Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lance Armstrong, witchhunts, and Superman

And so it goes on -- and on -- and on. The US Anti-Doping Agency continues to pursue Lance Armstrong over allegations he used illgegal substances, or techniques, or SOMETHING, when he was winning all those Tour de France titles so many years ago.

Lance has denied it all along, of course, and you know what? His loyalists will always stand by him, no matter what, others will assume he is guilty, no matter what, and chances are those of us that have no dog in this hunt will never know what actually happened or didn't happen -- no matter what.

It's been well documented, even by the USADA itself, that during the course of Armstrong's cycling career he was tested, by blood and/or urine samples, over 500 times, and each test came back clean as a whistle. That doesn't seem to matter to the witchhunters. It certainly appears obvious they're hell-bent on finding SOMETHING they can nail him with.

As is widely known, after years of trying to fight "the system", Armstrong ultimately decided not to exercise his "final option" and appear before the "arbitration" court. Yours truly isn't sure, but I suspect if one were to dig out Roget's thesaurus and look up the word "arbitration", one would find the word "kangaroo" as a synonym. I mean, what's the point in wasting one's time, not to mention a ton of money on legal expenses, if one knows a guilty verdict has already been rendered before one even walks into the courtroom? Thwarted at that turn, the USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles. That should have been the end of it, right? Oh no. The hunt continues. They want blood.

Here's an analogy to ponder, if you please. Lance Armstrong once dominated cycling much like Tiger Woods did golf, and as coincidence would have it, roughly during the same time frame. Like Tiger, he was the best. The MAN. Now what do you think would happen if rumors surfaced that Tiger had been using an illegal driver back then? The PGA never actually SAW that driver, mind you, despite inspecting his clubs at each tournament, but a lot of other players came forth and said Tiger had an ingenious way of disguising that club to make it appear legal? Like Armstrong, Woods vehemently denied it. Would it be a big story? No doubt. Would they strip Woods of all his major titles? Maybe. Would they ban him from the PGA for a year or two, or even life? Perhaps. But then it would be over. Tiger could still play golf, just not at the highest sanctioned levels. As the years rolled by, and Mother Nature gradually took her toll, in both instances, it would become academic anyway. But would they continue to persecute Woods to the four corners of the earth in a relentless pursuit to completely destroy him and his name? Somehow, I doubt that.

Yet that appears to be what's going on with Armstrong. The question that still remains unanswered, if it's ever been asked at all, would seem to be -- what's the end game? What is it the USADA ultimately hopes to accomplish before they put this whole matter to rest?

Have Armstrong break down in tears, say he was a bad boy, and beg for mercy? Will they throw him in a dungeon somewhere, waterboard him, burn him at the stake? What, exactly, will satisfy the "authorities" before they call off the hunt?

I, for one, don't know whether Lance Armstrong cheated or not. And you know what else? After all this time, money, legal wrangling, print and sound bytes, and other hype -- I weary of the hunt, even as a spectator. It just doesn't matter anymore and I don't care. I further dare say Armstrong reached much the same conclusion when he decided to stop being an active combatant in this whole sordid affair, and get on with his life elsewhere.

It would be nice if others would stop spending tax-payer dollars trying to get Clark Kent to finally admit he had a magic potion that turned him into Superman, and find something better to do with our money.

This whole thing is starting to get like the never-ending quest to find Jimmy Hoffa's remains, with one notable difference. Lance Armstrong is very much alive and currently doing a lot of good things for a lot of people, particularly children, through his foundation. THIS is who they want to paint as something evil?  Those that would say that he cheated at bike races and the on-going charitable work are entirely two different things, apples and oranges if you will, might want to consider that without his cycling career, dirty or not, there likely wouldn't BE any such foundation.  So in that respect, they are indeed related, and in the end, something very good became of it.

No one in their right mind would seriously consider Armstrong to be any sort of threat to society. Leave the man alone, and not only will he be just fine, but he'll help countless others to get better too.

Enough with the persecution of Armstrong already. Like the original Salem witch trials, the only people it seems to matter to are those that have nothing better to do with their lives than make someone else's life miserable.

In hindsight, who indeed turned out to be the evil ones when all that happened back in 1692?

This current madness needs to STOP.


  1. With all due respect Mr. Leach, you are way off on this.

    First, USADA does take issue with the "500" drug test claims, even saying so in its report. They believe the number closer to 300, not that it really matters. Second, his test have no always come back that clean. He tested positive for a corticosteroid during the '99 Tour but got out of it when his team produced a backdated prescription that Armstrong's personal masseuse said was forged. He also had six of his urine samples test positive for EPO during a research re-test in 2005. He was also given a pass her on technicalities. Hein Verbruggen, the former head of the UCI, has said that the UCI had to call Armstrong in 2001 and give him a warning because one of his tests was suspicious if not outright positive.

