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Lance Armstrong open thread

Posted by on August 24th, 2012 at 10:30 am

Lance was larger than life in the bike world, even here, when he appeared in a video at the 2010 National Bike Summit in Washington D.C.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland


You all know the news by now. Lance, the Great American Bicycle Racing Hero of the modern era, has given up his defense against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and they in turn have stripped him of all Tour de France and other titles. Lance said in his official statement he wanted to end the “witch hunt” and called USADA’s actions a “pitiful charade”.

Are you shocked? Happy? Sad? Relieved? I’ve heard mixed reactions so far, and I too have conflicting feelings about this. Is it possible to maintain respect for what Lance did, even with the dark doping cloud that will always hang over his achievements. It’s not like you can just shoot up some drugs and everything comes easy. You still have to put in the work and sacrifice (especially when everyone else around you is doping). But does the act of choosing to dope and the potential cover-ups to hide it, wipe away all that heroic cycling?

For me, the main feeling is relief. I’m just glad that (I hope) this chapter in American bicycle racing might finally be over.

How about you?

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Comments
  • John August 24, 2012 at 10:34 am

    They should ban full-time-training if they’re going to ban pills. Let the performance be enhanced! Don’t care about Lance though.

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    • BicycleDave August 26, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      It’s a bit ridiculous to try to rewrite history now. 3 of his tour wins will now go to Jan Ulrich who was found to have used performance enhancing drugs. Lance competed at a time when it was impossible to win the tour without breaking the rules. I don’t envy the dilemma those athletes had.

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  • Ben DuPree August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am

    It’s complicated. A man can be both a hero and a villain.

    Lance is an inspiration to millions, and his fight against cancer and subsequent foundation work both deserve high praise.

    At the same time, he competed in an era where many doped and cheated their way to the top. And, if the presently-concealed testimony is to be believed, so did Lance.

    I’m hopeful this can help close the book on a darker era of cycling and open the door to bright stars who presently race and can inspire a new generation of love for the sport.

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  • Jayme August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Until the level of involvement of team owners, officials, and anyone else is revealed we cannot trust the sport. Maybe this is the biggest step yet towards cleaning up cycling. Maybe it’s not.

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  • Barry August 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

    If he didn’t, he’s right… this has been a colossal witch hunt. People have been lying for political reasons, money, or whatever. Its a combination of all thats bad about humanity, and a weird need to tear down our heroes.

    If he did, then he’s just another user who calculated risks and rewards in order to secure himself an undeserved place in history. Was Livestrong a way to assuage his guilt? A sad betrayal of trust that may not be given to an athlete (especially a cyclist) for many many years.

    I have no idea which is true, and I don’t ever expect to. I’m not losing sleep over it. Im much less of a fan of professional cycling than I am a cyclist.

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  • Nick August 24, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Not really relevant to me. I bike for utility and fun. Racing/sport doesn’t interest me, and I don’t care about Lance any more than I do LeBron.

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    • jocko August 24, 2012 at 10:53 am

      Why comment then?

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      • Nick August 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

        Yeah, normally I would have not commented, but I did because Jonathan posted this on Twitter:

        “Lots of local media asking me what “bike community” thinks of Lance situation. Think it’ll be easier to just ask you and post open thread.”

        So I was just trying to make the point that a lot of the “bike community” is just people who use bikes for practical reasons and are not lycra-clad sport freaks.

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        • Kenji Sugahara August 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm

          Whoa- that’s not nice to say.

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          • jered August 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

            That would be like saying squeaky bottom bracket, milk crate attaching, pants rolling, reflective vest wearing city bikers. totally not nice.

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      • MossHops August 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

        I think Nick has an important point. it’s not like news reporters go out of their way to ask auto commuters about what they think about the latest Indy 500 win. But that’s what’s happening here and in the media for Lance and bikes.

        On the other hand, the big thing I personally am wondering about this is if Lance isn’t credited with these wins, then who is? It’s not like any of his closest competitors were clean either. Ullrich, Kloden and Basso all had doping allegations as well.

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        • Scott August 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

          Those guys all had cases against them involving physical eveidence. Lance does not.

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          • 9watts August 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

            How does the USADA’s explain why all their tests of him came out negative?

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            • Scott August 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm

              They haven’t. They said they would release their evidence, “at the proper time”.

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            • not a fan anymore August 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

              There were at least 6 positive tests returned from his 1999 tour that were found positive in 2005 but were declared inadmissible in a law suit Armstrong filed against L’Equipe to prevent them as evidence. So when Lance says he never tested positive its not really true.

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          • murt August 26, 2012 at 10:34 am

            Apparently the USADA does have physical evidence – testing for EPO was done retroactively on blood/urine samples from the ’99 Tour de France after such testing became available and reliable. The testing was done anonymously – the lab at the time didn’t know whose blood/urine samples they were testing, but apparently positive tests were later found to have come from Armstrong. The ethics of retroactive testing can certainly be debated though.

