Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Armstrong Freefall...

Last weekend's epic space dive from the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere by Felix Baumgartner (sponsored by Red Bull) has been officially eclipsed by the one Lance Armstrong is currently undertaking as we speak. And the funny thing is, Armstrong's freefall will not be broken by the sound of his gigantic head breaking through the sound barrier, nor will it be broken by his HgH-marinated torso unceremoniously slamming into Earth. It will keep going, further and further until his carcass disintegrates, baking at the center of the Earth's crust like a Sarah Lee poundcake. Which is exactly what he deserves.

Something told me I would awaken to more news surrounding this fiasco, but I did not anticipate the events that occurred, which are already having seismic repercussions all over the world of sport. Lance Armstrong has been summarily dropped by most if not all of his major sponsors and was forced to step down from his own cancer charity. Here is the current list of companies who've decided to part company with Armstrong-

Radio Shack
Giro Helmets
FRS (Tired of being tired? Not today-I feel somewhat invigorated, thank you very much)
Honey Stinger
24 Hour Fitness Clubs

One of the few companies left standing by the disgraced serial doper is Oakley, who have stated they will stand by their contractual obligation to Armstrong "until he is proven guilty", apparently not realizing he already has. Nike, always there to protect their impugned superstars, dropped Armstrong like an overheated crack pipe. Here is the tale of the tape-

"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for over a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner".

This announcement came moments after Armstrong stepped down (or more likely, was forced to step off by the board of directors-he NEVER would have resigned voluntarily) from his post as chairman of "Livestrong". Usually, when a prominent person's downfall is eminent, said person is disgraced publicly only once and then it's over. But because Armstrong is such an icon and has so many business ties with various companies, he will continue to walk plank after plank until there will be nothing left of him for the sharks to circle around. Which again, is exactly what he deserves.

Think of the business relationship between Trek and Greg Lemond that Armstrong helped derail, to Trek's financial detriment. When Lemond filed a lawsuit against them for basically leaving his particular brand to rot instead of actively promoting it, he won. Lemond is no longer in the cycling business with the exception of promoting a cycling trainer, but the scars of this needless lawsuit definitely stung him. He took so much crap from Armstrong and Landis over the years that it is difficult to ascertain the damage to his image in dollar figures, but vindication came in the form of one Travis Tygart of the USADA, who picked up the baton the US Feds in California purposely dropped when they cancelled their investigation against the US Postal cycling team, and busted out of the gates with enough incriminating evidence to make "The Valachi Papers" look like the script for an off-Broadway musical.

Then we have the hapless Filippo Simeoni, a middling pro rider who seriously didn't seem worth the effort Armstrong put into humiliating him. But because Armstrong is such a dick, he couldn't let homeboy slide after burning him in front of the whole world at the Tour in 2004, infamously reeling him in from a meaningless breakaway to assure Simeoni would not win a stage that year. That one time was not enough to satiate this asshole's monstrous ego. He had to do it again five fucking years later, ostensibly working out a deal with the organizers of the Giro D'Italia to keep Simeoni's Italian team out of their own national Tour in 2009.

He called his ex-masseuse Emma O'Reilly a drunken whore (not that there's anything wrong with being a drunken whore, but for the record she definitely is NOT) for daring to testify against him at the SCA trail. He's gotten Frankie Andreu fired or marginalized from every single job he's ever had after retiring from the pro ranks in 2000 because his wife Betsy wouldn't lie about what she'd heard of his steroid abuse.Then there are the despicable rumors about Armstrong shagging Tyler Hamilton's ex-wife after their divorce. It's just one story after another with this guy. The manner in which he ridiculed and bullied people is beyond belief, which is why I take immense glee from the recent events. And on the heels of these events, Radio shack has now followed suit and dropped the individual endorsement contract they had with Armstrong. It just keeps getting better.

Armstrong's blood data during his "Comeback 2.0"-

Armstrong's blood data as interpreted by an independent council of scientists hired by "Busting Chops" at our expense-

Nike has also decided to rename "The Lance Armstrong Sports and Fitness Center" on its' Beaverton, Oregon campus. "Nike will change the name of the Lance Armstrong Fitness Center at our World Headquarters", confirmed North America media relations director KeJaun Wilkins. He did not specify what the new title would be.

Let's face it. Nike are by no means taking the high road here. It is much easier to let go of an athlete who no longer competes and remains in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. They are concerned with their corporate image, and being affiliated with the toxic sludge of Armstrong's legacy is not something that is good for the ol' bottom line. But Nike has its' own issues to deal with, like the alleged payout to then-UCI President Hein Verbruggen to aid and abet the fraud when Armstrong tested positive at the 2001 Tour de Swisse. They're going to have to answer some questions going forward about this. But as for Lance Armstrong, their new ad campaign sums it up as well as anything else I've seen, and it's about time.

Please keep in mind that this does not mean Armstrong is no longer affiliated with these companies. Any company he is a stakeholder in will not force him to vacate his shares. The point is he is no longer the public face of any of these companies, and his advertisements plugging any of their products will be pulled immediately. So Nike will continue to support the "Livestrong" brand, but without Lance's rat face on any of their billboards. And only until it no longer sells well for them. Once the sales drop, they will go on to the next marketing gimmick.

Having said all that, I don't see how the Lance Armstrong Foundation survives the toppling of its' corporate identity. There are people who are consumed with the idea of the "impact" Armstrong's had on charitable contributions to "fight" cancer via his foundation. The term "awareness" is so nebulous that it can mean anything and absolutely nothing at all. And these same people are out there screeching that no one can take away the impact he's had on millions of lives. Yes, we can. Because let us not forget how he's whored these poor souls for the purpose of self-aggrandizement over the years, how the and the were so intertwined no one knew where one started and the other ended (one was the charity, the other was the for-profit entity).

A bookstore in Scotland addresses the Lance Armstrong Myth-

That confusion was generated purposely by the cynical assclowns who helped Armstrong squeeze the cancer community of their hard-earned cash and hypnotize them into thinking anything related to Livestrong was going for a worthy cause. This couldn't be further from the truth. I predicted Livestrong will not last more than two years. I retract that statement. Livestrong will be dead before the end of next year, which will put the final nail in this sad coffin. It will die because at this point in time he can no longer go back and undo the damage he's done to his image by not fighting the charges in arbitration or coming out and telling the truth.

Now, the truth will no longer be enough. The only way he can truly find contrition is by assisting the USADA. He will have to explain how the whole conspiracy worked and its' three major factors-who were the suppliers, who were the doctors and who were the facilitators at the UCI. Say good-bye to Johan Bruyneel, who was specifically recruited by Armstrong because he felt the previous team director wasn't aggressive enough in implementing a team-wide doping program. Say good-bye to Hein Verbruggen and "Fat" Pat McQuaid, who took bribes and ignored evidence of systematic doping not only at US Postal but on other cycling teams as well. Say good-bye to Dr. del Moral, a weasel of the highest order who is STILL out there doping professional athletes. And then there is the one, the only, Dr. Michele Ferrari, the man most responsible for the ills that plague modern professional cycling.

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