I think I’ve watched less pro cycling races this year than in a long time. Actually – I know I have. It wasn’t even a conscious decision. But I do have to admit almost every race I look at, there was some guy that I was suspicious of. And that doesn’t make it any fun to watch. (more…)
I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play on one TV. But I nonetheless found myself spending a whole lot of time yesterday reading over legal documents. It would be cool if I were trying to gain understanding into my legal liabilities if I lead a ride and someone gets hurt. Or perhaps finding ways my auto insurance is legally required to cover myself and/or bicycle in the case of an accident in the saddle. Or how about the technicalities of home owners or renters insurance and a stolen bike.
Nope – as you probably guessed, I was all wrapped up in the USADA Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case. Across the internet, everyone seems to be writing that as “Reasoned Decision” – in quotation marks – as if it is a sarcastic remark. Turns out that a reasoned decision is actually a specific type of document that the USADA was required to release. From the publication itself:
I’m quite frankly sick to death of hearing about Lance and his apparently inexhaustible ability to be targeted by, and just missed by, doping investigations. More importantly, I’m tired of it being the only story the main stream american media seems able to cover related to cycling. Well, that and a cyclist killing a pedestrian. For americans this was an amazing year in bike racing, but you barely heard anything about in on the talking picture box. Two major pro level stage races in the United States. An American team battling it out in the olympics. American cyclist Chris Horner apparently inheriting the reigns of Cycling Media Ambassador for the american Audiences. These are exciting times for those of us in the states that are paying attention. For the rest of the population, apparently cycling is only about allegations of cheating from over a decade ago.
With all of this hoopla, you think that the Armstrong events were absolutely critical to the sport of cycling. But what impact with the USADA / Lance debacle actually have? Well, only one of two.
Scenario One: The (still) immortal Lance
There will be continued bickering, lawyering-up and public statementifications (read that carefully) until ultimately, some obscure court that no one has ever heard of will completely side-step the doping allegations, In this scenario, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will decide that the USADA has no authority to strip medals and wins. If this happens, historians will need to rewrite the name “Armstrong, L. United States” across the white out they just recently placed across his name.
Scenarion Two: Lance only had 9 lives (and already used up 8)
Alternatively, the ruling may stand. Lance may be stripped of his wins for all posterity. The sport will be cleansed of the evil dopers – oui? No. In fact, almost all of the 2nd place finishers that would be promoted to first if Armstrong is stripped of his titles are themselves accused and/or convicted dopers. That’s progress, right?
Lance’s characterization of these allegations as a “witch hunt” may be true. However, unlike the madness in Salem of oh-so-many years ago, this time around thar be real witches in the woods.
Headline: “Cycling has another week riddled with news of doping and not much else”
Well, at least that is what you’d think if all you read is the mainstream press, or even the mainstream cycling press. We’ve already had racing action this season. First in Australia with the Tour Down Under, and the Tour of Qatar just started. Now honestly though – how many folks do you suspect actually know the standings of the early season races? I’m betting a fair sight less than the number that know that 1) Lance Armstrong is off the hook, and 2) Contador has been stripped of his 2010 wins – including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
And this season is promising to be a great showdown. The combination of some of the riders from both Leopard Trek and Radio Shack into one team. Renshaw free to clash sabers in the sprints without having to focus on delivering Cavendish to the front. This is real racing drama – happening now. Armstrong doesn’t race anymore – remember? And now Contador won’t be racing this year until the Giro either. So let’s focus our attention on the people out there trying to beat each other on the roads and single tracks – not in the court rooms, press rooms and headlines.
If only we could get as much coverage of our race winners as we do the doping circus… Just one man’s opinion.
Hypocrisy is something that drives me particularly nuts. I am especially sensitive to situations where I find myself acting or thinking in this way, and strive to stamp it out. Thanks to Alberto Contador I’ve actually found myself in one of these situations, and I’m still trying to figure out where my thinking may have gone wrong. Specifically, I’m realizing that I’ve not been judging Lance Armstrong and Contodor by the same standards. Even more so I’ve found myself holding the exact same opinion of Contador that I previously criticized others for having regarding Armstrong.
It is with both frustration and great satisfaction that I watch the madness unleashed by Floyd Landis’s accusations of doping. Despite my previous post to the contrary, I do in fact have opinions on this issue.
The frustrating/satisfying part for me, however, is the sheer number of investigations that have started as a result of his allegations. I find it frustrating that the major headlines on cycling are again broadcasting to the mainstream audiences the idea that cycling is a drug-riddled sport. However, it is satisfying to see the ghusto with which the cycling governing bodies are moving to address the accusations – to either confirm or deny the claims being made. As stated in a VeloNews.com posting:
For Armstrong the U.S. anti-doping agency (USADA) has been mandated to carry out a probe while McQuaid has also asked the Belgian federation to probe the claims concerning Bruyneel.
The federations of Australia, Canada and France have also been asked to investigate after Landis’ claims respectively implicated professional Matthew White, Michael Barry and John Lelangue, Landis’s former manager at the Phonak team, who now manages the BMC team.
That’s a whole lotta organizations, doing a whole lotta investigation, all without the impetus of a single positive test taken from a rider at this time. If this doesn’t show that the cycling world is serious about stamping out PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) than I’m not sure what will.