Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Two Sides of the Same Coin
By Ben Valentine

When cyclist Floyd Landis was revealed to have taken PEDs during his now tarnished Tour De France victory, many people expressed a feeling of sense and outrage. They were shocked that a man who had seemingly come from nowhere to become the heir to the mantle of the great Lance Armstrong had in fact, cheated. This despite the fact that anyone who has the most casual of interest in cycling, (and casual is probably an overstatement for most, like myself) should know this is a sport so wracked with PED use it makes baseball look clean. So why, despite the realities of the sport, were people surprised to find out Landis was just another cyclist who doped up?

Perhaps people do like to believe in innocent until proven guilty here in America. Well unless the person on trial is Barry Bonds anyway.

How else can justify the difference in public perception from Bonds to the man Landis was made out to be; Armstrong? Armstrong achieved something historical, winning the Tour de France seven times, something that even exceeds Bonds’ home run record in terms of implausibility. Now when wracked with questions over doping and drug use, Armstrong fervently denies as Bonds has. Yet, unlike Bonds, he’s not universally hated, despite their situations not being all that different.

Neither has submitted a positive test. And that likely will never happen in either case, with Armstrong retired and Bonds likely using untraceable (at least to MLB testing) substances. There is merely anecdotal and circumstantial evidence for both men. In Bonds case, it comes from reports of steroid side effects, such as back acne, while his head has also grown in size. In Armstrong’s case, there have been accusations by foreign newspapers but I guess we only accept reports from papers that are located in the Bay Area. However, perhaps more importantly, a telling indictment came at the beginning of this year’s Tour; when many top cyclists, including Jan Ulrich, Armstrong’s number one competitor, were barred from competing.

Why is this telling? Well in a sport that is filled with users, where leading cyclists die from heart attacks at 35, it is hard to believe that Armstrong was exempt from using while completely dominating his competition. Perhaps it could have been rationalized that doping was rampant among those that couldn’t hack it with Armstrong. But once Ulrich went down, it became clear that PEDs went far beyond the likes of your average rider trying to get to the big boys; those big boys were using too.

So you’ve got four choices here; Ulrich wasn’t using while he competed with Armstrong, Armstrong is superhuman, PEDs aren’t what they’re cracked up to be, or Armstrong was using just like the rest of them.

The first is unlikely; if Ulrich was the favorite this year with no Armstrong, why would he suddenly resort to using? It seems as though he’d have tried them before to beat Armstrong. The second reason is just as believable as Superman himself, or Spider-Man and Wolverine for that matter. They make for great movies, but not realistic sports stories. (Seriously, can you imagine Wolverine applying a tag at second base? Talk about getting spiked…) The third reason even more improbable than the second; with the highly developed science that is PED development and use nowadays, it’s doubtful these drugs aren’t helping the athletes perform.

So that just leaves choice four, which is the most likely scenario; Armstrong was using. Let’s look at this rationally. If the whole sport seems to be doping and one guy dominates the sport like no other for an unparalleled amount of time, would you think that guy is clean?

Or how about another example; a great baseball player goes from never hitting 50 homers in a season to suddenly hitting 70 in a sport where PEDs are running rampant. Think something is amiss?

The sad thing is that what Bonds did is actually far more common than what Armstrong did. Believe it or not, career years happen in baseball. There are guys who went from all stars to zeros over the course of one year plenty of times in the history of the game, and there will be plenty more like them to come. There are also scores of good players who for one year put up numbers far beyond what their norms were. That my friends, is called a career year. They happen in sports, and they’re not always the result of PEDs.

That isn’t to say Bonds didn’t use; the circumstantial evidence is all there. But it’s there with Armstrong as well. So again I ask, why do people forsake Bonds, yet cheer Armstrong?

It can’t be because of their charming personalities; while Bonds is a jerk, Armstrong is by all accounts no nice guy either. This is a guy who, once hitting stardom, divorced his wife and ended up with Sheryl Crow. Um… sound sketchy to you? That sounds a lot worse to me than being uppity with the press core, whom you owe nothing. And yes, I know there are other stories of Bonds being a jerk, but most people don’t know them. They only are aware about his antics with the media, which says little to nothing about his actual personality.