    As for the process, Armstrong never went into arbitration. He was simply charged by USADA's review board. After suing, he then decided not to contest the charges at a hearing and was sanctioned.

    What occurred yesterday was protocol. USADA was required to give its evidence and reasoning to the UCI. They then decided to make their dossier public to answer those who vilified them and wanted the evidence.

    Armstrong has done some nice things with his charity, but he's also shown to be a liar, a cheat, and a bully.

    1. JR. Even assuming you're right with all the test results, arbitration or lack thereof, technicalities, charges, evidence, sanctions, protocol, etc., the point remains. Are they done now? And if not, where does it end? Thanks for commenting.

  2. John, I agree with you 100%. And as for JR, let's address some of his points.

    1) "He tested positive for a corticosteroid during the '99 Tour but got out of it when his team produced a backdated prescription that Armstrong's personal masseuse said was forged."

    Was the prescription backdated or forged? Both? The doctor whose name is on the prescription would be able to validate the backdate/forgery claim. Sounds like he did not, so this allegation is invalid.

    2)"He also had six of his urine samples test positive for EPO during a research re-test in 2005. He was also given a pass her on technicalities."

    In other words, whatever the "technicalities" are, they are in place to protect the subject against corruption or incompetence by the authorities. A technicality is a "yeah, but..." which carries no weight and cannot be used against a person, so that is no argument.

    3)"Hein Verbruggen, the former head of the UCI, has said that the UCI had to call Armstrong in 2001 and give him a warning because one of his tests was suspicious if not outright positive."

    And why the warning instead of action? Oh, it was suspicious. In other words no proof of doping.

    Armstrong may well have been cheating, but I agree John that this has gone on too long with too much money wasted. Armstrong has also been accused of being smarter than everybody if he can set up the elaborate, undetectable process to cheat. USADA has hollered way too long and too loud for me to put any credence it their review. Leave him alone.

    1. Something's wrong here, Al. You coming to my defense? What, are you trying to give me the "big one" like Fred Sanford? Gasp, wheeze, I'm comin' Elizabeth. LOL Next thing ya know, the Princess might actually chime in with something nice, and then I'd have a seizure for sure. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that JR was spot on about one thing. I'm way off. Do I hear an amen brother?

    2. 1) The doctor worked for US Postal and was among those USADA charged in this doping conspiracy. Get it? They used their own doping doctor to forge a backdated prescription so it could be considered a Therapeutic Use Exemption. When asked at the beginning of the race if he was taking any kind of medicine, Armstrong told the media he was not.

      2) The technicality had nothing to do with incompetence. The samples were tested during research and only B-samples were used due to the A-samples being destroyed previously. This meant it couldn't be considered an official failed test. However, this doesn't change the fact that synthetic EPO was found in 8 of Armstrong's urine samples. The man who helped create the test for EPO studied the results and confirmed this. Read at the link for confirmation.

      3) That example was given to show that not all of Armstrong's samples were "clean as a whistle." It was not meant as an example of a positive test.

      ~~Armstrong has also been accused of being smarter than everybody if he can set up the elaborate, undetectable process to cheat.~~

      Take a look at his team. There are now at least 11 teammates of his who doped while never failing a test or only failing after moving to another team. There are several more teammates implicated that could move that number far higher. So you have to believe they could all beat the tests but Armstrong could not.

    3. Yeah, JR, I think I get it. You're still trying to prove a point that ceased to matter to most some time ago, while continuing to ignore the whole point of my article in the first place. Again, where does it end? I think the Princess (see below) summed it up quite well.

    4. Mr. Leach, that post was in response to Al's, not yours. Hence, my "got it?" comment was as well.

      If you and others are tired of it, that's fine. But quite frankly, you were interested enough to make a long post about it.

      The case is over barring the UCI appealing which I don't think they'll do. However, numerous entities and people may want money back after Armstrong previously sued them for defamation or took bonuses that may no longer be valid. So while the case is over, his troubles likely aren't.

    5. Noted JR, but quite frankly, the long post was intended to point out the very nature of the "bridge to nowhere" witchhunt in the first place. Other than continuing to trash a man for something that may or may not have happened long ago -- which neither you nor I know, or will ever know for sure, just what, pray tell, did the "powers that be" hope to accomplish with all the tax-payer money they spent?

    6. USADA's job is to enforce clean sport. Why would they not try and solve the biggest doping scheme in sport history? Why would they not try and get the team manager, three doctors, and trainer who spearheaded the operation out of cycling?

      Uncovering this has lead to discovering numerous ways in which riders were able to beat the tests and testing procedures. It also shows other potential dopers how risky it is to do so; that the anti-doping authorities will eventually get you. Great disincentive there.

      As far as tax-payer money, USADA has an annual budget that is going to be used on something. What difference does it makes what it is? Not that I don't believe this is a proper way to use it.

      I'd implore you to read USADA dossier. No open-minded person can believe Armstrong after doing so.

