What if? A butterfly flaps its wings

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Mar 26, 2009
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How about this extremely hypothetical situation:

Cancer fundamentally changed Armstrong's character such that he still had a burning competitiveness, but it came with strong moral fibre such that any cheating or risk to health is unacceptable. He re-enters the peloton as the loud and forceful voice for cleaning up cycling. This comes immediately after Festina, during a presumed lull in doping in cycling. Could his return from cancer actually have so inspired his fellow cyclists that pro cycling turned the corner and the doping culture started to die in 1999? Might a moral Armstrong have saved cycling?

The big question is whether he could have influenced the peloton without winning the TdF, since he clearly wouldn't have done that without doping, but he still has such a "forceful" personality.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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silverrocket said:
How about this extremely hypothetical situation:

Cancer fundamentally changed Armstrong's character such that he still had a burning competitiveness, but it came with strong moral fibre such that any cheating or risk to health is unacceptable. He re-enters the peloton as the loud and forceful voice for cleaning up cycling. This comes immediately after Festina, during a presumed lull in doping in cycling. Could his return from cancer actually have so inspired his fellow cyclists that pro cycling turned the corner and the doping culture started to die in 1999? Might a moral Armstrong have saved cycling?

The big question is whether he could have influenced the peloton without winning the TdF, since he clearly wouldn't have done that without doping, but he still has such a "forceful" personality.
It didn't fundamentally change anything. Are you forgetting he fraudulently won the 1993 Triple Crown million dollar prize by paying off riders to win let him win the last race? That is outright fraud and people go to jail for less. After cancer, he brought what the UCI thought it wanted and needed after the Festina Affair, a good story. That gave him a lot of lee way.
 
silverrocket said:
How about this extremely hypothetical situation:

Cancer fundamentally changed Armstrong's character such that he still had a burning competitiveness, but it came with strong moral fibre such that any cheating or risk to health is unacceptable. He re-enters the peloton as the loud and forceful voice for cleaning up cycling. This comes immediately after Festina, during a presumed lull in doping in cycling. Could his return from cancer actually have so inspired his fellow cyclists that pro cycling turned the corner and the doping culture started to die in 1999? Might a moral Armstrong have saved cycling?

The big question is whether he could have influenced the peloton without winning the TdF, since he clearly wouldn't have done that without doping, but he still has such a "forceful" personality.
Amazing new plot!
Could he personally bully the peloton out of doping (riding worst dopers into ditches and openly admitting to it) so much that Lemond could make a comeback and actually do well, podiuming the TdF in his 40's behind the likes of Bassons and reformed Ullrich? Lemond bikes for the USPS team? Schenk presiding the UCI? McQuaid running a city bike rental in Dublin? Verbruggen selling Gouda cheese from a small market stall in Geneva? Independant drug testing at al pro races and a thorough passport program years ahead? Carichael exposed? Ferrari actually practicing medicine? Fuentes bringing babies into the world? Riis herding cows in the green fields at home?
 
Jun 12, 2012
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Cloxxki said:
Amazing new plot!
Could he personally bully the peloton out of doping (riding worst dopers into ditches and openly admitting to it) so much that Lemond could make a comeback and actually do well, podiuming the TdF in his 40's behind the likes of Bassons and reformed Ullrich? Lemond bikes for the USPS team? Schenk presiding the UCI? McQuaid running a city bike rental in Dublin? Verbruggen selling Gouda cheese from a small market stall in Geneva? Independant drug testing at al pro races and a thorough passport program years ahead? Carichael exposed? Ferrari actually practicing medicine? Fuentes bringing babies into the world? Riis herding cows in the green fields at home?
Beautiful!

Pantani with 5 x KOM, raising five children in the Apenines.

Zabel reporting TDF for German TV.

Phil Ligget retired at the top of his game.
 
May 21, 2010
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martinvickers said:
The patron would, almost certainly have been Ullrich. Zulle was too old - he's ahave been a classic transitional champion.

At the extreme risk of godwinism.

