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.

8 comments:

Rovergar said...

I know you are trying to help us all with the information in the post. I have to say that I agree with you; however, facts are most important here. You linked a telegraph article that says Hincapie denied speaking to CBS but you implied it was a link saying that George never spoke to the Grand Jury. Did you miss link or miss speak?

Justin said...

I would like to reprint my comment from the earlier story, as I think it is still valid and applied equally as well to this item:

I have always believed Lance to this point, and would be very disappointed if this is proved true. While I don't dismiss the possibility that he took PEDs, I think there's a couple of things to bear in mind regarding the testimony of former team mates...
Landis claims that Lance's drug tests are not proof as they don't work. These tests managed to catch Landis, Hamilton, Roberto Heras, Alexander Vinokourov, Iban Mayo and many other lesser known cyclists (check out Wikipedia for a list of doping cases). The tests seem pretty effective to me and given that Armstrong was tested more than anyone he must have had a very good 'system' to avoid getting caught.
If indeed he did have a foolproof system to cheat without getting caught, how come no-one else seems to know or use it?
The Federal case seems to be one based on fraud, that the members of US Postal signed contracts saying they were 'dope free'. Given that Landis, Hamilton (and seemingly Hincapie) have now all admitted to doping while at US Postal - why are they not on trial? Presumably because they were offered a deal: "Snitch on Armstrong and we'll forget about you". This doesn't give their testimony much impartiality in my view, as it would be in their interest to make up stories to get themselves out of jail.

Like I say, I am in favour of Lance, but am willing to change my view if proof appears. However, from what I have read so far, the only proof is hearsay. Without any physical evidence, I don't see how anything can be proven in these circumstances, even though many seem to be jumping on the anti-Lance campaign.

Adventure Junkie said...

Rovergar: Miss link. The new one is the correct one.

JPFreek Adventure Magazine said...

@ Justin: Well said, Justin, and agreed 100%!

www.sharethisadventure.com said...

I agree, I think they should go after people who are doing it now, clean it up, I don't like to think of my heroes doing stuff like this

kgb said...

Rovergar is right. Hincapie has never denied implicating Lance to the Feds. He has only denied that he ever spoke with 60 Minutes.

To me this is a waste of tax dollars. The Feds have no business in this 'dispute'. If US Postal, or Discovery feel wronged or defrauded, let them pursue their claims.

As damaging as it all appears it is still based on hearsay. I say they should set the rule that no positive tests = no wrongdoing.

Save our tax dollars and move on.

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