Friday, August 24, 2012

The USADA Assassinates Lance Armstrong


Sadly Lance Armstrong will go on Oprah and admit he used PEDs. Lance is just a scapegoat. The real problem is professional cycling.

Imagine if the NCAA received all the money from television rights and ticket sales. Imagine if the NCAA kept all that money to itself and the schools that comprise the NCAA had to rely on sponsors to pay for equipment and scholarships. 

Suppose sponsorships and bowl winnings were the only source of revenue for Alabama, West Virginia, Florida State or Louisville. 

Sponsors only support winners and the pressure to field a championship-worthy team would be far greater than it is now. 

Now suppose football had a 25 game schedule and each game lasted 8 hours. 

The pressure to use performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) would be great. 

That's how it is in professional cycling. Only winners get sponsors and the sport is so physically demanding you can only win by using PEDs.

The first document cheating in the Tour De France was 1915. 

You can't blame the riders. You need to blame the Amaury Sports Organization that doesn't share profits with the riders and asks them to do superhuman feats of endurance. 

Lance used PEDs because everyone else was using PEDs. He did not cheat. He gained no advantage by using PEDs. He gained his advantage by perfecting periodic training and building an entire team around helping him win. 

Lance's training regime is legendary. His dedication is legendary and when he grew to be a legend the sport that he saved would have banned him for life for doing what cycling requires - using PEDS. 

His mission off the bike became too important to sacrifice to the Amaury Sports Organization's double standard. 

Lance inspired me. He inspired me to get on the bike and ride. He inspired millions and for that I will always be a fan and indebted to Lance Armstrong. 

Those in the United States who know nothing about professional cycling and the culture of pro cycling. They most likely have never ridden a bike in a race or experienced the pain that such effort produces. 

The ignorant have no right to criticize. Lance is a hero and if you don't want those LiveStrong bracelets I'll be more than happy to take them. 

Viva la Lance!


I write this because the first time I saw Lance Armstrong on a bike he was racing through the streets of Beckley, WV on the way to his first major win as a professional cyclist in the K-Mart Classic.

Now, 19 years later, Lance Armstrong has been stripped of 7 Tour De France Titles and banned for life. 

The USADA claims, that despite being the most tested athlete in the world without a single positive result, that Lance used performance-enhancing drugs.

Why? Because one man, Tavis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), had a personal vendetta against Lance Armstrong. 

A vendetta that caused the USADA strong-armed several of Lance's former teammates into testifying they witnessed Armstrong use PEDs in return for reduced suspensions and immunity

The alternative for Armstrong’s former lieutenants at U.S. Postal and Discovery was a lifetime ban from professional cycling and the loss of their livelihood.

The USADA went one step further and  allegedly retested old blood samples taken from Armstrong when he was still racing professionally – blood that had been sitting on a shelf for years.

Yet there is no doubt in my mind that Lance used drugs. The entire peloton was using performance-enhancing drugs and for good reason.

The human body cannot endure racing over 2,000 miles in 21 days – not at the speeds attained in the modern Tour de France. 

It’s impossible to spend four hours climbing over the Alps and then do it over and over again without help.

That’s were the performance-enhancing drugs come into play.

The drugs help the cyclists breathe (by increasing red blood cells) and recover (testosterone).  They help them get over the mountains, burn through time-trials, and get back in the saddle the next day.

But let’s not confuse the matter here or discuss the culture of doping that has consumed professional cycling since the first Tour De France.

We shouldn’t even begin to address the pressure put on cyclists to dope by their teams and sponsors or mention the team doctors who help the cyclists “train”.

To go that route, to expose cycling’s dirty little secret, would be to point out that professional cycling has one set of rules for the public and another for the team training room.

And who in their right mind would mention that there is evidence that the International Cycling Union (UCI) secretly condoned Armstrong’s use of PEDS because the sport benefited from his reign as the king of the sports world.

It would be far to easy to punish teams and even fine sponsors for doping violations. Institutions like the USADA and WADA never consider that punishing doping at its source and suspending professional UCI licensed clubs would likely end the practice of doping very quickly. 

Instead they go after the cyclists themselves who find it hard to compete clean when their peers are using and they have constant pressure from management to push the envelope and win the spotlight for the team’s sponsors.

This is about how the USADA wrote their own rules and decided to punish Lance Armstrong despite the statue of limitations having expired. This is about the USADA coercing testimony by intimidation and the word of confirmed liars like Floyd Landis.

This is about how Armstrong never got the chance to defend himself or see the evidence against him.

This is about the USADA being used as a vehicle for revenge for Tavis Tygart.

Many of you will no doubt reject my arguments. Many will claim that Armstrong cheated. My response would be that the rules were written to be circumvented and Armstrong had zero competitive advantage for his alleged use of PEDs.

I believe he used PEDs and I have always assumed that to be a fact. 

Again, Armstrong was just keeping up with the pack. He, and every cyclist in the peloton, had to use PEDs or accept the fact they would never compete for the podium. 

Tavis Tygart and his ilk like to ignore the fact that Armstrong trained harder and was responsible for more cycling innovations than any other cyclist in history -- Innovations in training and technology that revolutionsed his sport.

Armstrong practically pioneered periodic training and the practice of selecting the team to help the captain win the yellow jersey.   

Cyclists like Armstrong and the host of others who have been found “guilty” of doping need to rebel against the USADA and WADA.

 They need to stand up for their right to earn a living and safely use whatever “supplements” they need to perform. 

Otherwise professional cycling needs to reel back the performance expectations placed on the riders and be prepared for less miles, less strenuous climbs, and slower speeds.

As for me I contact my congressional delegation and let them know I thought the actions of the USADA were un-American and I didn’t want my tax dollars used to support an organization that set its sights on one man and his legacy instead of focusing on curing the problem in cycling.

And maybe that’s what I find most distasteful about this whole incident. The USADA was more concerned about the assassination of Lance Armstrong than the problem of doping in professional cycling. 

1 comment:

  1. Thought you might find this article interesting.