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But commentator who has long fought disgraced rider's corner stops short of acknowledging Lance Armstrong's guilt...

Cycling commentator Phil Liggett, who in August claimed that Lance Armstrong was the victim of a conspiracy after USADA imposed its life ban on him, appears to be slowly coming round to the notion that the disgraced cyclist doped his way to seven Tour de France wins. However, he has stopped short of saying outright that he now believes the former US Postal Service rider broke the rules.

The 69-year-old, who has regularly repeated his belief that Armstrong was innocent of the doping allegations made against him, was interviewed for an episode of the Australian investigative TV programme Four Corners called The World According to Lance that was aired on ABC and which can be watched via the channel’s website.

“He came back again and again and again, winning Tour after Tour, and he did it seven times and of course it’s a record,” said Liggett. “Nobody’s ever done it, and for many people it was unacceptable – it was impossible to do that without taking drugs.”

He continued: “I admit I’ve been very proud to commentate on Armstrong over these years, because I’ve seen a man, and I’ve seen how he’s battled the elements, and I’ve seen how he’s come forward and I’m very sad.

“What do I think? Everybody else did it so I find it very difficult not to think that Lance did it.”

Of course, that is not the same as an unequivocal acknowledgement that Armstrong took drugs, but gone is the bullish defence of the former cyclist that Liggett made in a video interview with South African sports website Ballz in August.

At the time, he hit out at USADA, which he described as a "nefarious local drugs agency," claiming among other things that pressure had been put on potential witnesses and bribes offered to them.

At the end of the Four Corners documentary, Liggett hinted that he is yet to be fully convinced of Armstrong’s guilt.

“I know the power of this man when he walks in the room and I know the hope he give cancer survivors. I don’t know, if he is proved to have taken drugs, how he can face any of these people,” he said.

“He can call up Barack Obama, he has his cellphone number on his cellphone, and how can you call up these people knowing you have taken drugs all your life to cheat to seven Tours? It’s a problem I wouldn’t want.”

Some may wonder whether this matters, Liggett after all being just the latest in a long line of people connected with cycling to have expressed an opinion on the Armstrong case.

It matters because Liggett, veteran of some 40 editions of the Tour de France first as a journalist and more recently as a commentator is for many the ‘voice of cycling.’

He is among those to have prospered during the Texan’s dominance of the Tour de France, his commentary, alongside Paul Sherwen, syndicated around the English-speaking world including the United States.

The Four Corners documentary itself is punctuated by archive clips of Armtrong’s Tour de France win, Liggett at the microphone.

Armstrong and, it is believed, Liggett invested in a gold mine Sherwen runs in Uganda, where the British ex-rider, who worked as press officer at Armstrong’s former team, Motorola, is based. Both Liggett and Sherwen are said to have been paid to speak at fundraising events held by Armstrong’s Livestrong charity.

Those ties and their apparently unswerving loyalty to Armstrong have resulted in their impartiality regularly being called into question as the investigation into him has gathered pace.

And that matters because many fans, and particularly those new to the sport, whether watching ITV4 in the UK, NBC in the United States or channels in other countries, rely on their commentary to help make sense of what is going on in the sport.

It’s a commentary from which objectivity appears, to date, to have been missing.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

27 comments

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TheBigMong [212 posts] 3 years ago
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Liggett is blowing up on Twitter now. Check out #newliggettisms

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Hehehe ....hilarious comments  21

I particularly like

The GC contenders have been playing the waiting game all day, to make sure Motoman gets through before the road closes #newliggettisms

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James Warrener [1082 posts] 3 years ago
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Its difficult for Phil I am sure to acknowlege what seems to be likely proof of LA's guilt.

He loves cycling, of that there is no doubt, but he has been misguided in some of his defence of dopers and in other areas, complete erasing of memory.

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alotronic [466 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes he has his head in the sand. But do remember you are watching an older gent coming to terms with the fact that the love of last 15 years or so of his life has just been eviscerated (I mean cycling, not Lance!). It must be tough finding yourself so very wrong when you have been so publicly forthright. His career (like so many others) has been predicated on a lie of someone elses making, lets go easy eh?

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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It's a great example of how news people get so close to a subject that they can longer make an impartial assessment. Judging another's moral compass by using your own as a benchmark is always a mistake. Anyone who listened to The RealPeleton over the past 2 years would have heard Boulting and Rendell's sly references to 'Larry' and Imlach's weary raised eyebrow throughout Armstrong's reign told it's own story.

It's a shame how long it's taken for him to wise up. Phil Liggett is an honourable man who's been let down more than the rest of us by Armstrong. I hope he gets past this and has a good 100th TDF next year.

