It may be the only fight he ever walked away from. Still, you have to hand it to the guy.

Had Big Tex gone to arbitration the outcome probably would have been the same, but he’d have come out looking like he’d done a thousand-mile low crawl through a Third World leach field. This way he remains as clean — on the outside, anyway — as is humanly possible. Lance Armstrong, Cancer Killer.

It’s a cliche, of course, but I think it would have been good for the sport to have had a no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle fistfight over the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s charges and a final decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. We could point at something then, claim to have an answer, even if it was the wrong one.

This way, the thing will never end. Believers will continue to believe, and haters continue to hate. Nothing has changed.

And for the immediate future, at least, nobody will give a shit about what happens in the Vuelta a España, the USA Pro Challenge or any other two-wheeled sporting competition. They’ll all be gazing upon Cancer Jesus, hanging up there on the carbon-fiber-and-titanium cross that he’s built for himself.

40 Responses to “Lanced”

  1. ken hillier Says:

    Classic ..cancerjesus…great name for a smoke and mirrors bully in denial.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Wish I could take credit for that one, Ken, but someone else got there first. I just filed the serial numbers off, slapped a cheap coat of Krylon on it and sold the sumbitch.

  2. Jeff Cozad Says:

    Well… Given that Bruyneel has chosen to fight, we may yet see what the USADA has. Also, in an interview over at VeloNation,

    Tygart basically says that they can release the info that they have once the other cases are concluded. As another commenter in a different thread has pointed out, the USA now has a commanding lead in deflocked Tour “champions”. We’re #1, We’re #1…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, I can’t say I understand Bruyneel’s strategy here. Overconfidence? He can’t be stupid. That’s not a word I’d apply to either of these dudes.

      • Jeff Cozad Says:

        Well… He basically has no choice. He can’t pull a LA just say he’s tired of the witch hunt since his career basically goes away if he does. So… we’ll get to see what the USADA case is with respect to him, which has to be very close to the one against LA. I suspect he’ll be asking someone “Wilt u frietjes bij” soon.

  3. Steve O Says:

    On the one hand, as a fan, I want closure. I want resolution.

    On the other hand, last time I checked, I have never bought a ticket to a race, so nobody owes me nothing.

    And on the third hand, to some extent many of us will never be satisfied until they exhume Maurice Garin’s body and run full spectrum isotope analysis on every dead winner.

    If there’s a fourth hand, it’s that the name listed on Wikipedia’s 1999 Tour page doesn’t effect the price of gas at King Soopers one whit.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Steve, I’ve never been a sports fan, which makes it extremely odd that I’ve been both an assistant sports editor at a daily newspaper and a cycling scribe since 1989. I like doing sports, not obsessively following them.

      So I don’t feel cheated by the cheaters. As a guy who likes playing it straight in sport I do feel some animosity toward them, the same way I would a guy who cut the course in a local cyclo-cross, but even that has faded over the years.

      But if Armstrong did what he is said to have done by his accusers, then Greg LeMond is right — it’s the greatest fraud, and he should have been called to account for it, and long ago, too.

      I understand and appreciate his strategy and tactics here. I thought he might have dragged it out a bit more, perhaps ignoring USADA’s decision while appealing Judge Sparks’ ruling to a higher court. But why bother? He’s going to have plenty of other things for his lawyers to do here directly, and there’s no point in wasting any more time and money on the small stuff.

  4. Larry T. Says:

    Nicely said OG! All the juicy tidbits that may come out at The Belgian’s arbitration hearing will never make mainstream news so the general public will remain unaware. I do think Tex’ motivational speaking gigs will dry up with this decision, but what do I know? We all know what my wife says…

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Larry, the PR machine is in full swing. That AP story was one of the most shameless pieces of knob-gobbling I’ve seen in quite some time, and Agence France Presse is trying frantically to catch up. I haven’t had much time to sample the rest of the working press, being more than a wee bit busy today. But I hope to catch up between beers this evening.

  5. Stan Thomas Says:

    A surprisingly low-key reaction from the dog. I was expecting far more vitriol from the author of the infamous ‘Beer-me Floyd’ article.

