September 14, 2006
Armstrong responds to Andreu story
So the Lance Armstrong media machine might have thought it was permanently parked once he retired. On Tuesday, it roared out of the garage and back up to top speed. The mission? A story in the New York Times which didn't even claim Armstrong had ever used anything illegal, but quoted Frankie Andreu and another former Armstrong Tour teammate that both had used EPO while racing as pros.
Armstrong called the story “distorted sensationalism.”
“My cycling victories are untainted; I didn't take performance enhancing drugs, I didn't ask anyone else to take them and I didn't condone or encourage anyone else to take them,” he said. “I won clean.”
Armstrong also claims that a court has considered Andreu's allegations and rejected them, when Armstrong won his case against the insurance underwriters back in 2005. Obviously, that doesn't cover Andreu's claim that he used EPO; presumably Armstrong isn't denying that Andreu's admission is for real.
<Eurosport | Bruyneel: Andreu 'pitiful'
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For Andreu the admission of drug use is only the start of atonement. Saying sorry and moving on might work in the Kindergarden age group, but it's not enough for adults. There is the necessity to make right the past wrongs. Any 12 step process emphasizes that 'sorry' is only the start; making ammends is required to complete the act of contrition.
Andreu needs to return any income he earned during the period of doping, salary, benefits, retirement, and winnings. Only then can he be forgiven for his acts against the sport. Anything short is a hollow and glib 'sorry' for which he expects instant accolades. Indeed, in the followup in the NYT, hisi wife is reveling in the positive e-mail feedback they have gotten. Of course this is merely a skewed sample from people close enough to them to know their personal e-mail address; they did not publish it openly to get a broader sampling of just what the public thinks of them. They don't want to know and wish to live in their insular world of instant acceptance.
'Sorry' don't mean squat unless accompanied by concrete actions. As long as he retains the tainted benefits accued from his doping, then he has not really accepted personal responsibility for his actions.
Posted by: nevins at Sep 14, 2006 9:29:14 AM
Nevins, I think you're being a little too harsh on Andreu. While I agree he should do more than admit his guilt, I have to say that it did take a lot of courage to do this, considering how Lance Armstrong can turn against anyone that may make connection to him cheating. Yes, I think he should go further but with Armstrong out there going for the jugular, it may be a lot harder to complete this process. Why else did the second source not admit his identity?
Lastly, at least Andreu is not doing what Jose Canseco did - "Hey I cheated and I will be releasing a tell-all book". I feel that Andreu's intentions are genuine and if cycling will ever clean up its act, there needs to be more athletes coming out and admitting their guilt.
Posted by: B.N. Friedman at Sep 14, 2006 11:00:22 AM
Andreu and another ex-Amstrong teammate who wants to remain anonymous spoke out. They said they did it. They said there was some kind of a doping culture in Lance's team back then, but wait ! they didn't say Lance did it... oh ! no !... even though, Armstrong feels compelled to react to Andreu's revelation. Pre-emptive strike ?
I cannot help but think that Lance Armstrong has become somewhat untouchable with the American Press and above all in the American public eye, each feeding on the other. His accomplishments in the battle against cancer being at least equal to those in the TDF, and now that he's become an icon, a spearhead for the cause, who would dare question the integrity of this American Hero ? Who would be so crass, so unpolitically correct as to attack and doubt the assertions of a man that survived a lethal disease and went on to win 7 rounds of the most gruesome race of the Sport in a row, when he says "I won clean". Even though we are learning more and more in the American press (among other things, and not the least, the correlation between steroid abuse and testicular cancer [could LA have been the instigator of his own medical condition ?]), everybody seems to be going so gentle on him. And if the suspicion cloud is growing darker, watch out for the libel suit; Lance's pockets seem bottomless. One could almost make a parallel with the infamous "You're either with or without us" of the Bush admistration and the wonderful offshoot "If you're against the war in Iraq, you are unpatriotic". I want to know the truth, we certainly aren't going to get it from Armstrong. I just want to see good investigative journalism. Am I asking for too much ?
Posted by: Francois Chicoree at Sep 14, 2006 11:40:46 AM
I really don't know what Andreu's motives were in admitting blood doping. As a member of the USPS team, he used EPO to "survive" in the pro peloton as he put it. I certainly did not implicate Armstrong by association when I read the story. I just felt that a former pro rider from the main American team felt sufficient pressure that he resorted to using EPO to "survive", which he tried to distinguish from cheating. OK. That's one perspective. Obviously, Armstrong felt the need to distance himself from Andreu's admission. For me, the bottom line is, Andreu really isn't relevant. And Armstrong will not let the media use stories like Andreu's admission to frame him in any way. He will quickly and strongly counterattack. Not much of a story for me here beyond those observations.
