Travis Tygart Gets His Say

by Rant on January 27, 2013 · 72 comments

in Lance Armstrong

The story of Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace is far from complete. Tonight, 60 Minutes broadcast a follow-up to Armstrong’s confession to talk show host Oprah Winfrey. In the piece, Scott Pelley interviews Travis Tygart, the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency and long-time Lance Armstrong nemesis.

(Print version of the story here.)

Overall, it’s a good story. Before I make some comments about the interview, I want to make a couple of things clear. One, I am not a huge fan of Lance Armstrong. Never have been. While I’ve always respected the fact that he’s a very strong cyclist — with or without drugs — he’s never been someone I looked up to as an athletic hero. Back in the early 90s, when Armstrong was coming up, I thought he might be a strong one-day racer, and perhaps win some of the shorter stage races, such as Paris-Nice. Despite the fact that the Motorola team was clearly trying to groom him to be a contender in the Grand Tours, I never bought into the idea that Armstrong would win the Tour multiple times. Once or twice, perhaps, if luck was on his side. But never what came to be.

I expected he might have a career much like Frankie Andreu’s, to be honest. Perhaps a slightly better/larger set of palmares, but not much. Armstrong’s tactical sense at that stage of his career was seriously lacking. He had one basic tactic. Attack, attack, attack. Beat the field to a pulp and then attack again and leave them for dead. It worked on occasion. But eventually other teams figured him out. Which is, I suspect, why the best he could do in the Olympics was the bronze from the Sydney games that he’s now been stripped of.

While I expected Amstrong’s career arc to be much like Frankie’s, I have to tell you, I never had any desire to meet or hang out with the man. On the other hand, Frankie used to show up at my club’s training races when he had a break from his European schedule, and he was always friendly to and supportive of all the cyclists who participated. He is someone I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a beer with, and is one of the nicest people you will ever meet within American cycling circles.

So, having said that, I found Pelley’s interview credible and pretty damning of Lance Armstrong. Still, he left a couple of questions on the table that he should have asked.  First, on the subject of whether Armstrong was clean during the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France.

Again, to inject my personal opinion for a moment. Because I don’t think leopards can change their spots, given that Armstrong cheated during his seven Tour wins, my own feeling is that he cheated during 2009 and 2010. But I don’t have any actual evidence to back up that assertion, other than my own hunch.

Consider the following exchange:

Scott Pelley: Armstrong admitted in the interview to doping throughout his seven Tour de France victories. He tried to make a comeback in 2009. He admitted the first seven, but those last two races in ’09 and 2010 he said he did not dope, he was racing clean.

Travis Tygart: Just contrary to the evidence. The evidence is clear. His blood tests in 2009, 2010, expert reports based on the variation of his blood values from those tests, one to a million chance that it was due to something other than doping.

Scott Pelley: You have to wonder why if he admits to doping in the first seven Tour de France races, why he would proclaim his innocence in 2009 and 2010.

Travis Tygart: I think it stops the criminal conspiracy and protects him and the others that helped him pull off this scheme from potential criminal prosecution if that was in fact true.

Scott Pelley: How does that help him in that way?

Travis Tygart: There’s a five-year statute on a fraud criminal charge. So the five years today would have been expired. However, if the last point of his doping as we alleged and proved in our reasoned decision was in 2010, then the statute has not yet expired and he potentially could be charged with a criminal violation for conspiracy to defraud.

While Pelley follows up to a certain extent, this sample contains references to both questions that I think he should have asked Tygart.

One: Assuming what you say is true, that there is a million-to-one chance that Armstrong competed cleanly during the 2009 and 2010 Tours, why wasn’t an anti-doping case brought against him at that time?

Why should Pelley ask such a question? To explore what USADA knew at the time. If they did have that strong a case, why wasn’t it brought? Or is this based on evidence that was in the UCI’s hands? And if so, what reason would the UCI have for not pursuing the case? And also, is this the opinion of one expert, or were all the experts who reviewed Armstrong’s data from that time period that certain about the meaning of his numbers?

This was a chance to delve a bit more deeply into the science of the biological passport and how the passport works. Scott Pelley should have gone further.

Two: Tygart referred more than once to Armstrong defrauding “millions of people.” Exactly who — besides the sponsors of his teams — did he defraud? Is Tygart implying that donations made to the Livestrong charity were based on fraud? If so, that would make the case against Floyd Landis over donations to the Floyd Fairness Fund look like a small-time hoodwinking. If that’s the case, perhaps there’s a criminal element to the case. But question for the legal eagles out there, would Armstrong’s hoodwinking of sponsors be a criminal matter or a civil matter. Presumably the sponsors should perform due diligence before committing a large sum of sponsorship money. If they got suckered, is that a criminal matter, or were they — like the old saying goes — fools soon parted from their money?

For every time that Tygart made a reference to fraud, Pelley didn’t challenge him on what he meant.

Now, having raised those questions, I’m not trying to suggest that Armstrong isn’t guilty of cheating. Clearly, he is. And I think it’s a reasonable conclusion to suspect that he cheated in 2009 and 2010. Tygart’s explanation of the fraud angle may well explain why Armstrong isn’t admitting to any wrongdoing during his comeback. (And you do have to wonder how a guy who missed three full years of competition could come back and claim third at the Tour.)

Of course, there is a slim chance that Lance Armstrong is telling the truth about 2009 and 2010, and that the reason no case was brought against him was that the data just wasn’t convincing enough for the requisite number of experts to sign off and refer the case (and if I recall correctly, they only see a number attached to the data, not a name, so they — theoretically — had no clue it was Armstrong’s data).

