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Posts Tagged ‘ped’

 

Lance Armstrong: The Burden of Legacy

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

For so many years, Lance Armstrong has been a global icon. A true international superstar; he is a sporting legend, a multiple-time world champion cyclist, a media mogul, one of the world’s foremost philanthropists, and a medical miracle cancer survivor. A truly amazing legacy. And now it seems we must add to that list the perhaps most notorious user of performance-enhancing drugs of all time.

Allegations of PED use have plagued Armstrong for years, essentially since his return to cycling after surviving testicular cancer in 1998. For over a decade, Armstrong has categorically denied all charges made against him. Near-misses prominently included his 1999 positive test that was explained through a cream for saddle sores, despite the testimony of his masseuse. In 2005, French authorities re-opened allegations during the 1999 Tour de France using a new series of drug tests. However, samples preserved for research could not be sufficiently identified as Armstrong’s.

Then this past year, new allegations of doping during the 2010-2012 season emerged when cyclist and teammate of Armstrong, Floyd Landis, confessed to doping along with Armstrong and others in 2002 and 2003. Additionally, Landis accused U.S. Postal team management of bribing Union Cycliste Internationale (the world cycling governing body) to look the other way. More teammates, including Tyler Hamilton, also came forward to the media and admitted to doping with Armstrong. Armstrong and his lawyers have aggressively denied charges throughout, alleging conspiracy on the behalf of disgruntled ex-teammates and the and a media witch hunt. Yet despite a U.S. federal prosecution’s criminal investigation, no charges were ever filed. Perhaps, many still hoped, this was all a goose chase and Armstrong is the flawless hero we’ve always believed.

Then in August of 2012, The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his world-record seven Tour de France titles. They claimed after their own long-running investigation, the evidence against Armstrong was “overwhelming” and that the action was necessary. After over a decade of battling the USADA charges, Armstrong said he would no longer fight their charges while maintaining his innocence. The UCI and the rest of the world waited for the USADA’s overwhelming evidence to become public.

On October 10, 2012, that evidence was released. Available to all is the 1,100 page USADA Investigation into the U.S. Postal Service Team. As its beginning summary states, “The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

The report paints a picture of not just a few incidents of doping, but an enterprise of coercion and conspiracy spearheaded by and for Armstrong. Doctors, team staff, trainers, teammates, family and friends, and Armstrong himself all conspired to create a culture and system of doping and evading detection for years. The report includes affidavits from the following list of riders: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Volodymyr Bileka, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Jörg Jaksche, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Filippo Simeoni, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, and David Zabriskie. An unbelievable list.

Yet through it all, Armstrong and his lawyer Timothy Herman continue to categorically deny all allegations. They hang their hat on the more than 500 negative test they claim Armstrong as submitted to over the years, and label all who testify against him “serial perjurers.” The problem is, the scope of the scheme the USADA report give evidence against is such that fraudulent samples and compromised testing integrity wouldn’t just be possible – it would be mandatory.

In the wake of the USADA report and the impact it has had on public opinion, Armstrong has resigned his position as Chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, better known as Livestrong. Nike, who famously stood behind Tiger Woods during his public controversy, has dropped Armstrong’s sponsorship and severed ties.

Lance Armstrong is a man who is defined, carried, and heavily burdened by his massive legacy. So much adversity faced and overcome. So much victory. So much good work done through charity. So much responsibility. So much pressure. So much depending on continuing that legacy and those victories. What Armstrong and his co-conspirators did was wrong, for the sake of a legacy that for so long had defined what is right and what is good and what is admirable.

Roger Clemens: One More Chapter

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

On July 18, Roger Clemens was found not guilty on six counts of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs during his time as a MLB pitcher. This jury decision put to end a long and litigious saga that for years cast a dark shadow on Clemens’ illustrious baseball career. After playing baseball at the highest level for 23 years and spending the better part of 5 years embroiled in lawsuits about steroids in baseball, what does a newly-acquitted Roger Clemens want to do?

 

Play baseball, of course.

 

On August 20, it came out that Clemens would return to baseball as a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters, part of the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He will pitch in a game for the first time since his retirement in 2007 on August 25.

 

Inevitably, speculation has already started as to whether this could evolve into a return to the Major Leagues. “I think anything is possible, if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in,” said Clemens in an interview with CBS This Morning. Clemens continued to say, however, that it would be difficult and that he is determined to balance time spent with his family.

 

At 50 years old, many say that Clemens’ return is a pipe dream. It’s easy to see the perspective of this being Clemens’ attempt to put one more chapter in the story of his career – that his exit from the public eye comes not from Clemens in a courtroom but on a pitching mound. Clemens himself has disputed that narrative, saying to Sports Illustrated “As far as all that stuff going on in D.C., it had no bearing on me needing to play baseball. I just want to play and have fun.”

 

But let’s remember what made the Roger Clemens controversy so compelling – this isn’t an average baseball player. Clemens’ stat line currently reads at 354 wins, 3.12 ERA, and 4,672 strikeouts (3rd all time). He won 2 World Series, was named to the All-Star team 11 times, and received the Cy Young Award a dominating 7 times (most all time). Clemens made a career out of unprecedented achievements – which was why when he became linked to the divisive PED debate it was such a flashpoint issue. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see his performance in 2012.