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        • commuter August 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

          Thing is though, Lance’s success spurred bike sales in this country and peoples interest in cycling..at least it did for me. There are many connections to Portland’s bike culture and professional cycling. At the height of his career, and peak interest in the Tour, I am pretty sure you had more folks riding their bikes around town.

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      • A.K. August 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

        “I don’t watch bike racing” is the new “I don’t watch TV”. ;)

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    • Paul in the 'couve August 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Yes. Who cares. A bike race in France. An big-ego, rich sports star. Made for Main Stream Media and slow news days. I actually have some interest in racing but it isn’t a big deal to me.

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  • Sarah H August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am

    It’s important to highlight that giving up the fight is not the same as admitting guilt, and he is still maintaining his innocence. We still don’t know the truth, and now we likely never will, and maybe now the media frenzy can finally fade out. All we know is that he has prioritized his quality of life over continuing the fight to keep his official titles.

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    • Ted August 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

      I just don’t agree. Lance would have kept fighting, but he knows how damning those testimonies from the likes of Hincapie would have been. This is an admission by omission, as much face saving as can be wrung from this checkered past. Personally, I’m excited for the opportunity to move on.

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      • 9watts August 24, 2012 at 10:56 am

        Does that then mean that in all those races whoever finished second will retroactively ‘win’ the title, or can we assume that Mr. #2 also doped?

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      • Scott August 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        He passed the tests. He played the game and won. If it is a failure of the system then that is fine too. Systems break to get better. Retroactive action is assinine. Basing a case on testimony of people who face similar action is ridiculous. That’s like making people go back and plead guilty for all the traffic tickets they did not get caught for. It would be easy to say that you did break traffic laws, and hard to prove that you did not (even though in the letter of the law Lance proved he did not). Let sleeping dogs lie and don’t give a bunch of ESPN jerks license to bag a sport that they already diss.

        The facts are that cyclist get tested more than any other pro sports players. Why?

        If you want to hit me with the “but he cheated at sports” argument, all I have to say is that cheating is a word that is useless when the dollars get into the millions. It just can’t even be introduced as a valid concept when the money is like that.

        Also there are like 10 people in the world who could do that, drugs or not. He is an amazing athlete.

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    • Matt M August 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      I think the only reason he quit is because he became aware of the evidence against him. This way he can quit, claim a “witch hunt” and say he wants to lead a normal life. It’s not in his nature to quit. He’s guilty.

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    • dennis August 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Lance never has claimed innocence, he states over and over that he never tested positive. Two very different things.

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    • murt August 26, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Yes — though more will come out of this, I think. I believe that Armstrong is making a jurisdictional argument – that this case is properly heard only through arbitration at the UCI, or at the CAS. We’ll see if that kind of arbitration does end up occurring.

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  • Psyfalcon August 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I still don’t think we’ve seen any smoking gun evidence. The most we have is some samples from a couple years ago are consistent with EPO… so why didn’t anyone ban him at the time? In the tour, it does not take 3 years to decide someone took a drug.

    The politics smell fishy to me even though we know cycle racing is far from a clean sport.

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  • jocko August 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I would say the best take away from this is: OBRA and local racing is awesome.

    Forget the national and international heros we have some local heros right here and who knows one of them could be you.

    Cyclocross season is coming up which is a great opportunity to spectate and see real people race and maybe get in there and mix some of the mud up yourself.

    Bike racing does not suck!

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  • Spiffy August 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

    like Nick I don’t follow sports so I don’t really care about his titles… he served his purpose of entertaining the masses and now it’s over… just like every other athlete… time to see what he does for the world now that he’s got more free time…

    it looks like he’s never failed a drug test, although some of his tests were suspicious… so it seems like it’s a lot of hearsay and finger pointing that caused the scandal and now it’s history…

    move along, nothing to see here…

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  • Allan L August 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

    The process stinks. There was a federal investigation with no indictment and no prosecution. That process has some integrity. Now we just have a bunch of tainted witnesses with motives of their own, and no objective evidence. The accused has the opportunity to prove his innocence, but who can do that? You don’t have to embrace Lance’s denials as truth to find the whole process objectionable.

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    • davemess August 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Is subjective evidence not enough? If you are accused or robbing a bank, and 27 or the 28 people in the bank say it was you, but there is no video camera in the bank, I’m pretty sure you can still be convicted (but I’m not a lawyer).

      I think Lance is one of the most egotistical men on the planet, and I’m not surprised how this is going down. I am really disappointed in him that he is stealing media thunder from the Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado (a race he was instrumental in founding).

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      • Barry August 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        To finish your example, all 27 or 28 people are previously convicted bank robbers. Seems like a bunch of folks wanting to eliminate the “good guy” to make themselves look more… acceptable.

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  • Delfairen August 24, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I did not ride the tour but I did not fail any drug tests and I did not admit doing or not doing drugs ever. Does this mean that I get the jersey as it moves down the ranks?

