Saturday, August 25, 2012

Travis Tygart Does a Dance Macabre on Lance Armstrong's Grave

Wow! What unexpected news! The former seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong declined to be a participant in the rigged doping arbitration process and fourteen years of his life were erased with a single stroke of the pen by the mighty USADA without the need to bother with the inconvenience of rigorous due process!  The anti-doping crusade has added another milestone in the evolutionary process to ensure fairness.  However, even though USADA is consistent in attempting to redefine the process at every opportunity the UCI is objecting and demanding an explanation as to what exactly what evidence the lifetime ban of Lance Armstrong is based upon, since to this point USADA has not been forthcoming with any justification of their action.  But knowing how USADA operates it is certainly credible to believe that USADA is currently working a scheme to undermine Article 8.3 of the World Anti-Doping Code.  Article 8.3 of the World Anti-Doping Code states that in absence of a hearing the agency in charge of the results management must provide a coherent legal explanation of the justification for its charges and sanctions against an athlete.  So far the UCI has complained that USADA has provided no information to the UCI to explain the reasoning for the lifetime bans already issued to the team doctors and trainers who are alleged to have participated in the "U.S. Postal Conspiracy," but who failed to respond to by the deadline to the ultimatum of arbitration or automatic suspension.  Athletes, doctors, and trainers cannot be suspended at the whim of USADA, there must be a coherent reason for these suspensions, but so far USADA has shrouded their entire case in a mysterious fog.  Incredibly, USADA is acting exactly like a star chamber, they take action, then refuse to explain their actions.  It is incredible to believe but the UCI, which has always proved so weak and ineffectual when it comes to protecting the rights of athletes, has grown a set of balls, and is engaged in a pissing match and turf war with USADA over Lance Armstrong!

I, for one, am looking forward to reading these awards. It will be quite interesting to know how USADA can justify a U.S. Postal conspiracy without a shred of physical or physiological evidence.  For instance, there are no U.S. Postal team positive tests for prohibited substance use, there are no Lance Armstrong DNA and recombinant EPO syringes stored in a coffee can somewhere.  It seems impossible to understand how the most scrutinized team in the Tour de France, a team that was constantly under surveillance, a team where medical waste was recovered from dumpsters by enterprising television crews, rushed to labs and subjected to rigorous laboratory testing [tests that revealed that the medical waste in question contained no prohibited substances] could openly dope with impunity without being apprehended.  In fact, contrary to the USADA version, I argue that Johan Bruyneel ran the cleanest team in the Tour de France peloton out of necessity, worried that if any of the U.S. Postal team tested positive during the Tour de France that he would be tarred, feathered, and castrated prior to being pilloried in public disgrace before the angry populace of Paris.  Because, my good friends, the French hated Lance Armstrong, the Americans hated Lance Armstrong, Europe hated Lance Armstrong, the whole world cried dope from the highest towers; Lance Armstrong had to be doping and cheating didn't he?  Jan Ullrich got busted for taking ecstasy at a rave in a out-of-competition test, and he was linked to Operation Puerto, convicted of doping and suspended for two years. Yes, there were so many other examples of riders linked to doping convictions during the steroid era, Ivan Basso, Iban Mayo, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, these scum cheated to gain an unfair advantage did they not?  How could a clean rider keep up with a juiced peloton?  After all everyone was doing it.  If a man was tempted to take performance enhancing drugs to keep pace, well who could blame him.  But, if you don't understand the hypocritical culture of cycling that forgives certain dopers, that makes them icons of virtue, that makes exceptions based upon their stellar behavior, for instance David Millar, who was caught by the French police in a raid with vials of EPO resting upon the mantle of his fireplace, who confessed as the dutiful but repentant prodigal son, and who was rewarded with forgiveness by the UCI and then deified as the shining example of virtue after adopting an anti-doping philosophy; or the incredible tolerance of certain riders who could only be described as serial dopers Alberto Contador for one.  Linked to Operation Puerto and forgiven by a Spanish judge [purchase and use of performance enhancing drugs was not prohibited by Spanish law in those days]  convicted of use of clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France, a man who won the 2009 Tour de France and beat an allegedly doped Lance Armstrong [do you remember the old cliche parable about the man who had to use performance enhancing drugs to keep pace with a doped teammate?  Reminds me of Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond during the 1986 Tour de France] but who is endlessly forgiven for his crimes against cycling and who is encouraged to continue racing.  Is not Alberto Contador currently riding in the Tour of Spain?  Did not Pat McQuaid proclaim that when Alberto Contador returned to the peloton for the 2013 Tour de France that Bradley Wiggins would face stiffer competition?  Yes, there is a double standard in cycling, some dopers are glorified, some are exonerated, some are ignored, and some are hung.  If a member of the U.S. Postal team would have tested positive for performance enhancing substances during the Tour de France he along with the rest of the team would have been publicly hung in the city square and to Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong the consequences was not worth the risk.