Could it be the fact Armstrong was a cancer survivor? Maybe, but while I hate to even go there, I must. When Jason Giambi reportedly ended up with a tumor, and then in the wake of his Grand Jury testimony, what did people say? It was the result of his using. No one knows for sure, but it’s possible. Armstrong competes in a sport where everyone dopes. Isn’t it possible that his cancer was caused by using?

It sounds harsh, but I can only shift through the facts handed to me. If the reason is good for Jason Giambi, then it’s good for Lance Armstrong. Heck, ask yourself, if Barry Bonds developed cancer, or had a heart attack tomorrow or five years from now, what would you say? That he was unlucky? That life is tragic and that your number could be called at any time? Sure, some might say that.

But I’m willing to gamble 98 percent of you would say “Well that’s what happens when you take steroids. More proof he used.” And perhaps what’s even more disturbing is that there are some who would smile with glee over the passing of this man who they never met once. They hate him and yet, they don’t know why.

The truth is, the more one looks at it, the stranger it becomes. If as much common sense supports Armstrong using as Bonds or Mark McGwire, then how come there aren’t scores of people screaming to put an asterisk next to those seven Tour victories? If Lance Armstrong were to suffer a relapse of his cancer, or have a heart attack, some would suspect PED use. But most would mourn the tragic loss of a man they never met once. They love him and yet, they don’t know why.

The reason? The media.

The media sold Armstrong as an American hero in every sense of the ideal. He overcame long odds, handed to him unjustly. Yet he not only goes on to triumph over his seemingly invincible foe, but then wins a race that has been dominated by Europeans for years. And then he does it again and again. Over and over he conquers over those foreigners, those non- Americans, showing what country is the greatest. He exemplifies that “never say die” American spirit, and in the process that “take no crap, we’ll beat the hell out of you because we’re a superpower” ability. And that is the gift wrapped image Armstrong is made out to be. He sells the image so well, things like dumping his family for a celebrity are overlooked. His denials of PED use are tacitly accepted as he is trotted out on talk shows where they lob softball questions and is allowed to host made for TV award shows.

Why do people go along with this? Because the underlying message the media has sent from the very beginning with Armstrong has been that Americans are superior to everyone else. The French hate him because they hate America and how we passed them culturally, economically and socially as a world power. The same with the rest of Europe. So when Armstrong basically tells the world, “Yeah, I’m able to beat all of these guys who are cheating with nothing but my own god given ability and hard core American work ethic” the world snickers. But Americans eat it up because they want to believe it. They want that message the media has sent them to be true.

Floyd Landis’ greatest crime wasn’t cheating, but tarnishing that image. He made Americans question that air of superiority, and because the media had linked Landis to Armstrong already, Americans could not help but question their icon as well. But Armstrong will survive, because the message is too powerful in this day and age to die.

Barry Bonds has no such message. He doesn’t represent mainstream America. He isn’t proving anything except that he is arguably the best baseball player of all time. There are underlying racial tones here as well, but I will not go into them now.

In short, despite evidence being essentially equal in both cases, one man is a hero and the another a villain in the court of public opinion.

That is what I call hypocrisy. I’m sure that’s what Barry Bonds would call “America.”

The sad thing is, after reflecting on this, I can’t say I disagree.

27 Comments:

Blogger Mycue23 said...

Two things about Bonds, first of all he admitted to using steroids in his Grand Jury testimony. Secondly, there is a mountain of evidence (testimony from friends, lovers, trainers) not just anecdotal evidence. Also baseball players do have career years, it's just that they usually don't happen at 36 and they don't keep happening until they are 40. He and Armstrong are not two sides of the same coin. Is Bonds demonized? Sure he is, but he has himself to blame for that. His attitude with the press and public and his willingness to accept his "black hat" persona have led him to this point. He never wanted love or affection from the public or press. He just wanted everyone to acknowledge his greatness. Well now that he is under attack, he is looking for sympathy from the same people that he turned his back on for the better part of two decades. He'll get none and truthfully he doesn't deserve any. Whatever Barry did enhance his performance is his business. I just don't think we should be asked to care about him at all.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Can I solve it for you???