Listening to Partridge Harmon, Chuckles Kirby, and the droning monotone of Kelly is no substitute at all for Liggert's mastery of the English language - or his knowledge of obscure French castles.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Before we're all overcome with sympathy for "Honourable man" Phil Liggett, let's remember he said he could prove the ludicrous fairy story he told on Ballz. Hopefully he will now keep the promise he made and retire. (Fat chance.)

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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what an absolute twat this old fart is, always thought he was a winkle, now it's confirmed ..

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georgee [162 posts] 3 years ago
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Sadly Ligget has known the truth too long but burried it so deep in his suitcase of courage he thinks he'll look an utter tw#t coming out to say so.

I doubt he'll ever now have the balls to say so, it's pretty sad really.

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Bez [594 posts] 3 years ago
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They co-invested in a Ugandan gold mine?

Mm, ok, no questionable stories are going to come out of *that* one.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 3 years ago
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jimmythecuckoo wrote:

Its difficult for Phil I am sure to acknowlege what seems to be likely proof of LA's guilt.

He loves cycling, of that there is no doubt, but he has been misguided in some of his defence of dopers and in other areas, complete erasing of memory.

In other words he wouldn't spit in the soup?

Personally I think he's been part of the problem albeit a small one.

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David Whyte [27 posts] 3 years ago
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Bored of all this now to be honest.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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This man should retire and go gracefully.

Too long in the sport and with his head up his ar$e most of the time, his commentary has been soooo boring his whole career, he's lost his way, you can see this. Get him and his muppet mate off our screens and radios. Absolute disgrace ...

Sky coverage is so much better.

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sanderville [340 posts] 3 years ago
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Liggett cannot hide behind the act of the kindly gent too in love with cycling to see what Armstrong was up to when he and Armstrong are business partners in an African gold mine. A gold mine! Where the workers are as badly exploited as can be to make this gang of white crooks richer.

Armstrong's house of cards is tumbling down and this latest gem tells me that Liggett himself is filthy dirty.

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 3 years ago
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By the way, just wondering if anyone's clicked on the pic to bring up the larger version? Nice slogan on the front of Phil's jersey there  3

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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 7

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SounDaz_7 [48 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:

By the way, just wondering if anyone's clicked on the pic to bring up the larger version? Nice slogan on the front of Phil's jersey there  3

Says it all really.  31

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Speedy1319 [23 posts] 3 years ago
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What about the part played by Paul Sherwen in all of this? Where is he? Is he hiding behind the sofa?

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Oh God. Phil's back on cyclingnews.com. Highlights include "eminent scientist" (name unknown) "witch hunt" (everybody drink!), and sadly, the news that because of contractual commitments he can not retire, which he finds "depressing". (HE'S depressed?)

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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There is nothing nefarious in the the approach Tygart and the USADA had taken in carrying out their due diligence in proving their case. After all, this is their remit! They should be commended for having done their job so well. They started from scratch without the benefit of information collated by the Department of Justice who apparently 2 years to work on it. Whether they were as thorough, I doubt it but remains to be seen! Maybe there were political considerations in that bringing criminal proceedings might further sully the reputation of the US postal service in this affair. I wonder if Liggett is suggesting that LA having Obama's tel.number on speed dial might curry favour, I very much doubt it?

Now that the whole extent of the manipulation of testing protocols is out in the open, have we become so immune that good men do nothing? Or do we simply stick our head in the sand and ignore a festering drug culture.

"America is today the hope of all honorable men who respect the rights of their fellow men and who believe in the principle of freedom and justice." - Albert Einstein

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TheBigMong [212 posts] 3 years ago
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What Liggett knew, and when he knew it, remain to be seen. Many of us have our doubts that this stuff is really any sort of "revelation" to him now.

Looking forward, it will be VERY interesting to see what Mr. Bob Roll has to say. He too has a career in cycling analysis and commentary to try to salvage. It's one thing for Phil or Paul to say they were too far removed to really know anything was going on, but I think Bobke is toast.

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sanderville [340 posts] 3 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:

Oh God. Phil's back on cyclingnews.com. Highlights include ... the news that because of contractual commitments he can not retire, which he finds "depressing". (HE'S depressed?)

Bare in mind when the world's fiat currencies collapse early next year and all that's left with any value is gold and silver, this guy owns a bloody gold mine! He's made for life thanks to his involvement with Dopestrong.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Sanderville wrote:
The Rumpo Kid wrote:

Oh God. Phil's back on cyclingnews.com. Highlights include ... the news that because of contractual commitments he can not retire, which he finds "depressing". (HE'S depressed?)

Bare in mind when the world's fiat currencies collapse early next year and all that's left with any value is gold and silver, this guy owns a bloody gold mine! He's made for life thanks to his involvement with Dopestrong.

Phil Liggett and Lance Armstrong were minor (no pun intended) investors in Paul Sherwen's mine, so I dont think Phil can bank on getting a gold mine. However he will, like most people who have had any dealings with Lance, probably get the shaft. (Old C&W song, sue me.)

