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Veteran commentator also insists South Australia government got value for money on appearance fees it paid

Veteran commentator Phil Liggett says that Lance Armstrong’s accusers were motivated by jealousy and that the South Australian government’s decision to pay the rider millions of dollars to come and ride the Tour Down Under was money well spent.

"There was a jealousy in the team," said Liggett, quoted on Adelaide Now. It was not reported whether he mentioned anyone by name, but he was presumably referring to the former US Postal team mates of Armstrong who had testified against him to the United States Anti Doping Agency.

"Why did his best mates all of a sudden go against him? I think Lance was keeping the biggest slice of the cake and living the lifestyle of an 'A' class celebrity," he went on.

Liggett made his comments at the South Australia Press Club in Adelaide ahead of the start of the 2013 edition of the race, which he is commentating on alongside Paul Sherwen.

Blood doping expert Michael Ashenden has accused the Tour Down Under of “prostituting itself” through the appearance fees it paid Armstrong.

But Liggett insists the South Australia government was in the same position as Armstrong’s former sponsors such as Nike in that they had all benefited from their association with him prior to his fall from grace, saying, “

In the case of South Australia, he maintained, the investment of sums estimated at between A$3 million and A$9 million in the three years Armstrong rode the race had been money well spent.

“I think Lance gave them their money's worth even though it wasn't quite in the way we thought," he added.

Liggett prospered during the Armstrong years as his and Sherwen’s commentary became syndicated in English-speaking countries worldwide, including the United States.

He seemed slower than most media figures to come round to the idea that the cyclist might be guilty of doping, last year branding USADA as a “nefarious local drugs agency.”

Sherwen formerly worked as a press officer at Motorola, Armstrong’s team in the mid-1990s, and the rider and, it is thought, Liggett, invested in a gold mine run by Sherwen in Uganda.

With their voices familiar to cycling fans in the United States as a result of their Tour de France commentary, both Sherwen and Liggett have been paid to speak at fundraisers for Livestrong, the charity founded by Armstrong.

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.

49 comments

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OldnSlo [135 posts] 3 years ago
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Is it just me or does phil just appear to be a bit of a dope!

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ubercurmudgeon [169 posts] 3 years ago
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Those two have zero credibility as commentators now. The sooner they retire the better. I seriously may have to consider getting Eurosport somehow, because I don't think I could tolerate watching the Tour on ITV4 with their insight-free, agenda-laden, repetitious drivel (although, to be fair, ITV are probably tied by contract, and the rest of their on-air team are great.)

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Rob Simmonds [251 posts] 3 years ago
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ubercurmudgeon wrote:

Those two have zero credibility as commentators now. The sooner they retire the better.

Cannot be said too loud or too often. Clueless and embarrassing.

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pwake [374 posts] 3 years ago
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Blah, blah, blah, Ugandan gold mine; blah, blah, blah ,commentary became syndicated; blah, blah, blah, paid to speak at fundraisers for Livestrong.
Yep, LA helped expand the popularity of cycling here in the States and worldwide.
Yep, lots of people made money off the back of it.
That doesn't mean that everything they say now is wrong and supportive of LA. He's just stating facts really; South Australia government, Nike, Trek, Oakley, they all did well out of their association with LA.
And it's not just his former supporters; he's still driving a lot of traffic to this site and Paul Kimmage has made a career off the back of LA. Speaking of Kimmage, I remember him as the next big thing in Irish cycling after Kelly & Roche and after finishing sixth (I think) in the World Amateur RR Champs and I can understand his bitterness/disillusionment with the sport; he really was a bright star in the making. But he knows, for sure, that to make a name for yourself you go for the big names. He did it with LA; now it looks like he's out of material there, he's started on Wiggo.

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ajd [26 posts] 3 years ago
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I have enjoyed his coverage of the tour for 25 years, but this is too much. All I can think is he is one of the "They were all at it, so it was ok" appologists. Sad, sad day for me.
Looks like I better learn 'oirish if I am going to be listening to the great Sean Kelly from now on (no offense!)

