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How Dopey Do You Think Lance Is?

The term “world’s greatest”, at anything, has always been a fun road to go down,  providing fodder at the local pub or dinner parties. Some sports records are so incredible in it’s individual feat that they have withstood the arrows of time, and some may never ever be broken. Joe Dimaggio and his 56 game hitting streak, Wilt Chamberlain and his 100 point game record, even Bob Beamon jumping out of the stadium at the Mexico City Olympics. The one that I hold as the gold standard of probable unbeatable records is Lance Armstrong and his 7 TDF wins. But there is trouble a brewing.

I’m not a big fan of bicycle road racing but I know there are several here that might want to weigh in on the newest doping allegations:

 

It has happened enough times, at this point, that we sort of know how it’s going to go.

First, a former cycling teammate – or a doping agency, or someone else – accuses Lance Armstrong of taking performance-enhancing drugs in some public forum or other.

The latest charges against Armstrong arrived via former teammate Tyler Hamilton, on Sunday’s episode of “60 Minutes,” with allegations that he saw Armstrong inject testosterone and erythropoietin, or EPO, a “blood booster” and performance enhancing drug.

 

Ya know, I believe I’ve heard all this stuff before. that loser Floyd Landis made similar allegations last year. Now Hamiliton, another caught doper, tries to mitigate his bad behavior with the old line of ,”well, everyone is doing it”. And the fact that he gave back in 2004 Olympic Gold Medal, he has to be telling the truth, right? How funny that he admits to doping his entire riding career, but thinks he can salvage a modicum of esteem by saying that in 2004, when he won his medal, he was NOT doping. That’s like saying that Ted Bundy, although a bad dude, did call him mom every week, what a sweetheart.

 

Armstrong has a website up where he tries to defend his good name, good luck with that. Lance is without a doubt the most tested person in history, and he has never bounced a test. I think his lawyer nailed it when addressing the new charges:

 

“Hamilton is actively seeking to make money by writing a book, and now he has completely changed the story he has always told before so he could get himself on ’60 Minutes’ and increase his chances with publishers.”

 

A few years ago I read Lance’s book about his fight with cancer and his come back to racing. Again, I’m no big fan of the sport but I would highly recommend this book to anyone, what a true testament of courage. Briefly, Lance goes to see his doctor because, after a ride, he notices his right nut is 3 times the size of his left. Tests reveal he has cancer, further tests reveal that his cancer has spread to his lungs and brain, one doctor gives him a less than 10% chance of survival. Well, he decides he is not going down without a fight, and chemo is no fun, but he licks it and the rest is history.

 

Right now Armstrong is in the cross hairs of a number of ongoing investigations. The IRS, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Food and Drug Agency and the Department of Justice are all looking into the matter. Lance could be in a world of hurt. This is worse then what Bonds or Clemens went through (perjury), this could involve fraud, racketeering, conspiracy, and what ever else they can think of.

 

I’ve been accused of being naive in the past, maybe, but to me Lance is a hero, a literal man of steel, who not only holds the greatest sports accomplishment in history but does incredible charitable work and good deeds for his fellow man, so, at least for today, he is innocent until proven guilty. Until they got the goods on him, I will continue to hold him in high esteem.

 

So, is Hamilton right in that everybody in general (and Lance in particular) is dirty, that nobody can be successful in this sport without juicing?

16 comments

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  1. Screamin says:

    Until they got the goods on him, I will continue to hold him in high esteem.

    This about sums it up. At what point is a guy clean enough that they can’t even manipulate a test result to make him look dirty? No, I’m not naive enough to think Lance is some sort of demi-god who’s never touched an illegal substance, etc. but it’s clear to me that he WILL go down as the greatest endurance athlete in history, and he won’t have an asterisk by his name.

    Those that doped and got caught are just mad that even cheating wasn’t enough to topple his legend: “This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it; Study it; Tweak it; Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on? I am on my bike busting my ass six hours a day; What are YOU on?” ~ Lance

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  2. JimK says:

    Uhh…before I comment, how much do you guys actually follow this stuff? Like…do you know UCI rules, what all the PEDs are, etc? DO you know who has been caught, what is happening now in the sport, with teams, with the UCI, what the biological passport is, etc?

    And how much do you all know about the actual legal history of Lance’s incidents in the past?

    Or is this a “I read a news story or 5″ kind of thing and you’ve heard of Lance, and respect his cancer work?
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  3. JimK says:

    One thing I will say:

    he has never bounced a test.