An argument is made in counterhistorical circles "what if Hitler had died?" - either in WWI, or alternatively as a result of the the v Stauffenberg plot. The easy answer is of course, it would be great for the world.

but some historians think rather differently - that the catalysts for the rise of the German far right were there in the 1930's after the hyperinflation, regardless of Adolph, and that in fact, oddly, Hitler, with his innate flaws and inevitable self-destruction, was a preferable foe to some others, Himmler in particular, since his extreme anti-semitism left Germany limited scientifically and militarilty - instead theat scientific expertise was in the Us working on the Manhatten project.

So, what if armstrong wasn't there? Well, Ferrari and Bruyneel were still there - Fuentes was still there - what if the 'top responder' had been well-liked party dude Ullrich, who ****ed off hardly anyone, and knew how to show gratitude? Would we have had Betsy and Frankie and Emma and Tyler and Walsh and Landis and the whole list of people Lance screwed to elave a trail behind?

Actually I would argue we already know the answer -what if the dominant patron/top responder had been cautious, well-liked and humble guy who happened to cheat rather than a functioning sociopath?

His names Indurain.




Landis was the straw that broke the camels back - but Hamilton was already out there - there were simply too may witnesses.
Did we actually need Armstrong (or someone like him) to bring about these events? Someone so brazen and reckless to actually paint a target on himself and say "come get me". Without Armstrong the doping would have still been deeply entrenched but less "in your face".

I agree that Ulrich would have been the patron and he would still have been busted, but it would have been only a slap on the wrist. Business as usual and nothing really happens.

One of the ponderables is whether or not this whole thing, in a certain sense, was inevitable. This goes back to LA's interview with Oprah where he said that he wouldn't be talking with Oprah if not for his comeback. But would it have happened anyway?

Lance still wins 7 and retires. Floyd wins then is busted. Lance being Lance, still rebuffs Floyd when Floyd tries to find a ride. Floyd still talks to USADA but would they have acted on it?
 
Apr 3, 2011
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sniper said:
UCI wanted to globalize (thus: anglo-americanize) cycling at all costs.
There was no way they were gonna throw Lance out in 1999 over cortisone.

A more realistic scenario would have been that Lance had simply not returned to cycling post-cancer.
In that case, UCI would have been forced to go look for another anglo-american to become their poster boy.
Who'd qualify? Somebody with a bit of a big mouth and a polarizing character, and with the talent to win Tours.
Landis?
spot on - LA would certainly not be admitted under 2-2-2 rule (2 legs, 2 arms, 2 balls), only into paracycling

and knowing (the stupidity of) the proposed replacement instant hero Landis, he would go all out and win his first Tour by such an incredible margin, say 30+ minutes, that the cleanup process could eventually start sooner
 
Mar 26, 2009
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Zweistein said:
It didn't fundamentally change anything. Are you forgetting he fraudulently won the 1993 Triple Crown million dollar prize by paying off riders to win let him win the last race? That is outright fraud and people go to jail for less. After cancer, he brought what the UCI thought it wanted and needed after the Festina Affair, a good story. That gave him a lot of lee way.
I guess I was supposing that if the "good story" was one that was firmly anti-doping the UCI and other riders would have been on board, and thinks might have gone a whole new direction. Imagine if that story included "doping gave me cancer in the first place, and not even victory in a bike race is worth that."
 
May 3, 2010
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silverrocket said:
I guess I was supposing that if the "good story" was one that was firmly anti-doping the UCI and other riders would have been on board, and thinks might have gone a whole new direction. Imagine if that story included "doping gave me cancer in the first place, and not even victory in a bike race is worth that."
You wonder what would have happened if he had done that.

However, two problems - he was nothing without the drugs as a racer, so if he had come back clean he'd have been even worse than he was before he had cancer. It is doubtful he'd have been able to keep up with the dopers if he was on a moped let alone a bike in order to run them off the road.

The media only paid attention to him because he won in 99, before that it was 'Lance who?'

However, he could have maybe blown the whistle on US cycling much much earlier and perhaps some of the more odious figures in cycling who are still around might have been kicked out.
 