Black guy with a 'tude is scary to people.

White guy yokel is endearing to people.

They want to like the latter.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bonds admitted using steroids, and his trainer admitted buying it for him and giving it to him.

Nothing remotely similar has happened with Lance who was tested every year for several years.

For years, MLB had no testing policy even after the Andro saga.

Rather large differences.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Larry Mahnken said...

Bonds didn't admit to using steroids. Bonds said that he had used two substances that looked like the two substances the prosecutors showed him, the ones that the prosecutors showed him being steroids. He did not say that what he took was steroids, and he said he never knowingly has taken steroids.

Anderson did not say he gave Bonds steroids, at least not to the Grand Jury.

Also, if you look at the old pictures of Bonds, his head has not actually grown larger, but it's gotten fatter in the face. He's always had a large head, the telltale sign of PED use is not his head, it's his huge muscles.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, Jan Ullrich was not in any way outed as a user. He was tied to a trainer who's a known dope merchant, but, while that's certainly ominous, is far, far, far from the same thing.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

Lance didn't dominate the sport of cycling. He dominated the Tour. There have been much better cyclists over the whole course of the year during his years winning the tour. Lance just applied everything to winning those three weeks.

Not to say he wasn't a user. Really odd his whole entire body was chock full with cancer before the age of 30.

His team manager, Bruyneel, raced for Team ONCE during his career. A team managed by Manolo Saiz, who is currently under investigation for systematic blood doping in Spain. The same ONCE team contained Alex Zulle (admitted EPO user) and Laurent Jalabert. Jalabert, probably the best all round rider in recent history, has recently been named by a former rider as the person that introduced him to "pot belge" (a mix of cocaine, caffeine, pain killers, sometimes amphetamine and heroin).

I remember Richard Virenque crying on TV claiming he never used any substances only to later come out and admit he had (testifying in court)...funny how no athlete ever comes right out and says they are guilty...

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

...And don't forget, Landis is a former USPS team member. As is Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras. All three of which rode with Lance at USPS and all three of which have now failed doping tests.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Armstrong passed literally thousands of drug tests over his career, which spanned his pre-cancer days as well. Never once has he tested positive. Before MLB's testing began a few years ago, how many tests did Bonds undergo? Since mandatory testing began, how well has Bonds performed? If Armstrong was a user, and that caused his cancer, why were his racing results so poor before cancer? It is a fact that his heart is larger than normal, and can therefore pump more blood than most people. His VO2 is also far greater than most people. Those 2 elements can't be changed with PEDs, he was just born that way.

As to why Armstrong is loved, could it be because he has used his fame to champion a cause, fighting cancer? No matter if he used or not, he has contributed an enormous amount of resources and awareness to a positive cause, and inspired people. What has Bonds done for the greater good with his fame? I won't say athletes have a duty to rally around a cause, but if you're looking for why one is loved more than the other, it's pretty obvious the answer lies in the off-the-field accomplishments.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, Very heavy...very true!!

2:54 PM  
Anonymous ed said...

Its hard to fail a drug test when there is either no test for the drugs you are using (such as the case with EPO until a few years ago) or the drug you are testing is undetectable or as yet unknown (like "the clear" was until the BALCO scandal).

3:00 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

Chris- Can't say I disagree. But I wanted to present an argument that analyzed Armstrong's "hero" lable and how he could escape the disgrace Bonds has gone through. Bonds' dislike is almost certainly tied to his race. But if Bonds were an athlete dominating the international field, rather than an American game, I think he'd be treated differently. America was racist as can be in the 30's but Jessie Owens was a hero because he beat Hitler's Germany.

(Note, I am in NO way equating Owens to Bonds, other than showing people are willing to overlook hatred for whatever reason if it suits a greater goal for them)

Bonds never admitted to using. He said if he used, he didn't know about it; which is tantamount to a denial. Giambi is the closet of the BALCO boys to admit to it but remember, his testimony is technically sealed. According to the law, you me and everyone not in that courtroom, he has never admitted to anything. (Hence the reason he apologized without admitting to anything)

Ullrich was banned from competing which means they had large reason to suspect him. And without a positive test, you'd need a whole lot of evidence to bar someone.

