Hip Tales

by Rant on October 31, 2013 · 9 comments

in Lance Armstrong

The last time I posted here, I had two functional hips. And then, a few weeks ago, not. Going out on a solo Sunday morning ride, I was looking to put in about 50 miles. I made it about 6.5 before disaster struck. Some rain storms passed through our area a couple or three hours before my ride. The roads looked like they were drying out, and the temperature was comfortable. Then, as I went through a rather sharp 90-degree bend, which was still very wet, my bike went sideways and I landed smack dab on my right hip. Which was now broken. I eventually got to the hospital, got surgery pretty quickly, and now my hip is slightly bionic — in that there are four “pins” (on the x-ray they look like deck screws) holding everything together.

Recovery is now the name of the game. No more rides this season for me. In the meantime, I’m getting a lot of reading done. And even working for the day job, as I’m able to work remotely.

Anyway, you don’t come here for a recitation of Rant’s woes. No, we’ve got doping related stories to cover.


The movies

A new documentary will be coming out on November 8th called “The Armstrong Lie.” If you haven’t already heard of it, it’s directed by Alex Gibney, who’s known for Taxi to the Dark Side, among other films.

Gibney’s documentary started life as a feel-good piece about Armstrong’s return to competition in 2008/2009. But as the film was in final production, there was a news story that rocked the boat and temporarily set the project back. Floyd Landis started dishing on what he saw in his years at the Postal Service team, including saying in interviews that he’d personally seen Armstrong using banned methods.

Here’s a clip from ABCnews.com, talking to Gibney about the film.

I’m hoping that the film will also be available through Netflix, Hulu or iTunes, as it’s not the easiest thing going to a theater when you’re using a walker.

As an aside, it turns out that one of the producers of the film is a former friend of Armstrong’s. The change in direction of the film and its contents, apparently, have iced that relationship.

Another film that may be on the way, as eagle-eyed regular reader William Schart noticed, is some sort of Hollywood biopic about Lance Armstrong.  Over on the Browne Eye blog, Neil Browne offers his suggestions for the movie’s cast. The movie is said to be based on David Walsh’s book, The Seven Deadly Sins, which chronicles Armstrong’s rise and fall. I’d guess this won’t be out in theaters for at least a year. We’ll have to wait and see.

Almost makes me think I should dust off a screenplay I wrote about the dark side of cycling back in 2009. Hmm. Definitely have some time in the next month or so.

The books

Books, books and more books. So far, I’ve gone through five or six in the last 3-and-a-half weeks. A kind soul, who will remain nameless for the time being but who is hip to this kind of injury, sent me a copy of Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell. When I first heard about the book, I wondered if the two Wall Street Journal reporters could really add much new material to a story that has been well chronicled over the last few years, especially with all the documentation available from the US Anti-Doping Agency’s case against Armstrong.

And as I read through, I found that, yes, they did have some new angles on the whole saga. The book covers Armstrong’s beginnings and works its way all the way through to the present day. Along the way, the authors flesh out parts of the story that have been alluded to, but not well documented, including the people on Armstrong’s teams who assisted his and other cyclists’ doping programs.

And while it glosses over Floyd Landis’ downfall and disgrace, you will also learn what Landis is up to these day. (Hint: He’s out east, in an undergraduate program for non-traditional students, and as of the book’s research/publication, has a girlfriend.)

Wheelmen is well written and definitely worth reading if you want to get a pretty complete picture of what USADA called the most professional doping operation in the history of sports. It may not have every last little gory detail about Armstrong and his systematic doping operation, but it covers the story and the character very well.

The latest

It seems that the latest cyclist to admit to using performance enhancing drugs during his career is Ryder Hesjedal, a Canadian who rides for the Garmin-Sharp cycling team. According to the CBC.ca web site, Hesjedal says that he doped in 2003, while part of a team that included Denmark’s Michael Rasmussen. Rasmussen says that he showed Hesjedal how to use EPO. The revelation comes from Rasmussen’s new book, Yellow Fever.

The CBC reports that Hesjedal released a statement that says:

“I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path,” said Hesjedal in a statement released by his representative, Slipstream Sports. “Even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.”

The Garmin-Sharp team, in its various incarnations, has been Jonathan Vaughter’s pet project to show that a clean cyclists can compete and win. Does that mean Hesjedal is clean today? Hard to say. Cycling certainly doesn’t need anymore scandals, that’s for sure. And it doesn’t need anymore Grand Tour winners being stripped of their titles for doping (Hesjedal won the 2012 Giro d’Italia).

And with that, it’s time to get back to reading a book or rewriting a screenplay or playing my guitar. The doc says if I’m bored, then I’m doing something right. Here’s to boredom and a fully healed hip. Four weeks to go.

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BILL HUE October 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Glad to read today’s blog submission. Get well soon!

Rant October 31, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Thanks Bill! Hoping the next few weeks fly on by.

William Schart November 1, 2013 at 6:33 am

Playing the guitar – there’s a whole ‘norther avenue for doping. How many musicians have used drugs of various kinds?

On the other hand, you don’t hear ro. UCI about book readers.

Rant November 1, 2013 at 6:55 am

I think the question might be better, “How many musicians haven’t used drugs of various kinds?” That number might be smaller. 😉

William Schart November 6, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Depends on the genre. I know that Julian Bream enjoyed a beer, but I doubt that he, or Segovia, or the Austrailian John Williams did drugs. Certainly not when performing, that beer was post concert.

On the other hand, jazz musicians used pot for years, reputedly because it can alter the perception of time and they felt this allowed them to do things rhythmically they couldn’t otherwise. There was the psychedelic 60s, which I’d imagine actually extended past 1969.

Of course, whether any of this gives using musicians any advantage over straight ones is debatable. I don’t think we need to get WADA involved musicians.

MattC November 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Wow Rant…sorry to hear about your injury, but glad to hear you are on the recovery road…when I read the crash part the first thing I thought of was “you got a hip replacement like Floyd”…happy to hear it didn’t go that far (yet?) It sounds horribly painful (the crashing and breaking part…and waiting for a ride to the hospital). I think I’d be lying there in the road saying “DON’T TOUCH ME! MORPHINE! I NEED MORPHINE NOW!”

I seem to have almost NO time for books lately….house stuff…and riding…and life in general just seems to be keeping me quite busy. And it IS that time of year again.

Heal fast!

BuzzyB November 15, 2013 at 8:36 am

Ouch! Get better Rant. Now you will have adventures at every airport screening.

BuzzyB November 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm

This is BS! Velonews reports:

“WADA expands first-time doping bans to four years”

Bunch of bone-heads.

#1 rule — don’t tarnish the brand.

Rant November 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Thanks, BuzzyB. I’m on the mend. Looking forward to being able to walk/run/ride normally. I’ve got at least a few more weeks with my buddy, Mr. Walker, before that happens.

Expanding the first time ban to four years won’t stop determined cheats. A two-year ban is a long time, as it is. Four years is effectively the end of most athlete’s careers. I can’t imagine anyone being out of competition for four years, maintaining enough motivation to train hard, and being able to come back at the same level of fitness.

And woe unto anyone who really does return a false positive test. Bad enough to be out for two years if that happens, worse to basically be booted from the sport. (Yeah, I know that it may be a rare occurrence, but even if it only happens once, that poor person is forced to pay an extremely high price.)

Here’s the link to the VeloNews article for those who are interested.

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