Lance Armstrong masterminds blood-doping scheme

At one time Lance Armstrong was my hero. Having beaten testicular cancer that metastasized to his brain, he came back to win the Tour de France seven times. What an inspiring story!

And now it’s fallen apart.  As most of us know from extensive reports in The New York Times and other places (see here and here, for instance), Armstrong was the mastermind of a scheme of illegal blood-doping and drug use (including testosterone), forcing his teammates to participate as well. The U.S. Anti-Doping agency has released 1000 pages of evidence and testimony against Armstrong, and the CEO of that Agency released a statement that includes the following:

The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1000 pages, and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders with knowledge of the US Postal Service Team (USPS Team) and its participants’ doping activities. The evidence also includes direct documentary evidence including financial payments, emails, scientific data and laboratory test results that further prove the use, possession and distribution of performance enhancing drugs by Lance Armstrong and confirm the disappointing truth about the deceptive activities of the USPS Team, a team that received tens of millions of American taxpayer dollars in funding.

Together these different categories of eyewitness, documentary, first-hand, scientific, direct and circumstantial evidence reveal conclusive and undeniable proof that brings to the light of day for the first time this systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy. All of the material will be made available later this afternoon on the USADA website at http://www.usada.org.

The New York Times quotes the USADA report:

[Armstrong's] goal led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own,” the agency said in its 202-page report. . .

At the same time the drug use was nonchalant, it was also carefully orchestrated by Armstrong, team management and team staff, the antidoping agency said.

“Mr. Armstrong did not act alone,” the agency said in its report. “He acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers, and others within and outside the sport and on his team.”

The NYT gives a lot of gory details, which include the following:

Kristin Armstrong, Armstrong’s former wife, handed out cortisone tablets wrapped tightly in foil to the team at the 1998 world championships.

Riders were given water bottles containing EPO [the blood booster erythropoietin] as if they were boxed lunches. Jonathan Vaughters said the bottles were carefully labeled for them: “Jonathan — 5×2” meant five vials of 2,000 international units each of EPO were tucked inside. Once when Vaughters was in Armstrong’s room borrowing his laptop, Armstrong injected himself with EPO and said, now “that you are doing EPO too, you can’t go write a book about it.”

And last night the NYT published a piece about how Armstrong managed to avoid getting caught, including getting tipped off about impending drug testing and using saline infusions to dilute the drugs he took.

There’s no Schadenfreude here, as there would be with people who, after a time in the public eye, have fallen low without having achieved anything (Paris Hilton and the Kardashians come to mind). Armstrong did work hard, and was immensely dedicated. It’s a pity that his dedication led him to the conclusion that any means justified his winning the Tour de France.

What’s immensely sadder is that Armstrong, despite all the evidence, still refuses to admit guilt. He’s forever disgraced, and has been stripped of his Tour de France titles and Olympic gold medal. Unaccountably, criminal charges against him have not proceeded, despite his actions having violated several U.S. laws.

Illegal performance-enhancing use of drugs is pervasive in professional sports, especially in America. Football players take them, baseball players take them, and even racehorses are injected with them.  It hasn’t been a level playing field for a long time, and drug use spurs on “arms races” in sports in which one must go along to remain competitive.

The 1000-page report on Armstrong’s illegal activities has now been put up, along with supporting materials. Go here to see it if you have the stomach.

62 Comments

  1. Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Do the deugs just enhance performance or do they also harm the atheletes taking them? If no harm who cares and legistlators should chnage the law!
    Certainly, Lance acted illegally.

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      Anything can harm you, given the right dose.

      In my view, the issue is not so much whether the substances were illicit or not, but that their use is unsportsmanlike and makes competition pointless. Everyone needs to be participating on an even playing field. What is the competitor themselves capable of achieving?

      • Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        Only the playing field is never even to begin with. It’s uneven because people have genetic differences that give some of them an advantage physically. It’s uneven because someone in America has access to far superior facilities, equipment and coaches than someone in Africa. It’s uneven because even in the country people in rural areas may not even get a chance to compete. It’s uneven because some teams have more funds. When it’s already uneven on so many levels you do have to wonder whether drugs are really that different to other ways of artificially improving performance.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

          The difference is, I guess, that those other circumstances are ‘transparent’ and publicly visible. Obviously an athlete from Sierra Leone doesn’t have the same advantages as one from the USA (unless thay can score a ‘scolarship’ to some US university). That may be a social injustice but it isn’t dishonest.