    Not even close to true. He has never been sanctioned or suspended. He has failed numerous tests over the years. And this is part of the problem with discussing this with people who don’t follow cycling and read *all* the press that covers the sport.

    Lance hires the best PR people in the sport – hell, in all of sports. And he does it so that the average Joe will believe that he has never failed a test and keep holding him in high esteem.
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  4. Kimpost says:

    Listen to Jim. Sports Illustrated had a pretty good run down of things earlier this year. Particulary look at his earlier testosterone-epitestosterone ratios. 9:1 in one case (normal is 1:1). Yet no follow up testing was done.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1180944/index.htm

    Too many people, are saying the same thing. People who were close to him. Are all of them lying because they are jealous? I’m sure there’s some of that, but going out like this in public, with lies of this magnitude? Those aren’t easy lies to live with.

    I’m not saying that he should lose his tour records or anything. To do that proof beyond reasonable doubt is needed. But let’s be realistic here, between us here on this blog. He’s plenty doped.

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  5. JimK says:

    I should clarify: I am an LA fan. Why?

    EVERYONE DOPES. All the greats doped. All the greats now are doping, Doping is actually legal up to a certain point. There are limits to dozens – maybe hundreds – of substances that are above any rational idea of normal, but that riders are allowed to have. Some substances are zero-tolerance, but many aren’t. And riders push those limits like you would not believe…hence the new UCI ban on needles of any kind for any reason.

    I believe Lance doped. But I believe that *especially* in his 7-year dominant era, frigging everyone was doping, and not under the limits either. I think that all of my faves from what is now Radio Shack – Horner, Levi, Klodi, I think they were all riding needles. I think Hincapie was and I respect him more than anyone in the peleton aside from Fabian Cancellara.

    All the dope did was increase speeds and make them able to ride longer. It didn’t make them winners. Look at Vinokourov. Great rider, can win stages, but even on the dope he just didn’t have that next-level excellence and no amount of drugs was gonna give it to him.

    Lance had it. He took his body and made it into a machine that no one else could deal with. I respect that, even if he used blood transfusions, EPO, steroids and whatever the hell else. They were all doing it to, and yet he still won. BEcause he had it.

    What I do not like is how he’s destroyed lives, spent millions and has attempted legal and PR trickery to hide his actual incidents from the world at large. I know that to become the world’s greatest cyclist you need an ego the size of Texas, but Lance is, and always has been, a god-damned bully. I respect that on the bike…after all, it;s racing, not Sunday tea with some girlfriends. But he carries that off the bike. He swings a big hammer at anyone who doesn’t fall down and worship him, either for the Livestrong work or the 7 TDF wins.

    The question Rich asked at the end, is this pro cycling game impossible without juicing? Yes. Yes it is. The new generation are smarter, and many programs self-police and will fire riders fir doping, but everyone is still pushing up to the legal limits and until the limits are changed, they’ll keep doing it. Races are getting insane, ridiculous and incredibly hard (see yesterday, today and tomorrow’s Giro stages). It literally takes a superhuman effort just to finish a grand tour much less win one.

    I’m ready for one of two things: 1. shut all doping down and reduce the level of performance of the entire pro peleton – which would be okay as it would reduce across the board evenly and we’d still see the same exceptional men at the top of the standings. Or 2. let ‘em dope all frigging day openly.

    I could seriously go on about this for hours. Rich, you really opened a can of worms for me! :)
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  6. Kimpost says:

    I’ll chime in and say that I’m a fan too. Everyone (well, virtually everyone) in pro cycling either dopes or has doped. Even if he doped (which he did), he was a tremendous athlete. One of the greatest in all of sports.

    What cyclists do during the tours is sick, performance wise! They go 200 km every day for three weeks. Recuperating every day is impossible. Their hotels resemble hospital rooms, with people getting nutrition from drop carriages, every day. (Mostly) Legal substances of course, but still. It’s telling. They just can’t replace the energy they loose by just eating.

    I think Hincapie was and I respect him more than anyone in the peleton aside from Fabian Cancellara.

    You don’t need to just think. Hincapie has confessed to using EPO. Might have confessed to more than just EPO, but EPO I recall. He also says that Lance has done it.