The more reasonable explanation, in my mind, is that Lance and his helpers had figured out how to skate close to the edge but not go over, test results-wise.

One other 60 Minutes piece worth taking a look at is this one from 60 Minutes Overtime, where they ask the question, “Did 60 Minutes help create the Lance Armstrong myth?”

Interesting, and unusual, to see a media outlet examining the role they played in spreading the original Lance Armstrong story. Good for them for doing so.

Post to Twitter

Austincyclist January 27, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I haven’t watched it yet, read most of the blurbs One thing I’d like big news to illustrate is how uci has reacted in statements over time for la. Contrast that with their reaction to fl and th.

Rant January 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm

AC,

Worth taking the time to watch, when you have a chance. That’s a good idea for a compare/contrast piece, too. I’d guess there would be quite a different set of reactions for the one than the others.

MattC January 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

Rant, you hit the nail on the head with what I’ve been thinking ever since I first heard the “million to one” bit about his blood values during the comeback..WHY wasn’t he sanctioned at that time? It’s rather late now to show up at the party and say you have damning evidence that he was doping during the comeback.

As to his defrauding “millions of people”, I guess as you say, it all depends on what he meant.

Did Lance defraud ALL of us? (obstensibly by making us belive in him only to find out he was doping)? I personally don’t see donations to LIVESTRONG as defrauding (it’s a 401c organization after all)…there are 2 distinctly different things at play here.

One is a guy riding a bike who cheated (gasp! Something totally new to the world, stop the presses! He is the FIRST EVER!), and Two is an organization that is dedicated to help people become cancer SURVIVORS.

I can clearly see the difference, and other than the fact that he started LIVESTRONG, it’s gone way beyond that now… moved past it’s founder (much like many companies).

MattC January 28, 2013 at 9:16 am

Just saw this bit over on Velo News about Thomas Dekker:

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/01/news/reformed-dekker-will-tell-all-with-dutch-anti-doping-authorities_272423

Here’s a tiny excerpt:

He explained he had begun using EPO in 2006 with the help of the Rabobank team doctors.

“It was very easy to be influenced, doping was widespread at that time,” he said. “No-one spoke out against it, doping was a way of life for many of my teammates and colleagues and for me, too. Doping was part of the job. I thought blood transfusions were the road to success as all the big names were doing it.”

I’m still working my way thru Tyler Hamiltons book, all quite interesting…certainly food for thought. If someone were to interview any “Pro Wrestlers” and ask them if they feel guilty or that they are doing something ‘wrong’ by taking steroids, what do you think their answer would be?

I believe ALL the pro cyclists who had the misfortune to show up in the Europeon Peleton during the EPO era had a sad and difficult decision to make if they wanted a shot at winning the big races. We can damn them and call them cheaters/losers/whatever, but we weren’t in their shoes. It’s always easy to critisize from a distance. Just my 2 cents.

Jean C January 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

USADA didn’t prosecute Lance because they probably hoped that UCI would do that, they had all datas and biological experts. Then began FBI investigation so USADA had to wait it’s end.

MattC January 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Isn’t it up to the athletes governing body to do the prosecution? (the Contador ‘tainted beef’ prosecution by the Spanish anti-doping cluster-f#$% comes to mind)…and just when did the Federal (FBI?) investigation on Lance start, I can’t seem to recall?

I would have THOUGHT that if Lance’s Biological Passport blood data from 2009 AND 2010 showed what TT/ USADA claims it did, then SOMEONE should have prosecuted him right away. It feels like there’s something missing here… how on earth could he race for TWO STRAIGHT YEARS when his data shows a million to one odds that he was doping? It just doesn’t add up.

Jean C January 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

UCI should have given all elements about Lance’s doping to USADA as it’s done for a normal positive case. Then USADA would have to judge that case.

We should remember that USADA request the sharing of their datas and UCI refused. WHy? Accomplice with Lance!

Rant January 28, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Jean,

Remember that the federal investigation didn’t begin moving in Lance’s direction until the Spring of 2010. So data from 2009 could have been used to initiate a case against Armstrong before any of that occurred. And USADA could still have pursued a case based on the biological passport even with the government’s investigation going on. Now, when it comes to the trafficking and distribution and conspiracy, that USADA would have had to wait on.

UCI should, according to their rules, forward information about potential doping cases to USA Cycling, who would then refer those cases to USADA. Armstrong definitely has friends and associates at USA Cycling, and appears to have (had?) friends at the UCI, too. So I think you may well be right that those people had something to do with the case never getting into USADA’s hands.

Thus, the question becomes, did the UCI’s review panel look at Lance’s biological passport and agree that there was a case to be made against him? If so, who along the chain of referrals put a stop to the case?

Interesting that Armstrong doesn’t seem willing to work with USADA, but he would be willing to talk to the UCI’s “truth and reconciliation” commission if and when it comes into existence. Perhaps his friends at the UCI could still protect him?

I’m a bit skeptical as to whether the T&R commission will ever come into existence, and how forthcoming Armstrong will be in detailing what he knows to such a group. From where I see it right now, Armstrong is still protecting (or perhaps doing the bidding of) some powerful behind-the-scenes players.