          And the other thing is, that unless drugs are restricted, someone can always improve their performance further by upping the dose to near-lethal levels – would anyone really want to see half the field dropping dead on the finish line? (I suppose a few people would but we prefer not to listen to them…)

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:55 am | Permalink

          Agreed. You don’t get many F1, horse jumping, tennis or [long list of expensive sports] champs coming out of the barrios. This is why football [soccer] is adored throughout the world ~ all you need is a ball made out of rags & marks on the ground for goalposts if you want to be posh.

        • Notagod
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:15 am | Permalink

          The differences should be noted when the awards are presented, that the athlete along with a billion dollar investment in facilities, training, and coaches was able to beat an athlete with none of that. That would put the personal “accomplishment” of the athlete in perspective and diminish the individual’s heroic value due to the massive infusion of support. Lance Armstrong put in a lot of work sure but, so did many that didn’t taste the adulation of victory.

          It isn’t only those differences of affluence that matter. The lives of the other competitors were likely negatively affected by the illegal doping activity. It is wrong to write those peoples lives off as an insignificant side issue.

          I don’t know about other countries but, the tipping of the scales in United States society is epidemic. That is not enough though, because then society compares the accomplishments of the heavily supported with the accomplishments of those without support as if they had equal opportunity.

          Its like giving one person a Porsche and another a moped then respecting the winner as if the outcome could have been doubted.

        • Posted October 12, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

          We try to correct for many forms of unevenness: weight classes, age classes, gender division. If there were a way to do this from a financial perspective, I’d be in favor of it.

          But my main objection is couched in the question I closed with. Let’s see what the humans are capable of without resorting to substances taken to make the achieving easier. If much of your training is about how to get to the top quicker and easier, then I can’t respect you as an athlete. That misses the point of the whole endeavor, if you ask me. Let’s not build an escalator to the top of Parnassus; climb the goddamn stairs!

          • Posted October 12, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

            “the humans”

            How’d that article get in there?

            I swear I’m human, too.

      • TJR
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:17 am | Permalink

        We should either have unrestricted garnishing or a single, Olympic standard mayonnaise.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      There are numerous reports of cyclists and other athletes linked with drug use (particularly EPO) dying of heart failure.

  2. Dawn Oz
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I was a fan as well, read all his books and am now in the situation of the emperor had no clothes. The extent of his duplicity is extraordinary – he will be an amazing case study, and it will make a thrilling film.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      So, since the books were advertised using lies (which is illegal, at least here in the UK), then surely you can return them and demand a refund. Indeed, if you brought them on a credit card, you may be able to demand a refund from your credit card company, and let them have the hassle of claiming the money back from the book seller … who then takes it back to the publisher … who then takes it back to the author who lied.
      Do you feel aggrieved enough for it to be worth a try. (I resisted the games master trying to beat enthusiasm for sport into me using a stick, so I don’t feel in the least bit upset or disappointed. Armstrong acted like the majority of professionals in the sport industry.)

      • Dawn Oz
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Good thought, however it would be a long way down a list for me. The one part which was true was his post cancer story of ‘gitting back on yer bike’, so book 1 was a story of goal, focus and persistence. After that, he lost his moral compass, which is a tragedy.

  3. matunos
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Criminal charges would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Presumably prosecutors didn’t think they could meet that burden.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      As I understood it, doping itself was not a criminal offence in the US. The Federal agencies concerned were investigating charges of defrauding federal funds (because Armstrong’s team was sponsored by the US Postal Service) and drug trafficking. That investigation was dropped, presumably because the prosecutors felt it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt. But the information gained gave USADA a useful springboard for their own investigation into doping. (Apparently while USADA couldn’t make direct use of the testimony given to federal investigators, they were able to carry out interviews in the presence of those investigators, which gave the witnesses a very strong incentive not to change their stories!)

  4. Matt Bowman
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Over the past couple of years I came to accept that Armstrong was lying. But today I was blown away while reading the many articles in the NYT. Private jets to remote hotels in Spain for blood transfusions! The level of deception reported is just incredible.

