October 22, 2012

"Lance Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles."

The president of International Cycling Union, Pat McQuaid, announces, saying "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling."
"The UCI has tested Lance Armstrong 218 times. If Lance Armstrong was able to beat the system...." 
Shouldn't the UCI be stripped of something for missing the evidence? I'd like damages for all the time I've wasted paying attention to this sport. If all those races are now to be understood as phony, all of the money that anybody made promoting and presenting this sport was a big fraud. Stripping Armstrong of his titles doesn't restore what we've lost.

70 comments:

Surfed said...

I say make em' race on Sting-Rays with banana seats next year.

Synova said...

Seems pretty obvious they've but an end to the entire sport, doesn't it.

PETER V. BELLA said...

Enhancement has been going on way before Armstrong came along. It will continue as newer ways to keep from getting caught are discovered.

In the end it comes down to the Eleventh Commandment- Thou Shalt Not Get Caught.

TWM said...

Livestrong, Lance . . .

Tank said...

It turns out that Linda McMahon has been running the Tour de France all along.

Scott M said...

I'd like to see what cycling could develop into with unrestricted doping. Tour de France in an afternoon on unicycles?

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd like to see what cycling could develop into with unrestricted doping."

Dead bodies strewn throughout the provinces... that's entertainment!

MayBee said...

I didn't believe it until I listened to a BBC radio 5 report last week. I would link it, but I think it was only available online for a few days.

Heartbreaking.

The worst part is the cyclists Armstrong (and others) ruined because they didn't want to dope.

wyo sis said...

Lance Armstrong pretty much IS the sport of cycling.

MayBee said...

Here it is.

Cycling's Dirty Truth (link to BBC player)

JMS said...

Not justifying it, has anyone raced the TdF, etc. clean in decades? Ever? Even the guys mid-pack or in the back.

Regular old "speed" was commonplace back in the old days, more sophisticated as time went on. See, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy_Merckx

As testing gets better, the racers get cleaner. But the trainer's goal is and always has been to put the racer just under the lab test's threshold.

Tridad said...

Shouldn't the UCI be stripped of something for missing the evidence?

Right after the baseball owners give back all the money they made when Sosa, McGwire, Bonds, Giambi, et al were bringing fans to the park in droves.

Of course, UCI and the owners and sponsors knew, but as long as Lance was bring new fans to cycling and the TdF, they didn't care. Now he got caught and so they pretend to be shocked and disappointed.

traditionalguy said...

The news stories call his misconduct "doping."

What does doping mean? If doping was steroid drugs then it would have been caught by their tests.

Maybe they mean blood doping which is storing your own red blood cells (oxygen carriers) and transfusing them back the day of the competition?

JMS said...

To follow up:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_France#Doping

Allegations of doping have plagued the Tour almost since 1903. Early riders consumed alcohol and used ether, to dull the pain. Over the years they began to increase performance and the Union Cycliste Internationale and governments enacted policies to combat the practice.
In 1924, Henri Pélissier and his brother Charles told the journalist Albert Londres they used strychnine, cocaine, chloroform, aspirin, "horse ointment" and other drugs.

The story was published in Le Petit Parisien under the title Les Forçats de la Route ('The Convicts of the Road').

MayBee said...

Traditional Guy-
The reports I've heard/read are testosterone, EPO (?), and blood doping.

JMS- yes, there are guys who have raced clean and guys who have been forced into doping in order to be competitive, but who did not want to dope.

Kelly said...

I bet they agonized over that decision for several seconds.

Jane said...

should there be an alternate TdF winner? In my book, no -- they'd have to go to the 87th place finisher, or thereabouts, who would most likely be someone who doped just as much as the rest, but who wasn't tested as vigilently because he wasn't a top finisher. Better to just show the results with an asterisk.

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clyde said...

I hope that he's got a lot of money socked away somewhere, because cycling and spokespersonning are over. At this point, he'll have a hard time getting a job anywhere that doesn't involve asking "Would you like fries with that?"

Toby said...

Meh. Pretty much every world-class cyclist during the Armstrong years has been busted for doping. So though the playing field was different than we thought, it was still level. In my eyes he's still the legit winner for those years.

Clyde said...

I guess if Obama gets turned out of office in a couple of weeks, then he and Lance could commiserate about the unfairness of life. "Top of the world, Ma!" one day, down in the gutter the next.

Fernandinande said...

The only thing of interest is the fact that "officials" still pretend that some professional athletes - and actors - don't take anabolic steroids.

MadisonMan said...

They can now award the title to the person who finished 32nd, or 45th, or however far down they have to go to find someone "clean".

Patrick said...

So, there was probably some guy who finished about 179th in the TdF, to whom the title will fall, because he's the only one who wasn't doping.

