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Official Lance Armstrong Thread: Part 4 (Post-Settlement)

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To summarise my position and interest in the case: I "like" Armstrong in the same manner as someone "likes" the commandants of the Majdanek extermination camp if he/she points out to someone that the initial and widely circulated body toll of 1.38 million is wrong and too high and the current estimate is around 78.000 death people.
This is a fair summary of where I'm from, I'd say. I care more about doping than I do about those who doped.

David Walsh met Sandro Donati one time, early into the pursuit of Armstrong:

"Sandro told me something important: going after Lance Armstrong couldn't be what it was all about because the bigger picture was what mattered. Cycling was far more important than one competitor and if you pursue one and become too associated with that pursuit, that is not good."

Too often it feels like we've forgotten what we're fighting.

And too often it feels like we're happy to sacrifice truth in that fight.
 
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David Walsh met Sandro Donati one time, early into the pursuit of Armstrong:

"Sandro told me something important: going after Lance Armstrong couldn't be what it was all about because the bigger picture was what mattered. Cycling was far more important than one competitor and if you pursue one and become too associated with that pursuit, that is not good."
It is easy to see that David Walsh didn't fully understand what Donati meant when the Irishman focused heavily on his story about Lance Armstrong (a task that took occasionally much more courage than people today can even imagine).

For instance it took until 2010 (Landis confession) that the anti-doping specialists understood the intravenous microdosing technique of rHuEPO administration, but the technique was described to David Walsh by Jonathan Vaughters as early as 2003 when the two met shortly before Christmas for some background information for the book LA Confidentiel. Even when Walsh wasn't an expert and didn't necessarily understand the issue and there was very little that the authorities could've done about the problem, one gets easily the impression that Lance story was more important than asking more details or thinking the implications of this undergroudn breakthrough technique.

Here is one additional strange idea.

While the "everyone dopes = level playing field"-argument has it weaknesses, if one accepts the simplistic framework that doping = categorically bad and neglects all game theory and incentive structures, the logical conclusion is that Lance Armstrong was actually acting morally sound when (if?) he ratted out his doping competitors to Hein Verbruggen or sabotaged their blood deliveries during the 2004 TDF (as alleged by Tyler Hamilton).

That it because there was less bad (ie. doping) taking place even when I don't know if anyone sincerely maintains this position.
 
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It is easy to see that David Walsh didn't fully understand what Donati meant when the Irishman focused heavily on his story about Lance Armstrong (a task that took occasionally much more courage than people today can even imagine).
Walsh's contributions to the doping debate are invaluable: so much was learned through his articles, so much was learned through LA Confidentiel and From Lance to Landis. Betsy Andreu, Jonathan Vaughters, they probably would have found someone else to tell their stories to had Walsh not come along, but that does not take away from his contributions (Stephen Swart had already told his tale before Walsh came along, and little good did that do). The way he used Emma O'Reilly I'm still not sure how I feel about. But in the early and mid-noughties convincing the many who believed that the few who didn't were not crazy wasn't easy and neither side followed Marquess of Queensberry rules. Liberties had to be taken.

That said, I've somewhat nailed my colours to the mast on Walsh and subsequent contributions from him - Inside Team Sky and ghosting Froome's chamoir - suggest that understanding the difference between Walsh 1.0 (the nouvelle Éire era) and Walsh 2.0 (after the Fall) are necessary. In many ways, the man has reverted to type. And he himself, even more so in recent years than during his dogged pursuit of Armstrong and Armstrong alone, has painted a picture of doping beginning and ending with the American. That is where he really missed Donati's advice: Donati was able to go after Conconi without it feeling like it was all about Conconi, Walsh - then and now - has made it feel like it was all about the Texan, that Armstrong was the alpha and the omega of doping.

Walsh and Armstrong, they are linked in the morality angle you offer. GK Chesterton wrote this about detective fiction and in many ways it is appropriate to Walsh and Armstrong:
"When the detective in a police romance stands alone, and somewhat fatuously fearless amid the knives and fists of a thieves' kitchen, it does certainly serve to make us remember that it is the agent of social justice who is the original and poetic figure, while the burglars and footpads are merely placid old cosmic conservatives, happy in the immemorial respectability of apes and wolves. The romance of the police force is thus the whole romance of man. It is based on the fact that morality is the most dark and daring of conspiracies."
Walsh was the one breaking the norms of accepted behaviour more so than Armstrong was. And for this I do salute him, even as I criticise him.

