Friday, 24 August 2012

Lance Armstrong: Is Justice Done?

Yes, in short, today justice has been done. Lance Armstrong declined to contest the USADA charges and therefor accepts his conviction, waving his right to appear before an independent arbitration panel and airing his dirty laundry in public. I'm not going to do this to death - its been on every cycling related site today - but Lance now receives a lifetime ban backdated to 01/08/1998. All competitive results, medals, prizes and prize money will now be forfeited, including his 7 Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong has NEVER won the tour. This is justice. But, what about McQuaid and the UCI?...

Armstrong has to accept the punishment, but doesn't accept the guilt, maintaining that the USADA does not have the jurisdiction to take away his results. He released a statement - a well rehearsed media piece designed to limit his losses and paint himself as the victim - it will wash with some I'm sure, but not with many. You can read the statement here. So why would an 'innocent' man refuse to continue his fight if there was nothing to hide? That is the million dollar question. Has Armstrong taken a hit for the UCI? 

I suspect Armstrong was hoping the judge would rule in his favour and hand the case over to the UCI - as that hasn't happened, had Armstrong chosen to go to arbitration then the evidence would have come into the public domain and implicated the UCI, quite why he feels the need to protect the UCI I'm not sure, but nothing is every straight forward in this case. And that is where this case has failed me.

Armstrong has played a trump card by taking the punishment - without arbitration the evidence, for now at least, remains behind closed doors - he can shout witch hunt and still have people believe him because the evidence is still yet to be seen. By walking away and saying 'Im done' he looks nothing more than an injured party caught in a conspiracy, victimised and targeted - the UCI like this because anything implicating them stays under wraps and we, the fans, have to take it or leave it. Arbitration would have been my choice, that dirty laundry really must stink. 

There is still hope though, with Johan Bruyneel taking the arbitration route and others still under investigation, whatever evidence there is is likely to eventually be made public, though the UCI will be hoping the Lance affair has blown over by then. Think Again. 

Though I feel justice has been served in one aspect today, it also feels like a loss - the UCI remain at the head of cycling affairs, the evidence has not been made public and corruption at the top goes on. Strings are being pulled from higher than Lance Armstrong and its those strings that need the scissors. Today is a bad day in cycling, now that the verdict is delivered, though we all knew it already the truth does hurt. Cycling has lived a lie for the last two decades, and from the response of many of those still involved in cycling (both riding and managing) things don't looked to have changed much - pro's alike are still hard-pushed to speak out and that sends a bad signal to the fans. I liked Bernard Hinault's response today though, the ex-french champion is never one to mince his words. When asked what he thought about the verdict, he said: "I don't ******* care. It's his problem not mine. It's a problem that should have been solved 10 or 15 years ago and wasn't." Amen to that...


  1. Nice post GC. Do you think the UCI could fall and a new governing body have to rise from the ashes if the dirty linen had been brought out, so to speak (cf Rangers FC in Scotland)?

    1. It is a possibility, though it depends how much the onus is on the UCI rather than a group of individuals at the UCI. If the laundry is aired I can certainly see it being the end of Pat McQuaid - maybe not the UCI, this in itself gives us a problem because candidates to replace McQuaid are not certain to be any better or indeed cleaner.

  2. Yeah, I think Hinault summed it up nicely.

    It should have been sorted a long time ago.

    What do you think will become of the 7 forfeited Tour wins?

    And where does this fit in the overall lbackdrop of cheating and doping inthe Tour (and other pro races) going back decades?

    1. The seven tours should be marked 'no winner' in my opinion, to hand them to whoever finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th would defeat the object - better if we put a line through it and use it to serve as a warning and a reminder that Cheating can be punished.