As far as the legacy of Lance Armstrong here it is.  Here is a shorter version.  You see a huge number of American flags in this film, Americans were proud of their hero, they were proud of a man who could ride stride for stride up Mont Ventoux with the 1998 Tour de France and Giro d' Italia champion Marco Pantani,  while they dropped 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich.  This film still gives me goose bumps every time I see it, I loved Marco Pantani as a rider even though he got kicked out the the 1999 Giro d' Italia for health reasons. [50+ hematocrit].  And I love Lance Armstrong for keeping me glued to the television in suspense, the Joseba Beloki shortcut; the day Lance Armstrong hooked his handlebars on a musette bag and he and Iban Mayo crashed to the ground like a ton of bricks, and like gentlemen Jan Ullrich and Tyler Hamilton waited; and how even with a broken chain stay Lance Armstrong showed his true mettle and soloed to win the stage.  I don't care if he used dope or not, the guy was the greatest rider of his generation, steroid era or not, and that is his true legacy.

Lance Armstrong has never admitted to prohibited substance use, he is not admitting guilt now.  He understands that millions of dollars spent in legal expenses and years wasted in fruitless arbitration and court challenges will accomplish nothing more than ulcers. The system is rigged, the athlete cannot win.  Lance does not need to prove anything to anyone, he does not need to save his legacy by fighting pointless battles.  But sadly for Lance Armstrong now that he is a cycling corpse the buzzards are circling, the lawsuits will start, and the truth for all we know will finally come out.  After all even though USADA may be able to hide their witnesses behind a wall of immunity and anonymity; in the real world of litigation their identities will be revealed.  And Lance Armstrong can call teammates to the witness stand that will testify to the fact that they know nothing about any doping conspiracy during the U.S. Postal years, because as everyone understands, there were more than ten teammates who rode for Postal during the Armstrong years.

BTW:  When will USADA begin to announce the suspensions of the witnesses they bribed for testimony?  Or should we forget the whole thing and accept the truth that USADA is engaged in a cover up of participants in a conspiracy?  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tour of Utah: Big Mountain Summit Photographs

Tour of Utah Website

Top: Eduard Alexander Beltran Suarez (EPM-UNE Colombia) first over the top.  The Media motorcycle spoiled my unobstructed view.

After being almost run over by the team cars I had to sprint to the other side of the road, thus the different perspectives.

Tour of Utah stage 3 winner: Michael Matthews (Rabobank) who out sprinted a fifty man group. 3:24:07

Tour of Utah overall winner: Johann Tschopp (Team BMC)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2012 Tour of Utah Preview

Well the Tour of Utah is ever expanding with a record seventeen teams and a completely altered course, but no prologue time trial.  That is unfortunate because the prologue at the state capitol and the quick time trial course through city creek canyon was the best and most fan interactive part of the Tour of Utah.

In fact, Salt Lake City gets short shrift from the Tour of Utah this year.  There is no criterium around the city library, there is no loop through the city streets, there are two stages that end in Salt Lake City however.  We can all cheer on the sprinters, if there are any left, otherwise it might be a long drawn out affair and tedious as hell.  Stage two of the Tour of Utah has an innovative team time trial that should favor these hot dogs if they are not all testifying at the arbitration hearing of Lance Armstrong and if David Zabriskie can stay on two wheels.

But on the bright side, Big Mountain is back, time to test the old legs again.  A nice climb of about eight miles at about seven percent grade.  I have never tested my old 1987 Trek 1000 up that climb, but hey, I figure I am in reasonable shape so why not give it a go?  But forget climbing Little Cottonwood Canyon up to Snowbird Ski Resort, a nightmare traffic jam and a ozone concentration that will either kill you outright or lead to permanent mental or physical disability.  Only an insane person would attempt to climb Little Cottonwood canyon on race day and I'm not that crazy.

Right.  Some of the old contenders are back.  Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quick Step) the 2010 and 2011 defending Tour of Utah Champion.  Francisco "Paco" Mancebo Perez (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) the 2009 Tour of Utah Champion.  Local favorite and Salt Lake City native Jeff Louder (United Healthcare) the 2008 Tour of Utah Champion.  Other notable and worthy riders, Fast Freddy Rodriguez (Team Exergy), Chris Horner, Joost Posthuma, Jens Voight (Radio Shack Nissan-Trek), and forever durable and tough Brent Bookwalter (BMC).

Every year the Tour of Utah peloton gets a little larger with an improved quality of teams and riders and the organizers are considering expanding the course to include the slick rock country around Moab.  Maybe they could add a stage around Arches National Park.  No matter what you think of Utah, some of the scenery in this state is breathtaking.

See you there.