Mick January 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm

@MattC…. This case is so complicated and involves so many layers, players, and events, it is impossible to succinctly sum it up in a simple comment. The UCI charged with overseeing the sport. There is a mountain of examples the UCI was failing to uphold the rules, in addition to ignoring data collected via the biological passport. It was their failure to act upon LA’s blood values (not to mention numerous others ) which helped allow USADA to wrestle control of the Armstrong case from the UCI. If UCI had won jurisdiction of the case, Armstrong certainly would still be a 7 time winner of the Tour…

MattC January 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

It certainly is a tangled web….so does anybody know WHEN USADA actually first saw the Bio PP data on Lance’s 09 comeback? They obviously have it now, per TT’s statements about the million to one odds…It seems multiple people must have dropped the ball (intentionally?)…I’d think it would be possible to follow the paper trail and see where it stopped.

And it’s sad but funny that it’s only the athletes getting punished here, while the people who were enabling an entire cycling generation of doping to continue rolling along remain untouched. The dopers themselves are just the bottom feeders…it’s time to get higher up the food chain if you REALLY want to stop the doping.

William Schart January 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

I’ll confess I’m no expert on the bio-passport system. However, I suspect that however it works, there is no clear-cut bright line that marks the divide between clean and dirty. So when the system was set up, I guess that various experts weighed in on just where they thought the cutoff should be, and some sort of consensus or average or the like was reached. So it could very well be that, even if LA tests from 2009-2010 did not pass the cutoff, his values were high enough that some expert(s) concluded he doped.

In a way, it’s a bit like a test for DUI. Here in Missouri, the standard is .08, but what do you make of a test with the result of .07? You could probably conclude that some drinking had been going on, but is that enough to charge and convict someone. (As an aside, here in Missouri at least, it is legally possible to convict someone for DUI no matter what the BA test shows. But I’d imagine it would taken other evidence beside the test results to do so.)

One question I would have is how many other riders had test results that were “consultant” with doping, but have not been charged? My guess is that values range in a largely continuous fashion from the clearly clean to the clearly dirty, with a number somewhere close to the official cutoff point. Is being close, in and of itself, enough to convict, and just how close do you have to be?

Rant January 29, 2013 at 8:44 am

Matt,

If the UCI’s committee that reviewed biological passport data felt there was a case for the 2009 Tour, they should have made that recommendation to the federation sometime in the latter part of 2009. The UCI, being responsible for results management, should then have referred the case to USA Cycling, who in turn should have passed the case to USADA, as that’s the organization that USA Cycling uses for anti-doping testing, etc. A reasonable timeline for that would be that the case should have arrived at USADA’s doorstep sometime between October 2009 and January 2010.

That said, it appears that this didn’t happen. It may have been only much later that USADA received the data from the UCI (or whoever actually provided it). Clearly, the UCI and USADA aren’t always on the best of terms. And players at both the UCI and USA Cycling have reasons for protecting Armstrong.

William,

You raise a good point about how to interpret results. That’s a key challenge for the biological passport. Currently, the standard is that three members of the review panel must conclude that the data is consistent with doping for a case to go forward. So in Armstrong’s situation, how many of the experts reached that conclusion? One? Two? Three? More?

Unfortunately, we don’t know. We only know that the case and data never made it to USADA at the appropriate time — assuming that the panel had concluded there was a case to pursue, which we don’t know, either.

William Schart January 29, 2013 at 10:47 am

To change the subject a bit, here’s a follow-up to the article I posted about MLB looking into clinics in FLA:

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/8893139/report-alex-rodriguez-others-miami-clinic-ped-lists

Some names are named.

ludwig January 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Devastating allegations by Tygart. Some of the worst sport fraud perpetrated by Armstrong/Bruyneel involves the special relationship to the UCI and other governing bodies. Tygart alleges Armstrong/Bruyneel were privy to special knowledge about testing schedules and science. Can he connect it to specific people in the UCI?

ludwig January 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm

On a more subjective note I think Lance should go ahead and tell everything he knows to Tygart. That’s the best way forward to him. It’s unfortunate for him that he’ll have to “betray” loyal colleagues like Bruyneel and Ferrari. But Lance should have enough money to compensate these men for the damage his confession will cause them. As a wealthy man, he has more freedom than some.

Maybe one of the things standing in the way of his confession is the continued lure and power of omerta. There is the possibility of Lance being ostracized from sport forever if he confesses but things don’t fundamentally change.

Even if Lance were ostracized from cycling and sport, he would be ok financially. Better to confess and have your self-respect then keep silent and maybe still be ostracized anyway.

MattC January 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Ludwig, I agree…I think the only way Lance will EVER be able to repair some of the damage he’s done is to FULLY come clean. At least if he’s at all interested in overall public opinion (which would be a good thing if he’s to have any chance at future endorsements).

What he did on the bike was still quite impressive…that he was competing against other doped cyclists was just the reality of that era. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell what might have been had he come to the peleton before or after the EPO era…but the fact remains that doped cyclists were going to be winning the big races even if he wasn’t there.

I’m about in the middle of Tyler’s book…it’s really quite illuminating! Of course, that’s assuming it’s all true…(why would he lie now? But then, I recall reading Floyd’s book and thinking the same thing). IF what he says is true, well…Johan was in it up to his eyeballs…it was all part of the job to have a winning TDF team during those times. I am quite interested in hearing Lances full unedited story…I won’t speculate on who knew/helped…but it would be quite fascinating I bet! And I think that’s his only path to ‘salvation’. We shall see.

Jean C January 30, 2013 at 3:20 am

Ludwig,

I don’t believe that Lance will confess his recent doping because his friends and accomplices would be prosecuted on french and Italy soil for doping enablers. Therefore he would do it after all statutes of limitations expire.

William Schart January 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

If they were dumb enough to venture on French soil, but if they remain in US jurisdiction, would the US extradite them?

