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Joe Papp and His Place in Anti-Doping

Posted by bikezilla on November 9, 2011


 

 

I don’t know Joe Papp. I’ve never spoken to Joe Papp. On a day to day basis, I don’t pay attention to Joe Papp.  I have no personal investment in what I’m writing, here.

 

Yesterday (08 Nov 11) I read an article / interview on Cycling News, by Daniel Benson  about Papp’s time as a dealer of EPO to professional athletes, including cyclists, and about his conversion to anti-doping warrior based upon his co-operation with the feds in many doping prosecutions, due purely to his desire to stay out of prison.

 

Joe has received positive and negative feedback on all of this.

 

Regardless of how noble or ignoble his reasons for his transformation from Sith to Jedi, I don’t doubt his commitment to the cause.

 

In addition to keeping his ass out of jail, this journey into the light is also Joe’s claim to fame and his means to remain relevant, at least within cycling.

 

He has no lack of motivation to continue using the Force for good.

 

But, none of that is related to the point I wanted to make. 

 

I have to believe that Papp is in a far better position to damage the culture of doping in professional cycling than many other people who hope to make a difference in cycling’s doping culture, because he’s coming from so deep inside that culture. He’s a man In-the-Know. He knows names, dates, times, places. He can’t be fooled with the “there is no systemic, systematic or organized doping within professional cycling” bullshiite.

 

There are many people, people with titles like president, owner, manager, director, coach and rider, who could swing a lightsaber at Papp’s side, not because they’re under any legal duress, but because it’s the right, just, ethical, moral and honorable thing to do. You know, like a real Jedi.

However, it’s painfully clear that without inserting their asses into slings that this is never going to happen. There just isn’t anyone in professional cycling with that kind of integrity.

 

I’ll leave you with something Jonathan Vaughters  sent me a while back, which speaks directly to Papp’s value in the fight against doping. And I’ll hope that in the not-too-distant future other Jedis will be found:

 

JV:

 

“Piracy was never solved by the Royal Navy. Corruption prevented solution. Henry Morgan, a pirate, or former pirate, was the single (person) most responsible for the end of piracy in the Caribbean, after he was hired by the Royal Navy.”

 

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2011 Tour de France, the Most Heavily Doped Race in Years

Posted by bikezilla on June 27, 2011


Alberto Contador learned his lesson when he got snagged for doping at the 2010 Tour de France. He learned not to use clenbuterol or other “lesser” performance enhancing drugs in the days leading up to drawing blood for later transfusion.

At the 2011 Giro d’Italia Contador dominated like a machine. He humiliated all comers and hardly broke a sweat doing it, giving away stage wins like a king granting parcels of land to favored vassals.

At the elite level of any sport, the difference between levels of excellence is measured in hair breadths, not light-years. Alberto’s dominance at the Giro would be expected if someone of his talent were racing against ProConti riders. But against a collection of elites?

Alberto’s competitors learned as well, both from Alberto and from UCI.

From Alberto they learned that if they are to stand any chance whatsoever of defeating him in this year’s Tour de France, they must be just as skilled and ruthless at doping as he is.

From UCI they learned that they have nothing to fear, regardless of how obviously they dope.

Because just a few months ago we saw the Index of Suspicion, aka The List.

The List was intended for use in targeting the most suspicious riders, those whose biological passport data indicated the highest likelihood of having doped during that season.

But that targeting of the most highly suspect riders never occurred.

Then, during the build up to the Amgen EPO Tour of California USADA was slotted to take over testing from the UCI and ran a three month program of pre-race blood testing leading. They had used that testing cycle to again identify the riders who were most highly suspect and formed their own Index of Suspcion, which we were told would actually be used for its intended purpose.

But just days before the race, in order to prevent just such targeting, UCI removed USADA from the in race testing program and took over those duties itself, tossing all of USADA’s work and its List out the window.

Riders are faced with a choice, race clean and be humiliated or dope to the gills and be competitive. Knowing that UCI not only expects them to dope, but tacitly condones it and will take drastic steps to protect dopers, we can expect to see doping at this edition of the Tour de France rise to new heights.

I also anticipate that we’ll see some performances that will make the best of Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador (to date) look mundane.

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Jonathan Vaughters Interview: Part 2: Ethics, Roger Legeay, The List, PEDs

Posted by bikezilla on June 8, 2011


Part 1, Part 2, Postscript

This is Part 2 of my interview with Jonathan Vaughters.

From May 26, 2011.

Jonathan Vaughters:

“Like I said before, did French teams take steps to eliminate doping from their internal culture long before it was de rigeur? Yes, absolutely they did, without a doubt. I was on one in 2000 – 2001, Crédit Agricole.

“It was straight as an arrow.

“To my way of thinking Roger Legeay took a very strict line very early on, and was not overly concerned with whether that affected the performance of the team or not.

“Hat’s off to him. I have a huge, huge level of respect for him for doing that. It influenced my life considerably.”

Bikezilla:

Could you have gotten where you are without him? Would you have?

JV:

“No. No, absolutely not.

“Roger had a very big influence on me in a lot of different ways. Obviously the wasp sting thing.

“You know, there’s all kinds of different stories, but the real story about it is: I got the wasp sting and needed a cortisone injection. I knew the cortisone injection was illegal. But, if you had a knee injury, then it was legal.

“So all we had to do was produce a prescription for a knee injury and I could have continued the Tour de France, right?

“Me? What did I do? I said goddammit, write in my little book that I have a knee injury and give me the injection. I argued with him for hours, and the team doctor.

“Roger was the one who put his foot down and said, ‘No, you’re not going to do that.’

“And I hated him for months after that.

“But today I see that he made the right choice.

“A lot of people think I said ‘no’ to the cortisone. No, no, no, no. I wanted the cortisone. I absolutely wanted the cortisone.

“It was Roger Legeay who prevented me from making a wrong decision.”

Bz:

Legeay put ethics ahead of performance.

JV:

“Yes. Absolutely.”

Bz:

Just yesterday (25 May 11) you re-posted the link to a year old article about your stance on Garmin riders talking about doping.

In it you say:

” (the team is) on the belief in our ability to contribute to changing the sport’s future through a persistent commitment to the present.”

“. . . we find ourselves at a critical moment in cycling’s evolution: confronting its past.”

“. . .  we believe it is time for transparency.”

“We expect anyone in our organization who is contacted by any cycling, anti-doping, or government authority will be open and honest with that authority. In that context, we expect nothing short of 100% truthfulness – whatever that truth is – to the questions they are asked. As long as they express the truth about the past to the appropriate parties, they will continue to have a place in our organization and we will support them for living up to the promise we gave the world when we founded Slipstream Sports.”

On Twitter the same day you said:

“. . .  .read the statement carefully. I’m not throwing anyone out for being honest about their past with authorities.”

And then: 

” . . . Oh, just folks getting grumpy about me not being candid about my past with media outlets. Don’t consider them ‘authorities’ sorry.’

Commitment to the present; confronting the past; time for transparency.

Those terms seem to be in conflict.