If Armstrong had come back clean after cancer, he would have been largely irrelevant. He might have been a good rider who'd win some stages and even prestigious one-day races here and there, but people would talk about him mostly to say how cancer truncated his career and he never managed to live up to the pre-cancer expectations.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Another good thread:

Mrs John Murphy said:
Three historical counter-factuals to muse upon where we might be if :

i) The UCI had busted Armstrong in 1999 for the cortisoid? Would the peloton have been less toxic if Alex Zulle had become the patron?
No, cycling history has proven that the mighty can fall yet the status que is maintained. Zulle would of won in 1999, but like others have said he would not be the patron, those thick coke bottle glasses would prove his down fall in 2000 :D

Mrs John Murphy said:
ii) Armstrong had invited Landis to join Radioshack/Astana in 2008/9? Would Landis have blown the whistle if he'd had that contract offer?
Landis would of been thankful for the return but would soon be back to his old self and I can wish to be there when the next epic battle began, Landis is total entertainment.

Mrs John Murphy said:
iii) The Puerto files and material evidence had been made fully available in 2006?
First off not only would cycling of taken a hit, the other half of the list that conveniently disappeared and has yet to be found again would of hit European sports so hard, Canada would of probably won the World Cup (Soccer Worlds for you non Soccer fans) each year after till the rest of the countries could field a team, yes Canada.

Mrs John Murphy said:
If anyone has any other 'moments of critical juncture' where the sport might have taken a different road then lets here them.
Will post pend them.

Libertine Seguros said:
I might add.

Some more what ifs:

1) What if Rasmussen had won the Tour before the publicisation of the whereabouts issues?
2) What if Klöden hadn't paid for the Freiburg investigation to go away?
3) What if the Astana investigation in 2009 had been conclusive? They said there was the DNA of 7 of the team members on paraphernalia they'd got hold of. Who were the exceptions? Lance and Alberto, doing their own things? Lance and Levi, Lance doing his own thing and Levi having crashed out? Alberto and Levi, likewise?
4) Roberto Heras' positive in 2005 had been overturned at the time? Heras has been one of the most blacklisted of all, and it is widely thought that he talked - where would cycling have been (especially in Spain) without this testimony?
1) I to this day think Rabobank should of never let Rasmussen leave even after the accusation, Ras should of won plain and simple till the UCI got its act together. Rabobank kicking him off the team spelled the doom of that team, if only to me, the lines to be read were pretty thick.
2) Kloden, teflon boy, it would of slipped off anyway.
3) Yea, that was ugly and so obvious UCI stuck its head in the sand that whole year, well always has.
4) Heras would of only maybe one more Vuelta even without his ban, I think Spain just ignored him as they have anyone talking.

Mrs John Murphy said:
If not Landis then who would have been the one to drop the bomb on Armstrong? Hamilton? Vaughters?
I don't think anyone had the cajones to drop any bomb's minus Floyd, they were all to ingrained and making money off of it, it was in their interest to not say a thing, even Vaughters who I think should of garnered the nickname "The Chicken".

Mrs John Murphy said:
With Armstrong one gets the sense that the UCI felt that he was too big and important to fall. They could throw Pantani, Ullrich etc under the bus, but they had too much invested in Armstrong to allow him to go to the wolves.
The UCI would of backed any one of those riders, their following was just as huge or could of been, just look at the Pantani memorial and now an official race with his name! Ullrich was headed to be the next one to be placed on the UCI mantel to show off if he wasn't already.

Mrs John Murphy said:
My view, Ullrich and Pantani would have been busted but it would have been sooner. I think you'd have seen 'Omerta with a human face' if the patron had been Ullrich.
Ullrich and Pantani had the tendency to self destruct, Ullrich with his weight issues and using party drugs to help not only party but quell that monster appetite for sausage & strudel. Pantani, couldn't face his massive number of fans knowing he was conning them all it hit his conscious he had an expiration date and he knew it.

Mrs John Murphy said:
Structurally, Ferrari, was still around. Riis never went away, the UCI was still the UCI, the media was still the media.

Another question - what if there had been no corruption in the vote for the UCI Presidency and Schenk had beaten McQuaid. Would she have been able to clean up the sport or would she have been easily defeated by entrenched attitudes and interests within the sport.
Nope, she would of inherited it all, including the corruption, money is money she'd of folded at the sight.

Mrs John Murphy said:
I think the thing is - I dislike the argument that says 'well it would have been like this anyway' because it denies any agency over the process.