On the morality of Armstrong's actions, a book worth looking out for in a library is Doping in Elite Sports – Voices of French Sportspeople and their Doctors 1950-2010 , by Christophe Brissonneau and Jeffrey Montez de Oca (it's one of those shockingly expensive academic books). It looks, in part, at the social structures surrounding doping and anti-doping, makes the point (similar to Chesterton's above) that those who doped were simply playing by the rules of the game, the unwritten ones (let's accept that pre-Festina, and possibly even up to Cofidis or Puerto, the authorities weren't really fighting doping, they were simply trying to make it look like they were fighting doping). The level playing field. But - and this is important - while Armtrong's doping may be characterised as having been a level playing field his defence of it most certainly was not and, for many people, it is and always will be the manner in which Armstrong sought to cover up his doping that was a far bigger crime than the doping itself.

Here, then, I would question whether Armstrong dropping the dime on Hamilton and others was really morally acceptable. He hadn't become a rebel and changed sides, he wasn't doing like Jesús Manzano (the man who birthed Operación Puerto), taking up arms. On that one, I think you have to judge him by his motivations (which were not morally good) rather than the (morally good) outcomes they may have produced.
 
Walsh's contributions to the doping debate are invaluable: so much was learned through his articles, so much was learned through LA Confidentiel and From Lance to Landis. Betsy Andreu, Jonathan Vaughters, they probably would have found someone else to tell their stories to had Walsh not come along, but that does not take away from his contributions (Stephen Swart had already told his tale before Walsh came along, and little good did that do). The way he used Emma O'Reilly I'm still not sure how I feel about. But in the early and mid-noughties convincing the many who believed that the few who didn't were not crazy wasn't easy and neither side followed Marquess of Queensberry rules. Liberties had to be taken.

That said, I've somewhat nailed my colours to the mast on Walsh and subsequent contributions from him - Inside Team Sky and ghosting Froome's chamoir - suggest that understanding the difference between Walsh 1.0 (the nouvelle Éire era) and Walsh 2.0 (after the Fall) are necessary. In many ways, the man has reverted to type. And he himself, even more so in recent years than during his dogged pursuit of Armstrong and Armstrong alone, has painted a picture of doping beginning and ending with the American. That is where he really missed Donati's advice: Donati was able to go after Conconi without it feeling like it was all about Conconi, Walsh - then and now - has made it feel like it was all about the Texan, that Armstrong was the alpha and the omega of doping.

Walsh and Armstrong, they are linked in the morality angle you offer. GK Chesterton wrote this about detective fiction and in many ways it is appropriate to Walsh and Armstrong:Walsh was the one breaking the norms of accepted behaviour more so than Armstrong was. And for this I do salute him, even as I criticise him.

On the morality of Armstrong's actions, a book worth looking out for in a library is Doping in Elite Sports – Voices of French Sportspeople and their Doctors 1950-2010 , by Christophe Brissonneau and Jeffrey Montez de Oca (it's one of those shockingly expensive academic books). It looks, in part, at the social structures surrounding doping and anti-doping, makes the point (similar to Chesterton's above) that those who doped were simply playing by the rules of the game, the unwritten ones (let's accept that pre-Festina, and possibly even up to Cofidis or Puerto, the authorities weren't really fighting doping, they were simply trying to make it look like they were fighting doping). The level playing field. But - and this is important - while Armtrong's doping may be characterised as having been a level playing field his defence of it most certainly was not and, for many people, it is and always will be the manner in which Armstrong sought to cover up his doping that was a far bigger crime than the doping itself.