    But let me give you some insight into why, for so many, Lance walks on water. In 2002, instead of riding in the Etape du Tour, I lay on my back staring at a hospital ceiling. Six fractured vertebrae, multiple other injuries, doctors refusing to comment on whether I would walk again. From the highest high to a true pit of despair. Someone gave me Lance’s book and this miserable cynic was inspired. I walked out. I can ride a bike. Lance helped me then and helps me to this day. I can’t begin to imagine what a cancer suffer feels.

    Face facts. Travis Tygart is no Elliot Ness, he’s furthered his own political ambitions with a one-sided witch hunt. And achieved nothing other than dragging a great thru the mud. It simply doesn’t matter whether Lance was on something; everyone else was so what has USADA achieved? Justice? Take the wins from Lance and give them to Ullrich, Basso, Virenque, Pantani, Miller, Flandis? C’mon. Lance was a great athlete. You can have all the drugs you want and Lance will still beat you up l’Alpe d’Huez on Granville’s shop bike(1).

    (1) A reference to the BBC comedy Open All Hours with Ronnie Barker and David Jason.

    • swell Says:

      Bravo. That about sums it up for me too.

    • Steve O Says:

      / Face facts. Travis Tygart is no Elliot Ness, he’s furthered his own political ambitions with a one-sided witch hunt. /

      Doesn’t that actually make him an Elliot Ness?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Gents, I’m with WADA’s John Fahey on this matter. I would’ve liked to have seen the fight to the finish, arguments made and rebutted, and a decision rendered. But you can’t always get what you want, or so I’m told.

      And yeah, no question, Armstrong is and was a great athlete. It’s not clear whether he was a great sportsman.

      • brokenlinkjournalism Says:

        Patrick, I agree to a point – it would have been interesting to see what transpired – but I am glad that this whole chapter is done. We can move on.

        Personally I lost a lot of respect for TCWSNBN as a person when he was quoted as saying “I never took EPO” in some news outlet years ago. The issue I had was that in his first book he quite emphatically admits to taking EPO….while recovering from cancer!

        To me (and this is just me) there is no difference between ‘taking EPO to live’ and ‘taking EPO to cheat’ as the question was “have you ever taken EPO?” An honest person should answer “Yes, but….” and let it go. TCWSNBN chose to do the opposite and now he can deal with the consequences.

        He is/was/will always be an excellent athlete but his personality is not something I would want to emulate. Heck, I can be an ass myself without even trying…why would I want to follow his lead??

  6. Ira Says:

    Big Tex has the best lawyers money can buy, and they’re well aware the best defense in this case is no defense at all. I think Larry is right, not much, if anything, will be reported about Johan’s hearing this side of the Atlantic. And once the dust settles, Lance will be free to spread wrongful prosecution propaganda. If you say something loud enough and often enough, people will begin to believe it, no matter how much horseshit it is. A fine example is how George W. convinced people Iraq was associated with 9/11. You know what Larry’s wife says…

  7. GJ John Says:

    In all the HWSNBN hub-bub, it appears that this went under the radar:

    So if this logic is correct, then all that Bernie Madoff or any other fraudster would need to do is give the money back (sans interest, apparently) and they’re off the hook? I don’t have an grudge against Landis, and I certainly didn’t donate to his fraudulent fund, but I’d feel a lot better if he had to deal with some sort of punishment other than to give everyone a refund. Of everything that Landis did, soliciting donations was the sleeziest. He needs to be punished a lot more than this.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      What fun it was to see Landis back on the velo-radar. Good Lord, we must be living in the End Times for reals. Steal a Snickers and you;’ll be wearing an orange jumpsuit, picking up trash at roadside by day and fending off an amorous cellmate come nightfall. Steal big and you walk the streets with the paparazzi all up in your grill.