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  • Dave August 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Actually, it’s what made cycling boring. The races have become less predictable and more interesting now that they actually seem to have beaten the doping back to a dull roar. It’s a human drama again, instead of a covert battle of doctors.

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    • Sunny August 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

      Human drama? You mean like a soap opera? ha

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      • Mike August 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

        I for one have enjoyed the “soap opera” thoroughly, since unlike a fictionalized drama, this one has been engaged in by real humans, and so is pretty instructive on what makes us all tick.

        For example:

        – Many commentators dismiss the “Lance drama” is irrelevant to them (“I’m not a bike racer, I’m not a cyclist, it’s just fodder for a slow news day in Evil Mainstream Media Land, there are bigger injustices to worry about”). Yet this story is completely in keeping with the tenor of our times: the corrupting influence of money and power, the American obsession with winning (at all costs?), lying, cheating, secrecy, alleged coverups, lack of accountability at all levels of governance, the increasing role (and apparent shortcomings) of science and technology in all of our lives. Why wouldn’t we follow with interest?

        – There are many vehement Lance supporters, even now (on the sporting side of the ledger… I’ll concede that his cancer charity work is worthy of our support). My logical brain just can’t wrap its mind around this. To cling to the “he passed 400, 500, 600+ drug tests and always tested clean” theme, or the “he was railroaded by a witch hunt” theme or the “government is wasting tax dollars” theme or the “they were all doing it back then and he earned his wins on a level playing field” theme or the “good luck finding a clean rider to give the jersey to” theme just shows a willful disregard for all the subtleties of the actual drama. Lance signed on to race clean, not test clean. Not all tests work, or are even available. If USADA didn’t do this job, what job would they do? Why is the government underwriting a portion of their budget? ALL of Lance’s competitors back then doped? Really? Even the ones in the grupetto? Or the ones driven from the sport? Any finally, do they have to re-award the jerseys to anyone? Who would want them?

        Curious…

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        • not a fan anymore August 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

          I couldn’t agree more. “Everyone else was doing it’” is no excuse and doesn’t make a wrong right. Does doing a good deed (Livestrong) absolve us of our bad deeds (cheating, lying, doping, fraud, blackballing, defaming)? I really hope we don’t, as a society, accept this insane rationalization.

          USADA has a lot to lose to accuse Armstrong unjustly without evidence so it seems very unlikely they don’t have the evidence. I believe the evidence came from the Federal investigation that couldn’t find enough to accuse him of federal fraud but likely found evidence of doping. We know they turned it over to USADA. I think Armstrong is resigned to knowing they’ve got the evidence they need but he doesn’t want it public. With that in mind he accepted the sanctions but calls USADA witch hunters and rants about injustice. Why doesn’t he just “man-up”? Marion Jones did and I respect her for doing that. By the way, she never tested positive either but we know better now.

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  • Sunny August 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Lance did what he had to do after staring death in the eye and realizing his susceptibility to a shorter than normal life because of cancer. Putting it all on the line when you’ve got nothing left to lose is how he chose to go out in this world. Have a death sentence, might as well go hard, and hey if he can help cancer patients along the way, good for him.

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    • Matt M August 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Really? He had to cheat? Your logic here eludes me.

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      • Sunny August 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        Lance would have never won without cheating. He’d be a nobody American in the Tour, like Farrar. Farrar who?

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        • Ron August 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

          How can you make that assesment? If he did cheat, his performance was probably enhanced. But that does not imply that his baseline performance was insufficient to win.

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        • kww August 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm

          So from what I can distill from the news, is that they retroactively tested for EPA from 2009-10 samples and found it in his blood.

          How can they ban him ‘forever’ and strip him of all his titles for which they do not have blood tests for?

          Are the bylaws of USADA written such that they can do this to Lance?

          If not, why is the man capitulating? He has the funds, the backing, and enough of a case of guilt by association that he could fight this.

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  • Bryan B August 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I find the whole thing sad. I still respect the man for overcoming everything he has. The whole race community is in a shambles from all of the witch hunting. Time to move on and enjoy retirement and continue to help people.

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    • Ron August 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      I agree. Livestrong has one of the highest Q ratings (efficiency, financial transparency, etc) of any charity in the country. This phony moral outrage by the USADA rings hollow to me. He (via Livestrong) has done more for humanity just through Livestrong than most of us could ever hope to.

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  • Wayne August 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I actually expected this, but I still feel saddened somewhat. I am an avid fan of professional cycling. I agree with what Jonathan Vaughters said in his NY Times “admission”, that we need to remove the incentive/pressure to dope so that the young riders coming up don’t have to face that choice in their professional careers. But there is also much more revelation to come out of this event, if you will, because many more have been involved. I don’t think of this as an end but more of a beginning to the next phase of cleaning up the sport, which will still nonetheless motivate and challenge me and enrich my life on many levels. I’m going out for a nice long ride tomorrow.