  5. bonetired
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Criminal charges could still be proffered: for perjury. According to the Telegraph, the USADA report “accuses him of making seven false statements to win a 2005 Dallas court case where a $5 million performance bonus was at stake.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/lancearmstrong/9602544/Lance-Armstrong-could-face-perjury-charges-following-USADA-allegations.html

  6. bonetired
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    BTW … He didn’t win an Olympic gold: the best he did was a bronze in the 2000 Sydney games in the time trial and that, as yet, hasn’t been stripped from him.

  7. Charles Sullivan
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Many high-performance sports are nearly lose-lose scenarios when it comes to doping: You don’t dope and you lose to those who do, or you do dope and may end up getting caught.

    No one knows who was #2 or #3 at the Tour de France. They only remember the winners.

    Until doping can be completely eradicated the risk/benefit analysis will ever favor more sophisticated, undetectable forms of doping.

    You could argue that the athletes are making a rational choice to dope given that most everyone else is doping.

    • Occam
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:24 am | Permalink

      No one knows who was #2 or #3 at the Tour de France. They only remember the winners.

      Emphatically not true.

      Raymond Poulidor, who finished #2 thrice, and #3, five times over the twelve iterations of the Tour de France he completed, is still a hugely popular legend in French sports, and a byword for “l’éternel second”, the perennial, tenacious underdog, never to be outdone. His name is universally recognised among Tour aficionados, and better known than that of several seven-day-wonders who managed to win, only to fall from grace and never to be heard from again. This, despite his career overlapping the ones of Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx, two cycling legends in their own right.

      Poulidor was incidentally one of the first Tour cyclists volunteering to be tested for drugs. For this, he endured the lasting enmity of many of his colleagues. Now we know why.

      • llavila
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        Charles is so right. To be on a level playing field in professional cycling now days, you have to dope if you want to win.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget Jan Ullrich either.

      • TJR
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        Indeed, several top five finishes in the Tour de France while still drumming for Metallica.

        • llavila
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          Say what?

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

            Jan, Lars…
            one l or two ll’s…
            same thing with the right weed :)

            Anyways ~ great drummer & cyclist though the drumming was safer ~ just cocaine which he’s given up it seems

  8. Occam
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Hard to see how anyone could still be astonished.

    In France, where cycling is more of a religion than Catholicism, and the Tour de France a cult ritual, it has long been taken for granted that no one could race — let alone win — the Tour on “eau minérale” alone.

    Complacency and connivance in protecting the doping business from inconvenient scrutiny were rife, and known to be rife.

    Documented allegations about Lance Armstrong and his entourage were forthcoming from his very first Tour de France on. When the Eufemiano Fuentes doping network became public knowledge, former Tour mates and colleagues of Armstrong who came clean told French journalists how they were threatened and intimidated. The story has long been all over the place.
    The real news is that a public agency has finally decided to do something about it: to expose the fraud and to unmask the system. Armstrong just happens to be the most brazen in a long list of frauds; also, and most significantly, the richest.

    But the wonder of glasnost may not hold for long. After all, what is a Lance Armstrong compared to a Mitt Romney?

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:52 am | Permalink

      Many are considering Armstrong to be a narcissist who lacks empathy and is only focused on achieving his goals/desires no matter what including bullying.

      I remember watching one Tour when it went through Grenoble; the ambience was intense. Yup, the French got his number, but at the time, that very aspect angered many Americans as it was the era of ‘Freedom Fries.’

      Madoff, Mother Theresa, Armstrong–when anyone is pushed as a miracle worker, you know the chances that something is unsavoury going on to maintain the illusion are high. No one is perfect. Always for me, just as equally upsetting as these unethical people are the many who lap up this hype. (There would be no Pope without Catholics.) Brave, ordinary people are way more inspiring to me than any celebrities.

      Humans love to chase ideals–pure sports where the best win is just one of them. For those cancer patients who trusted him, they suffered twice, first with cancer, and then with betrayal of their trust. My heart goes out to them.

      • dale
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Your comment reminds me of Steve Fonyo. He is a Canadian (he had lost a leg to cancer when he was 12) who ran across the country in support of Cancer research. He did it in the footsteps of Terry Fox, who died after having to abandon his run half way across the country, and was subsequently lionized. But Steve Fonyo was a human being with many faults and thus by comparison suffered. But his perseverance eventually won out and he was rewarded with the order of Canada for his efforts.

