Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guest Column Part 2: The End of the Myth

According to the reports of many of his teammates, Lance Armstrong used various methods to cheat his way into victory. One tactic was to simply buy the race. There are reports that in 1993, at merely age 21, Armstrong bought a race for $50,000.00. It was a three-segment race in West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Armstrong apparently won the first two legs legitimately, but negotiated with other competitors not to contend the third leg and to allow him to win, in return for $50,000.00. Besides the prize for each segment, there was a million-dollar prize for the rider who won all three legs. Steven Swart testified under oath to being on the receiving end of this deal.Who knows what other backhand deals Armstrong may have employed in other subsequent races if he felt threatened for the win?

Many believe that Armstrong never tested positive for illegal performance-enhancement substances because he simply owned Hein Verbruggen, the President of the UCI. Evidence for this ironically lies in Armstrong's cancer diagnosis in 1996. That same year, he competed for 10 solid months, either winning races or making the podium in Europe and the USA. Because he placed so high in the standings, he would have been tested multiple times throughout that year. Yet by the time his testicular cancer was diagnosed, it was already at an advanced stage. Had he been properly tested in the first place, his condition might have been discovered sooner. His boasts about never testing positive may be based on the confidence of his ownership of the individual responsible for having him tested in the first place!

Do you recall the Radio Shack commercials that featured Armstrong and a personal assistant named Alphonse? You won’t find them anymore on the Internet as Radio Shack has had them removed. The ads captured a domineering Armstrong who would repeatedly terrify the cowering assistant. I believe that that was the real Armstrong. He has since been described by those who had close interactions with him as a domineering, bullying, threatening man who used those same qualities to secure himself seven illegal wins.

I'd like to believe that tennis is a clean sport, but James Blake recently made waves with his statements implying that tennis may have its own Lance Armstrongs. After his first round loss at the 2012 US Open, Blake reportedly stated: “I'm sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers. With this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the US Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead. It's unfortunate, but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system.”

If Blake is correct, then tennis needs to take a page from the USADA and have the guts to go after any suspected cheaters. No more catching the small fry using cocaine. It's time to go after the big guns with big-monied corporations in their back pockets – if they exist. And ex-lovers should always be questioned. You know, hell hath no fury and all that. Indeed, anyone whose dominance seems suspect should be subjected to even more rigid and unexpected evaluations. If they are not cheating, they would have no gripes about these efforts to keep their sport clean.

Details of the 1999-2005 Armstrong-dominated era are flooding the Internet every day and USADA says that they will be revealing their evidence in due course. Kudos to Travis Tygart for standing up to this menace who, up till now, was accustomed to making life miserable for anyone who dared to question his record. When life started unraveling for Armstrong in 2010, he came 23rd in the Tour de France. That’s more like it. That’s exactly the kind of athlete he is—a good one, and one whose best effort lands him in 20-something place and no higher. Dominance should always be achieved honestly, with sweat and tears but without illegal blood.
(Part 2 of 2 submitted by Velopen)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My god I so hope not! I have said for years that tennis is too much a mix of muscle and finesse for drugs to play a role. I really, really hope I am right!

I know my professional wheelchair player was urine tested ALL the time, I never knew if that was the regular schedule or someone just wanted to fly to Maui to test her.....

Some other sports have been dragged through the mud for drug use and I hope that tennis never has to go through that.

Jack in SC