Your commitment to the present is the team’s anti-doping program, but also your personal efforts to achieve reform in the process to make it more effective, more difficult to beat and less corrupt.

JV:

“Yes, absolutely, all those things. You have to deal with the here and now.”

Bz:

But “confronting the past” seems to be an exercise in ignoring the past where doping is concerned: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.  Like if we just ignore all of that and do the right thing ourselves as we move forward, all will be right with the world.

JV:

“No, no, no. If you ignore it, then you have no capacity to change the future.

“What you say is of very little consequence. It’s how you act, how you choose to go forward based on the information in your past.

“Does my past give me an incredible body of information to be able to change the future and the present? Absolutely it does.

“But knowing it is accepting it, living with it, alright, based on what I know and based on my experiences, this is the way forward.”

Bz:

This ties into your statement about transparency.

You make it very clear that it’s ok for team members to talk, “to authorities” and that it’s not only ok, but expected for them to respond in total honesty should “authority” ask.

But only if they’re asked.

Those statements seem to imply that riders and team members should not take initiative to offer information on their own, not even to “authority”.

JV:

“Nooooo, I don’t have a problem if they take the initiative on their own. I don’t have any issue with that whatsoever.

“Remember, that (the re-posted link / story – Bikezilla) was written over a year ago. At that point in time it was clear that the FDA was going to be investigating this issue.

“So, my point was, if any of my guys are contacted, here’s my expectation.

“I think the more important part of that is that the expectation is, you will be honest: You are compelled by your employer to complete honesty.

“And, by the way, I’m also an employee of Slipstream Sports. So I fall under all that.

“You will be completely forthcoming and honest, and no matter what that truth is, as long as you are truthful, you have a place with us.

“I think that’s very clear.”

Bz:

So you don’t have a problem with employees going to authorities on their own. They don’t have to wait for someone to ask them, if they choose to they can just go to Jeff Novitzky or whoever?

JV:

“Yeah, absolutely. No, I have no problem with that at all.”

Bz:

It also seems that you’re implying, quite strongly, that riders and team members are not to, and not permitted to (or at least very strongly discouraged from), speak to any non-“authority”, and that you may very well “throw anyone out” who does speak to a non-“authority”.

JV:

“I would never throw anyone out for that. It’s just that I’m not going to compel them to speak to the media.

“It’s my personal belief that that is not the best way forward.

“If there’s an investigation going on, then you should let those investigators do their work the best that they can. If you are asked to be part of it, you need to be honest.

“If you’re not asked to be part of it maybe they don’t need you. But if you want to go forward, then however you want to play that.

“But I don’t necessarily feel that it’s productive to coming to the best possible conclusion of an investigation if you’re putting things out publicly.

“I feel like there are people that, this is their job, and those people need to have the truth. Period.”

Bz:

So they’re not forbidden from speaking to the media and there are no punitive measures taken if they do?

JV:

“Absolutely not.”

Bz:

When UCI’s “Index of Suspicion” for the 2010 Tour de France was leaked, it rated Tyler Farrar a 3 and David Millar a 4 on a scale of 0 – 10 (with 10 being worst – Bikezilla). 

When fans saw that, there was a lot of “I knew it!” about Millar and “Holy jeebus please no” about Tyler.

JV:

“Millar is a 4 because of his history. He has very stable blood values. Period.

“Tyler . . . I mean, who knows. Why he was a 3 rather than a 2 or a zero or whatever, I don’t know. But what I do know is that, anyone who has worked for a long time in reading hematology knows that there are little variances, and those little variances come and go.

“For instance, there may be a zero in that race, but if you measured him in a race three weeks later he might be a three.

“The point is, there’s no problem having a list like that, but if you dealt with a lot of hematology and read these blood records over the years, you’d realize that there is no rider in the entire peloton that has never produced a test that isn’t a little bit weird.

“There are enough issues with just the human body and transportation of blood samples, laboratories, so on and so forth, that that’s just the way it works.

“But whenever you see an odd blood value . . . there should be a targeting system like this. It just shouldn’t be leaked publicly.

“When you see an odd blood value, you say, we need to follow up on this and test the shit out of this guy. And you do it and either you immediately see, ok that was anomalous, no big deal. Or, there’s a problem.

“So, there should be a prioritization of the athletes, there. But it shouldn’t be leaked to the public, because, I can guarantee you, that if you did that same test and that same compilation a month or two months later with the same group of riders, some of the zeros would be fours, some of the fours would be zeros. It would be very different. That’s just the way it works.

“It’s ok if someone produces an unusual value. It’s ok to prioritize testing them more. That’s what you should do.

“But when a list comes out like that and it’s misinterpreted, it’s out of context, no one is giving everyone the perspective that unexpected performances are part of that.

“Why is Fabian Cancellara a zero? Well, he probably had very stable blood. Good. Perfect. Was him winning the prologue unexpected? No. Not at all. It was very expected.

“How about Geraint Thomas? Geraint Thomas was fifth in the prologue at the Tour de France (2010, :23 – Bikezilla). Was that unexpected? That was very unexpected.

“So, who’s Geraint Thomas? Would you not target him? You would.”

Bz:

The people who make this list, does someone give you the courtesy of informing you when blood values are out of line? So you can do something non-punitive on your own?

JV:

“No, not at all.

“This list, the way it’s set out, none of us had any idea about it. The first time I saw it was the same time you saw it.”

Bz:

Cycling fans are pretty emotional.

Seeing Tyler above a 0 really hurt a lot of people and that came out as anger. Most of that anger was directed at you.

JV:

“And that’s fine. But Tyler has never doped, will never dope.

“I don’t even know exactly why he’s a three. My guess is, he did the Giro that year, the Giro is a very hard race and it’s gonna drop your hematacrit considerably when you race in it, because of fatigue. As you rest before the Tour de France it’s going to come back up.

“If you look at that on a curve, it goes down, down, down, then it comes back up. So it’s like, oh, that’s an interesting up and down, we need to follow up on that.

“It really upsets me that that list was even released, because it doesn’t give people context.

“I prefer that they just release the raw blood data, rather than release that list. Because now you have this little nugget and you don’t know how those numbers were arrived at.

“I think it’s just a huge disservice. Whoever released it should be fired.

“To be frank, the custodians of that information, the fact that it somehow filtered its way out, and I don’t know if it was intentional or accidental, really need to think about the damage that they inflicted on the reputations of innocent athletes.”

Bz:

So when people wonder, why didn’t JV pull so-and-so non-punitively, you never had access to the information.

JV:

“No. I have access from the records of what WE do with Catlin’s and our program. Yeah, I have access to that.

Bz:

But you didn’t have The List and you didn’t have the data from that specific round of testing?

JV:

“No. No.

“Eventually they do post those test results. But, they don’t say, you’re a one or a six or an eight or whatever. They post the raw results on the Biological Passport for each individual rider.

“So, then you can access it. But that’s usually weeks and weeks after the fact.”

Bz:

Have you ever removed someone from competition because of issues with blood values?

JV:

“I can’t comment. If you want to prevent doping, you may have to pull someone out with values that give a 70% chance of having doped.