Jean C January 30, 2013 at 7:51 am

Bruyneel, McQuaid,… are not living in USA. And enabling doping is a criminal act according french or italian laws, so extradition should be possible in a lot of countries.

William Schart January 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm

To change tack again, here is something new to me:

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8897280/deer-antler-salesman-saw-alabama-players-use-product

Deer antlers? Who’da thunk. There are people here in Missouri who go around and collect deer antlers after the antlers are shed. Are they doping?

Rant: we’re the Antlers in existence when you were here? Tis could put a whole new light on their name and perhaps their antics too!

William Schart January 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm
Jeff January 30, 2013 at 4:43 pm

CyclingNews billed it as an exclusive.
ESPN added some commentary.

FWLIW, I don’t have much in the way of quibbles with the CyclingNews interview. Seemed much more straight forward than the Oprah made for TV extravaganza that wasn’t.

FWLIW, I also can’t blame LA for not being forthcoming with info that can cause legal problems for him and his friends wrt items not past statute of limitations. It’s certainly not in his self interest to do so and IMHO, he’d be an even bigger scoundrel if he spoke and the result was jail or other legal penalties for his friends. If anyone expects truth regarding 2009 & 2010 or wrt Ferrari & JB…. , those pesky legal obstacles will have to be removed.

Another FWLIW, while I don’t believe for a moment LA has been fully forthcoming, let’s say there is also no way I believe Travis Tygart is telling the full truth or acting in full faith either. Each has their own agenda. The death penalty vs. the short mostly offseason sanction is one example. Seems more like an attempt at leverage that backfired. Y

As always, YMMV………….

Rant January 30, 2013 at 9:36 pm

William,

Thanks for posting the link. Just getting around to looking at those stories. Some athletes will try anything to get an edge, that’s for sure. Even deer antlers, apparently. And speaking of antlers, I don’t remember The Antlers, but then again, some of my days at Mizzou in the early 80s are a bit on the fuzzy side.

By the way, for all who are interested, here’s the CyclingNews interview.

MattC January 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Forget EPO..I need to get me some DEER ANTLERS! Sheesh..who knew? All this time, I could have been licking deer antlers!

Just when you think you’ve heard everything….

un-freaking-believable.

I’d think deer antler-spooge would be hard to make illegal…”to the members of the jury, I had dinner, then I was casually cleaning my deer antlers (with my tongue), and suddenly I was performing better. Is that a crime? SERIOUSLY?”

MattC January 31, 2013 at 8:29 am

And now Rasmussen has come out of the closet (as to his doping)…

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/01/news/rasmussen-admits-doping-cooperates-with-danish-authority_273209

I’m just floored that the powers that be don’t seem to understand that pretty much everybody who was ‘anybody’ in that era was doping…

ludwig January 31, 2013 at 11:07 am

JeanC,

If people like Bruyneel and Ferrari are in danger of going to jail then I see your point. It’s hard to come up with a $# that would compensate for jail time.

I find it hard to believe people will go to jail for this. It reminds me of Hoberman’s old piece decrying the whole system back in 98, when he argued LeBlanc was a more suitable candidate for a jail cell than Zulle.

http://thinksteroids.com/articles/festina-tour-de-france-doping-scandal/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/aug/01/comment.sport

But I guess it depends how bad the sport fraud was. Just doping alone doesn’t seem to warrant prosecution given the ubiquity of doping. However, outright sport fraud and/or result-rigging might be a different matter.

It seems like only a general amnesty can open the door to reconciliation. But it would also be a good start to see the likes of Bruyneel kicked out of the sport for good, regardless of how sincerely he and those like him may love cycling. I suppose there is a need for a Truth and Reconciliation Comission to determine who should be allowed to stay in the sport and who needs to go for the sake of fairness.

MattC January 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Let’s not forget that Lance/JB and the team weren’t the only ones doing this…it was apparently pretty common among most of the teams during that era, and we’re just finding out about some of it now. If they ever do offer the T&R (amnesty) I think we’ll be surprised at JUST HOW prevalent it was.

MattC January 31, 2013 at 3:25 pm

An interesing article in Cycling News, where Antione Vayer (part of the “Change Cycling Now” group) has requested to talk to Lance. here’s the link:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/vayer-defends-reaching-out-to-lance-armstrong

Here is a VERY interesting quip from this article:

” I had two and half hours with McQuaid last week in Lausanne. I asked if he doped as a rider. He said no, because he rode at a low level and that it wasn’t necessary.”

The part I find VERY interesting about that: it infer’s that if you ride at a high level you’d NEED to dope (he used the word “necessary”). At least that’s how I read it. The head of the UCI realizes that the top guys needed to dope…

William Schart February 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Here is an interesting and thought provoking piece:

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8904906/daring-ask-ped-question

Jeff February 3, 2013 at 9:36 am

William,
I’m not privy to the details of Adrian Peterson’s ACL reconstruction, but it’s most likely his surgeon utilized a patellar graph. The patellar tendon is considered overbuilt and a good site to harvest one’s own tissue to employ a repair. A section of Patellar tendon (some % stronger than the original ACL) is harvested, with a section of bone on the shin end and on the kneecap end. Basically holes are drilled in the appropriate places, patellar placed correctly w/ bone ends inserted in the holes. Small titanium screws are affixed to hold/mash the bone ends in place. The repaired ACL is extremely fragile (hanging on only by small screws) until bone grows to bone in the repaired areas. The repair only becomes strong when the bone grows to bone. The time for bone to grow to bone can vary greatly between individuals. 6 to 9 months is common. Some can heal faster, and others take longer. (Lots of variables including blood circulation, age, ability to heal) When one tears and ACL & MCL, the knee was unstable and misaligned at the instant when the injury occurred. That misalignment almost always results in a tear or flap in the meniscus. How healthy a knee is after ACL reconstruction depends upon several factors. These include the the scope of the damage to the meniscus and how much needed to be removed, the skill of the surgeon installing the graph to mimic the original ACL, damage to tissue in the surrounding area, and the body’s reaction to rehab protocol.