    7. OK, done. In my opinion, the USADA dossier is nothing more than many prosecutorial reports. Prosecutors love to pile on the charges, ala George Mitchell and his baseball steroid report, because they know it will impress some folks. As in, holy cow, this dude's been charged with 32 or 48 counts of whatever? "He must be guilty of something", the lemmings will conclude. It doesn't necessarily mean that any of the charges had merit, and would ever stick in a REAL court of law -- which by the way, was never an option in the first place with this whole scenario, but in the meantime they'll manage to ruin the life of the accused. Conversely, neither do I lend much credence to everything that may come out of a defense attorney's mouth. With all due respect, JR, it's up to the open-minded people to sort it out. And when open-minded people cease to care about whatever may have happened, then just what does it matter anyway?

  3. Well, ya all, who gives a "rats a**" after all this time. Supposedly we have done due dilligence and he has been striped of his titles. But if my tax dollars are being spent on any more tests, investigations, probing or any other money grubbing activity, I say END it now. We have a lot more serious issues in this Country and Worldwide to worry about.

    So, yeah, John, I agree, STOP, the needless spending of our money. Besides I am tired of hearing all this info rehashed daily about something that happened years ago.

    The Princess

  4. Well, JR, I dare say John is correct. You missed the entire point. It is not about whether Armstrong is guilty or not, it is about the amount of taxpayer money being spent on an issue that has been resolved. You striped him of his titles, what more is there. Prize money returned you say. Well good luck with that. Lets see, that would mean millions more of taxpayer dollars in US attorneys, Court costs, Investigative reports, etc., to recover a fraction of what it would cost. To do what? I know prove a point so no one else will take drugs and be involved in a sport. Well, if you are so antidrug, then you know there have been dozens of other athletes in dozens of sports, who was found guilty of some kind of improper drug use. The US did not bother to spend millions of my Tax dollars to prove a point with any of them. Their names were smeared across the news for a mere couple of weeks, they were striped of any Hall of Fame status, or special titles and it was over. But with Armstrong, it just keeps going, and going, and going. Someone high up certainly has an Ax to grind on this one. So be it, if they want to Grind it, then use private money. And as far as USADA having millions of dollars to spend, so they might as well spend it on this, well for one if that is the case, maybe we should cut their budget and use that money more wisely. Or better yet JR, why dont we use that money on antidrug programs for our young athletes in schools. Now that would be a wise choice for my Taxpayer dollars, instead of chasing one athelete (and/or his associates) that committed a drug offence several years ago, who the majority of people dont even care about anymore, including all my avid cycling friends.

    On a little bit different note JR, I have to say I am amazed that all of these people, Atheletes, doctors, lab testers, nurses, and personnel of the Lance Armstrong team knew this was going on, and not one leak for several years after his last title. I kont know about you, but I have worked with the public for lots of years, and not once have I seen any information, whether important or just plain gossip, kept a secret for even a fraction of that amount of time. Seems to me that one of the underlings would have written a book about it by now. Just sayin.

    The Princess

    1. The USADA's receives $9 million a year in government grant money. This case took about 3 months to put together. Even assuming every penny of grant money went to this case over those three months, the cost on each taxpayer in this country would be about 1 cent.

      The issue wasn't resolved until Armstrong refused arbitration on August 24, and it's the only sporting investigation into Armstrong and his team there has ever been. There was one federal investigation into financial fraud, a crime.

      You may not care about Armstrong or the doping doctors and manager who were still in the sport, but there's no reason USADA shouldn't.

      ~~and not one leak for several years after his last title.~~

      Those directly involved in the doping had no reason to leak anything. That said, the team masseuse gave incriminating testimony back in 2004 to journalist David Walsh. Armstrong tried to sue her to bankruptcy and called her a "drunk prostitute," just one of many vicious acts perpetrated by LA against witnesses.

      ~~ Seems to me that one of the underlings would have written a book about it by now.~~

      He did. His name is Tyler Hamilton and the book is called "The Secret Race." Came out in September and will go down as the quintessential guide to doping in cycling and at US Postal.

  5. First, what happened to the Financial Fraud investigation, are we going to recover any money,are we going to recover more than we spend to get it. As far as the cost of 1 cent to each Taxpayer, irrelevant. The point remains, we need to STOP spending more money on Lance Armstrong at this point and put it to better use. I notice you did not mention anything about using those dollars for Educational purposes in our Schools and Colleges.

    The book came out after the Investigation, now that was convenient, I would have been more impressed had it been released before the investigation even started.

    This is NOT about whether Armstrong is guilty or not, it is about the continued waste of Taxpayer money. Which, if you listen to the news, is in short supply these days.

    The Princess

  6. There are plenty of things we need to stop spending money on, but this case is a drop in the bucket compared to many of those.

    The operation to write Hamilton's book began in the fall of 2010. It was corroborated by eight other Postal teammates and is beyond descriptive and detailed. What difference does it make when it came out?