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  7. JimK says:

    The coincidence of this thread is I’m watching the Giro right now on my TiVo. They removed an insane climb that was going to go down the back side of Mt. Crostis on a FUCKING DIRT ROAD. A road so narrow the cars were not allowed. Only commissaires and neutral support motorcycles. And it was about 25K of no possible support ON A DIRT FUCKING ROAD HANGING OFF THE SIDE OF A VERY HIGH MOUNTAIN. Insane. Beyond reasonable. Here’s an Italian camera crew driving on part of it:

    http://youtu.be/Zv-j9c7dmzg

    Luckily the UCI found a “sporting” reason to cut it. They still have to finish on the summit of the Zoncolan, which has brief sections of 23% grade.

    23. Percent. And humans will be riding bikes up it. Cuh-raaazeee.
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  8. richtaylor365 says:

    Uhh…before I comment, how much do you guys actually follow this stuff?

    I do not, no, which I made clear in the post.

    And how much do you all know about the actual legal history of Lance’s incidents in the past?

    Or is this a “I read a news story or 5″ kind of thing and you’ve heard of Lance, and respect his cancer work?

    Pretty much the second part. I’ve watched him race a few times, I read his book, and if there is a story that I find about him, I’ll read it.

    I knew there was enough guys here that could flesh it all out for me so I presented the topic then stood back to see who would pick the ball and run with it.

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  9. richtaylor365 says:

    Not even close to true. He has never been sanctioned or suspended. He has failed numerous tests over the years. And this is part of the problem with discussing this with people who don’t follow cycling and read *all* the press that covers the sport.

    OK, so you are saying that he has failed many drug tests in the past, do you have any links on this that I can read?
    If he has failed drug tests, why hasn’t he been sanctioned or suspended, many riders are? Landis was, are you saying the sanctioning bodies, those organizations that are suppose to police the sport, are they incompetent or dishonest? I read that Lance never failed a test but you are saying he has, how does he get away with it? Given all the investigations going on now with all the agencies I listed above in my post, how has he been able to hide this for so long and I assume you think that it is only a matter of time before he goes down. Let’s run with this. If he is found out to be dirty, what should they do with all his TDF wins? When Landis went down they awarded his TDF win to the guy that came in second,right? Should they do that for all the 7 Armstrong wins?

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  10. JimK says:

    Rich, I’m goin’ out soon for a night of drinkin’ and singin’ but I’m totally down to get into this topic as soon as my head stops exploding tomorrow. :)
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  11. InsipiD says:

    The way I understand it, the sanctioning body for bike races hoards pee like Howard Hughes. They take and keep samples several times before and during races. If they come up with a new test, they can check any competitor on the new test years later. Occasionally, I’ve heard of people failing the first test and passing the followup on the same sample. How that would be possible without tampering, I’m not sure. It’s like they’re incredibly meticulous about being sloppy or something. Bear Grylls works in their lab when he’s not taping.

    It’s the only sport I’ve heard of where literally everyone is accusing everyone else of cheating. The sad thing is, they’re all probably right. It wouldn’t surprise me if ol’ Single-Shot juiced.

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  12. richtaylor365 says:

    Cool

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  13. Seattle Outcast says:

    There’s a word for competitive bikers that don’t juice up – “amateurs”

    I did an extensive read on the world of professional bicycling going back decades – all them were doing whatever was available at the time, particularly the ones doing the big tours across Europe. They started off doing amphetamines, and haven’t stopped since.

    Lance doped up, and so did all the others. He won, they didn’t, and now they’re all jealous that he was STILL better than they were. And as for his cancer – the smart money is that his doping brought it on to begin with.

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  14. Kimpost says:

    Did you read the Sports Illustrated piece?

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1180944/index.htm

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  15. crichton says:

    Was it Martin Obree that was the inspiration for the movie “The Flying Dutchman”? It’s about going the furthest on a bicycle for one hour. Anyway, Obree has gone on record saying he would never do the Tour because he doesn’t want to dope and he’d have to because “everybody does it”.

    The UCI has some real problems as a sanctioning body (see the aforementioned movie for details) but if Armstrong doped, so be it. He still trained harder and learned to be a better racer than anyone on the planet. The UCI has problems and most of them are themselves.

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  16. Hal_10000 says:

    When I commented on doping in the context of baseball, someone recommended the documentary bigger, faster, stronger. It’s eye-opening. Carl Lewis doped. Floyd Landis had a hyperbaric chamber in his yard. There’s no question this was going on and probably still is.

    I don’t think it takes away from their achievements becuase everyone was doing it. And he thing about doping is that it doesn’t turn you instantly into a winner. It mainly makes it so that you can train harder.

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