Bonds has passed drug tests. His perfomance fall off is likely due to, oh I don't know, the fact he's ancient for a baseball player. Randy Johnson's numbers are crashing down but is he a user because of it? Or is it because even if you perform at a high level into your 40's, eventually time catches up with you?

Passing drug tests are proof of nothing. PED development is always one step ahead of the testing. For example, the French paper which accused Armstrong claimed he used a substance which was not really testable in 1999.

I can ask you the same question; if had these physical anomolities which allowed him to be Superman from 1999 on, then why did they not have an effect before?

Championing good causes can't be it either, since McGwire has more people on his case than Armstrong does and Big Mac championed charities as well. And ask yourself, if Bonds did start charity work tomorrow, do you think people would suddenly start to like him? They'd probably say he was doing it for the P.R.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

And as for bad results, I would disagree. Lance won two Tour stages (those alone are recognized as a career accomplishment for many), won a few prestigious one-day races (including a one-day classic), and was world champion (youngest ever). That's a pretty good list of accomplishments for somebody in his first five years of European cycling.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Mycue23 said...

I think the fact that Bonds is black certainly plays a role in his current treatment by the press. However, it is not simply because he is black that he is treated that way. As I stated before, he never wanted any love or affection from the media or fans. He made it very clear from the beginning that his legacy on the field would speak for itself. There are many stories of teammates and associates who have nothing complementary to say about Bonds as a person. The bad treatment he recieves in the press may be magnified by his race, but race in itself is not the reason he is vilified on a daily basis. Bonds is clearly just not a very nice person. If he had worked for some charitable cause at some point during his career or reached out to the fans more, he would be definitely be seen as a more sympathetic character and a victim of government persecution. Bonds can't be something that he's not. He can't pretend to be gracious and humble and concerned about his fellow human being. The truth is that he made the bed that he now has to lay in.

As far as what he said to the Grand Jury, you are right that it is supposedly sealed and private. The evidence presented by the authors of "Game of Shadows" of Barry's steroid use is fairly convincing, however.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

Make no mistake, I don't believe Bonds didn't use. It's not about the evidence in Game of Shadows though, because that's about as admissable as what those French papers said about Armstrong. My point is the evidence is there with both, but in Bonds' case people treat it as the golden truth. In Armstrong's case, they believe his denials and give reasons for his dominating performance. This is hypocrisy in itself, because if one looks at Barry Bonds pre his alleged usage, he was already one of the greats in the game. So saying Bonds suddenly became dominant is incorrect. He had a career year, but Bonds has been a top five player throughout his long career.

Bonds' isn't a nice guy by all accounts. But most people don't know him. They go off what the media says and the media has an adversarial relationship with him. So they reflect what they are told, just like when NY columnists claimed A-Rod was a choker. The vast majority of NYers believed it, even though the stats said otherwise. I don't know Armstrong or Bonds. I can't say who's the bigger jerk, because it seems to me they've both done things which I would not approve of.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Mycue23 said...