Here, then, I would question whether Armstrong dropping the dime on Hamilton and others was really morally acceptable. He hadn't become a rebel and changed sides, he wasn't doing like Jesús Manzano (the man who birthed Operación Puerto), taking up arms. On that one, I think you have to judge him by his motivations (which were not morally good) rather than the (morally good) outcomes they may have produced.
Armstrong was outright vindictive; even if it eventually did not create some equivalency for his "legacy". He still throws that common usage comparison out in space like he didn't have both the UCI and a huge budget advantage in his pursuit of doped wins. Hamilton, Landis had the audacity to challenge his primacy by going to other teams. He really couldn't help himself....that's where his self-belief was his undoing.
Again; his history is known to all and we're debating the fine points in an attempt to redefine the era's strongest riders. It doesn't really matter unless one of them emerges as a relatively cleaner, more enriched image of that era. Armstrong is the only one still selling the Snake Oil.
 
As unsavory as it seems, the most important step towards at least ameliorating the scourge of doping in cycling was to take down Lance Armstrong. And the best way to take down Armstrong was to relentlessly focus on doing exactly that. Because as far as doping goes, and as far as cycling goes, Armstrong was the worst by some distance. He was both a lab rat and an enforcer for Ferrari, funded him and recruited, if not coerced, new clients for him. He bullied, threatened and delivered on those threats. He ended people's livelihoods. He started a charity and used it as a smokescreen. He locked in his supporters with yellow wristbands and promises of salvation. He made himself poster-boy of cycling, to this day. The fish rots from the head, and that's where he set himself. Resting upon a throne wrought from the faith of dying children. In charge, at the head of affairs, as he was when he did this:


And [almost] all the journalists, champions of truth, and [almost] all of the riders, torch-bearers of sport, and [almost] all of the promoters, administrators, and governors, stewards of cycling, cowered. And then cheered.

Now, I would never advocate cutting of someone's actual head. But for cycling to have any chance of being a cleaner sport, it was (and I would argue still is) necessary to extricate that guy from the sport (permanently). Now, we can move on to scale what all that remains underneath. It's a thankless, endless job, and ultimately just as important. But it's hard to overstate the necessity of taking down Armstrong. For however trivial and pompous it may be in the grand scheme of things, in terms of the fight against doping in cycling that Walsh overstates his role, or gets it wrong, or gets caught up in his own hubris at times, pales in comparison to what he risked and what he helped achieve.

[Edited in an attempt to be more catholic than the Pope.]
 
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As unsavory as it seems, the most important step towards at least ameliorating the scourge of doping in cycling was to take down Lance Armstrong.
What is unsavoury about busting a cheat?
as far as cycling goes, Armstrong was the worst by some distance.
<yawning emoji>
He was both a lab rat and an enforcer for Ferrari
Oh God...
Resting upon a throne wrought from the faith of dying children.
Oh my God...
And all the journalists, champions of truth, and all of the riders, torch-bearers of sport, and all of the promoters, administrators, and governors, stewards of cycling, cowered
Patently bollox. Many did, but not all. But hey, what's a few lies among friends. What's that Skippy, damning LA for being a liar and then telling porkies yourself makes you a hypocrite? When did you become such a fanboi, Skippy? I am so disappointed by your scepticism and your cynicism Skippy, so disappointed. You need to learn how to dream.
Now, I would never advocate cutting of someone's actual head.
Gosh, that's nice to know. It's such a difficult thing to judge with people today, isn't it, whether they want to lop people's heads off? I'm forever meeting people and wondering whether they're going to advocate chopping someone's head off, and you know that just makes social interactions so akward. So, you know, thanx for removing the awks!
It's a thankless, endless job, and ultimately just as important.
And I for one am immensely grateful, beyond words grateful, that we have champions like you doing that job for us by posting videos like the one you did. Go you.
But it's hard to overstate the necessity of taking down Armstrong.
Yet you make it look so easy, you have such a way with words.
 
What is unsavoury about busting a cheat?

<yawning emoji>

Oh God...

Oh my God...

Patently bollox. Many did, but not all. But hey, what's a few lies among friends. What's that Skippy, damning LA for being a liar and then telling porkies yourself makes you a hypocrite? When did you become such a fanboi, Skippy? I am so disappointed by your scepticism and your cynicism Skippy, so disappointed. You need to learn how to dream.

Gosh, that's nice to know. It's such a difficult thing to judge with people today, isn't it, whether they want to lop people's heads off? I'm forever meeting people and wondering whether they're going to advocate chopping someone's head off, and you know that just makes social interactions so akward. So, you know, thanx for removing the awks!

And I for one am immensely grateful, beyond words grateful, that we have champions like you doing that job for us by posting videos like the one you did. Go you.

Yet you make it look so easy, you have such a way with words.
Ok, most, not all. I stand corrected. It was a rhetorical slip, TBH. But I do believe we get to the truth by pushing past it at times, however. It doesn't just present itself from the ether.

And, for the record, I'm not damning him for being a liar. We all are liars, to different extents. It's probably more of an evolutionary feature than a bug. I've posted on that before. You spin the truth to your liking too, BTW, and you have quite the relationship with your words, always stroking them just so. And I do think you're mostly on the up and up. You don't have to thank me for that too.

But I venture you're being a tad disingenuous yourself by suggesting that I that lying was the ethical charge I was stringing Lance up upon. And that people don't have a tendency to wilfully misunderstand things online. So there's, for instance, no need to play it safe when alluding to guillotines nowadays. No worry about those that will chase you down on minor details attempting to derail a substantive discussion with an unhealthy dose of tu quoque buried within a slattering of nihilistic apophasis.

And I thank you for your gratitude. I appreciate the encouragement. We all do this for the trophy points, after all.
 
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I do believe we get to the truth by pushing past it at times
Uh, no, we don't. We get tangerine trolls in the White House, floppy-haired clowns in Downing Street, fascists burning the rainforest.
We all are liars, to different extents.
Speak for youself and don't imagine everyone is as bad as you.
I venture you're being a tad disingenuous yourself by suggesting that I that lying was the ethical charge I was stringing Lance up upon
Uh, no. I think you're an actual hypocrite, using lies to condemn a liar. Do I need to make that clearer for you?
attempting to derail a substantive discussion
LOL!
We all do this for the trophy points, after all.
Again with the imagining everyone's as base as you are. Stop.
 
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You should write a book based on your deep knowledge, because authors Juliet Macur, David Walsh, Reed Albergotti, Vanessa O"Connell or the CIRC staff didn't find these "millions paid" or at least didn't report them anywhere (if Hein Verbruggen had some questionable financial connections via asset management etc to Armstrong is another matter).

Do a favour for your trustworthiness and read the links before using flawed paraphrased quotations. The article is only about one trio of races of which the bonus was one million, but you imply that Ochowicz paid "million(s)" to win one million which (as usual) Armstrong pocketed instantly and got the discounted present value of something like $600.000 over the stream of future payments.

There is only a certain amount one can make up quotations, use ad hominems or be 100 % certain about things backed up with next to no evidence.

You took the words right out of my mouth.
Ill do that, thanks. Talk about one being delusional, you and Wonderboy have that area covered. Too funny :)
 
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Talk about one being delusional, you and Wonderboy have that area covered.
You're increasingly reminding me of the dear, departed sniper, @86TDFWinner, with your twisted logic ("if he coulda done it then he did") which was once used to prove that LeMond himself was a demon doper. Add to that the lack of substance in your comments and I do wonder if maybe you haven't been possessed by his spirit, or had your account hacked by him.

Let's try and play the ball here for a bit, 'kay?

That Lance Armstrong was the biggest, baddest doper in the whole history of doping, how about we start showing some evidence to support this. Putting aside a century and a half of history, let's focus for now solely on the Gen-EPO era, how does Armstrong's doping compare to Indurain, for instance? The Texan, he had Ferrari, the Spaniard, he had Padilla. Now I do seem to recall that Ferrari was allowed to freelance with riders on other teams even while he was Armstrong's go-to guy, but you know I don't recall Banesto ever letting Padilla go work with anyone other than their riders. So, when it comes to an unlevel playing field, Ferrari's a bit of a divot while Padilla's a whole ha-ha, wouldn't you agree?

Or how about we compare Armstrong's doping to Basso, Beloki, Escartin, Klöden, Mayo, Rumšas, Vinokourov, Zülle? I think most of us would agree there's some demon doping in that list, but who should we demonise the most?

Or, you know, maybe we're wrong to be looking just at Gen-EPO. O2-vector doping didn't begin with Amgen, we know it'd been a thing in the 1980s, we have more than enough testimony from riders at this stage to tell us that the peloton of that golden decade was banging in bags of blood. How come they're getting a hall pass and we're still fixating on a guy who's been firmly knocked off his pedestal?
 
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You're increasingly reminding me of the dear, departed sniper, @86TDFWinner, with your twisted logic ("if he coulda done it then he did") which was once used to prove that LeMond himself was a demon doper. Add to that the lack of substance in your comments and I do wonder if maybe you haven't been possessed by his spirit, or had your account hacked by him.

Let's try and play the ball here for a bit, 'kay?

That Lance Armstrong was the biggest, baddest doper in the whole history of doping, how about we start showing some evidence to support this. Putting aside a century and a half of history, let's focus for now solely on the Gen-EPO era, how does Armstrong's doping compare to Indurain, for instance? The Texan, he had Ferrari, the Spaniard, he had Padilla. Now I do seem to recall that Ferrari was allowed to freelance with riders on other teams even while he was Armstrong's go-to guy, but you know I don't recall Banesto ever letting Padilla go work with anyone other than their riders. So, when it comes to an unlevel playing field, Ferrari's a bit of a divot while Padilla's a whole ha-ha, wouldn't you agree?

Or how about we compare Armstrong's doping to Basso, Beloki, Escartin, Klöden, Mayo, Rumšas, Vinokourov, Zülle? I think most of us would agree there's some demon doping in that list, but who should we demonise the most?

Or, you know, maybe we're wrong to be looking just at Gen-EPO. O2-vector doping didn't begin with Amgen, we know it'd been a thing in the 1980s, we have more than enough testimony from riders at this stage to tell us that the peloton of that golden decade was banging in bags of blood. How come they're getting a hall pass and we're still fixating on a guy who's been firmly knocked off his pedestal?
Those guys aren't making a serious living off podcasts while revising their own history publicly. To the other point about equity of opportunity; those other guys didn't have Thom Weisel attempting to buy the Tour and assisting LA in his "investments". Weisel's own partners said he would break any rule to win including SEC IPO insider rules. Someone noted Lance's net worth is still very high...Lance himself mentioned he benefitted from an early stock purchase in Uber. He's still got his Angel out there and the rest of the doped generation are trying to maintain a low profile.
 
You're increasingly reminding me of the dear, departed sniper, @86TDFWinner, with your twisted logic ("if he coulda done it then he did") which was once used to prove that LeMond himself was a demon doper.

Just show me one positive from a CREDIBLE/Verifiable source(not something your dog told you) that LeMond was a "demon doper" or doped at all, just one? Prescriptions, dates, times, when said drugs were administered, by whom? When? Where?

Also, Do you have any CREDIBLE/verifiable proof that Indurain doped? Same info for LeMond please.

WADA/USADA/UCI gave many riders a "pass" as you stated, but for what reason? To bust whom? Why your Messiah, Wonderboy! Levi/Georgey Porgy, Grewal, Flandis, Hamilton, etc...all proven dopers.

Just because YOU choose not to comprehend that Wonderboy ran the most sophisticated drug program in the history of cycling, and ruined MANY lives( or attempted to), is your business.

At the end of the day, Wonderboy is still banned for life, stripped of his 7 YJs, lost about $100+ million in endorsement money, and I'm fine with all of that.



You can even PM it(Big Mig/LeMond doped too info)to me if you'd like.
 
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Those guys aren't making a serious living off podcasts while revising their own history publicly. To the other point about equity of opportunity; those other guys didn't have Thom Weisel attempting to buy the Tour and assisting LA in his "investments". Weisel's own partners said he would break any rule to win including SEC IPO insider rules. Someone noted Lance's net worth is still very high...Lance himself mentioned he benefitted from an early stock purchase in Uber. He's still got his Angel out there and the rest of the doped generation are trying to maintain a low profile.
Mr. Armstrong had a system of enablers, granted. Anyone, and I insist anyone needs to delve deeply into professional cycling politics from 1988 on(when oxygen vectoring, steroid use, blood doping was perfected, to honestly say Mr. Armstrongs' system was most corrupt. The systems, of Italy, Belgium, Holland, Soviet, and Soviet bloc, Spain were heavily invested in drug cheating, were uber as well, IOC. To tar and feather Armstrong solely is a ridiculous trot, in wearing blinders.
 
Mr. Armstrong had a system of enablers, granted. Anyone, and I insist anyone needs to delve deeply into professional cycling politics from 1988 on(when oxygen vectoring, steroid use, blood doping was perfected, to honestly say Mr. Armstrongs' system was most corrupt. The systems, of Italy, Belgium, Holland, Soviet, and Soviet bloc, Spain were heavily invested in drug cheating, were uber as well, IOC. To tar and feather Armstrong solely is a ridiculous trot, in wearing blinders.
And that would be another subject. Saint Armstrong expected more than just to cheat and get paid. His chief enabler is now embedded in the US Ski federation (his son is/was on the team) once he couldn't continue owning USA Cycling or buy the Tour. That's a whole different level of private organization challenged only by the Russians.
Now the NFL hands down 4 week bans for PED use and loss of pay. That's real money to a non-star but clearly not extreme in moral terms.
 
Lmgdao! Let's see all the Cancer Jesus fanboys try to discredit or sweep this under the rug:

Disgraced and now banned from sport Nike coach Alberto Salazar emailed disgraced person Lance Armstrong on Dec. 1, 2011 "Lance, call me asap! We have tested it and it's amazing! You are the only athlete I'm going to tell the actual numbers to other than Galen Rupp. It's too incredible. All completely legal and natural. You will finish the Iron Man in about 16 minutes less while taking this. – Alberto." (page 32 bullet point 101 of USADA's 'Salazar Decision'.) Except it wasn't legal.
USADA banned Salazar and endocrinologist Dr. Jeffrey S. Brown a nike paid consultant (who bragged about his patient athletes getting 15 Olympic Gold Medals) for:
* Administration of a Prohibited Method (with respect to an
infusion in excess of the applicable limit),
* Tampering and/or attempted tampering with the doping control
process, and
* Trafficking of testosterone through involvement in a
testosterone testing program in violation of the rules.
He experimented with the use of testosterone on his sons Tony, who works at Nike Football Marketing Department, and Alex (pages 110, 111, 113 of the Salazar Decision); Salazar reported the findings to Nike CEO Mark Parker who responded in one of the emails to Dr. Brown ”t will be interesting to determine the minimal amount of topical male hormone required to create a positive test,”. Mark Parker is still CEO of Nike - I guess he embodies their values and ethics? Armstrong, Parker et al were copied on emails regarding the illegal infusion amount of L-Carnitine's experiment.
Long time coming for whistleblowers Kara Goucher and Steve Magness.
Enclosed is the Troll's excellent article from The London Sunday Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/alberto-salazar-lance-armstrong-nike-and-the-pursuit-of-winning-9brj3zgcf with links to the USADA report https://www.usada.org/sanction/aaa-panel-4-year-sanctions-alberto-salazar-jeffrey-brown/ and a detailed article on unscrupulous in my ever so humble opinion nike CEO Mark Parker https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/01/banned-coach-alberto-salazar-briefed-nike-ceo-on-doping-violations.html
 
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When you write:
You're increasingly reminding me of the dear, departed sniper, @86TDFWinner, with your twisted logic ("if he coulda done it then he did") which was once used to prove that LeMond himself was a demon doper.
And they read:
Noise noise noise noise noise noise noise, noise noise, @86TDFWinner, noise noise noise noise ("noise noise noise noise noise noise noise noise") noise noise noise noise noise noise noise LeMond himself was a demon doper.
And then respond:
Just show me one positive from a CREDIBLE/Verifiable source(not something your dog told you) that LeMond was a "demon doper" or doped at all, just one?
What's a guy to do?

Seriously peeps, what? Should this just be written off as a failure to communicate? Or should it be seen as a common tactic used by some to deflect attention away from the point you actually tried to make, that the other person's argument has more holes in it than a fishing net?

It's happening a helluva lot round here lately.

Let's get something straight here: no one I know is saying that Lance Armstrong did not dope. No one I know is saying that Lance Armstrong did not bully people.

What some people are trying to ask is what is the context of Armstrong's doping.

No one I know is asking what is the context of Armstrong's bullying (although it is nice how Marco Pantani gets a free pass for doing to Andrea Tafi what Armstrong did to the blessèd Christophe Bassons).

It's all about the doping. It's all about asking the obvious question behind the much repeated claim that Armstrong was the biggest, baddest doper in the whole history of the ever ever: just how bad were the other dopers?

It's a question that deserves an answer. Otherwise you're letting Armstrong win, by making him the star of the whole sorry story.
 
Also, Do you have any CREDIBLE/verifiable proof that Indurain doped?
It's hard to know how to respond here. For sure, yes, the question could be answered, I know, but, well, really, I'm just totally fascinated by the question itself. Cause, well, for me, asking that question is tantamount to saying you don't believe Indurain doped, isn't it? And, seriously, in this, the closing year of the second decade of the new millennium, who the hell actually believes that to be the reality?

Why would anyone even think that question, let alone ask it in the Clinic of all places?

There is one reason I can think of for someone to try and warp reality and suggest that Indurain did not dope: their whole ideology is based on the idea that doping began with Lance Armstrong and they can't cope with any challenge to that, they can't countenance the idea that others deserve to feature prominently in this story.

Trying to establish the context of Armstrong's doping – how it compares to others before, during, and after his career – is seen by some as a challenge to their personal belief system. And they'll say the daftest things to defend that belief system.
 
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Let's see all the Cancer Jesus fanboys try to discredit or sweep this under the rug:

Disgraced and now banned from sport Nike coach Alberto Salazar emailed disgraced person Lance Armstrong on Dec. 1, 2011 "Lance, call me asap! We have tested it and it's amazing! You are the only athlete I'm going to tell the actual numbers to other than Galen Rupp. It's too incredible. All completely legal and natural. You will finish the Iron Man in about 16 minutes less while taking this. – Alberto." (page 32 bullet point 101 of USADA's 'Salazar Decision'.) Except it wasn't legal.
I've been looking at this for, oh, all of a minute now, and I'm trying to work it out, and I think I may have got it. You have to imagine it's addressed to the ultimate in Armstrong fanbots, let's call it the LA-209. This, I imagine, is the expected machine-generated response:
I may have refused to believe that my idol was doping when all those lamestream press journalists were trolling him with their cynicism and their skepticism as he rode his way to victory in seven Tour de Frances.

I may have refused to believe that my idol was doping when the traitor Travis Tygart produced that mountain of evidence that proved he was doping.

I may have refused to believe that my idol was doping when he himself told the ratings-challenged Oprah that he had doped.

But now that I've seen that email, from a recently disgraced athletics coach I'd barely heard of before yesterday, suggesting that my idol should consider use of the legal nutritional supplement L-Carnitine, I have seen the light!

The scales have been lifted from my eyes! I am Saul reborn! From this day forth I recant my adoration of Armstrong!

Immediately I shall be emailing Nike the little yellow wrist halo I bought my dear, departed Grammy when she was dying of cancer and which she left to me in her will as her sole bequest, a symbol of how much she loved me. A symbol today tarnished by the knowledge that my former idol may have been advised to consider the use of a widely available, legal nutritional supplement. I am so disappointed in him.

I thought he stood for something. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
Here's a real question for folk: fascinating as this email exchange clearly is (and we do need to start talking about how legal substances like L-Carnitine have crept into the world of doping), can you imagine anyone out there who could be shocked enough by it to want to sweep it under the carpet?

Can you honestly imagine anyone who could be shocked by the thought that in 2012 – in the months before USADA kicked him out of the Ironman triathlons he'd turned to after his cycling comeback had collapsed like the soufflé made of vanity and hubris it was – Armstrong might have circumvented the no needles policy and banged in a bag or two of a legal supplement? This is a man who was reported to have been banging in bags of cows' blood on team buses during races while riding to victory in the Tour de France. If you've not been shocked out of your complacency by the Activo-something story then taking a trip back to the days of the Intralipid affair – when a liquidisied food substitute for geriatrics and ICU patients was being mainlined by the PDM team in place of plates of chicken and rice at the dinner table – is hardly going to register on your radar, now is it?

Cycling has lived too long in the shadow of the syringe for anyone to be genuinely shocked by the news that in 2012 Armstrong may have broken the no needles policy and used an illegal method to consume a legal substance. David Walsh of all people knows this: he's the journalist who tried to usurp PDM's official apologist during the Intralipid affair, throwing himself on the barricades in defence of his compatriots Sean Kelly and Martin Earley and claiming that “the picture of a rider being injected leads to one conclusion: doping. It is a mistaken view, out of touch with the realities of modern sport but, for the armchair enthusiast, nothing good comes through the tip of a needle.”
 
It's hard to know how to respond here. For sure, yes, the question could be answered, I know, but, well, really, I'm just totally fascinated by the question itself. Cause, well, for me, asking that question is tantamount to saying you don't believe Indurain doped, isn't it? And, seriously, in this, the closing year of the second decade of the new millennium, who the hell actually believes that to be the reality?

Why would anyone even think that question, let alone ask it in the Clinic of all places?

There is one reason I can think of for someone to try and warp reality and suggest that Indurain did not dope: their whole ideology is based on the idea that doping began with Lance Armstrong and they can't cope with any challenge to that, they can't countenance the idea that others deserve to feature prominently in this story.

Trying to establish the context of Armstrong's doping – how it compares to others before, during, and after his career – is seen by some as a challenge to their personal belief system. And they'll say the daftest things to defend that belief system.
No worries, 86TDFWinner, I got your back: Indurain only started doing EPO after being beaten by a doped nobody like Armstrong in the 1993 WC.

BOOM
 
The same prescription process described below was recommended to me after testing by a sports Med in '02. When the minimum amount had no affect and I decided to quit due to concerns about long term cancer risks my doctor actually said: "Keep increasing the dose.....you're not gaining an advantage....you're just levelling the playing field...." We've heard that a few times since. Everyone knew you could explain a positive based on the prescription and many riders pursued that path in our amateur world. Pros came to live by it.

Usada’s inquiry into Salazar followed a joint investigation by the BBC’s Mark Daly and David Epstein, working for the New York-based news organisation ProPublica in 2015. Daly and Epstein showed how Salazar sought any and every route to performance enhancement, always talking about how legal his methods were while frequently straying beyond the anti-doping laws.

Some athletes were prepared to speak on the record about Salazar’s methods, many others spoke to Epstein on condition of anonymity. It was alleged that he advised athletes on how to fail an asthma test and be allowed use of banned substances that would improve their performance.

Salazar’s former assistant, Steve Magness, was an important witness in helping Usada to understand what was going on at the Nike Oregon Project. So too was the physio John Stiner. Among the athletes who spoke publicly about Salazar’s methods, Kara and Adam Goucher were important, so too Lauren Fleshman. The latter’s account of her asthma test should be inscribed on the Nike Oregon Project headstone: “Alberto set up an appointment in Portland, during the allergy season, with a doctor who had seen many other athletes.

“He [Salazar] had a specific protocol: you would go to the local track and run round the track, work yourself up to having an asthma attack and then run down the street, up 12 flights of stairs to the office and they would be waiting to test you. So that’s what I did and I failed the test and the doctor prescribed Advair for during the racing season when pollen counts were the highest and albuterol, which is a rescue inhaler.”

Afterwards Fleshman had misgivings. Salazar told her that Advair contained a corticosteroid that would get into her system and help her performance. Her breathing did suffer when the pollen count was high but he encouraged her to take the highest dosage of her asthma medication all year round. She had the licence, so why not. That’s how Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project worked.

The problem for Salazar was that Fleshman and many other athletes under his care were not comfortable with the ethics. Just as Armstrong never appreciated that not everyone shared his values, most notably Betsy Andreu, Emma O’Reilly, Steve Swart, Mike Anderson, the LeMonds and others; so too Salazar would come to realise that winning isn’t the only thing.

There is a common backer in the stories of Armstrong and Salazar: Nike. It was, after all, the Nike Oregon Project and there was no greater corporate supporter of Armstrong than the sportswear brand. Questions will now be asked as to whether, during the years when witnesses came forward with their stories of wrongdoing, Nike did enough.

It appears that, in deciding how far they were prepared to go in their quest for domination, both Armstrong and Salazar decided: Just Do It.

Before the bullet train reached Kobe, I’d come to the conclusion that it’s time for all of us to find another brand.

• David Walsh is chief sportswriter at The Sunday Times

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