  9. Mike Lee
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    I have been involved in body building for some fifty years now. Never good enough to have considered competing nationally or inter nationally. I did however judge a number of such competitions here in South Africa. What was pretty obvious was the fact that many of these men (and women!)wre heavily into drug usage – mostly steroids. Why? Because their argument was that you could not participate at that level (the money and the prestige) without their help – regardless of the long term consequences….and there are, as a local power lifter found out when he could not finance dialysis for renal failure and the public hospitals did not have the budget for that procedure…

  10. TJR
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately this will always be incredibly difficult to avoid in relatively one-dimensional strength and/or endurance sports like cycling.

    Even a more multi-dimensional sport like football has some drug-taking as being stronger or quicker is always helpful, so its always good when the best players in the world are tiny guys like Messi and Iniesta.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      Messi [pbuh] is the best player drugs can buy. He wouldn’t have had the chance to be the Barca Genius he is without them. He’s been taking steroids since he was a kid & I believe he still does ~ all legally paid for by Barca & it’s OK.

      • dale
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        The reason is he was diagnosed early with growth hormone deficiency. No one in Argentina had the money to pay for the medicine this poor 11 year old needed (900$ a month), but he showed great potential as a footballer. So Barcelona stepped in, signed Messi and paid for his treatment. Messi is now 5’7” and without the treatment he probably would have been a couple of inches over 5′.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          I know. That’s why I write “…& it’s OK.” But really is it OK? What is the hidden cost to Messi in his later years? I suppose the doctors know what they’re doing in his case.. but I wonder

          The interesting question becomes where do we go with this? Ultimately I would suppose that we all would benefit from drug treatment & gene manipulation to ‘sculpt’ us in such a way as to negate perceived negative dice rolls. In 20 years will we see a potential psychopath in the womb & intervene? Is it wise to remove outliers from the pool? Probably not.

  11. Dominic
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    If he didn’t win all those Tours, who did & can we be sure they were not doping as well???

    • Occam
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:07 am | Permalink

      Turtles all the way down…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:41 am | Permalink

      Is that supposed to excuse Lance Armstrong cheating? Seems to be quite a common argument among Armstrong supporters.

      The answer, by the way, is ‘The true winner is the highest-placed person who *wasn’t* cheating’. Whether that can be established at this late date is another matter.

      It does, however, appear that Armstrong’s team wins the prize for the most sophisticated, widespread and consistent cheating in the sport.

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:49 am | Permalink

        For the 1999-2005 TdF, you would have to go pretty deep into the GC to find someone who hasn’t been banned from cycling for drug use at some time.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        It does, however, appear that Armstrong’s team wins the prize for the most sophisticated, widespread and consistent cheating in the sport.

        … Who have been caught …
        So far …
        In cycling …
        I’m sure that’s not the last significant qualification (and I don’t know much about sports).

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Which leads to an interesting tactic of ‘winning’ the Tour by taking drugs, coming second and then getting the first place rider disqualified.

  12. Michael Fisher
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    Drugs is small potatoes compared with gambling-led corruption in sport. The explosive expansion of ‘Spread Betting’ throughout the world has created ideal conditions for this ~ it’s not necessary to blatantly throw a game ~ just simple point shaving in basketball, miss-bowling in cricket can put life-changing sums of money in a sportsman’s/woman’s pocket

    Just about any action in a game can now be bet on & it is irresistibly attractive to players especially those reaching the end of their short playing careers. Take a major tennis match ~ the players can agree to play a certain set in a certain way, but still compete ‘fairly’ outside that set. Every sport [including amateur] is rife with this & it can’t be stopped.

  13. JBlilie
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    The USADA does not have the power to strip him of hix TdF titles: Only the UCI can do that.

    In the past, they have only done that for individual TdF wins when evidence was shown for that particular race (use during or around that race.) For example: Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 title but not his 2007 or 2009. Typically they have used failed tests to do this.

    I will definitely be looking at the information.

  14. Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I don’t see the problem of an already uneven playing field, as described by Jason Bosch. That’s what competition is about. There is a sense in which the fairness of competing with one’s natural abilities tuned to their best is an honourable goal that I agree with; even using exercise regimes managed in high-tech facilities. Many athletes from other countries do in fact move to the US in order to take advantage of better training facilities. The issue here seems to be solely about banned drugs being used, when ‘natural’ opponents are unfairly disadvantaged in this one respect. It’s not as if unequal training facilities are banned.