Ben,
I agree that we don't know these people outside of their public personas. The "career year" theory though is troubling. I once wrote something about Bonds' performance from the ages of 35-40 where in each of those seasons he reached the top five of the single season, OBP, Slg, OPS or home run record. The only other individual on any of those charts after the age of 35 was a 36 year old Ted Willams who hit .388 in '57. Sure Aaron has a home run surge when he moved to Atlanta, but that's easily explained by the ballpark. What Bonds did might have been considered a career year if it occured when he was 29, but to have one at 35 and then 36 and then 37 and then 38 and then 39, defies logic. It would be like Carl Lewis breaking the 100 meter mark at 35 and then dominating his competition until he was 40. It's just unheard of. I simply can't believe that Barry Bonds is the one athlete in the history of sport that hit his peak at the age of 35. There are other sports, Golf being one, where it is possible to peak later (see Vijay Singh), but baseball isn't one of those sports. There was a headline in the Onion which said, "Bonds took Steroids everyone who's ever watched baseball". I know they meant it as a joke, but the truth of it is hard to deny.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Wow, what a load of crap... you spout pure speculation with no evidence whatsoever to equate Armstrong with Bonds and Landis. The cases are very different. Where's your "circumstantial" evidence that Armstrong doped? There's your belief that he couldn't possibly have beat other riders who were doping unless he did himself. That's not any kind of evidence, just your uneducated speculation. There's the discredited testimony given in the book LA Confidential and a very suspicious test of a six year old 'A' sample that was leaked to L'Equipe. Witnesses for both were thoroughly discredited in three weeks of testimony before binding arbitration this year, during which Armstrong won $7.5 million from an insurance company that tried to deny him his $5 million bonus for winning the 2004 Tour. The arbitrators stated that there were numerous ethics violations surrounding the lab test itself and its leaking. I suggest you read up on it. As another reader pointed out, Armstrong has also passed countless drug tests. Baseball's testing was mostly nonexistent. Landis has failed two tests (A and B samples) taken according to strict competition standards. This is very different than the supposed evidence against Armstrong.

Your post is worthless speculation. It's too bad you feel the need to add to the mountains of unfounded attacks on Armstrong.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

One other thing, you have no idea what happened with Armstrong's marriage. Was it mostly or all his fault that it feel apart? Anything's possible, but we simply don't know.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I guess another point would be that Armstrong has been very very clever about the allegations, Bonds has been a bit stupid, and Landis was very stupid.

I´m sure if Landis was that depserate to win, he could have got his hands on some THG or IGF or whatever the new designer steroid is. I´m almost inclined to believe that he´s innocent, casue no one competing at that level should be dumb enough to get caught by the test. Caught by being ratted out or the feds tracking your mail isn´t something you can control, but using a detectable steroid is plain dumb.

Whereas, even if Armstrong cheated (I´ll never either way and I consider that winning it 7 times was a damn fine achievement regardless, because his main competition almost certainly was), he´s never been caught, or been forced to admit it even in court sealed documents. AND he´s never done anything else legally shady (that I know of).

Bonds was slightly stupid in doing his possible tax fraud thing as it gives investigators another way into his private life.

So, in summary, I reckon that Landis is dumb, Lance may or may not have cheated and is a great athlete, and Bonds may or may not have cheated but is a little too self absorbed for his own good.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to say that lance had to dope is ludacris. just because you find it hard to believe he could dominate the tour for so long is no excuse to basically accuse him of using. he spent months preparing for the tour, riding mountain stages repeatedly to get ready. just because he beat competition accused of doping doesnt mean he doped. if you apply that kind of thinking to all sports then just about everyone would be doping. and regarding your comment that ulrich and others doped, that hasnt been proven they were implicated in a doping scandal and thats why they were not in the tour this year. lance armstrong won fairly by training hard. just because you dont have the dedication, strength, and courage to work hard and win something like the tour doesnt mean he doesnt.

10:07 PM  
Blogger David Arnott said...

I look at it pretty much as Dan has laid it out in #18. Good work, dude. Patrick, do you feel confident voicing suspicion that many, if not all, of the top competitors in distance cycling are users? If so, then voicing suspicion about Armstrong is in bounds. I have no problem grouping Armstrong with the rest of the elite bicyclists, just as I have no problem grouping every NFL, NBA, and MLB player under the same umbrella of suspicion because circumstantial evidence indicates the cultures of those sports encourage PED use. I will remind you that, as far as what has been "proven", Bonds and Armstrong are in the same boat, and this is what Ben is getting at. Why does everyone who attacks Armstrong get accused of having a less-than-pure agenda, while people who attack Bonds are hailed as heroes? We can't deny that Armstrong has more redeeming public characteristics than Bonds, but he still has seemingly seedy aspects to his character, too. The comment about the marriage was not saying that he definitely dumped his wife for a glamorous upgrade, a la Derek Lowe, but that he got ZERO flak for what appeared to be just that. In this column, the onus is more on those covering the two, not the men themselves.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

Mycue- Again I'm not saying Bonds didn't use. I fully believe he did. I was just pointing out his spike or career season is far more common for baseball players than Armstrong's unprecedented Tour dominance. The point was to show the hypocrisy in the argument "Because Bonds hit 73 homers, he must have took steroids" while saying "Armstrong did something unprecedented in a sport full of cheaters because he was just that good."