So, on the face of it, I see Adrian Peterson’s recovery as remarkable, but not improbable.

I don’t know anything about Ray Lewis and deer antlers, but if there is a product that speeds recovery from and injury and is not harmful, then why not? If it does work, which I am skeptical of, the questions really should be, “Why is this product/treatment not in more widespread used and why is it not used to reduce suffering?” “Why is such a beneficial treatment banned by ADA’s and Professional Sports Organizations?” I’m not saying it works. I’m a sceptic, but the reactions seem wrong headed based upon the information presented.
YMMV………

William Schart February 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

A couple of thoughts:

It seems to me that we have gone from the “innocent until proven guilty” to “guilty unless proven innocent” mode, in part due to Armstrong, Landis etc. Whether or not any of the people mentioned in the article did use banned substances I have no idea. Some may feel that rapid recovery equals doping, just like some feel that a fast time in the Tour equals doping. As far as forming a personal opinion goes, that’s fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

The question of what to ban is perhaps a difficult one. Just how much of a boost does some drug need to give in order to be banned? And should something be banned simply because it helps one to recover faster from an injury?

MattC February 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

William, thanks for that link…it really was an “interesting and thought provoking article….

William Schart February 5, 2013 at 8:40 am
William Schart February 5, 2013 at 9:05 am

Cycling is not the only sport with problems:

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1326579/380-matches-suspect-in-european-fixing-probe?cc=5901

I often wonder to what extent organized crime in involved in doping. I think it unlikely that the mob is doping riders to bet on them, that’s too much of a crapshoot. Too much could happen, like a crash, and your doped rider looses. But what about using doping to cause a rider to loose? You dope him up for a while so he gets some results and you can get good odds, then either give him placebos or even some performance dehancing drugs (if there is such a word) and bet against him.

All pure speculation, of course.

William Schart February 6, 2013 at 7:53 am
William Schart February 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Liggett junkie February 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Right here and now I promise never to begin another comment with the words ‘Now I’ve seen everything … ‘ There’s always more stupidity where the previous supply came from.

I realize that basic concepts such as ‘due process’ and ‘habeas corpus’ and ‘standing’ are foreign to whatever the hell it is that the French are pleased to call their legal system, but this IS special:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/mpcc-to-sue-lance-armstrong

Breach (‘breach’ ??) of cycling’s image? Surely they mean ‘accurate reflection.’ All I can think of is the scene in The Four Musketeers when (I think it’s) Oliver Reed says to Faye Dunaway, “Madam, how is it possible to insult you?” I mean, have any of these alleged cycling professionals been paying attention to the history of cycling from, say, 120 years ago to this morning?

Europcar? Pot, meet kettle.

Cofidis? The team that gets popped at the Tour every couple of years but never fails to score an invite? The one with the team-organized doping program that David Millar discussed in his auto-bio? Okey-dokey.

William Schart February 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm

The interesting thing is the statement that MPCC regulations allow for such action. So what, the regulations of any private organization have no legal bearing.

Jeff February 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm
William Schart February 12, 2013 at 9:06 am

I know that prior to the blood passport system samples for testing were supposed to be anonymous, so that the testers would not know who’s sample they were testing. I would assume that the same would hold true for the BP samples. This would reduce the likelihood of testers manipulating tests one way or the other based on whose sample it was.

Jeff February 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

I think the point I was attempting to make by providing the cite was that both parties to the dispute are selective with the truth.

Certainly not unexpected. UCI is a “Liars Club” on par with Congress. Ashenden seems to portray himself as a rare beacon of truth quick to stand on principle. FWLIW, I view both as self promotors first. I can’t take either on face value and have to figure that whatever their respective positions, the truth probably lies elsewhere………

William Schart February 12, 2013 at 11:02 am

Guess I wasn’t clear with my point. If the tests are truly blind, how can anyone say he has reviewed Armstrong’s tests? Or am I missing something?

MattC February 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/02/news/puerto-expert-witness-reportedly-dead-from-heart-attack_274577

VERY interesting….the primary witness AGAINST Operation Puerto Dr. Fuentes dies the day before giving testimony….hmmmm…of a heart attack. Testimony against a DOCTOR. Who would know LOTS about heart attacks. I’m not saying he did it…I’m just saying it’s QUITE a coincidence.

Jean C February 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

It has been easy for Ashenden to match Lance’s blood values with those that he had analized : he just had to compare the 2 set of values: a combiantion of dates and values.

Jeff February 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm

William,
Ashenden claimed, on more than one occasion, that he had not analyzed LA’s Passport profile. Jean C says it has been easy for Ashenden to match LA’s blood values with those he analyzed. UCI asserts Ashenden did analyze LA’s values over a range of specific dates (not including a TdF or just prior/after) and declared them to be normal w/o comment. There are some inherent conflicts when comparing the last (3) sentences.

I don’t buy that the Passport is particularly blind. UCI’s statements seem to back that notion up. Jean C’s post certainly does.

Edit – This is the article I cited earlier:
http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/02/news/source-uci-citing-incomplete-information-to-discredit-ashenden_274528

Some pertinent quotes from the cite:

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said on Monday that an anti-doping expert critical of its passport program in fact reviewed samples from Lance Armstrong during his time on the Biological Passport review panel, and that Dr. Michael Ashenden had signed off on those tests as normal.”

