Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't cross the Line (part1)

The tainted US Postal Service team leader Lance Armstrong (third from right) framed by his teammates as the pack rides during the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race in 2004. Source: AP From the article in the Herald Sun

I have had a break of a month and return to take the plunge back into training .

During the break , I had time to read lots and whilst I have commented that social media has been both good and bad in that the commentary by all on everything has been instantaneous I have taken a cautious approach to commenting (not that I have a huge readership) But the Lance phenomenon has and is relevant in so far that he started out a triathlete and was on the threshold of racing Kona when USADA published its findings in October 2012.

I had the opportunity to read David Walsh (Interview with David Walsh ) book The seven deadly Sins about his investigation of Lance Armstrong over the past 13 years . ( see Article in the Herald Sun on David and the Book)

It was riveting for the amount of information that was available even from 1999 and yet the majority of the world and the cycling community were oblivious to the extent of drug use or chose to bury their heads . Walsh comments on suspicions he had and how he could no longer turn a blind eye .he wrote a piece following lance's first TDF win which questioned that win and drew for the next 10 years the spite and vitriolic comment from the Lance camp against him .Lance even had a nickname for Walsh ..." the troll ".

David states in the interview in the Sun Herald article:
THE reason I was able to keep reporting the Armstrong story was enough people cared about the truth. They spoke to me on and off the record. Exactly one week before Christmas Day in 2003, I sat with Jonathan Vaughters at a table in a Denver restaurant and he told me how riders were now micro-dosing EPO and how easily they were beating the new test. 

Walsh co wrote L.A. Confidentiel in 2004 but it was only published in French . British Libel laws made it impossible to publish the book and by and large the English reading public never knew.Most papers were not prepared to publish extracts for fear of a defamation action.Actually Lance sued the Sunday Times and the matter was settled with Lance getting 300,000 pounds and a further 300,000 pounds in cost. At present , the Sunday Times is pursuing the recovery of the settlement and interest.

The impression from reading the book is that it was a tremendously stressful period of uncertainty , legal action and some degree of being ostracised by some of the cycling journalist . Davis also lost his love and innocence of the love for cycling and the TDF . It was the dark swirling mess of doping and winning at all cost that sullied the pure romance of these modern day warriors putting everything on the line day after day on the Tour . The book was a parade of characters that were more bizarre than fiction . There was the management that surrounded Lance and , the legal might and no doubt the infamous Dr Ferrari . All played a part . Ultimately what unraveled was Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis coming forward . That sealed it for Lance .