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  • wsbob August 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Armstrong played the game and beat the entire grand tour pro cycling industry at it. It’s the professional grand tour cycling industry, who’s the true culprit here, in compelling racers indirectly, to submit to illegal performance enhancements.

    So now, the industry wants his medals back for ‘cheating’? Take them. Good riddance to tokens of the money-making leviathan the industry has become.

    I might give credence to some of the theories that he used illegal performance enhancements and with the help of experts, managed to devise a strategy to test clean, time after time, but performance enhancement is the game.

    It would be great if all grand tour pro cyclists trained and competed simply on wholesome, nutritional, well balanced meals. In future, will grand tour pro cycling make this regime the rule, and let them do that? It’s doubtful.

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    • Ron August 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Great points. The same scenario played out in Major League Baseball during the 90s when mediocre players were suddenly hitting 40 and 50 home runs a year. Owners, fans and the media loved it. Until they decided they were outraged by it.

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  • takeaspin22 August 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I have pretty much lost interest in the Armstrong drama at this point. I’d rather pay attention to current pro racing events. In fact, there’s a world-class stage race in Colorado going on right now…

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  • Jeremy Cohen August 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I’m with Allan on this. I have serious doubts about the legitimacy of the process. What Armstrong is refusing to do is go into arbitration–because that would mean he has to agree to the outcome (whatever it is) and arbitration doesn’t uphold the same standard of proof as a real trial. This is like agreeing to go on “The People’s Court”–you agree that whatever Wopner decides is final. I wouldn’t agree to that if I were Lance–if they had real evidence of his doping, they should produce it. If this is based on other dopers pointing fingers, I remain skeptical. I am still impressed with what Armstrong did (no other rider–doping or not has done what he has, and I doubt he was using some unique version of dope if he was using it at all).

    I am curious how can the US anti-doping agency take away victories that were won in France? That seem odd.

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    • Karstan August 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

      They can’t. It’s a sham and non-binding.

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    • Matt M August 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Arbitration is not like the People’s Court. Lance isn’t a quitter, so…why did he quit? Don’t you think he probably realized they had a mountain of evidence against him and he’d lose? This is the best way to save face. Claim it’s a witch hunt etc.

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      • are August 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

        arbitration tends to work for whichever party insists on it, in this case the anti-doping agency. you can put on whatever evidence the arbitrator is willing to allow, not subject to the normal rules of evidence, that is to say, including hearsay, etc., and then whatever decision the arbitrator makes is binding, even if it is obviously wrong, because the only recourse you have to the court system is if the award is outside the scope of the arbitrator’s authority.

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  • Rol August 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I just can’t see making this much fuss about one guy. He won some races, maybe he doped, probably they all did… [yawn]… “Hmm I wonder if there are any new funny cat videos.”

    The whole thing is preachy as heck, sanctimonious, overwrought, hyped-up, and riddled-through with the stench of money and corruption… talking about the USADA here. Not that I’m on Lance’s “side” either per se. I basically just don’t care about racing. You’ll note that this renders me immune to any neuroses or undue agitations regarding either Armstrong’s supposed heroism (heroic? his cancer work is way more heroic and worthwhile than anything he did in the saddle… and he can fully continue that) or his supposedly heinous crimes against humanity (What is Obama up to right now? Assassinating people with drone planes without due process? Remember the “kill list”? Or was that too far in the past?)

    People devoting undue attention to something is what creates all the “mojo” for a guy like Armstrong. And mojo attracts the kind of people who specialize in stealing mojo. It’s sad that America now has more of the latter than the former, but anyway. Keep calm, carry on.

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    • not a fan anymore August 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      If I didn’t care I wouldn’t take the time to comment. Doesn’t it bother you that people have been lied to, treated unfairly, sued, blackballed, cheated and demeaned? For the guys that raced cleanly don’t they deserve fairness? It’s their livelihood whether you’re interested in their sport or not. Should we sweep them under the rug? It’s not just about one guy. Many people have been deeply hurt by this. Try reading about Frank and Betsy Andreu. You’re right about it being rank with sanctimony, hype, and riddled-through with the stench of money and corruption though. That’s Armstrong’s standard operating procedure. People, real people paid the price at the hand of Lance Armstrong for his sanctimony, hype, and corruption. Don’t they deserve some justice? Isn’t that what being humane is all about or should we just care about the things that we tend to be interested in? Should we help an injured person we don’t know or simply say “I wasn’t interested”? I think it’s important to pay attention to just as a member of the human society.

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  • peejay August 24, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Hanging one’s hopes on a sports hero is a foolish proposition. Athletes, especially highly accomplished athletes, are capable of sacrificing their bodies, their lives — everything — to win. Whether they choose to cheat or not comes down to what kind of sacrifice they feel most comfortable making: either giving up an easier path to victory by staying clean; or giving up their ethical reservations (and having to go through all the troubles associated with masking their doping) by cheating. Either way, a world-class athlete is not like you or me, and doesn’t share our experiences and concerns. I’m not at all surprised that most cycling stars don’t get involved with cycle transport advocacy issues (or when they do, they say something destructively foolish like Bradley Wiggins did recently), since they really don’t use their bikes like we do anyway.

