testify, but it has become clear that the leaders of cycling will destroy anyone who stands in the way of covering their crimes.
The defamation suit filed today by the cycling leadership is nothing short of witness intimidation and a terrorist tactic designed to take away from me one of Americans’ most highly valued rights. So while the clouded version of freedom of speech offered to Europeans has allowed them to bully others into subservience in the past, it will only serve to strengthen my resolve to expose them as the criminals that they are.
While the UCI never ceases to amaze me (not in good ways), it’s baffling they are picking a fight with Floyd Landis. Landis is full of information and claims he has leveled against the UCI. Instead of letting those die out, they will now be brought to the forefront in this case. Reading the statement of Landis above, it also seems he will make more information public about his claims as part of this case. Names that have been withheld from the public, now may be made public as a part of his defense. This case could be a wild ride and interesting to watch.
It was only a matter of time for friction to develop on Garmin-Cervelo. I agree with Thor that the rainbow jersey should have more opportunities to go for wins, but at the same time he had his chances in the spring classics. A crash derailed him in Milan-Sanremo and he missed the main move at Flanders. He looked very strong Paris-Roubaix, although he couldn’t stick with Fabian on his final attack. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.
Yesterdays surprise prologue winner, Jonathan Castroviejo, must have surprised his team as well. They forgot to defend the leader’s jersey on today’s stage. Some poor riding from the Euskaltel-Euskadi bunch today.
After being bummed at the current state of professional cycling in the wake of the overturned Alberto Contador ban, a breath of fresh air entered the scene. I came across a blog post written by Garmin-Cervelo rider Andew Talansky. It is one of the most passionate reads I have read in awhile by someone who is in total love of the sport. It’s a quick read, but well worth it.
The news broke today that Spanish rider Alberto Contador has been cleared of charges that he used the banned substance Clenbuterol. This case has been laughable from day one and has now reached a level of pure absurdity.
- The UCI was covering up the positive test from the start. If a media outlet was not going to press about their findings, who knows if they failed test would have been made public. Compare that to the failed tests of Floyd Landis and how quickly action was taken then.
- Alberto Contador has been treated very differently from any other rider who has failed a test. Hell, Franco Pellizotti did not even fail a test, but is still not racing due to some abnormal values in his biological passport data. No single person can be bigger than sport (well, unless your last name is Armstrong or Contador).
- Li Fuyu. The former Radioshack rider was suspended for failing the same test as Alberto Contador. Maybe he should use the tainted meat defense as well. That seems to be an easy way to get your charges dropped.
- The decision on whether to ban a rider or let them race should NOT be in the hands of a country ran federation. Contador is one of the most popular athletes in his country. It would look bad on them for admitting someone is a cheat. These cases should be decided from independent members who have no ties to the country of the accused or to the rider their self.
You always have the hope that things will get cleaned up for the sake of everyone involved. But a case like that of Alberto Contador makes you second guess yourself. How can the sport be cleaned up when those at the top of it continue to allow the corruption and cheats to get away with it? The answer to that is question is never. As long as the current organizations and people stay in control and continue to allow these things to go on it will never change.
The blame is not just on those that run the sport. When will the teams and staff be held accountable for their actions? A perfect example of this is none other than Riccardo Ricco. Not only was Ricco caught cheating at the Tour de France, he disrespected the sport by never admitting his mistake. He just found another team to sign him (Vacansoleil). Ricco will probably never ride again, but yet the team and the decision makers who chose to sign him ride on.
The news of the Contador case and the way it was handled does not set a good precedence for holding the cheats accountable. Lest not forget as well, that Contador did fail the Clenbuterol test. No matter what the reason was for the failed test, past cases have been decided with a ban. This one should have as well.
I just tweeted a few minutes ago that I was close to being done with the sport of professional cycling. Some folks agreed, while others say to hang in there. I am a late bloomer to this sport, not finding the beauty of it until 5 or 6 years ago. So I jumped in head first and fell in love with it. Ever since I began following professional cycling, the news has also been dominated by corruption, scandals and doping. I have a son is only 11 months old at the time of this post. As a good father I could never turn him on to professional cycling in its current state. A state that sees cheaters win.