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hairyairey [298 posts] 3 years ago
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I still haven't got round to starting reading the evidence that USADA have provided, but the one nagging doubt I have is how was it possible to evade the testers?

Drugs don't leave your body to an exact timetable, like buses and trains (yes, I know - poor example!). Short of testing themselves in their own lab I cannot see how the riders could ensure that they would pass doping control.

That for me is the biggest unanswered question, because without the answer to that this is not the end of cheating. In fact, it means that worse cheating is going on in other sports that are not as heavily tested.

In fact, for all I know the riders could have been conned into thinking that they were taking EPO when they weren't just for the placebo effect. (Although it seems that deliberately injuring yourself might work even better, not that I recommend it).

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Wookie [235 posts] 3 years ago
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I have to ask when is the TV Film going to come out?  1

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Ciaran Patrick [116 posts] 3 years ago
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The problem I have here is that we have testimony from riders no evidence of actual drug taking. Its easy to jump on the USADA bandwagon. None of the doping procedures are transparent, the bodies who run it seem hell bent of media time and coverage. The USADA have a witch hunt against one man otherwise why allow only 6 months suspension, withdrawal of criminal procedures and the ability after 6 months to continue riding if and only if they follow the USADA script.

My big problem is this is not transparent. The UCI are an complete incompetent mess and for me so are the USADA. Did LA dope maybe, maybe not. This will rankle with many of you. This is not about being an apoligist for LA but a demand we treat all doping cyclists the same and don't give some who doped in the LA era cheaper punishments than what you can get done now for doping just because they follow the USADA desired script for an assault on one man. Contador got 1 year I believe after a protracted court case. There are many other examples.

By concentrating on LA we do the sport a dis-service as the focus is away from supporting the sport and making sure our voice is heard wanting to make it better NOW. This obsession on LA I feel is way over the top in regards the fact everyone doped at the time. Personally I don't see anything because it was to long ago and is some what irrelevant to the problems NOW that need to be sorted.

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Morpheus00 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Ciaran Patrick wrote:

The problem I have here is that we have testimony from riders no evidence of actual drug taking. Its easy to jump on the USADA bandwagon. None of the doping procedures are transparent, the bodies who run it seem hell bent of media time and coverage. The USADA have a witch hunt against one man otherwise why allow only 6 months suspension, withdrawal of criminal procedures and the ability after 6 months to continue riding if and only if they follow the USADA script.

My big problem is this is not transparent. The UCI are an complete incompetent mess and for me so are the USADA. Did LA dope maybe, maybe not. This will rankle with many of you. This is not about being an apoligist for LA but a demand we treat all doping cyclists the same and don't give some who doped in the LA era cheaper punishments than what you can get done now for doping just because they follow the USADA desired script for an assault on one man. Contador got 1 year I believe after a protracted court case. There are many other examples.

By concentrating on LA we do the sport a dis-service as the focus is away from supporting the sport and making sure our voice is heard wanting to make it better NOW. This obsession on LA I feel is way over the top in regards the fact everyone doped at the time. Personally I don't see anything because it was to long ago and is some what irrelevant to the problems NOW that need to be sorted.

Wow, i mean like really...WOW! I didn't think there was anyone left after Ligget fell to wave the LA banner, but here's this guy still spouting "witch hunt, nothing to see here, move on!" Literally incredible.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Morpheus00 wrote:
Ciaran Patrick wrote:

The problem I have here is that we have testimony from riders no evidence of actual drug taking. Its easy to jump on the USADA bandwagon. None of the doping procedures are transparent, the bodies who run it seem hell bent of media time and coverage. The USADA have a witch hunt against one man otherwise why allow only 6 months suspension, withdrawal of criminal procedures and the ability after 6 months to continue riding if and only if they follow the USADA script.

My big problem is this is not transparent. The UCI are an complete incompetent mess and for me so are the USADA. Did LA dope maybe, maybe not. This will rankle with many of you. This is not about being an apoligist for LA but a demand we treat all doping cyclists the same and don't give some who doped in the LA era cheaper punishments than what you can get done now for doping just because they follow the USADA desired script for an assault on one man. Contador got 1 year I believe after a protracted court case. There are many other examples.

By concentrating on LA we do the sport a dis-service as the focus is away from supporting the sport and making sure our voice is heard wanting to make it better NOW. This obsession on LA I feel is way over the top in regards the fact everyone doped at the time. Personally I don't see anything because it was to long ago and is some what irrelevant to the problems NOW that need to be sorted.

Wow, i mean like really...WOW! I didn't think there was anyone left after Ligget fell to wave the LA banner, but here's this guy still spouting "witch hunt, nothing to see here, move on!" Literally incredible.

Totally agree Morpheous. Is the guy that naieve  13