“But it would be wrong to publicly ruin someone’s reputation over a 70% probability, wouldn’t it?

“So, if I had, you would never know. But WADA would be informed before the athlete, so they could target.”

Bz:

In your “Connect the Dots” blog on CN, you discuss your (former and admittedly incorrect) condemnation of Xavier Tondo, based upon his association with dopers and his proximity to doping.

Many people look at your own association with dopers, your proximity to doping during your career as a rider, and some of your own statements and near or semi-acknowledgments regarding personal use of PEDs for their own “Ah ha!” attitudes about you.

I’m talking about things like the July 25, 2005 IM conversation you had with Frankie Andreu:

“That’s when I realized that Lance was really fooling us when he said that everybody was doing as we did… Believe me, as crazy as it may seem, Moreau didn’t take anything, his hematocrit was 39.”

Or mentioning that you’d never tested above 50% hematocrit (in a race), and when you said you weren’t worried about the retested 1999 Tour urine samples because you never took a urine test at that Tour. 

“I’d never tested (at a race) above 50 percent, except before the start of the ’99 Tour,” he said. “I told the team doctor ‘don’t worry, I’ve got a certificate, I’ve got a hall-pass for this (because he was a climber — Bikezilla)’,” he recalled. “But the doctor said it wasn’t me they were worried about, it was that the whole team was very close (to the 50 percent limit).”

Then, at least twice, once in your interview with Paul Kimmage, once with Sport24.com / Le Figaro, you’ve made statements that seem to confirm your personal use of PEDs, but in a way that you could say, “I never said that.” 

Here’s a part of your exchange with Kimmage:

PK: “Okay, fine. You are painting me a picture and I’m reading between the lines.”

JV: “And you’re welcome to read between the lines. I’m completely okay with that.”

PK: “My perception is that you doped.”

JV: “You’re an intelligent person, so your perception is . . . [laughs]”

PK: “I want a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.”

JV: “I know you want a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.”

PK: “I want to know: Did you dope? I want to know: Why did you dope? And I want to know how you felt about doping?”

JV: “And what I will tell you is that people are free to make the judgments they want out of my cycling career,” 

PK: “Jonathan, I don’t understand what your problem is here. It’s a valid question. I’m not going to walk away from it.”

JV: “I’m not asking you to walk away from it. I can see that you are trying to establish a background and that’s fine but what I’m saying is that I’m just not going  to talk about it and that’s it. You can take that however you want.”

Which comes across as a deeply hedged admission. It’s so close to an admission that it’s impossible not to wonder why you didn’t just take that one small step further and answer, “yes” to Kimmage question.

Then from your Sport24.com / Le Figaro interview:

— Question: (Sport24.com / Le Figaro): “One of the problems of cycling is it that most team managers’ current runners who were steeped in years of doping?” (restated, Isn’t the problem in cycling that most current team managers, themselves, have a history of doping? — Bikezilla)

Answer (Jonathan Vaughters): “Yes, obviously. 

“Myself, I was part of this generation “doped.” (I think it should have read (“this ‘doped’ generation”, but this is a translated text — Bikezilla)

“But if we have the right mindset, good ethics, we are the right people. Because we made these mistakes, we know the inner pain of living with this lie. 

“I do not want the new generation do the same thing. It is our responsibility to present a sport where there is no need to make these bad choices. 

“I have a ten year old boy. I do not know if he will make the bike but if it becomes cyclist, I will pass on my knowledge because I do not want him to enter the sport as it was before. 

“Instead, the best asset in cycling today is to have these people with that experience, because they have good intentions, they can prevent errors. 

“Let everyone realize he must take a new direction. It is a battle he must win.”

Bz:

That’s strong, but it’s still as close as you could get to making an admission without actually saying, “I used PEDs.”.

JV:

“Just to be very clear on that, the people who need to know the absolute, specific information and truth about my past, those people know that information. And I don’t have any problem with that.

“People who I have an obligation to be honest with, my family, my friends, my riders, I am.

“But do I think I need to make a big fuss over what occurred in my past and make me the center of attention and take that away from the riders I have? No.

“In fact, I think it’s fundamentally wrong that I create a big hullabaloo about myself. I think that’s wrong. I think it distracts from the riders’ focus. I think it distracts from the attention placed on the team. It think it’s just plain stupid.

“I mean, let’s not forget, I walked away from the sport when I was 29 years old, when I had a year left on a contract. I said, yeah, I’m outta here. I had a year left on my contract, I probably had a good five or six years left in my career. That’s the story.

“I feel like the decisions I made were the best decisions that I could have made at that point in time. Some of them were wrong, some of them were right. But the point is I lived it, I did it, I have moved on with my life.

“That’s just part of becoming an adult, or whatever you want to call it. You just have to go forward with life.

“Do I ignore or not confront the things in my past? No. That’s absolutely silly.

“Do I feel that I need to make a spectacle out of it? Absolutely not.

“Because I feel like that is a fundamental disservice to a lot of people.”

Bz:

But you’ve hinted at it and talked around it at least half a dozen times.

JV:

“Well, that’s fine, because I’m not going to be dishonest. I mean, if people ask me a direct question I’m not going to be dishonest about it. But, at the same time I’m not going to make a spectacle out of it.

“It’s like, ok, here’s some problems, everyone knows that I lived through a very hard generation in cycling. And, ok, acknowledged.

“And now it’s time to go on to the next step.

“That’s not blasé, saying I’m focusing on the future. No, that’s saying I acknowledge my past, I’m responsible for all those decisions. I’m responsible for the consequences of those decisions. Every single one of them.”

Bz:

Did you use PEDs? Are you one of those who lived (still live) with the guilt that you mention?

JV:

“I’ll say the same thing I said in Le Figaro, and the same thing I just said to you, I acknowledge every decision I made in my past. I acknowledge that there are consequences to those decisions and I have to live with that, you don’t. No one else does. It’s only me.”

Bz:

The history and whatnot mentioned above is big, very big, in the reasons casting doubt on your integrity, ethics, the validity of your commitment to anti-doping.  But what spawns the most doubt, for me and for many fans and writers, maybe more than the fact that you’ve never come out with an unequivocal statement about your own use of peds, is the fact that you’ve consistently refused to expose the guilty, to give names, dates, times, places.

When you counseled Floyd Landis not to give out that information except to law enforcement officials, it cemented that opinion for a lot of people.

It looks like you’re protecting the embedded culture of doping, the poisonous omerta, like you’re helping to perpetuate the use of PEDs, all while proclaiming to promote a culture of clean riding both on Garmin and within the greater peloton.

Is it fair that fans and writers connect those dots and draw those conclusions?

JV:

“No, that’s absolutely not fair and to be frank it’s ridiculous.

“At the end of the day fans and media outlets have no impact, or very little impact in actually changing the internal workings of cycling. There are people who can have a great impact.

“Those people are WADA, those people are potentially federal authorities or police services in other countries.

“Those people have an absolute need for the truth in order to do their jobs properly and in order to enforce the rules of the sport, or the country, correctly.

“Do I think that you have an absolute need for that information? No, I don’t.