    But as a supporter of human enhancement generally I don’t see why we can’t also openly use drugs for enhancement in sports, in a controlled and safe manner. Yeah, right I hear you object; fair enough.

    The issue then becomes one of fairness in this wider scope. We have the para-Olympics and the Olympics. Maybe it’s time for the drug-Olympics, or enhanced-Olympics. Maybe some trial sports should be grouped by enhanced and natural criteria. The question then is which would the public follow, and which would the money follow? It all starts to get a bit messy.

    Until these alternatives are considered seriously then it seems inhumane to coerce all competitors to use drugs in order to compete, so the only fair option is to continue to ban drug enhancements.

    • Andy
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      The problem is not even that he was doping. Had he come clean, that could be forgiven in an era that was rife with it. The issue is how he used his position to force others to go along with. To force young riders into a system of drug use. To threaten the wives and/or girlfriends of other riders to keep quiet. The evidence shows how much of a bully he was. What you do with your own body, let that be on your head, but you don’t force others to join in or go along with it.

  15. Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    It’s not really relevant to this particular case, but in e.g. American football, I think that strictly-controlled steroid use should be allowed under the supervision of a league doctor for players who are recovering from an injury. Because of the zero tolerance policy, an NFL player could suffer an injury for which I’d be given a cortisone injection by my doctor to aid recovery, and they have to do it without, despite the fact that they are planning on going and getting body-slammed by a 300-lb guy in a few weeks or months (something I don’t generally plan on as a matter of course).

    This would have to benefits: First, I think that, given the demands placed on their bodies, NFL players would quite simply be healthier and safer if judicious cortical steroid use were allowed during injury recovery. Second, there are at least anecdotal reports of players’ developing their steroid connections initially as a result of trying to get a (very reasonable) treatment during recovery from an injury. In other words, because it is not permitted by the league, use of cortical steroids for injury recovery becomes a ‘gateway’ to using that and other drugs for strictly performance enhancement purposes. Regulating it stops it from becoming a gateway.

    As I said, this really has nothing to do with the present situation, though. I still support a ban on all performance-enhancing drugs in sports, due to the “arms race” factor that Jerry mentioned. What I support is a recognition that cortical steroids can be used as both performance-enhancers and as a legitimate medication to aid in injury recovery, and that we shouldn’t throw the latter out with the former.

  16. darrelle
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    So, Lance Armstrong is a liar, cheater and a bully. All premeditated. This whole thing is pretty disgusting. He won a bunch of titles but in order to do so he had to cheat, and generally be a selfish, duplicitous dirtbag.

    He is of course the most visible person involved in this scandalous scheme, but I wish the media would also spend some attention on whoever it was at the USPS that was responsible for the management of the team.

    Doping and performance enhancing drug use in sports is in the same category as technological improvements in equipment. Ducted fans to create downforce while cornering on cars, spray on adhesive in football. In most sports the teams that have the money to do so are endlessly trying to come up with innovations to give them an edge over everyone else. If they are successful the governing body of their sport is likely to make a new rule forbidding that innovation, at least for a time. This is common because their goal is to keep enough competitiveness in the sport to draw fans. If only one or a few teams can utilize the new innovation, due to money or know how, that can result in boring sports, losing fans and losing money. But many such innovations eventually become legal and standard among all teams.

    I don’t think there is anything immoral about doping or performance enhancing drug use in sports. And I think it is here to stay and will eventually be legal, and regulated, in many sports. I do think, however, that it is extremely immoral to cheat, bully others into helping you cheat and to cheat themselves, and then to lie about it all.

  17. NoAstronomer
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    No great surprise. From the moment I read about his first tour victory I always assumed Armstrong (and his teammates) was using performance enhancing drugs. He had to be simply in order to compete.

    What is interesting is the story of how he was able to avoid detection for so long. If it weren’t for a generous helping of hubris on his part he might well have remained untainted.

    It is partly because of the prevalence of drugs that I have essentially lost all interest in professional sports. I just can’t watch a pitcher or a quarterback throw a ball now without wondering whether he took his EPO today.

    Mike.

