News & Analysis
Lance Armstrong Investigation: Not Really About Sports at All
Lance Armstrong doping case: 11 teammates testified against cycling legend ... Armstrong's former teammates testified against him in its investigation of the cyclist, revealing "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." – AP
Dominant Social Theme: Lance Armstrong, a criminal, has finally been caught ...
Free-Market Analysis: We've written about the vendetta against Lance Armstrong before, and now the proverbial other shoe has dropped. The news is all over the Internet and presumably Armstrong will soon be stripped of various titles.
It will be difficult to decide to whom those titles should go. Doping was so pervasive during the era when Armstrong won his titles that officials might have to go deep into the pack to find someone beyond suspicion. We read somewhere that it might end up being a finisher out of the top ten.
The charges resemble a kind of vendetta. Armstrong is surely being made an example of. Here's some more from the article:
USADA will deliver its reasoned decision against Armstrong later Wednesday, a summary of the facts it used to hand him a lifetime suspension and erase his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong's teammates – 11 in total – testified against him to the USADA.
In a news release previewing the decision, USADA CEO Travis Tygart said it would include more than 1,000 pages of evidence. He listed 11 of Armstrong's former teammates, including George Hincapie, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, as among those providing evidence that led to the sanction.
Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani declined immediate comment, referring to a letter the cyclist's attorney sent to USADA on Tuesday.
The letter accused USADA of acting as "prosecutor, judge, jury, appellate court and executioner" in issuing a "biased, one-sided and untested version of events."
It also renewed Armstrong's assertion that witnesses, particularly riders, were offered deals of reduced punishments in exchange for their testimony against him. Aware of the criticism it has faced from Armstrong and his legion of followers, Tygart insisted USADA handled this case under the same rules as any other.
"We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand," he said.
In delivering the report to the International Cycling Union (UCI), Tygart called for the federation to create a meaningful program to help clean up the sport.
We wonder if "cleaning up the sport" is something that can be done, given the amount of money at stake and the technological advancements that are constantly taking place.
Doping remains pervasive, in our view, and that goes for professional sports and the Olympics as well. Just look at the physiques of certain athletes. Human beings haven't evolved in 30 years, but these athletes certainly have. Their physiques resemble those of comic book heroes and bodybuilders, both men and women.
Some people will try to win using whatever aid is available. That's human nature and it won't be changed. But instead of recognizing that, we have the spectacle of these endless, multi-million dollar investigations.
Not only are they tedious and incredibly expensive, they are often launched for reasons that have little or nothing to do with "justice." We previously quoted Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post about the USADA's pursuit of Armstrong.
... A federal judge wrote last week, "USADA's conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives."
Quite independently of Lance, with whom I wrote two books, for a long, long time I've had serious doubts about the motives, efficiency and wisdom of these "doping" investigations ...
I have so many problems with USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) — which is supposed to be where athletes can appeal, only they never, ever win — that it's hard to know where to begin. American athletes have lost 58 of 60 cases before the CAS. Would you want to go before that court?
Anyone who thinks an athlete has a fair shot in front of CAS should review the Alberto Contador case. Contador was found to have a minuscule, insignificant amount of clenbuterol in his urine during the 2010 Tour de France. After hearing 4,000 pages of testimony and debate, CAS acknowledged that the substance was too small to have been performance-enhancing and that its ingestion was almost certainly unintentional.
Therefore he was guilty. He received a two-year ban.
CAS's rationale? "There is no reason to exonerate the athlete so the ban is two years," one member of the panel said.
Would you want to go before that court?
This powerful sports body and others like it have pursued Armstrong for some 15 years even though he was NEVER caught using any kind of drug or steroid that would affect his performance.
Today, the mainstream media is in full cry over Armstrong. He is a "cheat," though those he competed against were likely doping, too.
It is really a dominant social theme that is being exercised here, in our view. Sports are a metaphor for a larger world view being propagated by a power elite that intends to make the point that a ruling "authority" is always necessary.
Every part of society is permeated by this meme – entertainment, sports, even art (think art criticism). Nothing is immune. The spectacle of sports these days is too often one presenting doping investigations rather than competition.
Conclusion: Those involved don't care. They have a point to make. It's not really about sports at all ...
Posted by mrlennyman on 10/15/12 08:29 PM
While I generally concur with the majority of the ideas in the Daily Bell I am at a loss as to figure out the motives behind this editorial.
Was the staff reporter a big fan? Are you trying to somehow extrapolate a convoluted Elite meme excuse for Lance's wrong doings?
The article is loose and the logic flimsy at best - you even quote someone who wrote 2 books with Lance as though they would be some kind of voice of authentic reason.
Lance Armstrong is and was a drug cheat and this is where the story ends.
Many journalists and investigators have been persuing him for years and it is no surprise that the authorities eventually caught up with him.
I have read many books on the sport and it is corrupt and riddled with drug use.
But to think that finally catching and convicting the biggest cheat of them all is some kind of Elite meme is incredibly tenuous and not the kind of standard of writing and thinking which I would come to expect here. It is scatter brained and seems like someone who has been accused of being a conspiracy theorist (in the pejorative sense)has grabbed a keyboard and started writing.
