To move on or to dwell in the past?
Are we going to enjoy the sport for the beauty or the swag?
The word “omertà” has been used a lot lately. Most often it is associated with a rider’s silence to protect a secret. The fallout from Lance Armstrong’s refusal to contest the USADA ruling has made me realize that omertà isn’t restricted to professional athletes.
Cycling television commentator Phil Liggett had a Skype-type interview with Ballz Radio (yes, that’s really their radio call sign) in South Africa. In this interview he dropped a couple of bomb shells such as shadowy agents from USADA tried to bribe a witness to testify by telling the person that if they agreed to talk against Armstrong, “they wouldn’t want for money again.” Wow – did you hear that? That’s a news bombshell exploding! A non-profit government agency that is partially funded by Congress is going to set someone up financially for life? Considering this country may be on the brink of a Great Recession and we are closing post offices, that’s an amazing offer from USADA!
Liggett and several other journalists and commentators are still clinging to a myth even as evidence continues to pile up that Armstrong cheated his way to seven Tour de France wins.
The reason these journalists and authors continue to prop up a false idol is a combination of financial gain and, I think in the case of Liggett, manipulation. What Liggett had left of his reputation before the Ballz interview is ruined now that Armstrong has joined the Disgraced Tour de France Cheaters Club. The other Armstrong supporters in the media who have written books extolling the amazing physical virtues of an athlete that cheated now look ridiculous.
While the riders’ omertà is slowly tumbling down, we still need to weed it out of the bike industry. Only then can we truly get a clean start. Okay, I’m taking a deep breath and letting it go as there was actually bike racing continuing and I’m going to write about that. But no promises regarding returning to the doping subject as news develops. In about two weeks, evidence against Armstrong is going to get even more compelling as USADA discloses to the UCI the evidence amassed. I hear it’s a doozy ...
Typically the end of the season kind of sputters out. Sure there’s the Vuelta a Espana, but the ratings aren’t anywhere as high in the States for Spain’s national tour when compared to the Tour de France. State side we had the awkwardly named USA Pro Challenge (or sometimes called the USA Pro Cycling Challenge) in Colorado. Whatever the name, it was a great race.
I was there at the USA Pro Challenge and barring one day, there was a constant leadership change. Also the racing was aggressive with a ballsy attack from Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) hanging on to win the stage in Aspen by three seconds and crowd favorite Jens Voigt going solo for almost 80 miles to win in Beaver Creek. This is exactly what the sport needed to get back on the right foot: entertaining racing with interesting personalities. Each and every start and finish town in