Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lance Armstrong Served and Suspended...

Lance Armstrong has been served with a multi-count indictment by USADA, the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He's also been suspended from taking part in triathlons until the investigation has been concluded, which means he will not be at the starting line in Hawaii for the biggest, most  prestigious and grueling Ironman event on the calendar. His suspension from competition is unprecedented in many ways. First, I've never heard a rider suspended without a positive dope test. Usually the protocol is when the initial A-sample comes back positive, the rider is informed and he chooses whether to have the B-sample tested or not. If the second sample comes back positive, he is then sanctioned.

The rider also has the right of appeal and in some situations, recently the Alberto Contador debacle, a rider can potentially keep riding and winning races until a final decision is handed down by CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport). If the rider gets suspended for the requisite two years for a first offense, he gets stripped of any results during the time he was riding when the potential suspension was looming. This is why Contador was able to serve what is technically a 6 month ban and got stripped of any winnings during the time he was racing while the investigation was ongoing, which is bullshit but that's how it is.

Armstrong got suspended outright. He cannot ride while the investigation is ongoing, and is looking at getting stripped of all 7 Tour wins. This is some harsh shit coming his way, but the reasoning makes sense. Unlike what many of his obnoxious fanboys believe, and I've said it all along, the statute of limitations isn't a rule carved in stone. The investigators are focusing on the scope and extent of the conspiracy, which goes back to 1998. Unlike the Toxic Twins Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, who have credibility issues galore, there are a total of TEN riders who cooperated in the investigation. There are also peripheral actors in this melodrama who were not teammates per se but gave testimony when interviewed.

For the USADA to hit Armstrong so hard and potentially go after all 7 of his Tours, the evidence they've accrued must be absolutely damning. And unlike the nonsense that has been spewed on the internet, USADA is not counting on the samples that were tested from 1998. They are focusing on the test results from his unfortunate "Comback 2.0". Their contention is that those samples show clear and obvious evidence of blood manipulation and/or EPO use. That is some shit right there.

I have not been able to substantiate the allegations I'm about to make, but they are important and will prove the seriousness of the testimony gathered so far. George Hincapie has a story to tell. If he did tell it, Hincapie will be a major nail in the Armstrong Sarcophagus. Then there is his ex-wife Kirsten Armstrong, who if what I've heard is correct, has corroborated Armstrong's relationship with Italian doping doctor Michele Ferarri and the infamous refrigerator he kept stocked full of blood bags and PED's in their home in Girona, Spain. Testimony from these people will substantiate what Hamilton and Landis have stated in public, with the exception that their lack of credibility will no longer be a mitigating factor as to the strength and veracity of their statements.

Here is Lance Armstrong's statement on the allegations, a far cry from the crap he spoke a while ago-

"I have been notified that USADA, an organization largely funded by taxpayer dollars but governed only by self-written rules, intends to again dredge up discredited allegations dating back more than 16 years to prevent me from competing as a triathlete and try to strip me of the seven Tours de France victories I've earned. 

These are the same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation. These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity. 

Although the USADA alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy extended over more than sixteen years, I am the only athlete it has chosen to charge. USADA's malice, its methods, its star chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.

I have never doped, and unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence". 

Well now...let's analyze this steaming heap of dogshit for a moment. USADA have a vendetta against him, a vendetta whose origins are unknown. They just felt like picking on poor Lance. He mentions the use of taxpayer money, another idiotic talking point used ad nauseum by his fanboys/paid internet trolls. He has come out swinging, and has unequivocally stated he has never doped, that the witnesses, though anonymous, are paid hacks making up stories to diffuse their own guilt, and that he is being treated unfairly.

He also stated the Department of Justice looked at the evidence and decided there was nothing to the allegations, which is why the Federal investigation was dropped. This is a straight-up lie. The decision was politically motivated, and was announced not by a collective review of the evidence but on a Friday afternoon by one man, US Attorney for the Central District of California André Birotte, who did not collaborate with any of the agents charged with gathering said evidence and told them about the decision 15 minutes before going public with it. It is common knowledge the investigators were highly upset at the decision and the way Birotte went about it but could do nothing about it.