    Most big sports stars like to do charitable works, and set up foundations for some cause or the other. Is it all altruistic? Or an ego boost? Or some form of guilt compensation? I don’t know, but I find it interesting that many of these sports-driven charities are poorly run and fairly wasteful, raising far more money than what goes to the so-called cause. Not saying Livestrong was this kind of charity, but there are plenty of other examples.

    Sports stars are best understood as some kind of embodiment of comic book heroes. They may be real flesh and blood, but they are not like us mortals, and have no lessons to share with us, no help to offer us. We should not look up to them.

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  • matt August 24, 2012 at 11:32 am

    If he lied, well that sucks. If he didn’t, well that sucks, too (for his titles, legacy, et al). But if the majority of racing fans believe (and I DO think they do) that many of the top tier racers enhance their performance one way or another, it leaves me with a giant “meh” reaction. If the best are doping, then they are in a weird way on a level.
    I’ve become apathetic over the whole thing and simply enjoy the racing I’m able to see regardless. If it’s a good, close race- awesome! If most of them are doping- oh well, it was still a tight race with good team tactics, great breakaways, etc. Sure, I’d prefer NOBODY doped, but does anyone really expect for everyone to comply?!

    Doping methods are sophisticated and so is the science. It’s a battle to the core.

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    • A.K. August 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      This is exactly how I feel. I enjoy watching it regardless. However I feel the witch hunts sometimes overshadow the very meager promotion professional cycling gets in this country.

      I wish everyone didn’t dope, but if they’re all going to do it… whatever. Watching a bunch of professionals flog each other going up hills faster than most people can cycle on flat ground is good entertainment.

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  • nuovorecord August 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

    This whole affair points to the need to improve the testing of athletes. Lance’s main line of defense was that he’d “never tested positive.” Well, big whoop. You can’t test for substances that you aren’t aware of, and existing tests can be beaten, as Lance has shown us. And, when all else fails, get a back-dated dr’s perscription (1999 TdF steroids positive).

    Lance is a cheat, a fraud, and a liar. So were/are many other cyclists. But to turn a blind eye and ignore his misdeeds is not a solution to the problem. I am glad that many of his former teammates and associates have finally stepped forward and brought all of the dirt out into the sunlight. Hopefully, young cyclists will see the results of cheating and avoid the temptation.

    Greg LeMond, the only US Tour champion, has been vindicated.

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  • mark kenseth August 24, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I could’ve entered the Tour, only to finish last at the time, but win now, having never done enhancing drugs. Perhaps there will be two categories for races: drug-free and drug-doer.

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  • Sunny August 24, 2012 at 11:47 am

    USADA just told little kids that Santa is not real!

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  • Adam August 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I just long for the days when cyclists lit up cigarettes when riding the Tour de France!!

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  • Eric August 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Lots of good points here.

    I have met Lance and am friends (personal/professional) with his oncologist. The dude is a huge **insult deleted** on a personal level and I’ll be happy never to have to talk to him again. That said, he’s done an amazing amount of fund-raising and consciousness raising for young adults with cancer, and…jerk or not, that’s pretty sweet.

    But, doping or not, he was at the top of his game…the entire game actually…for those 7 years. It’s not like the next 10 guys below him in the peloton weren’t just as juiced as he was (or wasn’t…I agree the evidence for doping is weak, but not non-existent). The process is complete bull***t and, as I heard pointed out on NPR this morning, the USADA has a 97% “conviction” record. It’s a kangaroo court no matter how you look at it, so cutting his losses and moving on was a pretty wise move.

    Finally, I don’t follow bike racing either, but I understand that it (and this particular news story) will shape the way in which average ‘merkins view all cyclists, so just putting our noses in the air and saying “I don’t race or watch racing so why should I care” is remarkably short-sighted.

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    • davemess August 25, 2012 at 10:02 am

      USADA has a 97% conviction rate because they usually wait until they are sure they have a conviction to go after someone. It’s not the same as a regular court in the US. They don’t have to follow those rules. And as an athlete you agree to abide by USADA’s rules and rulings when you agree to be a professional. Nobody’s getting cheated here. LA agreed to follow USADA’s rules. No one held a gun to his head and said, “You HAVE to be a professional cyclist”.

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    • are August 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      hey jonathan, while you are deleting stuff from eric’s comment, why not delete “merkin”?

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  • Dave August 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Pro: He inspired some number of American couch potatoes to get their asses on bikes and out on the road–and some of them may have become lifetime cyclists. This is a feat equal to JK Rowling getting 21st century kids to read real, printed books!
    Con: He refused to resist the doping culture in pro cycling that twisted and distorted the sport. My favorite example; Andy Hampsten, the only US Giro d’Italia winner, was pushed out of his last team allegedly for “refusing to honor his professional obligations” meaning he wanted to continue riding clean.