“But here’s the rub. Ashenden appears wrong in his claim that he never reviewed an Armstrong test in the comeback years, yes, but, according to that same source close to the testing data, Ashenden never reviewed any relevant samples that would logically contain evidence of blood manipulation. No Tours de France, namely.”

“ ‘They now are putting out selective test results,’ said the person with knowledge of the tests who declined to go on record due to the current political climate in cycling. ‘You’ve got to have all the data points to make a full conclusion, and what [the UCI] released today… maybe that was all they had at that point, but the panel should have looked at it in 2009 at the end of the Tour, when he was a third-place finisher.’ ”

“Looking at those test results, however, is easier said than done. In the case of the post-comeback Armstrong samples, it was made clear to VeloNews that the UCI is in control of the tests from the 2009 and 2010, and hasn’t been eager to offer them up. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, for example, was forced to extract the data from the World Anti-Doping Agency for its Armstrong investigation, as the UCI wouldn’t willingly part with it.”

It would be more fun, instructive, & conclusive if the source (the person with knowledge of the tests who declined to go on record due to the current political climate in cycling) were cited. Just saying…………….

Jeff February 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm

William,
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/ashenden-calls-on-bio-passport-experts-to-re-examine-armstrongs-profile

Another indication the Passport is not blind, at least not now for LA.

The article indicates Ashenden may not be able to be transparent due to an 8 year non-disclosure agreement upon him leaving the review panel.

This info is reported to have been derived from USADA’s Reasoned Decision:
“Given Armstrong’s blood results have been published and are public record, and given we now know that the anonymous code assigned to Armstrong’s results is BPT374F23, it may be possible for the remaining experts to check their own records to confirm whether they ever saw Armstrong’s suspicious results,” Ashenden told Velonews.

Other interesting quotes contained in the cite, including conflict of interest wrt the non-disclosure situation.

One thing is for sure. All indications point to no one involved being transparent or fully forthcoming. While the soup has been oh so willing to accuse the athletes of cheating, they, themselves have been busy cheating the athletes and, often times, each other. Happy reading.

Jeff February 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Matt C,
This case has been going on so long (and inexplicably exclusively focused on cycling) that odds were someone destined to eventually testify would pass away before they were able to do so. It’s certainly sad and a curious coincidence that Francisco Aguanell passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack, so soon before being scheduled to tell his story.

However, more direct testimony has already been presented: “Jörg Jaksche has presented a damning insight into the practices carried out by Eufemiano Fuentes, claiming that the Spanish doctor “never offered me treatment for health reasons, but for reasons related to doping.” Appearing as the Operación Puerto trial in Madrid went into its third week, the German ex-pro also declared that Manolo Saiz, his former team boss at ONCE and Liberty Seguros, both introduced him to and was fully aware of the relationship Jaksche had with Fuentes.”
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/jaksche-provides-damning-testimony-against-fuentes-and-saiz

William Schart February 12, 2013 at 6:53 pm

“Given Armstrong’s blood results have been published and are public record, and given we now know that the anonymous code assigned to Armstrong’s results is BPT374F23, it may be possible for the remaining experts to check their own records to confirm whether they ever saw Armstrong’s suspicious results,” Ashenden told Velonews.”

Sounds to me like the results were anonymous at one time, but have since been published. Perhaps this is why Ashenden and others can comment on whether or not they have reviewed Armstrong’s results.

Jeff February 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Depends upon how anonymous one considers anonymous to be?

Jean C February 13, 2013 at 5:36 am

Lance had published “his” blood values on his website. So any experts could analyze them.
The only doubt remaining was that they could be different of the real BP values.
UCI, by releasing the key code of Lance’s bio profile, has let Ashenden to verify the coherence between the 2 sets of datas.

William Schart February 13, 2013 at 8:07 am

So here’s the ultimate question, regardless of who knew whose blood it was when: when Armstrong’s samples were given the OK in 2009-2010, was this a valid conclusion at the time, given the standards in effect then, or was someone deliberately misreading the results in order to let Armstrong off? And as a corollary, is USADA’s contention that these same test results are clear evidence of doping, is this a valid conclusion to make now, given perhaps we know more, or is USADA trying to analyze things in a way which appears to corroborate the rest of their findings?

My suspicion is that there is a range of test results where everyone would agree there is no evidence of doping, another range of results that everyone would agree are clearly indicative of doping, and in between a range where there is disagreement; with a more or less arbitrary cutoff set by rule. So there can be some question about what some results actually mean.

Jean C February 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm

William,

We just have to travel back in past, if you haven’t the skills of Dr Emmet Bown, I would sugget to read that :

http://veloclinic.tumblr.com/post/42994445565/armstrong-biopassport-cover-up

Jeff February 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm

“It is the Athlete Passport Management Unit (AMPU), which is independent from the UCI, and not the UCI who are responsible for submitting random profiles and profiles with apparently abnormal values to the panel of experts,” said UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani.

So, UCI is claiming they were not directly involved in the process of deciding which riders/sets of samples were selected to be reviewed by the panel of experts. That responsibility fell upon the “independent” AMPU. Paraphrase: “Hey, if the more relevant samples from LA that included those taken during, or in the close lead up to, the 2009 or 2010 TdF were not selected/presented to an expert panel for Bio Passport review, then it’s not on us.” Of course this is one side of the story. There could certainly be more to it :-)

I have not seen a cite that describes the criteria for what triggers selection by AMPU and don’t expect any such transparency from any system related to UCI.