  8. Jeus Nieto Says:

    Stan Thomas, I don’t like Lance, but you are so right. Then, who won those tours? Give me a name, and then go and test his hair and bone cells, reopen his old samples, and ask his ex dudes if they saw him doping.
    Then we talk

  9. khal spencer Says:

    Its the Stan Thomases of the world who are hurt worst by this. I too read It’s All About the Bike. Not only that, but I contacted Graham Watson’s shop to get an official copy of the picture showing Lance pointing to the sky after winning Stage 18 three days following Casartelli’s death in the ’95 Tour. We (I was president of the Hawaii Bicycling League) had it framed and presented to the organizers of the first trans-island AIDS bike ride in Hawaii. We called it the Spirit of Cycling Award, given to the person or people who showed how cycling could transcend adversity.

    I wonder if the lady who ran that organization thinks as highly of that picture now. It is a bit of a betrayal. I do agree with Stan about one thing–it was, pretty much, a level playing field. All of those guys were racing stock-modified production.

  10. Sharon Says:

    It seems like Karma may have gotten the best of LA. A great talent, no doubt. But ultimately, it was win at all costs and team of 1 that may have did him in. While Livestrong made him a cult of personality, I’ve not heard Austin residents, professional cyclists or former teammates admire him as a heck of nice guy or as a genuine teammate sort of guy. Still, sad to see anyone fall so far from grace no matter the backstory.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Sharon, I’m not certain the fall is for reals yet. Wait ’til the lawyers get done backstroking through the alphabet soup (USADA, WADA, UCI, CAS, etc.). Like the poor, Texus Maximus will be with us always.

  11. Steve O Says:

    In other, more interesting news… the New Belgian iPhone app tells us that Jens Voigt burned the equivalent of 26 Fat Tires yesterday.

  12. Bob Says:

    Funny how Hope Solo tests positive and gets 15 days, the last day of which is the day before the start of the Olympics. Armstrong never tests positive and gets a lifetime ban. Innocent until proven guilty used to mean something in this country. Being able to face your accusers used to mean something.

    Did he ever dope or not? I don’t know. If there is proof, then strip him of everything, tar and feather him and vote him off the island. All I know is that I have never seen evidence that he tested positive, the UCI says USADA has no authority to strip him of anything, and USADA and Travis Tygart and their (very selective) Stalin-like tactics give off an aroma identical to what my dog just left in the back yard.

    • Steve O Says:

      Because the evidence hasn’t been released yet ..,

      Crazy how the intertubes makes us think we deserve immediate access to everything, like pronto. The OJ trial didn’t help, either.

    • khal spencer Says:

      …Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
      The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
      And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
      But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Armstrong says “no mas”.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Gents, the jurisdictional dispute is gonna be where the real action takes place. In the words of George H.W. Bush — or maybe it was the Dude — “this aggression will not stand, man.”

  13. Mike Elmer Says:

    Well said! However, I am going to go downtown and watch the Pro Challenge finish, and not talk a bit about ol’Lancer. And then, I am going to go on a ride!

  14. khal spencer Says:

    Good essay by George Vecsey in the NY Times.

  15. Douglas Glondeniz Says:

    If he’s so guilty, why didn’t they charge him? Guilty until proven innocent I guess. I think 10 years of lawyers’ bills is enough, too. So are they going to start hounding all the second place guys now that they are “winners”? Probably not.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Doug, they — they being USADA — did charge him. The real lawmen did not, the standard of proof being slightly higher in an actual criminal case. It seems to me, as an uneducated observer, that the fed in charge of that inquiry didn’t think it was a slam-dunk and walked away rather than risk a loss to the Cancer Jesus machine. But I’m just guessing here.

      • Douglas Glondeniz Says:

        Pat, I guess I should have been more specific. By “they”, I meant real law enforcement authorities. Not the doping Gestapo.

  16. Peter C Says:

    IMO, the J. Vaughters NYT column last month was the final nail. I was a big fan of Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong, but you have to face the facts. What I don’t get is how the USADA can strip titles won in a race in France!?! But if it can, check out this great chart. In each of Lance’s seven victories, the next 3-6 riders were implicated. E.g., it looks like Cadel Evans should get the yellow jersey for the 2005 race (he finished 8th, but the seven in front, inc. LA, were all dirty).

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