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  • David August 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Some good points in this New Yorker article. “Now, I’m am afraid, he is nothing.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2012/08/lance-armstrong-decision-not-to-fight-doping-charges.html

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  • CaptainKarma August 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Just when I thought it was safe to browse the bicycle section at Powell’s…the books by Lance, about Lance, for Lance, beginning to dry up….but noooooo! There will now be yellow books forever. This will be JFK, 911, a forevermore mystery conspiracy (at least on the bicycle bookshelf). Sigh.

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  • Nathan August 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Reading the article as posted on the main page, I thought that Armstrong must have died. I’m relieved that this wasn’t the case, but that is probably as far as I will emote.

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  • Travis August 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    As far as I can see and/or am aware, the USADA doesn’t have boundaries. Without boundaries everything is a legal disaster only benefiting lawyers. If Lance had ridden for a foreign team could the USADA have touched him? Do we even know? Doping is cheating, but Lance, drugs or not, is right about the USADA: they are limitless in what they can do and it is a witch hunt. No one wins here and the USADA comes off as the least respected party (my opinion). Test during races, destroy samples 12 months later, and that’s it. Further, the USADA should be a fact finding organziation and have no grounds to imply or bluntly pass down punishment. My gut says, the USADA stepped in shit and Lance’s lawyers laid it all over their lawn. The line between hero and villain is too blurred. Like it or not: You can’t truly rewrite history. You can only fuck with our heads. Same with baseball.

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    • davemess August 25, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Yes, he still gets funding from and has his license through USAcycling. Therefore he is under USADA jurisdiction.

      Seriously, destroy samples 12 months later?

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  • sabes August 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Everyone on the Tour was doping. He just rode faster than the other dopers.

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    • Nathan Broom August 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      I’d like to see more care with the word “everyone.” Jonathan used it in his post as well. Doping clearly wasn’t isolated to just a few individuals, but I doubt it was everyone. It may actually have been a minority of the total riders. Generalizing the loud and offensive behavior of some people to the rest of the people who look like them is pretty damaging stuff. Those of us reading this blog should know that well.

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  • spare_wheel August 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    its not a drug thing its a fraud thing. lance armstrong won large monetary awards and misrepresented himself to advertisers. doping by professional athletes is fraud for monetary gain. jail time and massive fines would be entirely appropriate.

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    • are August 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      the advertisers, at least nike, do not seem to care

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    • Pete August 25, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      You nailed it. He never admitted guilt, but he did get out of a no-win situation where the chance of losing millions in lawsuits would only increase. If you had to chose between keeping your millions of dollars and saving your reputation (or losing both), which way would you go?

      I wish I was in a situation where I could answer that question… :)

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  • Hermes August 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    How about we just designate the last two decades of the Tour de France as the Doping Decades, and purge all the race results from the historical record as if they never happened and start fresh? Lance Armstrong – right or wrong.

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  • Phil August 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I cheated in every class I took in high school. I hope Tygart doesn’t take my diploma away.

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  • Hermes August 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Level the playing field by making the Tour de France a pub crawl (or winery tour), just like the good ol’ days when they’d stop for wine and cheese and maybe a smoke.

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  • Barney August 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Lance did not plead guilty, but that is how it is being played. Why would you go to arbitration if the outcome is predetermined? Be patient, in the end Lance will prevail.

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  • 2wo Wheel August 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Lance Armstrong should not have doped, but, he was still better than all the other ones who were also doping. I wish him well.

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  • Paul August 24, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Lance was railroaded. I don’t believe for a minute he was clean, but it was never proven. The USADA should put up or shut up, IMHO. Who are they to strip him of his TDF titles?

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  • John C August 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    I participated in this years Honu 1/2 Ironman in Hawaii and witnessed Lance’s athletic ability’s first hand. In the pre-race meeting Lance gave the reasons for wanting to compete in the Ironman series. It was simply for the love of the sport, and wanting to stay competitive. He won that race outright, beating all the seasoned pro’s that have dominated Ironman races for the last couple of years. Amazing focus and competitiveness, and an amazing athlete. If it was a level playing field, with no one doping in the tour back in the day, I think Lance would still be on top.

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    • davemess August 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Really, ALL the seasoned pros were there? That’s quite a bit of a stretch.

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  • kdt August 24, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    In an NPR interview today,Travis Tygart, the CEO of the USADA, artfully dodged the question of what “physical evidence” of doping the USADA had against Armstrong. Without admitting that the USADA has nothing from the years of Armstrong’s TdF wins, he said that tests from 2009 and 2010 were consistent with Armstrong having received blood transfusions. When asked for the names of those ready to testify against Armstrong, he refused, citing ongoing investigations. No wonder Armstrong threw in the towel. Clearly the deck was stacked against him by Tygart and the USADA – with secret witnesses, scant physical evidence, and their own rules and arbitration panels, the USADA version of due process makes the Guantanamo trials look Fair and Balanced in comparison.

