Thursday, June 02, 2011
Follow-Up On Lance Armstrong vs. 60 Minutes
A few days before I left for Chile a 60 Minutes segment ran on television that brought more allegations against Lance Armstrong and his use of performance enhancing drugs in the Tour de France. That story prompted me to write a rather long piece on where Lance could go next, and considering the story continues to evolve, I thought that it was only appropriate to do a follow-up.
One of the major pillars of the 60 Minutes story, aside from the testimony of Tyler Hamilton, a former teammate of Armstrong, who said he saw Lance inject EPO, was a report that Armstrong tested positive for a banned substance back in 2001 while riding in the Tour de Suisse. The report went on to say that Armstrong had a sit-down meeting with Martial Saugy, the director of the anti-doping lab for the race, and that that meeting resulted in Saugy making the positive test "go away."
While I was gone, Saugy has come out in the press to say that Armstrong didn't test positive in the race as had been reported and that while a meeting did take place, it had nothing to do with any test – positive or negative. These revelations have the Armstrong legal team demanding an apology from CBS News, calling their journalism "shoddy," "reckless," and "unprofessional." For their part, the news team behind the 60 Minutes story say they stand by what they produced, calling it one of the most extensive examinations of doping in professional cycling ever.
In the report, 60 Minutes also alleged that Lance's good friend George Hincapie had told a grand jury that both he and Armstrong had used EPO together, and that the two men shared the drug when needed. That was all speculation however, as Hincapie declined to be interviewed by for the show and has since denied ever saying that about his friend.
All of this leads us back to the same place we've been all along. Accusations against a rider who has never tested positive, and denials from said rider, who now has a number of former teammates talking about the alleged use of PEDs. For us fans, it still comes down to who do you believe, and it is once again tough to decide.
It does seem that CBS, at the very least, misconstrued some of the details, either to help build their case and garner ratings, or in an effort to go after Armstrong. Probably all of the above. For Armstrong however, it has been business as usual, as he continues to deny any wrong doing and points to his spotless record in terms of passing drug tests. He is easily one of the most tested athletes ever, and yet he remains clean, at least in terms of having ever been caught.
Obviously we haven't heard the last of this one. The grand jury is still likely to want to talk to Armstrong, and my guess is he'll have to eventually go before them, and continue his denials under oath. Until then, the saga will continue to play out, in an attempt to nab one of the biggest names in all of sports.
While I applaud all efforts to clean up the sport of cycling, I think I'd personally prefer they spend their time and money on efforts to go after riders who are currently competing.