  18. Cody Porter
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Disappointing as this is, as a cyclist fan, I’ve come to the realization that everyone at the top is almost assuredly doping. Obviously, this doesn’t justify Armstrong’s or anyone else’s actions, but his legacy as a phenomenal cyclist isn’t *entirely* tarnished for me.

  19. jeffery
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Here’s a good article from the “Onion”:

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/nondoping-cyclists-finish-tour-de-france,2268/

    • Occam
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      +1

  20. mordacious1
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Let’s say you just left a party and the police get 26 calls that you’re under the influence. They send out a patrol car, which follows you for some time, but notices nothing untoward. But, based on the phone calls, they pull you over, get you out, make you walk a straight line, etc. You pass all these tests with flying colors.

    Next, they do a breathalyzer which is negative. Then you voluntarily give blood samples. There’s an aggressive ADA in your area and he spends half a million on testing for every substance known to exist. All are negative. The cops now pull you over every time you get in your car and take urine and blood samples. Not one test is positive. But every one in your town has heard about this and citizens demand that you not be allowed to drive. The ADA has gathered statements from several of your acquaintances about you driving DUI. Based on this, and this alone, MAD takes away your license. No judge in a legal court would do so because of lack of forensic evidence.

    Doping in sports is a game. Athletes try to get over to perform better, the powers that be try to catch you doing it. They didn’t catch Lance. That’s not his fault. Most dopers are easy to spot, they have a spike in performance. Armstrong was consistent throughout his career. He may have doped, but didn’t get caught, he won the game and is being punished regardless. He may be a witch, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a witch hunt to which he was a victim.

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      1. Your analogy has virtually no relationship to Lance Armstrong’s case.

      2. It seems to me that what you’re saying is that the competition in sports now is who can dope the best without getting caught. In which case Lance did get caught so he lost.

      Mike.

      • mordacious1
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        As far as I know, Lance has never failed a drug test. His wins were removed based on hearsay alone, anecdotal evidence. Usually in criminal cases, personal testimony is only effective if there is at least some circumstantial forensic evidence that backs it up.

        Lance didn’t get caught, again no positive tests. And the fact that they couldn’t get a positive test, pushed them to gather as much hearsay evidence as possible. A ton of manure is still manure.

        I’m not saying he didn’t dope, he just didn’t get caught. I break the speed limit all the time. It’s up to the cops to catch me doing it before I get a punishment. In this case they couldn’t catch him, but gave him the punishment anyway.

        • Nick
          Posted October 13, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

          “As far as I know, Lance has never failed a drug test. His wins were removed based on hearsay alone, anecdotal evidence. Usually in criminal cases, personal testimony is only effective if there is at least some circumstantial forensic evidence that backs it up.”

          You clearly haven’t read the reasoned decision. There are eye witness accounts (this is not hearsay), positive tests, financial transactions, circumstantial evidence which fits with the other evidence… It’s a damning report which clearly demonstrates his guilt

          • mordacious1
            Posted October 14, 2012 at 3:08 am | Permalink

            If everything in that report is true and factual, then Armstrong committed illegal acts. The government has refused to prosecute him after looking at all the evidence, because they know that that report won’t stand up in a court of law.

  21. littleboybrew
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Let’s face it, anyone who drinks “Michelob Ultra” and thinks it is beer is of questionable character.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      +1

  22. Mark D.
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    The only thing shocking about this is that people are shocked by this.

    Professional sports is a high stakes gambling game with MILLIONS of dollars on the line for people that make it to the top, and there is ruthless competition to get there. You’d have to be stupid to think that people wouldn’t try to exploit every advantage they think they can get away with.

  23. WBenson
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    If can believe in sports, you can believe anything. It’s chemically enhanced entertainment.

  24. Randy
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think he’s disgraced at all. He’s merely the winner who got caught. I don’t for a second think he was somehow the minority here. They were all drugged. It’s what competitors do. It’s what they do, and we learn it time after time after time and still we refuse to admit the truth. He still won against drugged competitors. That’s that, for me.

  25. Filippo
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Haven’t read all the comments here and someone may already have mentioned it, but in the last few days there was a NY Times article about taking drugs to improve cognitive and academic performance.

    As a matter of principle, vis-a-vis taking exams for purposes of obtaining scholarships and admittance to desirable universities, ought that not be also made illegal? Or not?

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