Posted by: Jeff Cooper at Sep 14, 2006 12:47:50 PM
Francois (and others)...we're going on damn near a decade, including a number of trials/lawsuits, and yet Lance has been cleared of wrongdoing every single time. You would think that if there was any physical proof of Armstrong doping, it would probably have come out by now. But it hasn't...and you know why? It's certainly not because our press has glorified him (please, if anyone would love to tear down celebrities/athletes and expose them, it's our shark-like press!), but rather the simpler explanation that he either wasn't doping or was able to maximize performance by getting around the system.
I don't know if you follow auto racing, but in NASCAR, there's a couple of sayings: "It's only cheating if you get caught" and "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying". It probably applies in cycling too. I mean, cycling teams spend crazy amounts of money to reduce tiny amounts of drag, for example. You can probably multiply that by ten to find out how much they spend to find new ways to help their bodies.
I'd go so far as to say most of the peleton probably dopes in some form or another during the course of the season, but there's a fine line, a threshold that everyone tries to get close to without crossing. Lance might've been the master of getting close to that line. Who knows? I don't know where you're from, but here in the U.S., we have that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing. Without proof, we pretty much have to go by his word and live with it. Also, there's a lot at stake, so Frankie Andreu was probably correct by saying that he doped just to "survive", because if everyone else has that extra advantage and you don't, it's that much harder to compete. It's a battle between ends and means; in other words, are the means (doping) used to achieve an end (winning) justified? If you use moral or ethical standards, probably not. If you use society's success standards, sure. It depends on if you can sleep well at night overriding those moral or ethical standards. Maybe Frankie couldn't sleep well anymore?
Lastly, libel lawsuits are there to protect an individual's name from being tarnished in a fixed medium, usually print media. I don't know why it's so hard for people to understand that Lance wants to protect himself from being defamed. The guy is a respected athlete/hero here (especially in a time when many athletes aren't), he makes an assload of money in endorsements, and even more for his cancer foundations (more donations are going towards cancer research now than ever before, and that's NEVER a bad thing). If I had any of that, I'd fight as hard as I could to protect myself too.
Oh, and that point you were trying to make about Bush and the "with us or against us" mentality...global politics is two doors down on your right. Take it over there.
Posted by: Steve Neely at Sep 15, 2006 2:26:38 AM
Frankie Andreu was dismissed from the Toyota-United team right after the Tour De France this year. The reason for his cut was not never really clear. This happened after the Dallas court episode. How much influence does Lance Armstrong have on the US Cycling scene? I would not be surprised at all that Andreu's dismissal was orchestrated by Lance himself. Tony Cruz is on that team remember.
Of course Johan Bruyneel will defend the team of 1999. He himself built his entire reputation on that Tour. There's a lot of money involved here and nobody wants to return or lose any of that.
It's just always around the bulls-eye (Heras, Hamilton, Andreu). It's just a matter of throwing more darts.
Posted by: Rudy Vercaigne at Sep 15, 2006 1:59:29 PM
Looks like Lance and Johan are going to do their best to make Frankie rue the day he fessed up:
Former Team Wants Andreu Investigated
That's the real witch-hunt.
What a bunch of thugs they've become.
Posted by: noelle at Sep 16, 2006 11:03:37 AM
Sorry for my analogy to global politics, I must say you've perfectly located the spot, 2 doors down on the right. OK I won't do it again, promised, even if Lance Armstrong go again for a bike ride with G W on his ranch in Crawford.. Damn ! I can't help it !! :0))
More seriously, you wonder where I am from, I'm a frog. I've lived in the states 20 years though and I am growing more and more tired of this "blame it on the French" witch-hunt (I'll stick to cycling...)
To me, even if the 132 page Vrijman report disavow the Lab and l'Equipe in the way they handled the whole thing, it doesn't exonerate Armstrong. You're right about "innocent until proven guilty", but that was yet another layer in this moutain of suspicion, and there have been a lot over the last few years.
Now Landis is going this way too. I read his interview in the last issue of Bicycling, and from the get go he attacks the integrity of the lab. Then we read on an article related to the interview that his defense will probably be based only on that. Bad handling (tainting) of the samples, and a mean biased anti american lab who doesn't want to see a Floyd Landis win because it's been more than 20 years that a Frenchman hasn't won the "Grande Boucle". C'est absurde !
Posted by: Francois Chicoree at Sep 19, 2006 11:00:25 PM