Soon afterwards, the USADA that they would follow up on any information gathered by the Feds to see if they could do anything about it, and they did. They conducted their own interviews and have many cooperating witnesses. Funny how out of the cyclists who gave testimony, the only one who didn't cooperate was Armstrong. He refused to show up to answer the allegations and declined to defend himself in person. He claims he competed for 25 years without a "spike in performance". Well, just what were all those highly suspicious and improbable feats of strength at the Tour for those seven years if not extreme spikes in performance? Here are some from the early 1990's if anyone is in doubt, from an article in Sports Illustrated published on January 21, 2011 called "The Case Against Lance Armstrong"-

"From 1999 to 200, Armstrong was tested more than two dozen times by (Don) Catlin's UCLA lab, according to Catlin's testimony. In May 1999, USA Cycling sent a formal request to Catlin for past test results-specifically, testosterone-epitestosterone ratios-for a cyclist identified only by his drug-testing code numbers. A source with knowledge of the request says that the cyclist was Lance Armstrong. In a letter dated June 4, 1999, Catlin responded that the lab couldn't recover a total of five of the cyclist's test results from 19990, 1992 and 1993 adding, "The likelihood that we will be able to recover these old files is low." The letter went on to detail the cyclist's testosterone-epitestosterone results from 1991 to 1998, with one missing season-1997, the only year during that span in which Armstrong didn't compete. Three results stand out-

1) A 9.0-to-1 ratio from a sample collected on June 23, 1993;

2) A 7.6-to-1 ratio from July 7, 1994;

3) A 6.5-to-1 ratio from June 4, 1996.

Most people have a ratio of 1-to-1. Prior to 2005, any ratio above 6.0-to-1 was considered abnormally high and evidence of doping; in 2005 that ratio was lowered to 4.0-to-1.

Putting the pieces together, there is evidence that Armstrong has doped his entire cycling career, beginning as an amateur with the US National Squad, where Chris Carmichael was busy injecting his riders with crap like "extract of cortisone". and became more brazen as the years went by. The program became more aggressive when he went full-bore during the 1998 Vuelta a España. After coming in fourth, he got a taste of stage race success and the next year he began what was seen at the time as an amazing and death-defying run of Tour wins, when in fact it was all down to the doping regimen and non-compete clause he signed with Dr. Michele Ferrari. He immediately began to work on cozying up to the UCI, the head body of pro cycling and the rest is history.

His defiant stance is a change of pace from the interview he gave to one of those soft-gay porn men's magazines for yuppies a few months ago, where he stated he was tired of fighting doping allegations and would not entertain another battle along the same front. Homeboy is getting extremely aggressive, as I thought he would. But USADA seems to be just as aggressive as Armstrong, which is what a bully needs-to get punched right in the face just like he's done to so many people over the course of his drug-fueled career.

The only thing left to this sordid story are the details, which I have contended is the only thing I want out of this whole process. I don't want to hear veiled conversations taken from a cell phone while riding in a car at 65 miles per hour, or Greg Lemond showing up at a hearing with thousands of pages of rumor and innuendo. The people who know what happened gave testimony, and I want to now who they are and what they said. If it's true that both George Hincapie, Armstrong's most loyal domestique during his Tour reign of terror, and ex-wife Kirsten threw Armstrong under the bus, there will be no saving him.

And I cannot think of someone who deserves it more than this colossal prick of a human being.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Update-The World Triathlon's Board of Directors have decided to leave in place a rule that suspends Lance Armstrong from participating in Ironman events. There were rumors that despite the initial ruling handed down by the USADA, Armstrong was still free to participate in Ironman events if the Ironman board decided on it, specifically the big event in Kona, Hawaii where he was more than likely to receive huge appearance fee bonuses and other sponsorship dollars for competing. But he won't be there.

06/16/2112-Lance Armstrong and the other four people named in the USADA letter have until June 22, 2012 to answer the charges levied against them. Most have publicly stated they are innocent. The only one left to hear from is Dr. Michele Ferrari, who not surprisingly is keeping a low profile as always.

06/16/2012-As revealed by the Italian investigation into Dr. Michele Ferrari's finances, Lance Armstrong transferred $465,000 into Ferrari's account in 2006, years after he claimed to have terminated a professional relationship with him and exactly one year after he retired from competition.

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