Patrick- The circumstantial
evidence was provided through links. The French papers claimed Armstrong doped in 1999 with a substance that was at the time undectable and now is. (which is why they could find it six years later in his B sample) In addition as Ed pointed out, two of Armstrong's teammates have been found to be doping.

But the thing about circumstantial evidence is that it is not foolproof. Just as the evidence around Bonds is not. I don't see why two SF reporters are more credible than French ones. (And don't give that France hates America stuff; the media hates Bonds and some writers definitely want to see him knocked down. But we trust their reporting)And you want to talk about an ethical and illegal mess? Grand Jury testimony is supposed to be sealed. None of us were ever supposed to know about Bonds, Sheffield or Giambi. But because of an illegal leak, we found out. Good or bad, it was still illegal.

Armstrong winning that was in a settlement not because he was proven right. The company decided to take the small hit rather than risk taking a huge loss. Settlements are extremely common in civil law suits. That he got that money in fact proves nothing.

If you read my piece, then you should know I'm the first to say I don't know Armstrong or Bonds. In fact that's my whole critique! That people brand these similar men as entirely different people despite they only know them via second hand info. Along those lines, all I said was that it seemed real shady. I mean if you dropped your wife/girlfriend for a celebrity, do you think it would look on the up and up?

As I will repeat, passing tests does not prove innocence. Marion Jones passed every test in the Olympics. She was called to testify in the BALCO investigation along with Bonds, Shef, Giambi, her husband and of course Bill Romanowski (among others). She appears to have cheated but will not lose anything she's won.

As David said, I suspect every athlete nowadays. In fact, my belief is that most do use just because of the high stakes involved. I personally don't think less of Armstrong because I think he cheated because if everyone is doping, it is not an unfair advantage. I've said the same thing about Barry Bonds alleged steroid use. If you don't think he hit those homers off some juiced pitchers then you're out of your mind.

My point was to show the hypocrisy in hailing one and bashing the other when the evidence in both cases looks equal. I think they are both great athletes who succumb to the pressure in sports nowadays to get ahead anyway you can. Both are giants in their sports.

But if you say one thing about Bonds, then you'd better say the same thing about Armstrong.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben:

I've thought the same thing for quite a while although I think the racial component is more significant. What's really interesting is that all the other commenters are proving your argument for you . . . I don't know if I've ever seen that before.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are talking about the same Barry Bonds that was voted off of his Arizona State baseball team by his teammates?

Barry had broken too many team rules and to skirt true leadership, Coach Brock asked the players to vote on his future with the team. Reportedly, he was shocked by the results. Despite being the best player on the team and the fact that they were headed to the NCAA tournament, his teammates voted him off the team by a margin of 22-2.

Seems Barry has trouble getting people to like him for a long time.

Frankly, I think Bonds' biggest problem is that he doesn't recognize that he is in the entertainment business. There is no intrinsic value provided to society by his ability to hit a baseball--other than people are willing to pay for the enjoyment of watching him do that.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article on the topic.
BEST I ever read.
Although I wouldnt crow about america's culture or societal gains.
If you dont believe me, go to Alabama, or Arkansas, or even more backwater holes like Detroit where 50% of adults are illiterate (I know why we hate Cuba, everybody knows how to read and it iks us!) or any inner cities slums if you are white.
Economically (until the debt eats it) and militarily, no doubt, so lets just leave it at that.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Ed said...

Sure Lance trained hard. So did every single rider in the Tour. And its not that he won the Tour. Its that he dominated in such a fashion over the best riders in the world, the many of which are now suspected dopers. You simply have to look at the top 3 in the tour over the past few years all have connections to doping.