“And I don’t see an ounce of hypocrisy in that.

“I think it’s blatantly put out there in that statement. It’s straight as an arrow.

“I don’t see any issue at all

“Some sort of informational, confessional, I don’t see how that possibly changes the life of an eighteen year old up and coming rider that is coming into the sport and that you’re trying to prevent him from ever being faced with the decision to use performance enhancing drugs or not.

“End of the day my mission, my focus, is to make sure that that rider never encounters that decision. To make sure that they get the same advice that Roger Legeay gave me.

“The rest of it, I see it as a waste of time and my effort is going to be placed in young riders, making sure that they have good choices put in front of them.”

Bz:

You’re inserted deeply and broadly within professional cycling. You’re success as a cycling professional off the bike has easily surpassed your success as a professional on it, and far exceeds anything that Lance Armstrong can claim.

With a growing number of important insiders (Landis, Tondo, Hamilton, Hincapie(ish)) coming forward, exposing themselves at considerable personal risk for the sake of truth and of cycling, will you be joining their ranks? Do you think it’s wrong of them to do that?

JV:

“No, I don’t think it’s wrong. I think that the choices they made are perfectly acceptable to me. That’s their choice and that’s fine. But I’m allowed to choose my path, as well.

“I’m allowed to do what I think is the most effective way of making sure that doping does not occur in this sport from here forward. I’m allowed to choose what I think is the best path forward, as well.

“And I’m sure that those guys are doing what they think is best. And that’s fine. I have no problem with that at all. But I think that I’m also allowed to do what I think is best.”

Bz:

You don’t think you could make a greater difference than they do in the same way? By exposing the things that you know?

JV:

“Like I said, I feel there are people, WADA and other authorities that have an absolute need for specific information in order to improve anti-doping and enforce the rules going forward. I don’t think that CBS news or whoever need that.

“I’ve been in contact with WADA for many, many years regarding improving anti-doping.”

Bz:

At least three times  Bikezilla has had visitors from the DOJ and FDA, on searches based on doping or Lance Armstrong. Twice, including 23 May 2011, those searches concerned you. The most recent was from the USDOJ “Lance Armstrong Jonathan Vaughters doping”.

Have you been contacted by any law enforcement agency seeking information you might have regarding doping, either within professional cycling in general, specifically at U.S. Postal or regarding Lance Armstrong?

JV:

“I have not appeared in front of a Grand Jury at this time. I fully expect that at some point I will, or that I’ll be asked to.

As of here and now, today, that hasn’t happened.”

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Chris Carmichael, the Ignored Lance Armstrong Connection

Posted by bikezilla on May 25, 2011


This linked article was written for Flammecast and is one of the first meaningful articles pointing to trainer Chris Carmichael as one of the most significant antagonists in the Lance Armstrong saga.

It think that many Armstrong detractors have long held Carmichael in contempt, feeling on a gut level that he was one more cog in the Armstrong Miasma Machine. But where to start in our examination?

Flammecast shows us exactly where: With the athletes that Carmichael “allegedly” doped without their knowledge, and with guys like Greg Strock who sued coaches Carmichael and Rene Wenzel, along with trainer Angus Fraser for the equivalent of athletic date rape.

Carmichael settled out of court and had the result sealed. To me the fact that Carmichael made a payoff and that he desperately does not want the details revealed, resounds as a powerful admission of guilt.

Carmichael’s connections to guys like Michele Ferrari and Eddie Borysewicz (aka Eddy B) serve to cement the belief in his guilt.

Here’s the other article that Flammecast pointed us toward, the 60 Minutes II piece from July 11, 2001.

Another athletic date rape victim mentioned in the 60 Minutes II article, is Erich Kaiter. Just to point out that Strock wasn’t a lone victim and that this is a pattern of behavior.

The “alleged” rape of athletic charges was a gang undertaking, with coaches Carmichael, Wenzel and trainer Angus Fraser all “allegedly” taking turns violating their riders. All three were part of the lawsuit filed not only by Strock and Kaiter, but also Gerrik Latta and David Francis. More evidence that this is not just a single incident, but an ongoing pattern of behavior.

Like Strock, Kaiter also settled out of court. Another brick in the wall of Carmichael’s “alleged” guilt.

Notice how USA Cycling, which Jim Ochowicz presided over, is once again in the doping limelight. Though Ochowicz didn’t take over until 2002 (through 2006). What was his role with the organization prior to 2002?

Kendra Wenzel is a partner, along with Renee, in Wenzel Coaching. According to Wikipedia, Kendra Wenzel is now a board member of USA Cycling.

NOTE: Adam Myerson says:” Kendra Wenzel should get left out of that. She came after, and then divorced Rene. Kept his name and the biz, but not him.”

Ernie Lachuga (Ernie Lettuce?) was a rider on the same team as Lance Armstrong, Strock and Kaiter. He was stricken with the identical form of cancer as Lance Armstrong.

Here’s a long conversation about riders who’ve suffered health issues that they believe are directly related to doping during their careers.

Here’s an interview with Strock where he discusses his suit against Carmichael and Wenzel, though the terms of his settlement forbid him from mentioning Carmichael.

Here’s information on the suit, and Carmichael’s out of court settlement, rumored to have been $250,000.

I haven’t forgotten the sinister Thomas Weisel. I just don’t have any more time to write.

NOTE:

Sandy wrote in to say:

“I understand that the training team (Carmichael, et al) fed/injected the athletes “unknowingly” but even I at age 17 knew to ask my doctors what I was being given. Wouldn’t an athlete get at least a bit suspicious that his performance increased so dramatically from a vitamin shot/pill? I think the lawsuit happened because the athletes got sick and I can’t believe that they had no idea at all that they were being given something more than “vitameatavegimins” (I love lucy reference) during their whole time with Carmichael.”

Bikezilla:

You’re right, they should have asked more questions. but 1. they were minors, so lacked even the legal right to decide for themselves if they could or could not be given injections of anything by team coaches and trainers, and Carmichael “allegedly” failed to ask or inform their parents in any way 2. kids are taught not to question their coaches, to trust them (trust them as adults and as coaches), to let them lead and guide 3. Carmichael “allegedly” violated his position of trust and authority

How do you merge the notion of personal responsibility with those issues? There does need to be some personal responsibility, but how do you weight it and where does it fit vs Carmichael’s “alleged” actions?

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George Hincapie’s Confession

Posted by bikezilla on May 22, 2011


This week’s big news was hearing that George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong’s bestest best buddy, had ratted him out to the feds.

The first reaction from many people was, “George never fell under a cloud of suspicion!”

Really? Have you all been high for the past 12 years?

I get that George is well liked, that he works his ass off, that he’s always been selfless in his riding. I get that he’s admired by a lot of cycling fans.

But did any of you REALLY believe he was clean or that he wasn’t protecting Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, Hein Verbruggen, UCI and professional cycling’s mafioso culture of doping?

You believed in your heart of hearts that the entire U.S. Postal team was dirty . . . except Big George?

Are you daft?

The second reaction to Hincapie’s testimony before the Grand Jury was, “He’s doing the right thing.”

