USADA Armstrong evidence - reaction from the cycling world and beyond

The evidence of his cheating may be overwhelming but Lance Armstrong is still a legend to many in the sporting world

by Simon_MacMichael   October 11, 2012  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

As the fall-out from USADA's publication of it's evidence regarding Lance Armstrong continues, cyclists both current and from the Armstrong era along with other sports stars have been having their say - and in the case of Team Sky's Alex Dowsett seemingly being forced to have their say again, this time in a more politically acceptable manner.

Sean Yates, Team Sky sports director, has also raised eyebrows with claims that he had no idea Armstrong, whom he worked with as both team mate and later after moving into management, was using drugs.

Writing on his Facebook page, Dowsett, who formerly rode for Armstrong’s Trek-Livestrong under-23 team, said: “I just wanted to set the record straight as some things have not been clear in my comments reported in the press today. When I was quoted saying Lance Armstrong is a legend, this was in regard to the charity work he has done, also when I said it doesn't matter, what I mean is that we are racing clean now and it is a different sport to what it was back then.”

Dowsett had made his earlier comments when a microphone was waved under his nose as he waited to start racing this morning, and his description of Armstrong as a “legend” quickly seized upon by mainstream media outlets looking to develop the story - it was briefly the lead item on sports bulletins and led to a torrent of criticism directed at the rider and his team on Twitter and Facebook.

For mainstream sports journalists, Dowsett's comments evidently played to an agenda in which cycling clearly hadn't changed; anything short of outright condemnation was never going to satisfy the moral arbiters of Twitter and Facebook, especially from a Team Sky rider.

“I'm sorry for the misunderstanding,” continued Dowsett. “I was just about to start Stage 3 of the Tour of Beijing and I wasn't clear in my thoughts.

“I do think what Lance has done is completely unacceptable,” he added.

Despite the extent of the allegations made public by USADA yesterday including damning testimony from a number of former team mates, Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Samuel Sanchez was one rider who today appeared to be in denial, telling the Associated Press: "Until the contrary is proved, he remains innocent. Lance has overcome many controls and even until today he has never been found positive in any of them."

Team Sky sport director Sean Yates, who rode with Armstrong at Motorola and was later directeur sportif at Discovery Channel and Astana, attracted disbelief from a number of users of Twitter this morning as they listened to him speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It's all pretty damning for Lance and the whole history of his seven Tour wins, and beyond. My opinion is one of disappointment, I’m upset, really. I worked with Lance but never had any indication this practice was going on,” he said. “It is disappointing.”

“I was there in 2005, for his last Tour win, and before then I was working with another team. I’d turn up, I’d drive the car in the Tour de France, and I never saw an indication of anything dodgy going on. I used to go out in the morning, go out on my bike, go back, drive the car, and call the tactics now and then, but I never saw anything untoward.”

Paolo Savoldelli, former Discovery Channel rider, speaking to Italian channel Radio Sportiva, was another former team mate of Armstrong’s who denied ever having seen anything untoward.

“I rode for seven months with Lance, including in a Tour that he won [in 2005, the same year Savoldelli won the Giro d’Italia]. From what I’ve read there is strong evidence coming out of the US Postal era. But all of this seems impossible to me.

“When I went there, the doctors were very rigorous, with a blood test before each race, but I was never part of his group at US Postal. I think Armstronhg’s decision not to defend himself right to the end was forced on him, because he realised this process was only going in one direction.”

Stars of other sports have not been slow in coming forward to give their opinions of a saga that even in an Olympic year is one of the biggest sports stories of 2012.

F1 driver Mark Webber, who runs his own sportive in Northamptonshire each year, speaking at a press conference ahead of the Korea Grand Prix: "It's been quite obvious in the last few years that this was going to come out,” he said, reported by AFP.

It's good that they are trying to clean this sport up. It sends a message to lots of sports, and it's a good message. Karma will come and get you."

Fellow F1 driver Fernando Alonso, once rumoured to have been looking to set up a cycling team with Alberto Contador: [Armstrong is] “an inspiration for us, for many people in the world. He will remain an inspiration for many people."

Footballer Joey Barton, took a wider view of the sport, tweeting: "I am not for one minute condoning Lance Armstrong's drug abuse but the man is still a legend. Drugs seem quite the 'norm' in that sport."

