Despite the USADA's best efforts to keep a lid on the Armstrong proceedings, it seems as if leaks will be the inevitable result of what is sure to be a shitstorm of controversy. Today at the Tour de France, Jonathan Vaughters, he of the Cornish game hen sideburns and questionable argyle attire, had to face a scrum of reporters in front of the team bus to answer allegations revealed in a Dutch newspaper that a couple of his riders will be receiving back-dated 6-month suspensions that will allow them to continue riding the Tour. He himself has also been implicated, and so far all we've gotten out of him is the company line about "focusing on the race" and "moving the sport forward".
Well, that's too damn bad, Jonathan. This is all about looking backwards, and backwards and backwards and backwards until something resembling the truth finally rises to the surface. We know it won't come from Armstrong himself, so we are left with the surrounding players in this putrid display of collective cowardice. The reason it has come to this is everyone involved has been so scared of Lance Armstrong for so long that they let him bully, intimidate and harass anyone who dared question the Myth. Cancer Jesus wasn't having any of it, and this particular leak of riders currently riding was no accident.
The Dutch newspaper in question is one that Johan Bruyneel writes daily articles for. My sense is the names were leaked by him and/or Armstrong in an attempt to get the smear campaign going full-swing, seeing as smearing the other dopers on their teams is all Armstrong and Bruyneel have left as a defense. This is how Armstrong will fight the allegations against him, and judging by his comments on Twitter and Facebook today these riders better be prepared to fight back just as hard-
"So let me get this straight...come in and tell USADA exactly what they want to hear in exchange for immunity, anonymity and the opportunity to continue to race the biggest event in cycling. This isn't about USADA wanting to clean up cycling rather its' just plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta."-Lance Armstrong on Facebook
Armstrong is claiming he never received such a deal. That's because he refused to meet with the USADA officials when they contacted him. He conveniently leaves this out to make himself look like the persecuted martyr in a witch hunt, the favorite phrase used by the Livestrong Branch Davidians on the internet. So instead of giving testimony, he now stands as one of five co-conspirators named by the agency. This story is not going away, despite all the denials and obfuscations. It was leaked to three different European newspapers-De Telegraaf in Holland, El País in Madrid, and La Gazzetta dello Sport in Milan. One of the reporters who worked on the story confirmed the source came from the United States, but would for obvious reasons would not commit to exposing the identity of the person or persons.
Vaughters released this statement to counteract the revelations and to diffuse the situation so everyone involved can "move forward"-"Regarding the Dutch media report: no 6 month suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date."
That's funny how Vaughters can see into the future. Must be those Nostradamus muttonchops of his. Or the snow globe that gives him the same answer every time he shakes it--EPO...EPO...EPO...
Talk that bullshit, homeboy-
Above are pictured the collective mugs of the four riders named in the article who have refused media requests to tell the truth. You know, because the past is the past and we should all move forward if we really want a cleaner sport, something they seem unequivocally passionate about. I have no sympathy for any of them, and I hope the Tour press corps hound them right out of the Tour. The New York Times, not exactly a gossip rag, has reported that yes indeed these four cats will give testimony against Armstrong and Bruyneel-http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/sports/cycling/former-teammates-to-testify-against-armstrong.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
This photo is also significant for another reason. It represents a whole generation of American riders who have been involved in one of the biggest doping scandals in modern-day sport that began it's rise on the US National team of the early 90's. As much as people talk about a French conspiracy to discredit Armstrong for having the audacity to dominate their home Tour, this particular crew will go down as the dirtiest dopers the peloton has ever seen. This will be their legacy, and if they don't talk soon their reputations will deservedly remain in tatters as long as they live.
Stay tuned, because this is going to get worse.