If by, “the right thing” you mean, “He’s avoiding going to prison on perjury charges.”, then, yes, he did the right thing.

But his betrayal of Lance Armstrong and his confession of his own use of PEDs had no element of altruism to it. He was just saving his own neck.

If it was left to George, he’d have gone to his grave protecting his own reputation and Lance Armstrong.

Hincapie has no problem at all with omerta, nor with continuing to protect cycling’s systemic but hidden culture of doping and those like Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong who would gleefully perpetuate its existence.

Hincapie will not lift one finger, waste one breath, excrete one drop of sweat in an effort to rid the sport of its doping vermin.

He just doesnt’ give a shit, and I get the sense that he actually feels disdain, even disgust toward those who do give a shit.

Hincapie is not cycling’s White Knight. He’s no one’s savior but his own.

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The List

Posted by bikezilla on May 14, 2011


For not strictly being cycling journalists, the guys at L’Equipe dig up a lot of really big stuff. Unfortunately that “really big stuff” almost always focuses on doping and is almost always an embarrassment to the sport on some level.

They recently published a secret UCI list (henceforth known simply as The List) intended for use in targeting the most suspect riders found through use of the biological passport.

The problem is that UCI seems to be turning a blind eye on almost all of them.

According to the article:

“Those in categories six and above (6-10) showed “overwhelming” evidence of some kind of doping, due to “recurring anomalies”, “enormous variations” in parameters, and even the “identification of doping products or methods””

The riders in categories 6-10, again as pointed out in the article, number 42. That’s approximately 1/4 of the total Tour de France starting field of 198 riders.

So far “targeted” riders have responded by basically saying the list is a bunch of hooey.

Garmin – Cervelo’s David Millar was recently interviewed by Bicycling magazine’s Bill Strickland. Millar is a “4” according to the list.

Millar claims that since his suspension for doping that his entire perspective on his career has changed, that now he rides simply for the joy of it.

This is a a link to the related video of the Millar statements about The List.

He and Garmin team owner, Jonathan Vaughters, both explain his “4” rating as a response to his past indiscretions.

Garmin’s Tyler Farrar ranks “3” and this is explained to me by Vaughters:

” . . . remember, its performance and blood value based. Tyler has never doped and never will.”

Those may be true and valid points. But AIGCP’s public response (remembering that AIGCP, the team’s “union”, is also lead by Vaughters) is so defensive that it makes many fans think they (AIGCP) have something to hide.

It may not be fair and it may not be true, but once you view things in that light the next logical step is to wonder if there is collusion between UCI and AIGCP in the protection of doped, or apparently doped, riders.

During the upcoming AMGEN EPO Tour of California the USADA was supposed to take over doping controls from UCI.

USADA in fact did run a three month long pre-race anti-doping program and, based upon that data, came up with a list similar in nature to the secret list published by L’Equipe.

Based on that list, USADA intended a targeted anti-doping program to be performed by them during the Tour of Cali.

UCI refused to target the most suspect riders based on its own list during the 2010 Tour de France. In order to prevent the targeting of the most suspect riders found in the USADA’s pre Tour of Cali testing program, UCI has ousted USADA from the in race testing. UCI will instead run that testing program themselves, again avoiding the most suspicious riders, just like they did during the 2010 Tour.

The Vaughters/ AIGCP response condemning that action, is at least reassuring.

Here is the “Index of Suspicion” from L’Equipe, breaking down the ratings by teams and countries.

CAS president John Coates says that the “Suspicion Index” doesn’t indicate suspicion of any rider.

Which must make The List utterly useless, explaining why a list created for the sole purpose of targeting the most suspicious riders isn’t actually used to target those riders for testing.

So what IS The List used for? Obviously it’s most useful purpose is in formulating exactly how much each rider should have to pay McQuaid for burying the inconsistencies and excessively high values of their biological passports.

I feel a little irritation with Vaughters and other team managers and owners for getting angry over this leak. Because many of them have their own histories in and around professional cycling’s culture of doping, yet they’ve always refused to reveal what they know and expose those involved.

Why was The List leaked to begin with? Because someone on the inside finally got sick of UCI’s cover ups, their favoritism of certain riders, their accepting of bribes to bury results, their lies about the absence of team run and sponsored doping programs, their collusion in the entire corrupt mafioso system.

If UCI had not been protecting suspected riders, there would have been no need for the leak. Leaking The List is someone’s response to being sick and tired of UCI corruption and protection of doping riders and the doping culture.

If guys like Vaughters, Bjarne Riis, Johan Bruyneel, Jim Ochowicz, John LeLangue and their peers would have stepped forward over the years and opened up to the authorities (even if they chose to keep the press out of it) regarding names, places, times, days and dates, doping would already be in its final death throws. It’s at least partially because of them and people like them that Pat McQuaid and UCI are even able to run their perpetual anti-doping bait and switch.

It’s hard to accept that the very guys with the most power to expose and destroy doping, can be the same guys complaining about the problems created by doping, including the leaking of The List.

Vaughters rightly points out that leaking a list like this could give offenders a heads up. But a heads up is only meaningful if there’s a serious potential for prosecution. It’s obvious from The List that such potential does not exist, so exposing The List and UCI’s refusal to pursue suspensions is just and right.

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A Conversation With Bill Strickland: Part 5: The Damning Quote

Posted by bikezilla on May 5, 2011


Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

This is possibly the one quote that is most fervently believed to indicate that Bill Strickland had specific and unequivocal knowledge that Lance Armstrong doped, but that Bill buried that information to protect his connections and access to Armstrong, and to enrich himself and further his career.

It’s from “Tour de Lance” on page 10.

Bill Strickland:

“And I’d sat on some more serious revelations, things Bruyneel told me about the inner workings of the sport but also things I’d heard from team directors, riders, coaches, and other people who assumed that because I was close to Bruyneel I must have already known what they were talking about. I was surprised to find out that this information was even easier to keep to myself. I knew things to be true that I wished I’d never been told. I knew many more things that could never be proved true or false, and I wanted even more to never have been told those. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about such matters, and so it was that Bruyneel trusted me.”

His thoughts on that passage, from the Podium Cafe interview: (Again, I recommend that you read the full PC interview. It’s much more extensive than this conversation.)

“You know, it’s been interesting how many people have read that passage as a not-so-veiled reference that I have the keys to pro cycling’s secret palace of doping. I knew that some of the surmising about the secret stuff would focus on doping but how quickly and intensely the field of vision narrowed to wonder almost exclusively about doping surprised me – though I guess it shouldn’t have.

The contract I signed (to co-write “We Might as Well Win” — Bikezilla) includes a confidentiality agreement … I can tell you what Johan and I didn’t talk about, though. We never talked specifically about doping.

From time to time we had some exchanges about how the system worked, or how directors might deal with certain riders. Sometimes after a positive was announced, I would ask him if he thought other riders or other directors knew this guy or that guy had been doping, and he gave me what I considered authentic answers.