Kris said...

Meh. Pretty much every world-class cyclist during the Armstrong years has been busted for doping. So though the playing field was different than we thought, it was still level. In my eyes he's still the legit winner for those years.

The playing field wasn't level. To put it simply, riders use EPO to boost their hemocrit levels. The legal limit is 50. Cyclists like Armstrong, who have lower natural hemocrit levels, get more of a boost from EPO than riders with higher natural levels. They're using drugs to reduce the natural advantages of some of their competitors.

Furthermore, Armstrong had money to access the best doctors, bar those doctors from working with rivals. He's also alleged to have paid off the UCI and his team got advanced warnings of testing, etc.

The playing field was anything but level and Armstrong is nothing less than the biggest fraud in sports history.

Patrick said...

MadisonMan beat me to it. He must be doping.

Tank said...

It's funny that no one thinks any of the top competitors were clean.

How do you clean that up?

What good does it do to strip Armstrong of his titles, except that he's the "American" the French hate for beating them and the other Euros, when all of the others were doing the same?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I assume that, if all those witnesses are saying that he cheated, then he cheated.

However, if he cheated that consistently, and still passed the tests 218 times, then it is clear that the tests are of little value. In which case, there is no reason to believe that the rest of the field is not cheating too, and most would be found guilty if they were pursued as aggressively as Armstrong. Which means that the sport, as it now stands, is useless.

They should change the rules, such that the test results are the official standard for cheating. Anything is allowed, as long as it doesn't show up on the tests. The tests can be refined each year, but newer test cannot be used to retest previous year's blood samples.

Problem solved.

carrie said...

Or, another view from my son who is a big fan of Lance Armstrong: "Of course he doped. I could care less, you watch cycling for the competition not because of some abstract idea that they aren't taking drugs. I think Armstrong shows how amazing science can be, hopefully it will inspire some kids to become doctors." From everything that I have read, there was a level playing field because all of the favorites were doping.

Autolycus said...

I really hope the Tour doesn't award the titles to someone else. If you look at the podium finishers for most of those years Lance won, the entire top 3 was filled with riders who have been caught or who have confessed to doping. The sport has killed its own reputation by pursuing Lance like this after so many years of him out of the sport.

From 1996-2010, only one rider won the Tour de France on the road who has not tested positive or confessed post-retirement to having doped during his career: Carlos Sastre. That's pretty ugly. It remains to be seen if Sastre, who is now retired, Cadel Evans (2011 winner), and/or Bradley Wiggins (2012 winner) will eventually be caught as well.

The list of Olympic cycling medalists who tested positive during the same time period is pretty bad as well. That list includes Tyler Hamilton and his re-absorbed twin.

Kris said...

Armstrong didn't pass 218 tests.

If you read the testimony you'd see that he failed a drug test in the Tour of Switzerland and sent a big fat check to the UCI who covered it up.

He also failed a drug test for cortisone and Emma O'Reilly has testified numerous times that she was there when Armstrong and the team backdated a therapeutic use slip for it.

MayBee said...

In at least one case, a rider was given a team contract for less money to ride clean than he was offered if he'd agreed to dope.

Lance Armstrong wanted other people to dope because it benefitted him, not because it made them more competitive.

MayBee said...

The BBC report I linked includes interviews with Tyler Hamilton, Emma O'Rielly (who Kris mentions), a clean French rider (Gielles?) who was persecuted by Armstrong, a few other riders and journalists.

It's worth a listen, really.

Kris said...

Also, it's worth nothing that cycling is completely a team sport. Armstrong won because his team was always the strongest and was always able to dominate the pace and discourage attacks from other riders.

We now know that they were the strongest because they had the best doping program and they used the benefits of that doping program to get Armstrong his wins. That's why riders like Vande Velde & Zabriskie were strong armed into doping. It wasn't about them, it was about what they could do for Lance.

Mitchell said...

Well, it's true that it took too long to catch Armstrong, but then again, nobody ever caught him shooting up in the shower.

Roger J. said...

No strong feelings either way--IMO all professional sports are not much different that gladiatorial combat. I do wonder if the Belgian rider Eddie Merxx doped. Somehow I believe that doping is reflective of our "modern" society.

Nathan Alexander said...

What does this say about the US Postal Service (who Armstrong rode for)?

clint said...

Ann Althouse said...

" "I'd like to see what cycling could develop into with unrestricted doping."

Dead bodies strewn throughout the provinces... that's entertainment!"

Is that really what you think would happen?

Professional athletes with teams of trainers and doctors at their side would be unable to restrain themselves from overusing drugs to the point that they enhanced themselves to death?

Thank goodness for the totally ineffective drug testing that has somehow managed to keep those poor, stupid athletes alive all these years.