Barton went on to tweet at length about his thoughts on why that should be the case, including the observation that “you don't see many crackheads or smackheads up at the front of the peloton,” and promising that he would post a blog on the issue later today.

Distance runner Paula Radcliffe, sponsored like Armstrong by Nike, also communicated her views via Twitter: “Shocking! The depth, organisation, brazen disregard for rules and others. not just here tho, lots still to be done.”

She also retweeted a comment by former Olympic triathlon champion, Simon Whitfield, regarding admissions of doping by former team mates of Armstrong: “One thing missing from statements by George, Levi, Christian & co. is an apology to the athletes of their generation that chose not to.”

Whitfield also said: “As long as UCI is run by incompetents I think cycling will continue to struggle. My perspective, they are only interested in $'s.”

 

17 user comments

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yeah, lets all clip into that one shall we.

posted by mattsccm [166 posts]
11th October 2012 - 18:18

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“As long as UCI is run by incompetents I think cycling will continue to struggle. My perspective, they are only interested in $'s.” Amen !

antonio

posted by antonio [802 posts]
11th October 2012 - 18:35

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Can't wait for Joey Barton's in-depth analysis. It's bound to be full of intelligent insight. Or a load of shite. One or the other.

posted by Mat Brett [1535 posts]
11th October 2012 - 18:41

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Sean Yates comments are a disgrace, does he seriously expect us to believe in his role that he never seen anything? Since team sky got rid of Geert Leinders this week for his involvement with rabobank, we can only assume Yates' days are numbered

posted by fiftyacorn [87 posts]
11th October 2012 - 18:44

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fiftyacorn wrote:
Sean Yates comments are a disgrace, does he seriously expect us to believe in his role that he never seen anything? Since team sky got rid of Geert Leinders this week for his involvement with rabobank, we can only assume Yates' days are numbered

Yeah why wait for any evidence, off with his head! No that's too soft hang him and then chop off his head… and that Dowsett kid… going around having opinions of his own.

D'you think maybe Brailsford etc didn't know that Yates rode and worked for USPS and Discovery? I thought Mr B was big on research and detail.

None of this is going to be a surprise to anyone who's spent any time around professional cycling teams for the last 20 years, so I'm pretty sure Sky knew what they were getting with Yates and what they wanted from him.

Although all that said as for Yates's comments that he never knew… yeah pull the other one.

Darned if I do…

Mr Sock's picture

posted by Mr Sock [150 posts]
11th October 2012 - 19:15

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I don't pretend to know Yates well but our paths crossed a few times when he was racing and he is a genuinely nice bloke.
He says he knew nothing. what was he doing then, even the coach driver was in on it. Regardless of weather people like him also indulged in PED's the shame is that nice people like him looked the other way at the very least.
As someone famously said long ago, "for evil to triumph over good, all that's necessary is for good men to do nothing"

posted by festival [75 posts]
11th October 2012 - 20:36

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And had Yates stood up and said 'Come on lads! We can beat this if we stand together!'what would have happened? Sweet bugger all. He would have been chucked out in the cold with Roche and Kelly not sending him Crimbo cards like poor old Kimmage.

What would be helpful is the likes of Yates, Kelly and Roche to be honest and say 'We did know what was going in but we couldn't rock the boat'. Whistleblowers don't change the rules - only the rule makers - by not stifling the whistleblower and having to man up and clamp down - or has been the case in the last few years - try and stifle the whistleblowers. All this 'Well I never?!!' BS from Yates et al? .We have to listen to them droning on about how much they know about the sport - and then hear them now saying they knew less than the rest of us.. It's insulting.

I pray it's the end game for Pat McQuaid now. I suspect he might throw up his hands next week and play the elder statesman with a 'peace and reconciliation' session but it isn't going to wash. Both he and Hein had the opportunity to collaborate with clean teams and riders and seemingly chose to suck up to the stars instead. Such is man. Anne Gripper introduced the bio passport. Maybe they can put her in charge and she can toughen up the UCI - and back women's cycling. Whilst she's about it.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [830 posts]
11th October 2012 - 23:08

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Has there been any comment from Trek? They appear strangely quiet.