It is about sport. It is about cheating in sport and it is about trying to eradicate that cheating.
Get a grip.
Reply from The Daily Bell
We have a disagreement. All modern professional sports are seemingly an elite meme. They are presented as existing only because of regulatory discipline (rules, etc.). We are taught that without a supervisory authority there can be no sport. Just as without government there can be no market and no prosperity. And we disagree. ...
Posted by Bobby7 on 10/12/12 12:23 PM
"Lance Armstrong Investigation: Not Really About Sports at All."
NO! Its about all the other athletes who DIED from taking drugs. Do the research! Lance had the money to employ the medical experts, who tested him for side effects etc, whereas another rider didn't have the money to pay for this expertise and DIED from drug effects.
ALL sports are infected by drug enhancing chemicals, that will give the athlete or the team the edge over the opposition.
Lack of moralitin life, goes on to contaminate the standards in sport.
Its the HYPOCRISY of people, who demand superhuman performances from athletes & yet condemn the athlete for taking drugs to give such performances, THAT MAKES ME PUKE!
Even with the drug taking, I think Lance Armstrong is a powerful athlete. Its a pity his manner left him down at times.
LET THE RECORD STAND AS IT IS!
LANCE ARMSTRONG WAS A WORLD CLASS ATHLETE.
Reply from The Daily Bell
NO! Its about all the other athletes who DIED from taking drugs.
Legalize it and the mortality rate will plunge.
Posted by eddd7 on 10/12/12 11:50 AM
USADA is supposedly a non-profit. Yet, they get money from the feds. So who might we guess their allegiance is to?
I've been told that USADA's head dude, Tygart, makes $390k per year. That's very heady for a supposed non-profit. If true, a sweet gig like his would be motivation to win at all costs, no?
Imagine the money USADA can bring to bear to further their prosecutions. Even with Armstrong's money, going up against a bottomless pit of money means, in the end - you lose!
Posted by Merridth80 on 10/12/12 09:55 AM
Personally, I think all athletes and the Catholic church should suspend all activities for about two years! Do not give these rodents looking for meat anything to chase after. If the athletes did no sports, & the catholic church took away these events, hospitals, schools etc, there would be no events to investigate! There would be no need for these rodents to hunt!
Posted by TimurTheLame on 10/11/12 07:04 PM
Good points. The fantastic zeal shown with these prosecutions may be a sub-meme in convincing the addled mob who can always relate to sports- that cheaters never prosper.
Especially zealous perhaps because one might want to camouflage the total lack of prosecutions on Wall Street in the traditional sense or the disinterest in 911 re- investigations.
Even at Pearl Harbour they found it necessary to cashier an innocent ( Admiral Kimmel). They knew that the public would demand a body. These days the big criminals either get promotions or huge bonuses. The bodies they offer are the Clemonses not the Bernakes
The 'immune from prosecution' criminals have ruined the lives of each and every honest citizen and their progeny for generations to come. In your face peasants! Sorry, I got off topic. Lance Armstrong, criminal extraordinaire. The system works.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"Especially zealous perhaps because one might want to camouflage the total lack of prosecutions on Wall Street in the traditional sense or the disinterest in 911 re- investigations."
Posted by bionic mosquito on 10/11/12 05:25 PM
So Lance is (presumably) a liar. At least he hasn't killed thousands (or millions) in the name of freedom and democracy, using lies and deceptions all the way to the evil ends.
This entire scam of drug testing athletes is nothing more that the most public version of the drug war. A continuous reminder of the "good" work of the state, purifying mankind.
Who defines what an athlete can put in their body? On what basis?
Stop carb-loading pasta - there is nothing "natural" about such a diet. What makes this acceptable? Where is the line drawn?
The fiat money-regulatory regime makes possible the oversized wealth available to athletes today. It is this wealth that tempts them to take every shortcut - no matter how unhealthy the means. Back in Babe Ruth's day, the worst you could say is that ballplayers drank and smoked. The fiat money wasn't in the sport.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"Stop carb-loading pasta - there is nothing "natural" about such a diet. What makes this acceptable? Where is the line drawn?"
Posted by Dilence Sogwood on 10/11/12 03:45 PM
But how many people are employed in the labs? What about their jobs?
Posted by eddiestinson on 10/11/12 03:15 PM
I could care less what the 'motives' may or may not be by Armstrongs accusers.
If it is proven he is a deceitful scumbag who led hundreds of people around the world to worship him... . then may he and his unearned reputation rot some place ugly... ... ... ..
Reply from The Daily Bell
Will the prosecution of Armstrong result in restitution? To whom? Will it stop drugging and doping in sports? Will it result in the prosecution of the rest of the doping crowd? Will it make any change at all? If not ... what's the point?
Posted by hgretzinger on 10/11/12 03:13 PM
Just because everyone was cheating does make it alright that Lance cheated. He had the money to cheat better than the others. His doctors were about 18 months ahead of the rest of the Peleton (see Tyler Hamilton's book "The secret Race").
He is guilty along three lines of evidence. No amount of charity work, justifies or changes the fact that he cheated. He is losing all credibility by refusing to confess and apologize.
Another issue is restitution. This is nearly impossible unless one has the ability to unscramble eggs and time travel.