Bob K said...

This is decision is really surreal.

Next we'll find out they are going to adjust past super bowl winners by going back into the video archives and finding out when a game winning score came about on the final play because an offensive player cheated by clipping someone on defense.

As far as I'm concerned, if the sports books don't have to change their payouts the wins stand. No matter what sport.

carrie said...

Here's a link to the 200+ page offical report https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/460432-10lede-usada-armstrong.html

Bender said...

Shouldn't the UCI be stripped of something for missing the evidence?

Who else did they miss? Like it has been said above, probably 90 percent of the sport. So stripping Armstrong isn't enough -- they need to disqualify the second place finisher, the third place, finisher, etc. and all the way down the line. In short, what they need to do is simply retroactively cancel out the TdF going back 20 years. But if everyone "enhanced" -- and did so in ways that were not detectable, which is to ask, is that really impermissible enhancement then?, then we are back to the same playing field for all. To be sure, if Armstrong did have a naturally impaired system such that he obtained a greater advantage over those who had a better natural biology, as has been alleged above, then his "enhancing," far from tilting the playing field, actually was a step toward leveling it -- it merely placed him on the same level as those biological freaks of nature who naturally have abnormally high levels of this hormone or that compound.

But if we are to condemn any and all enhancements, then before we get to bio-chemistry, shouldn't we take a look at equipment? Today's bikes and uniforms and helmets provide a much higher degree of enhancing the biker's natural abilities than was possible in the past. And even amongst the same year, whichever team has the best engineers and mechanics has a great advantage over those who have average crews, thereby creating a tilted playing field.

Bender said...

Next we'll find out they are going to adjust past super bowl winners by going back into the video archives and finding out when a game winning score came about on the final play because an offensive player cheated by clipping someone on defense.

Res judicata. Sorry, once it's over, it's over. No reopening cases after they are long concluded.

Leland said...

I can't say it any better than Ignorance is Bliss (the commenter @8:35am), who is aptly named. Doing it any other way gets whay you have now in TdF, we don't know a winner for weeks, years, even a decade later. I enjoy wathcing TdF, despite its confusing point system, because after a time, I can figure the strategy and understand the game. No game is worth playing if the rules change and the winners thrown out later.

As for Lance, the ugliest thing is the intimidation of those who didn't want to participate. For that, he deserves this shame.

999c4b32-1c56-11e2-8f01-000f20980440 said...

I don't consider the time I've spent watching the Tour de France over the last 12 years a waste at all. I enjoy watching it. I loved waking up early to watch the mountain stages during Armstrong's reign. The doping stuff doesn't undo any of that. Also, in the early 2000s watching the Tour got me back into cycling after a very long break. I even bought an expensive Trek bicycle. I don't regret any of it for a second.

carrie said...
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Bryan C said...

"Somehow I believe that doping is reflective of our "modern" society."

It's more reflective of human nature. Athletes have always used various substances to boost performance. That's a given. Why pretend it's not so?

The science has gotten more sophisticated, is all. And probably much safer, too, compared to brute-force drugs like cocaine and amphetamines or crude steroid injections. Being better isn't always safe.

carrie said...

How about adjusting LSAT scores and GPAs for people who take adderall when they don't have ADD or ADHD, etc.? Athletes aren't the only ones using science to obtain an advantage

Kris said...

clint said...
Ann Althouse said...

" "I'd like to see what cycling could develop into with unrestricted doping."

Dead bodies strewn throughout the provinces... that's entertainment!"

Is that really what you think would happen?

Professional athletes with teams of trainers and doctors at their side would be unable to restrain themselves from overusing drugs to the point that they enhanced themselves to death?

Thank goodness for the totally ineffective drug testing that has somehow managed to keep those poor, stupid athletes alive all these years.


Around 20 pro cyclists have died from EPO (they die in their sleep basically because their blood gets too thick and they have heart attacks).

Most of these deaths occurred in the early days of EPO use. I'm pretty sure the same thing is likely to happen with the next big drug that comes along.

Strelnikov said...

Let's talk about what it truly irritating about Armstrong: The USPS (yes, the bankrupt one) spent $32m sponsoring his Tour de France team. Tax money well spent on an event watched by no one in this country (you know, the ones paying for the USPS and this wasteof money) taking place in a foreign country. There goes your Saturday delivery - but at least it wasn't wasted.

edutcher said...

They figured Armstrong would propel them into the big time, that they'd be what tennis was in the 70s, so they looked the other way.

ndspinelli said...

This guy had lying sack o' shit phoney written all over his face. I was incredulous more than a decade ago that the US people didn't see it. I mean it was a VERY easy read on him. Makes us prime for a demagogue.

