God—part of me doesn’t even want to write this. After all, John Wilcockson already got fired. But like an old jalopy, waxed and packed with sawdust, he’s appeared on the cycling world’s equivalent of a used car lot, still sputtering and ready to fleece some rubes.
Let’s get to business.
"Late Thursday night, I was in the middle of writing my weekly peloton column, this one explaining the complicated racing tactics at the Vuelta and USA Pro Challenge. That’s when I logged on…"
"Logged on?" To AOL? Did it sound like this?
Also, I’m going to skip some sections because my time on this Earth, unlike Wilcockson’s admiration for Lance, is finite.
…the names of Lance Armstrong and his eponymous cancer foundation have clearly been tarnished by the years of his defending himself against the constant allegations that he used illicit performance-enhancing drugs and methods during his racing career. Without those accusations, the Livestrong foundation would have gained even more prestige and effectiveness than it has already achieved. And Armstrong’s status as a super-champion and cancer advocate would have been permanently etched in posterity.
Right. So, QED: doping allegations are GOOD FOR CANCER. Also, “super-champion”? Are you five?
What cannot be denied is that Armstrong has been what some have called “a freak of nature”…The young Texan did so well that he earned Triathlete magazine’s Rookie of the Year award when he was still in high school. And that was just the start.
This distinguishes Armstrong from all the other riders in the pro peloton, who were training-crit freds throughout their adolescence.
For the 2009 book I wrote about Armstrong, published by Da Capo Press, I interviewed dozens of people, including Armstrong, his family members, friends, athletes and coaches.
And you did such a good job, too! Only missed those 11 former teammates who testified that he doped and told them to also dope. A gold star for effort.
The use of the blood-boosting drug EPO became rampant in European cycling at a time when Armstrong was climbing the pro rankings with outstanding rides in the one-day races, including victories in the Clasica San Sebastian and Flèche Wallonne. But there was no drug test for EPO, and Armstrong and his Motorola teammates started asking around to see what was happening to their sport.
Things came to a head in April 1994, when Armstrong was strong enough to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but was beaten by a runaway rider from the suspect Italian team, Gewiss. “
Right—a Gewiss team powered by Dr. Michele Ferrari, who you called “one of the brightest brains in cycling" in 2011. It’s laudable for Ferrari to work with Lance, but with Gewiss, it’s "suspect"?
And, since we’re focusing on analysis on this blog, Armstrong did finish second in that race behind Evgeni Berzin, but the chase group of four contained one of Berzin’s teammates. But no, tactics were probably irrelevant. It was all doping—the bad, non-Armstrong kind of doping, that is.
FFWDing through some more lopsided history…
By going on to win seven consecutive Tours, Armstrong not only inspired millions of cancer patients, he gave a huge boost to cycling in this country. Those positive developments cannot be taken away by USADA or any other body;
But they can be analyzed and commented upon incisively and directly by serious professionals. Or you could just talk about “positive developments” and ignore people dying from EPO misuse, not having careers because they didn’t want to dope, the fact that this isn’t ‘Nam and there are rules, etc…
but since the dominant years, when Postal became a tightly drawn organization, both Armstrong and Bruyneel have told me they regret not having given more access to the media.
Right—so that time during Comeback 2.0, when I remember Armstrong literally refused to address the media—that was an acid flashback. Or does 2009 count as “the dominant years”?
More transparency could have quelled some of the doping rumors and may even have prevented some of the practices alleged in testimonies given to USADA after the past couple of years.
Wait, what? “Quelled” the “rumors”? Prevented Grand Jury testimony? Please tell me there’s some alternate reading of this where you’re not saying you wish they’d gotten away with it.
Yes, Armstrong became a multi-millionaire from his success as an athlete, but he also became the subject of vicious personal attacks that would hurt the most optimistic of people.
I like the phrase “live by the gun, die by the gun” for this. Armstrong’s a prick to his “enemies”, frequently if not always. Read Fabiani’s rebuttal—this fact is not in dispute.
In the past 15 years virtually all of Armstrong’s closest rivals have been discredited for being involved in doping scandals or been suspended for positive tests.
Sastre, Evans…nah, fuck those guys. EVERYONE DOPED SO IT’S OK.
Despite that, doping continued.
People cheat, so we shouldn’t try and stop them from cheating.
So stripping Armstrong of his titles, as USADA has said it is doing, would do nothing to help clean up the sport—which the USADA claims as its mission.
And we definitely shouldn’t hold people who cheated in the past accountable, because no one in the future will see that and say “it’s ok to cheat.”
What’s good is that the sport has been cleaning itself up with the kind of testing and suspensions that far exceed those existing in any other sport.
Suspensions like nulling 16 years of results by the biggest star in cycling history? Because like, two lines ago, you said that did nothing to clean up the sport.
I feel hopeful that cycling has now gotten through the darkest period in its history and that a new generation is one we can trust.
I feel less hopeful than I otherwise might because NONE of them are willing to talk about it…
In his Friday afternoon tweet, Craddock posted a photo he took in a doctor’s office of a framed Discovery Channel racing jersey that came from Armstrong after he won the 2005 Tour. Craddock wrote: “Nothing can take that away from the greatest athlete of all time.”
…beyond the “rah rah Lance” bullshit.
On an even field, where no one was enhancing his performance in any way, Armstrong would have likely won all seven of his Tour titles. This is sadly ironic.
See, it’s like algebra—divide both side of the equation by “doping” and we see that X = Lance Armstrong is the Worlds Greatest Champion of All-Time. Let’s present The Wilcockson Equilibrium as an equation for all the mathletes out there:
Armstrong(doping) > Everyone(doping) = Armstrong > Everyone
It’s like the doping never happened! Cycling rules, let’s all go home and sip Port.
There will never be another Lance Armstrong
We can only hope.