I was quite shocked when I initially heard the announcement that Garmin-Cervelo had fired team director Matt White after the Tour Down Under. After reading the statement from Jonathan Vaughters it all made sense, at least to me.
The big draw of the Vaughters ran squad is a strict stance against anti-doping by ANYONE involved in the team. If Jonathan Vaughters had received the information on White (sending Trent Lowe to a doctor not approved by the team, and suspected of doping) and had not acted on this, all the years of having a strict anti-doping policy and rules would be deemed worthless. I applaud Vaughters wholeheartedly for making such a tough decision, and sticking to the foundation of what his team was built on. If anyone questioned the toughness of team rules, look no further to this case as to how things are handled by those who break team policy. Matt White has worked side by side with Vaughters to bring this team up through the ranks. White has a good reputation around the sport and no doubt that many of the successes of this team are thanks to him. So it could not have been an easy decision to fire him.
Now, some folks have expressed the opinion that White was fired not because of the Lowe situation, but because he may be involved in the new Austrialn cycling team, GreenEdge Cycling. Vaughters has denied this publicly, and stated the firing was the sole result of the Lowe situation. Let me add this though, if Vaughters had found that White was involved in the new team he would have had a right to fire him based on that alone. I manage and run a team where I work. If I find out that one of my full time employees is helping a competitor on the side, I would boot them out my door in 2.2 seconds.
We also have the group of folks who were outraged that Vaughters would call out the head of this new project, Shane Bannan, and warn him of legal action for contacting any of his riders whom were still under contract. How could you blame a guy for protecting his team? These riders are under legal contract, and should be invested 110% into the team. If someone in my organization is not dedicated to our vision and goals, there is the door, and don’t let it hit you on the way out.
Jonathan Vaughters is passionate about his team and the anti-doping stance. His actions from the last week or so prove this. At a time when doping still dominates the news of the sport, let’s applaud someone for proving their beliefs with actions and not just idle words.
Mark Cavendish won the sprint of stage 11, but lost lead-out man Mark Renshaw in the process. Race officials have kicked Renshaw from the rest of this year’s Tour due to two actions in the last meters of the stage. As Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) moved forward leading out Tyler Farrar, he came along side Renshaw (HTC-Columbia). Renshaw then head butted Dean multiple teams. Once the sprint started he then dropped back and essentially blocked the sprint of American Tyler Farrar.
Race director Jean-Francois Pescheux reviewed the tape of the sprint and stated “Renshaw hit [Dean] with his head, much like in a keirin. But we are in the sport of cycling, we’re not in combat. They all could have ended up on their backs tonight. We cannot accept that.”
Renshaw felt the DQ was unjustified.
“I still think I did nothing wrong,” said Renshaw. “They could have given me a warning, or a fine or a disqualification for the stage. I was trying to get points as well to help Cav win the green jersey. I’m in the best form of my life and now I have to leave the Tour. It’s gonna be hard to get over this.”
Renshaw’s explanation of what he did was sketchy in my book. According to him Julian Dean moved over into his line. He then stated he was sprinting when he ran Farrar near the barriers. The video shows Renshaw looking back, seeing Farrar, and then blocking him on the side.
The video is below. What do you think?
As reported by the New York Times last evening, federal authorities running the investigation into the allegations of Floyd Landis have issued subpoenas to witnesses. This is a major step in the investigation that is being led by Jeff Novitzky, as this indicates there is enough information there to take it to this level. According to the report several of the subpoenas were issued to riders who are currently competing in the Tour de France.
I am glad to see this investigation is moving forward, and at quite a fast pace. It’s now up to the people who were subpoenaed to tell the truth. I still firmly believe that the truth will come out eventually, and this investigation will help the sport to start to rid itself of cheaters. Unfortunately I also have a feeling that many of the riders we have admired will be seen in a new light. Only time will tell.