Low Speed Wobble's picture

posted by Low Speed Wobble [127 posts]
12th October 2012 - 0:06

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Low Speed Wobble wrote:
Has there been any comment from Trek? They appear strangely quiet.

Or Phil Liggett?

Low Speed Wobble's picture

posted by Low Speed Wobble [127 posts]
12th October 2012 - 4:06

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Dowsett's comments are misjudged and plain ridiculous.

Cycling legends are not made by cheating. Liggett's an idiot too, it's just a matter of time before he comes out with something stupid, too. Idiot.

posted by Karbon Kev [564 posts]
12th October 2012 - 6:52

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MercuryOne wrote:

I pray it's the end game for Pat McQuaid now. I suspect he might throw up his hands next week and play the elder statesman with a 'peace and reconciliation' session but it isn't going to wash. Both he and Hein had the opportunity to collaborate with clean teams and riders and seemingly chose to suck up to the stars instead. Such is man. Anne Gripper introduced the bio passport. Maybe they can put her in charge and she can toughen up the UCI - and back women's cycling. Whilst she's about it.

I agree, the UCI has to either share responsibility for the doping culture (read page 161 of the USADA report) or it's credibility will be shattered. British Cycling's National Executive Board needs to demand this of the UCI and if Pat and the Boys continue their mealy mouthed "nothing to do with us rubbish " - then they need to be ousted to help the future of the sport.

Sudor

posted by Sudor [143 posts]
12th October 2012 - 8:00

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So Some footballer has commented on this by saying that drugs in cycling is the norm. Thinking Was there not a TV documentary not long ago showing how wide spread drugs in his sport is and how ineffective the program to catch them is? Not accussing, but people in glass houses etc...

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [402 posts]
12th October 2012 - 8:40

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Livestrong new t-shirts:
http://cheathard.spreadshirt.com/

posted by Seveso [6 posts]
12th October 2012 - 10:08

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It's all so depressing. Time for a slightly different take on the subject:

http://fiftyyearsandcounting.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/spectacles-testicl...

ColT's picture

posted by ColT [153 posts]
12th October 2012 - 14:45

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Joey Barton showing the insight of the intellectual, level-headed, pillar of the community that he is well known for. YOU PR**K!

Chris D

posted by wingsofspeed68 [45 posts]
12th October 2012 - 21:41

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I am sick of this shit, Armstrong is an arrogant prat, own up and accept your fate. I followed Bert Oosterboch he (killed himself, suggested EPO) and Robert Millar (caught but got away with it) in the 80's both my hero's and Frank Vandenbrocke another admired rider died aged 34 from a blood clot (very odd), plus Pantani what a twat. Peter Post & Bjarne Riis must be Bruyneel's icon's is there a degree in Team management doping?? The sport has been smothered in drug taking from the time my fathers hero Tom Simpson bloody killed himself on a mountain in France another complete idiot that belived his own hype, and Cycling weekly continue to sell video's of these drug takers glorifying thier stolen wins from riders who either didn't have the cash to buy the right drugs or were plain scared to speak out. No one has learnt from any of this,and we continue to get positives from young riders who want to be famous without the hard graft and risk death by introvenously taking drugs that can shorten their life. Then cap it all all some dick head from a mickey mouse premiership football team ads an uneducated comment on a sport he has never watched. Does anyone believe Sean Yates? "I didn't see anything" we can all put our head in the sand but denial is just plain stupid. I will always love this sport, the classics, the Tour's of France, Italy and Spain and the Track World Cup are far better than any Soccer World Cup, Tennis Grand Slam or Ryder Cup, et al. I even love riding my bike on a weekend for pure enjoyment I must be on drugs. Biased as I may be, I HOPE Wiggins, Cancellara, Froome, Cavendish, Rodriguez, are clean and their blood is not in a fridge somewhere.
At least I don't have to tell my kids I am addicted to EPO and Cortizone and I cheated my way to 7 TDF and a World title.

One Life, One Love, One Bike

posted by Zinno [2 posts]
12th October 2012 - 22:37

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I,m glad it was the USA who finally exposed Armstrong,just imagine the reaction if it had been Europeans,Vile cheese eaters etc ,etc.What will the Guardian writers do now,their reports on the Tour were endless eulogies of Lance,no one else seemed to matter.

ken

posted by saxontt [1 posts]
13th October 2012 - 12:36

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