Most of the off-limits stuff he told me was, for instance, something that might embarrass someone who didn’t deserve it on such a wide scale, or maybe harm someone’s reputation for no really good reason, or be acceptable in one-on-one talk but if fixed in print would come across as gossipy or catty.

One example of the sort of thing he told me were some hilarious, crude initiation rites that established riders put rookies through on some of his old teams, and how certain riders reacted the opposite of what the fans would expect, whether it was the tough, stoic guys wigging out or the seemingly mild-mannered ones standing up.

Sometimes he might tell me about agreements on the road between teams or riders, and in some instances that was really dispiriting. We all know it happens, and I think it’s a fascinating part of the sport and integral in its way, but some of the exchanges I wish I hadn’t heard about. I enjoyed thinking of the races the way I’d seen them.”

What I grabbed onto from that was “Most of the off-limits stuff” and that he was specifically addressing only information that was given to him by Johan Bruyneel. This seemed to ignore that there was other information and that some of it came from sources other than Bruyneel.

What I saw was more hedging, more obfuscating.

This is a link to a defense of Strickland by “Shakes133 at Velociped Salon. Bill says the guys name is Chris and that he used to work for Bicycling magazine.

Shakes133 / Chris:

” . . . he never saw a single questionable thing. He had the inside stories, he was in the rooms after/before races, he was there weeks before on training rides. He was around for casual banter, heard hushed whispers. Imagine having unprecedented access to RadioShack (Astana — Bikezilla), with Contador and Lance for months, being there during the tour, and despite countless rumors in the media, never once seeing a shred of evidence?

No….Bill believed Lance was clean. No doubt in my mind. Exact same way Loren Mooney believed Floyd Landis was clean. He looked her in the eyes over a glass of whiskey and swore on his family.

And let’s face it, at one point we all thought the same thing.”

Bikezilla:

I interpret that as saying, “Yes, Bill heard things, private things, indicative things, things that none of us have ever heard and probably never will. But there was never any PHYSICAL evidence, and without physical evidence, he wasn’t going to judge Lance a doper.”

Is that an accurate interpretation? That you heard things, from Lance, from Johan, from others, that indicated that LA doped, or may have doped, but that you would not make that judgement without physical evidence?

If so, it’s something that I can understand in one sense, but that goes against all logic in another sense. Right there is where the “willful” or “feigned” ignorance would come in, especially if any of those stories came from LA, Johan or their inner circle.

I mean, ok, if you’re Lance’s friend, that’s pretty much the ultimate friend thing to do, believing in your friend beyond reason, until his wrong-doing is literally in your face.

Bill the Friend of Lance can get a pass on that. But Bill the Journalist?

It’s tough to get my head around that enough to accept it.

Bill Strickland:

“I am not friends with Lance. He’d laugh if I ever described myself that way.

He knows me. I know him.”

And:

“I understand that you think this kind of clarity is something that needs to be, or at least ought to be, said. But from years of being in this muck, I can tell you that public explanations of my methods or of my experiences doing the book almost never change the mind of anyone set in their beliefs about me, Armstrong, doping, whatever. I no longer expect it to.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s nothing to be gained from saying this, and I wouldn’t offer it on my own, but you keep asking — like a good dogged journablogger — so, here it is.

From all of the riders, staff and people otherwise associated with or remotely involved with the team at the time I followed them, without fail I never did hear one snippet that Lance had doped. I never saw one shady thing involving him. When I (or someone else who happened to be there as I observed) would even come close to broaching the subject, it was refuted in a way that it wasn’t when the topic of some other riders came up. I heard some awful stories, poisonous stuff about [OTHER RIDERS — Bikezilla].

But whenever the subject edged toward Lance, all I got was admiration for his physical ability and willpower, and adamant disavowal that he doped. Either they knew and lied to me, or themselves didn’t know. Either way, it tells me just how closed that final, inner circle would have to have been.

So it wasn’t that I heard suspicious things from the main characters themselves but dismissed them until I could get physical evidence; it was that I felt a personal obligation to be absolutely certain, without even one percent of doubt, whether that would come from physical evidence, a confession, a legal judgment, separate corroborated accounts, or whatever that something is that finally tells you a thing you really don’t want to believe.

For those who are reading this who have ever been cheated on in an ongoing way, it’s sort of like that: you’re suspicious, you convince yourself you’re crazy, you deliberately go along not knowing, then you might really not know for a bit, then even though you know you still want that thing, so you go mad and you look for the phone call in the log, or try to piece together the faded distintegrated note you found in the washing machine, or you hide in the shrubs across the street from someone’s house.

Betsy Andreu compared it to finally admitting you know Santa Claus isn’t real, which I thought was a good parallel in a lot of ways. I was going to use that in my story at one point. But my daughter still believes — this is about her last year, I bet — and I didn’t know if she’d read the story or not.”

That’s about as plain it’ll ever get.

For many readers even that will not be enough. For some the only thing that will ring true, the only statement that will be accepted from Strickland is something along the lines of: “Ok, yeah, I got it. I figured it out. I knew what was what. But I sold it all a different way, because that’s what was in my best interest at the time.”

Because it’s so damned hard, in fact for some it’s even impossible, to understand how we can reach a conclusion with our limited information, yet Bill can honestly reach a different conclusion with greater information.

The statement above, that he never “heard one snippet that Lance doped” and “never saw one shady thing involving him” is as much as there is right now. It’s likely as much as there will ever be.

It’s left up to us, the readers, fans and haters, to accept or reject, to believe Bill or to continue thinking he’s a liar.

If you’ve read his philosophy on the nature of the writer / reader relationship, you know that he’s genuinely ok with whatever conclusion we come to.

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A Conversation With Bill Strickland: Part 4: Conflict

Posted by bikezilla on May 3, 2011


Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

After Bill gave me permission to email him and he provided the addy, I sent him a long “train of thought” letter, outlining my (and some of your) gripes with his Lance Armstrong coverage, opinions, beliefs, ethics and integrity.

Our exchange really was more like a conversation between two people who are passionate about the same subject, than a Q & A session.

This is a portion of his first response, and it outlines my email to him.

Bill Strickland:

“Here is a simplified collation of your critical opinion of me and my work about Armstrong. (I recognize that also in your critique are some complimentary opinions.

1. “The vast majority of fans” don’t resent my support of Armstrong but my “willing ignorance/naivety.”

2. When it comes to that ignorance, “ ’Feigned’ is a better word than ‘willing.’ ”

3. The average cycling fan figured out that Armstrong likely doped, so, given my closeness to the subject, I “in fact knew beyond any doubt long ago.”

4. So I am not, as I said in that Bicycling story in the May issue, not so much “finally realizing or understanding it, as finally admitting it publicly.”

5. I could not have believed that he didn’t dope, “but it was profitable on several levels to behave, or at least speak,” as if I did.

6. It’s impossible for you (a reader) to believe that I was “incapable of seeing and accepting the fact” that he doped.

7. This lack of acceptance is an “intentional insult to the intelligence of [my] readers.”

8. You (and I suppose that “vast majority of fans”) also resent me for my “presentation of fantasy as fact.”

9. You (the fans you speak for) believe this fantasy was delivered not “out of hopefulness and misplaced trust, but as a deliberate and self-serving ruse.”