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    • Sunny August 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

      If Armstrong and his thugs weren’t threatening witnesses, maybe Tygart wouldn’t be so secretive.

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  • kdt August 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Here’s an excellent opinion piece from the Washington Post on this issue: http://goo.gl/XykwN

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  • David August 25, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I’ve been inspired by Lance in many ways and for this I’m grateful. His passion and work ethic are amazing, but his character is questionable. I hope he is able to move forward now and work on his family and personal life. I’ll continue to be inspired by Lance as there is nobody else that works as hard as him.

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  • Tom August 25, 2012 at 8:35 am

    make doping legal ..the playing field is then leveled again.

    The Celtics played on a doped home parquet court for years and won many titles. They knew where every “dead spot” and “weird bounce” was located….. was that cheating ?

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  • Dude August 25, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I usually don’t believe in conspiracy theoris, but this one sure reaks of it. Lance had passed ALL of his drug tests throughout all of his carreer. This organization that hounded him has also had pressure from European organizations that probably had some bigger agenda than just Lance. Let’s see who puts the pressure on tour de frace to have his medals stripped. Who is putting pressure on these groups? Usually you can follow the money trail. Mid eastern anti American smear? Who is next? Michael Phelps? American basketball team? Americas cup?…

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  • Pete August 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Realize that it takes a lot more than physical prowess to win a bike race. It’s a team sport played out strategically, and even if you’re hopped up on EPO and able to physically summon the strength and endurance, it doesn’t lessen the pain and dedication it takes to get to that level (and stay there). Believe me, I’m not defending anyone here (or the doping practice), but keep it in perspective that doping alone isn’t going to win you titles. I enjoy watching races and learning more each time, and though I’m not a ‘fan’ and could give a crap about Lance, the guy’s said to have had a resting heart rate under 30 bpm back in his prime and has done some pretty impressive things in his life, a good deal of which you just can’t attribute to doping alone.

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  • Justin August 27, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Nick

    So I was just trying to make the point that a lot of the “bike community” is just people who use bikes for practical reasons and are not lycra-clad sport freaks.

    Are the comments on this blog moderated at all?

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    • are August 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

      what would nick’s comment look like if it were moderated to your satisfaction? presumably you do not object to someone expressing the point that competition for money bears almost no relation at all to the daily use of the bicycle for transportation.

      the analogy to car racing has been mentioned, and it is actually not all that far-fetched. yes, there is some degree to which technologies developed for racing filter into the transportational market, though not always to good effect. but the people who build their lives around racing bicycles share almost nothing with the people who use ordinary bicycles for transportation.

      the phrase “bicycle community” is itself somewhat misleading, but if the question is being asked from “outside” that “community” how does the ordinary person who uses a bike rather than a car to get around feel about some non-event in the life of some sports figure who happens to use a similar device in his sport, i think it is useful to mention to the “outsider” that most of us do not feel the athlete is part of that “community” in any meaningful sense, and we do not wish to be identified with him.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 27, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Justin,

      Comments on this site are moderated extremely closely. It’s a major part of my job and I take it very seriously. Can you tell me what bothers you about that comment? I see the name-calling “sports freaks” but it doesn’t seem overly mean to me.

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    • Scott August 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Yeah Jonathan deletes like 3 of my comments a week. I should get an avatar with a tie :)

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  • Pete August 27, 2012 at 11:18 am

    but the people who build their lives around racing bicycles share almost nothing with the people who use ordinary bicycles for transportation.

    Except that their time in the saddle has fed back into the materials development and manufacturing process for bikes for decades, as well as designs those of us who ride for sportive recreation appreciate.

    Maybe there’s a difference between people who ride from point A to point B, and those of us who find the longest/steepest possible route we can fit into the time we have to get to point B? :)

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    • are August 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      not saying transportation cannot also be fun, obviously. but your comment sort of underscores the point that there is no single “community” of cyclists whose thinking about lance armstrong can be pigeonholed. and even if i might occasionally seek the more challenging route — and there are those who would say my taking the higher traffic roads when there is a passable side street nearby falls somewhere in this category — that still does not align me with someone who happens to use a two-wheeled, pedal driven object in a competitive sport.

      if it were not for the flak nick has taken on this, i would have chimed in “a jock on a bike is still a jock.”

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  • kww August 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I’ll just leave this here (for all the doping apologists, you know who you are and you are ridiculous as you drag down your sport), as I always do whenever this subject flares up:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/nondoping-cyclists-finish-tour-de-france,2268/

    and here’s a bonus satire:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/lance-armstrong-lets-down-single-person-who-still,29313/

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  • commuter August 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Yes Lance cheated. Many have known as early as 2003-2004. I’m glad the general public now know that his achievements were tainted. I just wish this would have gone into arbitration so that we could get all the details and full disclosure from his former teammates and associates. I’m hoping Hamilton’s forthcoming book will shed some light.