2005- Ullrich & Basso (both under investigation for doping)
2004- Basso & Kloden (teammate of Ullrich)
2003- Ullrich & Vinokourov (teammate of Ullrich whose 2006 team was unable to start the Tour due to a doping scandal)
2002- Beloki (suspected but at the moment cleared of doping) & Rumsas (convicted & sentenced for doping)
2001- Ullrich & Beloki
2000- Ullrich & Beloki
1999- Zulle (admitted doper) & Escartin (testified to the italian olympic committee over alleged doping)
1998- Pantani (doper), Ullrich, Julich (current teammate of Basso, team managed by Riis...see 1996)
1997- Ullrich, Virenque (admitted doper, involved in 1998 Festina doping scandal, tearful denial of drug use until called before court), Pantani
1996- Riis (rumored to be known as Mr. 60% for his hermacratic level which is increased via EPO, undetectable at the time of this win, team manager of Basso), Ullrich, Pantani

Now call me crazy, but it seems a fantasy that Lance was able to pull this off against the best in the business free and clear of doping. Unfortunately the nature of doping is that the doper is always ahead of the tester. It will always be rumors and accusations until somebody slips up and fails a test. Unless samples are kept and tested at a later date, that is how it will always be.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few thoughts: It is possible that Armstrong did dope all those years and got away with it. But... that would make him a better doctor/scientist then he ever was as a cyclist. I don't know if Bonds ever used any PED's. If Baseball didn't think it was important enough to test its own sport then why should we care? Cycling has tested for years and is in a constant quest to improve its testing. There is no proof that Ulrich had any use of PED's before this year. Why now was he tempted? The past two years he has finished behind Ivan Basso and even behind his own teammate one year. He is also in his “last real chance" year as a Tour contender. This is a man that is disliked and ridiculed in his own country. Not for being a jerk or a doper but for loosing to Armstrong for so many years. He won the tour in 97’ and has had the pressure to win ever since. Basso would use PED’s or blood transfusions to lessen his losses to Ulrich in the Time Trials and Ulrich would use them to lessen his losses to Basso in the mountains. Both now saw an open opportunity with Armstrong retired. The facts that we know: Armstrong is superior genetically to other cyclist in several areas. Heart and lung capacity, lactic acid threshold, VO2 max and power to weight ratio in watts. Added up makes him a dominate cyclist. Another fact is he out trained his competition and paid closer attention to detail then the rest. Any speculation as to him cheating is unfounded. If you add up all of his God given ability, countless hours of training and pure paranoid approach to detail you will get a cyclist that is better then to competition.

If the strongest evidence against Armstrong is his seven Tour victories then I guess any athlete with similar accomplishments is guilty. Why are we not talking about Pete Sampras who dominated Tennis against a very competitive field? Wasn’t he injecting something into that serving shoulder? What about Michael Jordan? We have never seen a guy that good before and may never again. He must have been taking PED’s. It must be true that Tiger Woods is a doper. I don’t know what he would take but there must be something that has allowed him to out play the rest. It can’t be ability and dedication.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

If you claim you don't know if Barry Bonds ever used anything, then you are choosing to simply ingore the obvious. Lance needs no knowledge of science to not test positive. As stated countless times before, you can't fail a test if they aren't testing for what you are using.

The Ullrich involvement in Operation Puerto is by no means exclusive to this year alone. Many of the files being looked at are from the 1st half of this decade. Marco Pantani is involved and he died almost three years ago.

And the reason there is no questioning Pete Sampras, Tiger Woods, or Michael Jordan is because their sports, so far as we are aware anyways, are not filled with athletes using PEDs. The top people in baseball and cycling have, without question, used PEDs. And if you are able to crush the very elite of your sport, the majority of which are using PEDs, then your ability to do so without drugs is without question going to be looked at a little closer.

Lets also not forget that the whole reason the Lance's latest EPO incident went away wasn't because the test saying he had doping products in his blood was inaccurate, it was because there was 1)a leak and 2)question as to why his sample was tested in the first place. Never has it come out that the test was incorrect or that it wasn't his sample (however Lance put both of those out there as possibly having happened).

1:06 PM  

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