10. I “never tried to distinguish the good from the bad,” and I “pushed a single bill of fare and told us that everything on it was equally wonderful.”

11. “Despite the fact that there was plenty of material to balance, you presented an entirely lopsided view.”

12. This time, speaking not just for the vast majority of fans, but, in fact, ALL of them, you tell me that “There isn’t anyone who doesn’t understand that LA was your cash cow, your meal ticket. To go against him was to lose your access. To lose your access is to lose prestige, wealth and power.”

13. One of the things you resent is that I believe you [the readers] “to be empty-headed cattle, stupid, unthinking beasts.”

14. You’re even angrier at me “because rather than say, ‘Yeah, I took the offered silver. On some level I always knew it was wrong. But it was what I felt like I needed to do at the time. I don’t regret it. It’s done now and I’m moving on from it,’ [instead I] keep playing us [readers] for fools.”

15. Readers who think the opposite of what you do — that I have wrongfully accused him of doping, or that I am too hard on him — actually share “the same sentiment,” which is “that something odd has happened and that it hasn’t been explained honestly and unambiguously.”

16. What readers want is a “full, honest, unambiguous disclosure. Not spin. Not taking a statement or a question and flipping it with a ‘yeah but.’ Just open, unvarnished truth.”

I think that’s a deep, passionate response to my writing, but I don’t see the sense of trying to argue you out of your opinions of me, many of which are founded on ideas that don’t exist in my writing. And, given that you think I’m a liar, I don’t see how anything I say to you could be taken as legitimate information, or in the way I intend it. (I am using “you” specifically in these examples but more so as a stand-in for readers here. Please don’t read this as an anti-Tom tirade.). You discard words or ideals in my writing that don’t agree with the point of view you’re committed to. I’m not criticizing you; I’m just pointing out that that’s how you’re reading my stories. And, remember, I think that’s perfectly within your privileges as a reader — you can do whatever you want with the story.”

In fairness, he does mention plainly, both in “Tour de Lance” and in “Endgame” that he doubted through the years, to various degrees, that Lance was clean. He mentions the “mountain of circumstantial evidence”. He gives us a survey of the podium at each of Armstrong’s Tour wins, and shows us how most of those who shared it with him either admitted doping, were suspended for doping, were convicted of it in court, or paid a fine to have doping charges settled. Also that two others were linked to doping investigations then cleared or never charged and just one, Fernando Escartin, had no direct connection with doping.

I (and me speaking uninvitedly for “we”) of course noticed Bill’s multiple admissions of his lack of objectivity and his fandom and support of Lance. Those admissions could be taken as “full disclosure” and a nod to journalistic integrity and ethics.

Instead, I / we take them as evidence to support my / our conclusion.

It’s like he’s waving them (his admissions) in our faces to taunt us. “Ahhhhh, yes, I knew! I knew all along that Lance was a dope sucking cheat! But I will be damned if I admit such to the scabby likes of you!”.

The fact remains that my opinion that Bill lied to us, that he is in fact a liar, makes it tough to present an objective view.

And there is where I want to turn things outward, toward readers (including me).

Let’s look at a few uncomfortable (for me in my assuredness of my own right conclusion) “what ifs”.

Having already asked Lance once, face to face, if he had doped, and being given a solid, “no” as an answer:

What if Bill failed to pursue the truth with further questions because it seemed like a fruitless endeavor? Maybe because, knowing Lance, he knew that future answers would be an assaultive spin against the charges? What if, having acknowledged that he is a Lance Fanboy, his wall of denial didn’t (and in some cases still doesn’t) allow him to believe what to many of us is a glaring set of truths?

Having already acknowledged that his form of journalism (story telling) and his strength is not investigative journalism, and that he lacks the skills to be a true investigative journalist, what if:

He didn’t see the point in investing time and energy in an endeavor that he isn’t suited to?

What if he’s pretty good at note-taking, at hanging around and noticing details and capturing them, and then putting that stuff into nice sounding sentences and paragraphs, and at structuring a story. But he also never wanted or intended to be an investigative reporter?

What if he was put into the position of writing about Lance simply because of proximity and his history with Johan Bruyneel and he honestly did his best with it?

What if true investigative journalism, poring over documents, endless discussions with the guys in legal to find out what he can and can’t source, are a dreary, boring waste of time to him? What if he’s driven instead to be out and experiencing something that would allow him to write a great story regarding that experience? What if he doesn’t have the patience, or the type of patience, to do true investigative journalism?

What if, although I require a plain-spoken, unambiguous answer, he can’t give it to me because it is, or at least he honestly perceives it to be, a messy and thoroughly ambiguous situation?

Those “what ifs” don’t come easy to me. But I have to be open to them. I’m not sure I can be, but I’m trying to be.

After reading our full exchange (which I wish I could share in its entirety with all of you) I was finally able to say, “Mmmmmmmmm . . . well . . .maybe. Maybe it was unreasoning hopefulness, rather than an intentional deceit.”, but really, it’s something that’s hard to make fit. It’s hard to feel the rightness of it, hard to wrap my head around it.

Bill is an intelligent man. Extremely intelligent. He didn’t get where he is and stay there for so long because he’ll believe any pretty story, no matter how inspirational that story may be.

He thinks critically, and he has to. If he didn’t he’d quickly develop a reputation as a chump and not long after that he’d be relegated to writing race reports and straight news stories that don’t require him to do much beyond gathering basic facts. He’d never have had the opportunity to reach his current lofty perch.

That makes it even more difficult to get my head around his “willing ignorance” or “willing hope”.

Bill eventually labels himself as having been an agnostic rather than a believer, not sure what to accept or which way to go.

I can believe his frustration in hearing stories from men who lack the guts and integrity to allow those stories to go on the record. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling my own frustration in HIS unwillingness to prove his claims by exposing them.

At the same time I understand my own hypocrisy in at once accusing Strickland of a lack of journalistic ethics and integrity, and also damning him for maintaining both in order to abide by the wishes of his sources.

Here’s one more thought from Bill:

Bill Strickland:

“I think, further, that because I was unsure of my judgment throughout the years, because I went back and forth in my belief, and because I admit to both liking him and thinking he doped, I might be speaking mostly to and for a large group of fans in the middle who are themselves trying to make sense of it all — who are torn, like I was, between their hope and their acceptance of what happened.

“Or maybe not.”

Now let’s take the “outward turning” one more step.

It’s plain that regardless of my (or your) view regarding Strickland’s relationship with Lance Armstrong, that there are a large number of people with an opposite view. It’s also plain that those people are just as passionate, indignant and angry as I am, and that they also feel betrayed by Bill Strickland.

Those facts keep throwing one thought against the “big screen” of my mind:

If Bill is equally offending, irritating and angering two groups of people who occupy opposite poles of the same argument, is that evidence that he has struck a balance in his writing, and maybe in his evaluation of the truth, that is actually far more fair than the considerable majority of us are willing or able to admit?

