All I Know

Surprise Ending

“Book” Review:

Reasoned Decision

U.S. Anti-doping Agency (USADA)

If you have any interest at all in professional cycling, you should read this document.  The base document is about 200 pages but reads like about half that owing to the footnotes.  While a trifle repetitive, it is compelling reading.  Anyone who has an opinion about whether Lance did or didn’t really cannot miss this.

For myself, I never have been that big of a Lance fan, and certainly not an apologist.  Sure I took pride when an American won the TdF those times, and I rooted for him in his comeback.  Most of all I think I wanted to believe that he was clean and was just better: more driven, more systematic, more capable of enduring pain.

It turns out that those attributes are true and accurate, but not complete.  All those times he swore up and down he wasn’t using, he was, and not just a little.  He was using better, smarter, and more thoroughly than his competition.  My point is that for me, a moderate Lance fan, he had me hook, line, and sinker as a supporter right up until the time it was announced that the other American leaders in cycling were coming out with their story, and it was not gonna be pretty for Lance.

I am astonished that Armstrong was so fabulously successful in pulling the wool over the eyes of so many for so long.  Right up until a couple of weeks ago, we did not have clear reason not to believe that Lance was clean.  He passed all those drug tests, you know.  Bill Strickland, the “with” writer for Johan Bruyneel’s book, and the authoritative history of the 2009 Lance comeback tour, said that in reviewing everything he knew, it might be possible that Lance doped. If a doping scheme can be hidden from such an insider, what chance to the rest of us have?

And he might have gotten away with it, Armstrong was that close.  It was not abundantly clear to me why it was important for the USADA to pursue Armstrong so long after his last victory; now I am very glad they did.

Suffice it to say that the USADA makes an unassailable case that Armstrong and Bruyneel, with others, systematically doped at the highest levels of the science over their entire careers, comeback included, and that they forced similar behavior on others.[1][2]

Armstrong is revealed not only as a doper, but also as a first rate bully and a cad.  Actually I am not sure what the correct non-profane word is for one who seeks to influence a perceived adversary by threatening his wife.  Again, the extent to which we were duped amazes me.

The most touching story in the “book” is the Dave Zabriskie story, around page 110, who turned to cycling as a refuge from the grief associated with the recent death of his father, owing to drug addiction.

He had vowed never to give in to the temptation to use, never to end up
like his father, furtively using drugs to feed his dependency and eroding his physical health.

Imagine his surprise when Johan Bruyneel compelled Zabriskie to conform with the team and use performance-enhancing drugs.  After the first administration, Zabriskie went home and cried.

I expect you will be surprised by the utter incompetence of the UCI demonstrated in the Reasoned Decision (RD).  It lays out dispassionately how the UCI forfeited any legal or moral authority to act in the case due to inaction or conflict of interest.  To say that the RD shows the UCI to be a loosely organized concern would be a dramatic understatement.[3]  Then, their response to the RD showed as much buffoonery as the rest of their participation in the sordid era.  Pat McQuaid said Lance had no place in cycling.  Why is that?  He simply demonstrated himself to be the best at that game as it was being played under UCI guidance.  I think it is more likely that McQuaid and Verbruggen have no place in cycling.  Perhaps Travis Tygart (the other 3T, and a UNC grad) can be called on to be in charge in Lausanne for a while.

One of the very coolest things about this work is that just now, it is right up to the moment.  If you look at the affidavits, they were just signed a couple of weeks ago.

[1] Here is a good distillation of the bullying stuff

[2] Get the commemorative bracelet

[3] UCI’s legacy/contribution to the sport here

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