On the subject of anonymous samples, if the “experts” are worth their salt, then they could certainly narrow down the suspects. Time of year, know methodology related to who is selected to provide in competition samples, and any known medical anomalies from likely subjects……. would provide any real expert with an educated guess, if they were so inclined.

William Schart February 14, 2013 at 5:18 am

All clear as mud. If I understand it, passport profiles are reviewed by someone, and “suspicious” ones, along with some random ones, are submitted the the AMPU for further review. For some as yet unknown reason, Armstrong’s samples weren’t so submitted and he subsequently published on his own some of these profiles. Presumably he felt at the time that he had been cleared and so publishing these values would corroborate his contention that he was riding clean. However, some “experts” reviewed these published values and concluded these were indicative of doping.

It remains to be seen why these samples weren’t submitted. I can think of some possible reasons:

1. At the time, it might have been reasonable under the existing criteria to pass on these profiles. Now, lots of people are saying it should have been obvious but how much of that it through the benefit of hindsight?

2. Armstrong exerted some sort of influence to hold back the profiles.

3. Those involved in reviewing profiles for possible submission on their own without any input from Armstrong, withheld the profiles for whatever reason.

4. Incompetence on the part of the reviewer(s).

Barring some sort of confession I doubt we’ll ever really know. I see a lot of finger pointing in the works and a lot of “it wasn’t up to me/us.”

Whatever, it all goes to show that the bio passport system, while perhaps a good idea, is not really working as it should.

William Schart February 14, 2013 at 5:46 am

And and Jeff, you’re quite right about being able to figure out that Armstrong’s sample was likely to be among those collected at any given stage. So if a tester was so inclined to fudge the test, he’d have to do it for the whole group in order to guarantee getting the targeted rider. If you were trying to get a rider, you’d have to “find” all samples positive; if you were trying to give a rider a pass you’d have to “find” all samples negative regardless of their true state.

Jean C February 14, 2013 at 7:19 am

William,

Lance had announced that he will publish his test results to prove he was clean. He stopped to do it when people had questionned his cleanless according the published values.
No doubt that our knowledge about blood and blood doping has not changed so much since 2009.
Blood doping experts (Parisotto, Dine, Ashenden, Morkeberg) who had reviewed, unofficially, Lance blood’s values at the time they were published on Livestrong website have said it was a clear indication of doping.
That had made some noise,, impossible for UCI to avoid.

William Schart February 15, 2013 at 5:10 am

Jean:

You mention a list of experts who unofficial reviewed Armstrong’s published values and declared them to be I dictate of doping. Fine, but someone had to have previously officially reviewed them and declared them to be OK, if nothing else than by failing to take any action. I am sure this is why Armstrong felt he could publish these values. Why were these tests deemed fine officially and unofficially held to be dirty.

Oh, and obviously UCI did avoid taking any action until the USADA released its decision this past year.

Jean C February 15, 2013 at 8:10 am

William,
In his famous press-conference, Lance announced that he was going to publish any of his tests results, personnal testing and official.
As we remember his personnal testing was shutdown before starting, Lance could only paid costly lawyers, a nurse to take blood samples and their shipping was too costly!

Lance’s samples of GIRO and TDF were never analysed by official and honest experts, that is what we are seeing now.
The excuse of software is totaly stupid, especially after the comments had been made in press. Any real responsable of doping would have required an investigation of Lance’s biological passport after having heard the allegations. At that time, McQuaid said that Lance’s datas were OK.
How can he say now, that they had not reviewed those datas.

Please, McQuaid, stop to lie.

Jeff February 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

Some questions come to mind.
1) How “independent” is/was AMPU of UCI?
2) What is the extent of AMPU’s expertise with software, or other methods, to discriminate between suspicious samples?
3) Was AMPU provided with the relevant/questionable samples? (And if not, then why not?)
4) Did anti-doping officials follow the protocols they were ethically and professionally bound to follow?
5) Were the allegedly questionable samples really questionable?
6) Has an expert, without an ax to grind on the subject, weighed in and provided verifiable supporting documentation available to peer & public review?

I’ve never found LA to have a likable personality and estimate it’s better than even money that he is being untruthful when claiming to ride clean in his “comeback”, but also acknowledge stranger things have happened, so it’s possible.

LA has some clear and expensive reasons not to be forthcoming about possible doping during his final two partial seasons, so he has motive.

On the other hand, Tygart, Ashenden, and others also have motivation to claim the opposite. Sensationalizing, and possibly exaggerating LA’s doping activities is in their interest as it keeps their name in the news and in the public’s eye.

You can’t trust either side on face value.

Then factor in other related actors. UCI’s relationship to AMPU is clear as mud wrt the critical details. UCI/McQ/HvB are a bad joke. At best, HvB/McQ have been incompetent stewards. On the other end, HvB/McQ may have been criminal frauds, or worse. IoC doesn’t look good (nor should those disreputable cons ever look good) when Rogge offers public support to the unworthy and unsupportable McQ. WADA puffs out its collective chest over recent doper busts, but conveniently omits noting just how long and badly it failed in its declared mission. (I acknowledge WADA has done its undeclared and real mission of providing IoC cover from doping scandals quite well) And USADA is just a freak of nature. A little non-profit has carved itself quite a territory. It’s even banning foreign nationals from international competition. While I believe there has been a lot of evil and selling of souls at play for USADA to have had its recent run of success, I have to admire USADA for its aggressive empire building and for being consummate entrepreneurs. ;-)

Rant February 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm

And in the “things you shouldn’t joke about unless you’re absolutely certain who you’re talking to” category, there’s this. (Credit where credit is due, my wife pointed this out to me.)