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Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland

Posted by bikezilla on April 29, 2011


Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

The short:

Emma O’Reilly was a soigneur for Lance Armstrong in 1999 when he received a prescription for an ointment to relieve saddle sores. That prescription contained corticosteroid, which Armstrong failed a doping test for.

O’Reilly has stated that that prescription was back-dated and only received AFTER the doping pos.

The long:

In Bill Strickland’s “Lance Armstrong’s Endgame” article, Joe Lindsey contributed the line, “At this point it’s Armstrong’s word against O’Reilly’s. Unless other witnesses corroborate her story, Armstrong wins this one.”

She was angry and responded on Bicycling magazine’s website.

I understand Ms O’Reilly’s anger and frustration. But I think she may have misinterpreted the intent of that line.

I don’t think that Lindsey, or Bill Strickland, were making a judgement that O’Reilly’s word was inherently less valuable than Lance Armstrong’s.

Here is what I think was intended by that line, and how I interpreted it when I first read the story:

The burden of proof generally lies with the accuser, at least to a legal standard. And there’s good reason for that. It helps prevent sending the innocent to prison.

So Armstrong “wins” vs Lindsey not because his word is inherently more valuable than hers, but because she is the accuser and so it is left to her to prove her case vs Armstrong.

So unless someone else finally has the guts to step forward on this specific issue, O’Reilly is left dangling. She is an island, with no companion to help her weather the storm beating against her shores.

However, that IS the legal standard, not the social or commonsense standard. And on those levels there is a growing mass of cycling fans and interested outsiders who are thankful for the stand that O’Reilly took and who appreciate her courage in the face of Armstrong’s malice and cruelty.

On those levels people can and do look at the mass of evidence, real, circumstantial and anecdotal, which includes O’Reilly’s testimony regarding that prescription, and the balance shifts clearly and strongly in O’Reilly’s favor.

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A Conversation With Bill Strickland: Part 1: The Beginning

Posted by bikezilla on April 27, 2011


Part 1, Emma O’Reilly’s Anger at Bill Strickland, Part 2, Part 3, Bill Strickland’s NPR Interview, Part 4, Part 5, Postscript

A few days ago I was a “follower” of Bill Strickland’s ( editor of Bicycling Magazine, author of “Tour de Lance”) on Twitter. Evening came and, poof, without personally having made any changes, I was no longer a follower.

So I made a snippy lil Tweet about being “blocked” by Bill Strickland, aka @TrusBS on Twitter.

Later that day Bill Tweeted back that no such thing had happened. He said that he not only did not block me, but that he had no idea who I was.

Ok, whatev. “Interesting”, I replied. “Was it “magic? Follow gremlins?”.

Blah, blah, blah.

God, this Lance Fanboy is such an ass!

Then Bill, right the “Lance Fanboy Ass”, took the time to discuss my concerns and my irritation with him and with his writing, specifically with his relationship and history with Lance Armstrong, with his role as Lance Fanboy Ass, with his lack of truthfulness about Armstrong’s doping and poor behavior, with his ambiguous answers to those accusations.

Remember that this first section of conversation occurred via Twitter, in 140 character blurbs. Most of that format / editing has been left intact.

On Twitter 22 April 2011:

Bill Strickland

“Read your site after clicking it off your profile…don’t see reason for special enmity. Lots don’t like me or my writing.”

Bikezilla

i never said you weren’t a good writer.

Bill Strickland

“The way I always think of it is: If you take the time to read, you deserve to have an opinion.

Well, whatever you don’t like —my reporting, ethics, or whatever: My job happens to occur in a public arena, so…

…it’d be dumb of me to expect the public to not comment (bad or good).”

Bikezilla

true dat, and negative interest is still interest

Your print version of the LA article is a great reference. But I don’t buy the Naivety Defense

Bill Strickland

“…not “he can’t have been that naive,” but, “if he’s was that naive, what were the factors in this story that led to it?”

And that, also, could be something that more interesting than damning for a reader…

Agree. I say in the story it very well might have been “willful.” It is a powerful thing to believe, more so to want to believe.

I think more people used to read/listen to understand. Now we, as a society, I think, do so more often to argue”

Bikezilla

I don’t see that as a factor in this particular debate. I think people resent being fed a fantasy as if it was fact.

Bill Strickland

“to consider rather than dismiss belief, will, hope—fantasy, etc.”

Bikezilla

but at very least you had suspicions for years. and you never addressed them, at least not in print. there was no balance

the only factor many of us see is that it was willful. Removing the blinders would have serious negative repercussions.

Bill Strickland

“Although, I wish more people (in general, not just w/doping) would read not to dispute but to try inhabit. So, for instance…”

Bikezilla

It also looks like “well, the LA gravy train has stopped, so now is the opportune moment to turn”

Bill Strickland

“…while to others it looks like I’m wrong & he’s clean, or that I’ve been influenced, or betrayed him…”

Before we could complete our conversation I had to leave. I’d been in McDonalds on my lunch break and had to return to work. But I came away from it feeling that he hadn’t so much answered anything as he had obfuscated.

As I drove from account to account around Chicago’s far north side, I realized that I had more to say and more questions than Twitter, with its 140 character limitation, could do justice to.

So I asked for permission to email Bill, and from that sprung the conversations that this series of articles will be based on.

One of the first thoughts that Bill shared with me was about the notion that he’s become rich due to his relationship with Lance:

“By the way, why do so many people think I’m rich? Don’t you guys out there know any other writers? Of all the ones I personally know, only one, *** ****, is wealthy. Someone tweeted once that I was a sellout; when I came home from work that night, my wife, Beth, asked me where I’d been hiding all the money.”

And later:

“And, I mean, hell, I DO have more money than I ever thought I would when I was a kid on food stamps. Maybe I am “wealthy.”

That IS a pretty common belief. Not necessarily that he’s wealthy, but that he’s done damned fine for himself based solely on his connections to and history with Lance Armstrong. I suppose it also depends on where you set the marker for “wealthy”.

Personally, I have to believe that’s true. It’s not reasonable nor believable to say that he did not profit from that relationship. But how much? To what extent?

With a little digging you can find out a few things about Bill’s success over time.

By age 35 Bill had 3 books in print. They were all non-Lance.

He held the top job at the world’s largest cycling magazine for about five months prior to Lance Armstrong’s first Tour de France victory.

The bulk of Bill’s non-fiction writing and most of his six books have not been about Lance Armstrong.

The book that gets the most critical acclaim is his memoir, Ten Points. It likely did the most for his career among New York book editors, too.

What about his upcoming projects?

“The next three books I’m considering with my agent aren’t about Lance or doping, and only one of them is about cycling.”

So what is Strickland’s career built on, where is it going, what does it rely on?

Is his writing ability the prime moving force? Or is it his relationship with and connection to a single professional cyclist, Lance Armstrong?

Is it possible for his stories to be viewed without the taint of Armstrong? Was he beholden to Lance? Is he still?

Is Bill simply a liar? Is all his future work already suspect?

— I’m not sure how many parts this will be in, or exactly what timeline I’ll use to put them up.

Part 2 should be coming in 2 – 3 days.

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