I think that Puerto is one of the greatest missed opportunities in sport because its reach went far beyond one sport or one country.
That is not the only one!

--

My What ifs:

1998 Festina: Yes one team was involved in doping :rolleyes: yet the delivery list was so massive and also accidentally and conveniently lost (as in they ignored that Festina mechanic or masseus what ever position he had he was the drug courier).

1999 Giro Raids: This would of set Italy straight had the cops actually taken names and left the riders in the prison cells Giro stage the next day or not! Sure the 1999 Giro would of had the least amount of finishers but they had them all in one spot dangling by the window sills!

Random Drug Testing: If it had happened.

The countless number of riders (ex-riders) writing, blogging, tweeting, the facts since I can remember but no they are all crazy attention seeking outcasts! Nope everyone of them had it right from day one.
 
Dec 7, 2010
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Mrs John Murphy said:
Three historical counter-factuals to muse upon where we might be if :

ii) Armstrong had invited Landis to join Radioshack/Astana in 2008/9? Would Landis have blown the whistle if he'd had that contract offer?
There is a possible sub-plot to that point that has been lost over time, and one that I've always found to be most intriguing. When Landis' confessions were first made public, we heard that he had worn a wire for the feds during at least one encounter with Michael Ball. Whatever became of that story? I am shocked, simply shocked, that the determined cycling press never sufficiently followed up on that.

That being said, there were also implications at the time that Landis' attempts to reach out to Bruyneel and Co. were possibly motivated by the same intentions. Does anyone remember reading those emails from Floyd to Johan? They were extremely congenial, to the point of being laughable. Was Floyd attempting to get back into the Bruyneel/Armstrong inner-cirlce, only to gather first-hand video or audio evidence of their nefarious activities? There was some minor discussion of this at the time but it has since faded into the background.

That is more interesting to me than much of what has since come to light. In the end: never underestimate Floyd. He may still get the last laugh yet.
 
ElChingon said:
2) Kloden, teflon boy, it would of slipped off anyway.
Maybe Klöden's teflon would have come into effect, and obviously Sinkewitz, Kessler and Eddy Mazz have each had their various run-ins with the powers that be. But what if Klöden's teflon had only been partially effective; he evaded the ban but he was toxic, and had to go to the ProContinental ranks? What about Rogers, whose road captaincy played such a role for Sky?
 
Jul 15, 2010
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hrotha said:
If Armstrong had come back clean after cancer, he would have been largely irrelevant. He might have been a good rider who'd win some stages and even prestigious one-day races here and there, but people would talk about him mostly to say how cancer truncated his career and he never managed to live up to the pre-cancer expectations.
I don't even know if that would be the case. From what I have gathered, a lot of riders have said that they were doping less in 1999 than in years past because of the Festina crisis and a general consensus that things had gone too far. When you have a big rider like Lance toyed with the climbers at the 99 tour, I can only imagine it implied the détente on doping was over. To say what would have happen had he come back clean is presumptuous in my opinion because he actively contributed to culture of doping. Had the Festina crisis been the last straw maybe he would have had won another worlds and a few classics, which by anyone's account would be considered a successful career. I believe he never would have been a tour rider but to say how good or bad his career would have been is difficult because of how prevalent doping was. There were probably a few guys who were very talented who were ridden out of the pack because they didn't dope and we probably still think of those riders as lazy or untalented.
 
What if Steve Johnson was CEO of USADA instead of Travis Tygart?


All of the previously mentioned scenarios would have altered the subplots somewhat, the the main plot would have remained the same. See the "reactions from the peloton" thread for confirmation. Pro cyclists have an uncanny ability to pretend to remain unaware whilst a thundering herd of elephants stampede through their living rooms.

Major events like Festina & Puerto (what do we call the current one?) had potential to improve the situation but the thorough saturation by corruption prevented any improvements on the doping front to take place.

Here's to hope that the ratio of Tygarts/McQuaids is increasing.

What is a patron anyway but a designated d***head? Who is the current one? It seems like an unnecessary designation and only occurs when a dominant (physical & personality) jerk is in the ranks.
 
May 3, 2010
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Zweistein said:
I don't even know if that would be the case. From what I have gathered, a lot of riders have said that they were doping less in 1999 than in years past because of the Festina crisis and a general consensus that things had gone too far. When you have a big rider like Lance toyed with the climbers at the 99 tour, I can only imagine it implied the détente on doping was over. To say what would have happen had he come back clean is presumptuous in my opinion because he actively contributed to culture of doping. Had the Festina crisis been the last straw maybe he would have had won another worlds and a few classics, which by anyone's account would be considered a successful career. I believe he never would have been a tour rider but to say how good or bad his career would have been is difficult because of how prevalent doping was. There were probably a few guys who were very talented who were ridden out of the pack because they didn't dope and we probably still think of those riders as lazy or untalented.
It would be interesting to know whether the claim that others had scaled back their doping in 1999 is actually true.

Also, even if Armstrong had not been there would some else have not been willing to start a doping arms race - a Rumsas, or Virenque, Vinokurov, or even to move a few years later - Basso, or Contador, none of whom seemed to have any compunction about doping to the eyes.
 
May 26, 2010
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Mrs John Murphy said:
It would be interesting to know whether the claim that others had scaled back their doping in 1999 is actually true.

Also, even if Armstrong had not been there would some else have not been willing to start a doping arms race - a Rumsas, or Virenque, Vinokurov, or even to move a few years later - Basso, or Contador, none of whom seemed to have any compunction about doping to the eyes.
Yes, the festina scandal would not have ended the doping. ASO had no real intention of doing it.

Those who enabled doping were still in control they just dialled it back till someone decided to go full flow. That someone turned out to OneballDoper.

That OBD had the story to build a myth taht the media would love, the sponsors would love the TV would love just speeded the process up.

The only difference is France. The French riders had the threat of jail time for doping over them which seems to have worked to keep it to a minority for a while, but it did not stop Moreau or JV.
 
May 3, 2010
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Here is another thing to add:

What if the state authorities had gone all out on doping in France and Italy after Festina and had continued to arrest riders and to throw them in jail. While we saw it for a while in 1998. It seems to me that once the threat of being carted off to jail had receded riders went back to how it had been before.
 
May 26, 2010
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Mrs John Murphy said:
Here is another thing to add:

What if the state authorities had gone all out on doping in France and Italy after Festina and had continued to arrest riders and to throw them in jail. While we saw it for a while in 1998. It seems to me that once the threat of being carted off to jail had receded riders went back to how it had been before.
Absolutely.

I think doping in professional sporting events should be considered a criminal offence akin to white collar crime. Huge fines (£100,000.00+) rather than jail is what will scare these guys.
 
Aug 8, 2009
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I'd love to hear Tygarts answer to this question about ciritcal juncture -- i.e. to know exactly why he didn't drop the ball like Birotte et al.

For me the 2005 Lequipe article about the 1999 samples is where the Armstrong allegations gained critical mass.
 
Apr 20, 2012
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THE turning point in cycling would have been when the Italian 'dottores' would have been thrown in jail when they prepared Moser for his hour record.

OR should we go back to Lasse Viren in the seventies?

Or Zoetemelk for that matter.

All changed when they knew how to manipulate with blood imho. You do not turn a rider like Armstrong in a GT winner on Pot Belge. In other words, the Italians destroyed cycling. But, to be fair, if it wasn't for the Italians some other nation would get the credit, weren't the USA track team blooddoped in 1984?

Very good topic!
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Benotti69 said:
Absolutely.

I think doping in professional sporting events should be considered a criminal offence akin to white collar crime. Huge fines (£100,000.00+) rather than jail is what will scare these guys.
hehehehe white collar crime. thats an oxymoron.

the only time they jail a suit is to prove the exception and scapegoat like lay skilling madoff. for all those individuals there are 1000 for each who skate.

yeah yeah, give up MArtha Stewart. pity that one of the tenets of justice is univerality. in this case, universally ignored.
 
May 26, 2010
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blackcat said:
hehehehe white collar crime. thats an oxymoron.

the only time they jail a suit is to prove the exception and scapegoat like lay skilling madoff. for all those individuals there are 1000 for each who skate.

yeah yeah, give up MArtha Stewart. pity that one of the tenets of justice is univerality. in this case, universally ignored.
Making rich people poor for their crimes is better than jail time.
 

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