William Schart February 19, 2013 at 7:57 am

Well, that certainly is a new excuse as well as a new way of busting someone.

Liggett junkie February 19, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I just want someone to explain to me why Andy Rihs and John LeLangue are still working in professional cycling.

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/02/news/hamilton-testifies-that-sevilla-phonak-director-others-accompanied-him-for-transfusions_275218

William Schart February 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

The picture I see is that during all this time, UCI and WADA were content to take down the occasional rider to provide some cover while ignoring the rest. Long after the fact, USADA jumps in to take down Armstrong, giving them a big scalp to hang on the wall. Time will tell if they follow up, or whether this was merely a one time deal they’ll trot out from time to time: “See how good we did” with little further action.

I suspect the both UCI and WADA aren’t too anxious to delve into the past.

Jeff February 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

Gerard Vroomen Interviews Parts 1 & 2:

http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/13976/Gerard-Vroomen-Interview-Inexplicable-why-the-UCI-didnt-target-Armstrong-over-bio-passport.aspx

http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/13980/Gerard-Vroomen-interview-part-II-Cycling-should-not-be-WADAs-only-whipping-boy.aspx

I was hoping to find some information regarding the details of how UCI / AMPU / Expert Panel actually works, but the information was too general to be instructive.

None the less, as a reasonably recent Stake Holder, GV offers some interesting insights, information, and opinion.

And FWIW, I tend to agree with William’s most recent post. I think he offers an accurate summary.

Liggett junkie February 20, 2013 at 11:34 am

Oh, yes, of course, that goes without saying. And the cycling media is totally complicit in this Charlie Brown/Lucy/football game. Every time, it’s fresh outrage! and the opiners declare that it’s the last time we’ll ever see it because everything’s SO much cleaner now, and then the entire process starts all over again. Bqhatevwr.

Jeff February 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Armstrong declines to cooperate with USADA again, after being given an extension to decide:
http://www.tennessean.com/usatoday/article/1931793&usatref=sportsmod

Translation:
1) USADA has nothing to offer to make it worthwhile. A reduction of a life ban to an eight (8) year ban is still effectively a life ban in terms of competition for LA. (I don’t see LA as an age group competitor and also don’t expect the mercurial LA to become altruistic at this late date – love of the bike/cycling ha, ha, ha ;-) )
2) LA is going to buy some time to allow statute of limitations to lapse in real courts vs. WADA/USADA World’s kangaroo courts with convenient loopholes on statute of limitations.
3) LA is going to seek better terms (for him) from an international body, possibly something along the lines of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee. (Although Truth and Reconciliation seems like a good way to go, don’t hold your breath. It’s not likely in the interests of the cast of characters at UCI or WADA, IMHO).
4) LA is not going to “Rat Out” his friends to USADA. He’ll stay loyal to JB and others because they have remained loyal to him. (FWLIW, I don’t consider Floyd a “Rat”, because he didn’t expose others until he was sold down the river)
5) LA is not going to do anything that could help the sport he claims to love, unless his financial interests are protected and he does not expose himself to possible incarceration, as a result.

Some have mentioned a possible RICO case (I don’t think it qualifies, but I’m no RICO expert) against Armstrong and his cronies. Even if he qualifies, I don’t find that likely in light of recent past history wrt decisions to decline to attempt to prosecute, but the clock is ticking if there is any merit to the notion:

“RICO Act itself does not contain a statute of limitations but the Supreme Court has held that civil RICO claims are subject to a four-year statute of limitations. Agency Holding Corp. v. Malley-Duff & Associates, Inc., 483 U.S. 143, (U.S. 1987). The statute of limitations begins running on a RICO claim according to the “injury discovery accrual rule” which ties accrual to the time when a plaintiff first knew or should have known of his injury.” 
http://rico.uslegal.com/rico-and-statute-of-limitation/

Additionally, news has recently been scarce on the progress, or lack thereof, on the Whistleblower Case.

Jeff February 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm

An addition to my previous post.
I’ll add a #6, related to #5.
6) Avoid possible perjury charges (had he testified under oath to USADA) if/when he lies in testimony to some sort of Truth and Reconciliation Commission or International Tribunal.

MikeG February 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

US government joins whistleblower suit against Armstrong

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/us-government-joins-whistleblower-suit-against-armstrong

Jeff February 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Was wondering when we hear more on the Whistleblower case.
Doesn’t to appear to have been in LA’s interest to hang Floyd out to dry.
Just saying……….

Rant February 22, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Mike,

I was wondering how long it would take for the Feds to make up their minds. Lance is in a world of hurt, I suspect.

Jeff,

What goes around comes around, eh?

William Schart February 23, 2013 at 7:54 am

I wonder to what extent Armstrong’s current situation is in part due to his general jerkiness, to use a euphemism. If he hadn’t have gone after those who raised allegations against him so viciously, if he hadn’t done that comeback, thu bing his nose at the powers that be in effect, and if he had treated Landis better, maybe USADA would have been less inclined to go after him and maybe his former teammates would have been less inclined to testify against him. Who knows?

Rant March 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm

William,

I suspect if Lance hadn’t been such a jerk, then things might have turned out a whole lot differently. It seems like those who get to the top of a profession often are such types. Kind of the “nice guys finish last” story. I just finished reading a book called “Assholes: A theory” by Aaron James. Couldn’t help thinking of Armstrong as I read it. The book’s title has been applied to Lance on more than one occasion. ;-)

Previous post:

Next post: