Armstrong’s days of influence coming to an end
Landmark moment will ripple through the sport and bike industry.
The news that rocked not only the cycling world, but the sporting one, was Lance Armstrong’s press release stating he was stop fighting USADA and accept their punishment. In this case the punishment was all of his seven Tour de France titles were stripped, as well as, being banned for life.
Calling the investigation a “witch hunt” Armstrong said, “I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.” Truer words couldn’t have been spoken.
Lined up to testify were an anonymous ten riders who had knowledge of how Armstrong won those races. I’m sure they knew who really won the Tour from 1999 to 2005 and it wasn’t Armstrong.
I had said for months that this was Armstrong’s escape route - claim that USADA is a kangaroo court, he’s a martyr and he sleeps well believing he won the Tour de France seven times. The general public will still line up to see him and he can continue doing whatever he wants to do, except of course cycling and Ironman triathlons. I even suspect one of his Armstrong-friendly writers will pen a book stating how he was screwed by USADA and there was no way he could get a fair hearing.
So with Armstrong now part of the disgraced winners club, who’s the true winner of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005? Jan Ullrich, Alex Zülle, Joseba Beloki, Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso? All of these riders have the stink of doping on them - and you can go back even deeper on the general classification list - Vinokourov anyone?
The days following Armstrong’s statement I was a guest on several sport radio shows and did print interviews. Each time I was asked the same question - did Lance Armstrong dope? I try not to beat around the bush if I don’t have to and when asked I gave my opinion: Lance Armstrong cheated his way to seven Tour de France titles.
There are numerous articles written at this point declaring how he accomplished a doping program with testimony from ex-teammates - retired and those still active.
I was at the USA Pro Challenge when the statement dropped - specifically checking into my hotel. Walking in behind me was Frankie Andreu. Frankie and his wife Betsy testified that they heard Armstrong say in 1996 in his hospital bed he took performance enhancing drugs. Since then their lives were turned upside down.
I asked Frankie if he’s heard the news and he had. But there was no huge excitement on his face. For one, there’s still a ways to go before Armstrong gets stripped of any titles. The UCI has had a murky relationship with the now disgraced Tour de France winner, which includes payments to the governing body for $125,000. The funds were used to buy a Sysmex blood-testing machine. Yes - the irony is delicious.
At this point the UCI is going to look at USADA’s evidence, which it says in enormous, and