Rliyen said...

Tour De France = Highbrow Pro Wrestling.

edutcher said...

Hey, Ann says she paid a lot of attention to cycling.

Don't those guys wear shorts?

Skin tight shorts?

Hmmm...

bandmeeting said...

I don't think this was mentioned in any previous comments, sorry if I am being repetitious. One of Armstrong's former teammates, Tyler Hamilton, has a very good book that came out recently called "The Secret Race". I thought it was well written and insightful.

traditionalguy said...

Does this mean my testosterone cream has to go if I want to mountain bike?

Now how will get to the top. Riding down is always the fun part.

The larger Volcano on Maui has a trip that take you and a bike up in a bus and lets you ride down 15,000 feet.

Michael said...

Rliyen. "Tour De France = Highbrow Pro Wrestling."

Hardly.

Michael said...

You could not race clean in those days and win. I am not sure about now but the edge that EPO and blood doping provide is real and significant. The shame is that all of the members of the peleton are unbelievable athletes and the top riders in another category of fitness and mental toughness. Without doping. In 1995 Armstrong realized that his team was getting slaughtered by teams that doped. He chose to compete on their terms.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sonicfrog said...

And now you know why former TdF champ Greg LeMond HATED Armstrong. He knew all along. LeMond, one of the honest brokers in the sport, didn't have any direct evidence against LA, thus he couldn't testify against Armstrong.
But he knew the signs and stayed as far away from Armstrong as possible and still be associated in the same sport.

Joe Schmoe said...

I'm more troubled now about doping in all sports. If Armstrong consistently beat the best tests the world had to offer, then how does this not taint every other sport?

The NFL seems to squeak by as the sport with the biggest guys but the lowest accusation of doping. Do we really believe that now?

kimsch said...

The playing field wasn't level.

The Playing Field is never level. There are some people with natural gifts and some that take work. Could be people "dope" so that they, less naturally gifted, can compete on an even level with those that are naturally gifted.

Let 'em compete that way. Test the winners. Let the fans, etc. know the results and make up their own minds.

If your favorite wins by doping he or she may lose respect favorite status in your eyes. The guy or gal that wins without doping gains respect.

Michael said...

Kimsch. The problem is that a clean rider cannot beat a doped rider in a multi day stage race. Because an entire team is involved in creating a winner on any given stage it is a bit more complicated than a head to head sprint or time trial. But top rider against top rider with equivalent support: the doped rider wins. The ghastly toll a multi week race takes on the body can't be overcome with "heart" or "effort" to suddenly out in a performance. A few years ago Vinikurov had a terrible crash. Two days later he won a mountain stage by a huge margin, he was rocketing up the mountain. On dope as was discovered immediately.

kimsch said...

Thanks Michael.

damikesc said...

Eventually, unless Armstrong is failing tests, then it's hard to say there is hard evidence of him doing anything.

That's the whole thing. All of these people saying he cheated in a way nobody can demonstrate isn't proof that he did it.

Methadras said...

TWM said...

Livestrong, Lance . . .


He's gonna have to now that his endorsements are almost all gone. Hope he saved his money.

carrie said...

How can you be sure that LeMond didn't dope either? The doping techniques may have been different when LeMond rode, but I believe that performance enhancing drugs were prevalent in cycling when LeMond rode too.

carrie said...

How can you be sure that LeMond didn't dope either? The doping techniques may have been different when LeMond rode, but I believe that performance enhancing drugs were prevalent in cycling when LeMond rode too.

sonicfrog said...

How can you be sure that LeMond didn't dope either? The doping techniques may have been different when LeMond rode, but I believe that performance enhancing drugs were prevalent in cycling when LeMond rode too.

Yes they were prevalent, and always have been. LeMond for all we know "could" also be dirty. But there are not accusations, coupled with "smoking guns" surrounding him as they were with Armstrong.

Yes, Armstrong never tested positive. But that does not automatically show his innocence. As we've seen in baseball, it's not that difficult to get around a testing regime if you work hard at it.

Michael said...

If you read "The Secret Race" mentioned above you will know a lot about the drug culture of cycling. From its first days riders have tried everything to get them through the remarkably difficult stage races in France, Italy and Spain. They have used tobacco, espresso, amphetamine, cocaine, EPO, brandy, red wine and their own blood and lord knows what other ungents and drugs to help them survive and/ or win. This is not an excuse for the activity but it explains the doping: a clean rider of equal ability cannot beat a dirty rider often if ever.

sleepless nights said...

I don't believe Usain Bolt is drug free either. Just let them dope. The Olympics aren't fun anymore. For the amount of $ they make, they should be fully genetically modified, drug-addled freaks that they appear to be anyway. Let's see where it goes.