Fire Phil Liggett

Because the Festina Scandal was 14 years ago

Wellllllll…what have we here? Phil Liggett interviewed by Aussie TV for their investigative piece on Armstrong’s downfall.

Phil seems ready to concede obvious, but can’t quite get there without the “everyone else did it” fallacy. For any first-timers out there:

  1. "Everyone else" did not do it.
  2. The fact that many others did it doesn’t excuse Armstrong.
  3. The fact that many others did it does not mean there was a level playing field.

I will say it’s nice to see the rather somber note Phil finishes on. I wonder if Armstrong sees it that way. I’m guessing not.

I had an email from an eminent scientist from the US yesterday. An SMS actually. It said if Lance Armstrong had taken the drugs outlined by USADA he’d have been dead ten years ago. He’s an eminent scientist and a very intelligent man. I don’t know his name, the SMS came from a secondary person.

Phil Liggett

Phil Liggett Responds…Falsely.

After a brief downtime, Liggett was back on Twitter, not to apologize for or at least explain his rant, but to ATTACK:

To the first claim, we can show that both Liggett and Armstrong were at one point investors in Paul Sherwen’s gold mine.

We cannot prove they were in at the same time as the stories are dated three years apart, but we also think the long train of charity events presented by Liggett for Armstrong could also be construed as a “business interest”. We’ve heard he’s paid for it, but could be convinced it’s a charitable service; either way, there is a definite business value. 

To the second, we point to another Liggett-presented video for the Link Pink ride, just under a year ago, in Calgary. Liggett was filmed at the event, the organizer says they both attended, at least one third-party site puts him on scene (albeit farcically), and we’ve even heard (though cannot confirm) they appeared on stage together.

The Wilcockson Equilibrium

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. 

Skipping ahead…

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.

An Open Letter from Michael Ashenden to Phil Liggett

The anti-doping expert’s response, published on nyvelocity.com, to Liggett’s appearance on Ballz Visual Radio on August 27.

2 years ago
Apparently Buzz Bissinger still believes in Lance Armstrong and got Newsweek to give him the cover this week to tell the world. 
The entire blog post by Como Cyco on Buzz’s piece and more on Rick Reilly’s piece for ESPN, “Lance Is Still Worth Revering” is pretty good, too.

Apparently Buzz Bissinger still believes in Lance Armstrong and got Newsweek to give him the cover this week to tell the world. 

The entire blog post by Como Cyco on Buzz’s piece and more on Rick Reilly’s piece for ESPN, “Lance Is Still Worth Revering” is pretty good, too.

The modern print sports column passed away on Tuesday, August 28, after suffering a long illness. The cause of death was a Rick Reilly column on ESPN.com on Lance Armstrong’s decision to stop fighting formal charges that he doped to win the Tour de France.

Joe Lindsey reports on the death of sports writing in his piece for Bicycling.com titled "Friday Night Lights Out."

This video is what started the ball rolling for us. Where to begin, really? From beginning to end, the interview is so riddled with untruths, non-facts, and outright lies that were Liggett actually Pinocchio, his proboscis would be longer than Jerry Sandusky’s prison sentence. The really juicy stuff begins at 12:33, but the comment at 6:16 referring to cocaine as a “household drug” also is noteworthy.

Welcome to Fire Phil Liggett!

Cycling journalism, like the sport itself, is at a crossroads. 

After decades blind-eyeing the obvious, progressively more scientific race analyses—and a begrudgingly more serious approach to drug testing—have questioned and even brought sanctions against the biggest names in the sport.

And yet, many in cycling—and in the media especially—seem reluctant to embrace this new reality. They cling to old misconceptions and fallen heros, and remain silent—and accept the silence of others—about the sport’s recent sea-change. 

There are really two ways cycling coverage can go from here:

  1. Commentators can continue doing what they’ve always done, asking no questions, accepting bottled responses, and pitching tired intangibles like “glory” and “honor” with cute turns of phrase.
     
  2. Commentators can do research, welcome the close analysis of strong performances, and address the facts of hard-to-hear stories like mature professionals, no matter how close to home the revelations may hit.

You need look no further than the title of this blog to see which direction we prefer.