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  • Thoughtful August 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I think his teammates had to dope to keep up with him and some of them are a bit disgruntled and resentful now.

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  • Ian August 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

    There are a number of pieces to this that many of you don’t understand.

    1) USADA has the authority to do this. As a licensed Professional cyclist on a licensed US Professional team he agreed to all of their rules. Every US Pro signed a contract with them, and knows how much evidence they need to be banned from racing, or coaching, or anything involved with racing.

    2) This action by the USADA wasn’t just about lance. They went after coaches, management, Doctors and more. It’s just that most of you have no idea who Johan Bruyneel is. He is a Doctor who worked with multiple teams that all got busted. Lance paid him a 1/2 million a year. USADA has checks and wire transfers. He was making millions creating masking drugs, and is the top of the food chain in this action.

    3) there are 12 people who testified recently. ALL of them were on US Postal or Motorola or Discovery. They were his teammates, his worker bees, not people competing against him. A few of them have been busted for doping, but most could say exactly what lance says “I have never tested positive” George Hincapie was Lance’s main man for many years. He testified to his own doping along with Vaughters, Hamilton, Andreu, Vande Valde, Levi, Zabriskie and more. We should hear about their suspensions this week.

    4)It is believed that the UCI and race promoters were hiding evidence, or tipping Lance off(as well as other top racers) because Pro Cycling was at all all time high with spectators, sponsorship MONEY, TV coverage, etc…They didn’t care about doping, they wanted more money.

    5)Read Vaughters NYTimes article from a couple weeks ago, and think about this. When the Best of the Best have all been busted, and Lance was beating the Best of the Best. Do you really think he was clean?

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  • sicklecycle August 28, 2012 at 11:49 am

    At least a few of the Motorola/Postal riders who testified against him are admitted liars, he never failed a test, and ALL of the other contenders were dopers, so this does have the feeling of a witchhunt, especially since other charges were recently dropped against Lance. He likely cheated, just like most of us who occasionally cheat in aspects of life.

    You can take away titles many years later, but history is history, and this is just too late. Lance won 7 tours, everyone who knows anything about bike racing knows this. The only slight I have against him is that he took a little short cut through the field that time Abraham Olano crashed in front of him, so he technically didn’t race the course the other racers did that year.

    I’ll never forget those races, those were some exciting years. It did also certainly fuel the fire for not just bike racing in America, but bicycles in general. Anybody in the bike industry owes Lance a big thank you, as well as anyone in the fight against cancer.

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    • kww August 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      ” He likely cheated, just like most of us who occasionally cheat in aspects of life.”

      This disingenuous statement, or similar, comes up time and again. Rest assured, that argument won’t ever work in world championship sports or if you ever get caught for cheating and have to appear in front of a judge.

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    • Fred Serious August 28, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Olano was retired by then, it was Joseba Beloki, Chute de… Fortunate that LA did some CX that winter prior… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_8m5-sR6I4

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  • Lyn August 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    There are some really good points made above, which I’ve enjoyed reading.

    I hope this all serves to finally open the UCI closets so we can find out what exactly went on, who concealed what, and why. Those skeletons need to be aired and cleaned so we can find out how this conspiracy and corruption was allowed to happen, and to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    It’s what happens when one person grows bigger than the sport, and it defies belief that so many people (cyclists, doctors, support staff, sponsors, team bosses, journalists, doping authorities, etc etc) were involved that they were willing to withhold the truth from millions of people for so long in order to save their own skins. In the end, they stood by while one man profited from their combined deceit.

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  • Steve Bice August 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    USADA= Corruption, Irrelevance & Jealousy.
    Just one of the reasons Lance Won 7 Tours is because he was swimming 6 F#%ing Miles a day as a Pre-teen ! And-by-the-way he Rode his BIKE to those twice daily Workouts. His Life long Training Base is 2nd to NONE !
    He Beat cancer & Won 7 Tours because He Was, IS, and always we Be
    FITTEST OF THE FIT ! ! ! ! ! ! ! LiveStrong People

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  • Portland's One Stop Electric Bike Shop August 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Who cares what I think?

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  • Fred Serious August 29, 2012 at 10:11 am
  • Rex Marx August 29, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I predict that Lance Armstrong will one day be in politics. My prediction is first a run in Texas for a Senate seat or for Texas Governor then a run for president at some point in the future. His decision is the best possible one for his future in politics.
    - Oh, and if this prediction actually comes true, remember you saw it on Bike Portland first!

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  • Marid August 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    IF the UCI does strip the titles the best thing they could do is to award them to no one. The Tour is in trouble. You can’t have nine titles stripped in barely over a decade and retain respect. Your tests were apparently a big joke and everyone knew it.

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  • 9watts September 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

    http://salem.craigslist.org/bik/3209984104.html

    Lance armstrong wheaties box – $1

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