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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 35

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Colin Peyresourde [1690 posts] 3 years ago
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I think what is lost here is that Ashenden is making a link to Armstrong doping at the Tour Down Under, and being able to evade the blood passport controls as a result of an agreement they made. So, yes, not everything linked to Armstrong is bad/wrong/a lie. But it really doesn't look good that the Australians were so complicit in aiding Armstrong's comeback. I can understand why Liggett, sitting in Australia, ready to commentate on the event might not want to criticise the event, but maybe he also might like to not make a comment either.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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To be fair, ONE comment does make sense.

They did get value for money, whether he doped or not. They paid him to come to an new race, really unknown, most pro's weren't interested.

Now look at it, first race of the season, lots of the top guys there including the world champion.....

But other than that, Liggett should be strung up

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djcritchley [181 posts] 3 years ago
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Are you mental?

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theclaw [73 posts] 3 years ago
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pwake wrote:

And it's not just his former supporters; he's still driving a lot of traffic to this site and Paul Kimmage has made a career off the back of LA. Speaking of Kimmage, I remember him as the next big thing in Irish cycling after Kelly & Roche and after finishing sixth (I think) in the World Amateur RR Champs and I can understand his bitterness/disillusionment with the sport; he really was a bright star in the making. But he knows, for sure, that to make a name for yourself you go for the big names. He did it with LA; now it looks like he's out of material there, he's started on Wiggo.

pwake what a complete and utter load of drivel. You are obviously very bitter that your idol has been snuffed out and kicked out of sport. Maybe also you are bitter because in the end, Kimmage, Walsh etc have actually proved to be better at their jobs than Lance was at his? Is that what you're grinding your axe about?? Kimmage and Walsh and Ballester arr high quality, extremely competent journalists whose work extends far beyond their investigations of Lance Armstrong.

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davidtcycle [62 posts] 3 years ago
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Is it possible for Liggett to be anymore of a Pratt? Somehow he found a way, no matter what it took.

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alotronic [457 posts] 3 years ago
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Shut up Phil, every extra word is just a bad idea. Don't you have an agent or something to help you through this?

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fiftyacorn [89 posts] 3 years ago
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Phil - if your in a hole stop digging

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Sam1 [220 posts] 3 years ago
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theclaw wrote:
pwake wrote:

And it's not just his former supporters; he's still driving a lot of traffic to this site and Paul Kimmage has made a career off the back of LA. Speaking of Kimmage, I remember him as the next big thing in Irish cycling after Kelly & Roche and after finishing sixth (I think) in the World Amateur RR Champs and I can understand his bitterness/disillusionment with the sport; he really was a bright star in the making. But he knows, for sure, that to make a name for yourself you go for the big names. He did it with LA; now it looks like he's out of material there, he's started on Wiggo.

pwake what a complete and utter load of drivel. You are obviously very bitter that your idol has been snuffed out and kicked out of sport. Maybe also you are bitter because in the end, Kimmage, Walsh etc have actually proved to be better at their jobs than Lance was at his? Is that what you're grinding your axe about?? Kimmage and Walsh and Ballester arr high quality, extremely competent journalists whose work extends far beyond their investigations of Lance Armstrong.

There's no doubt that Kimmage wrote about and stood up to Armstrong in press conferences eg Tour of Cali in 09 when very few others apart from Walsh, would do so. But just to be correct: he didnt do any investigative journalism unlike Walsh and Ballester. He based his articles on his unerring believe that Armstrong was cheating (bolstered of course by Walsh and co's investigative findings and the results e.g. LA Confidential).

Kimmage is not, nor has he ever been, an investigative journalist.

No doubt this is going to unleash a tirade from you for seeming to bismirch him but this is the case.

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James Warrener [1081 posts] 3 years ago
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ubercurmudgeon wrote:

Those two have zero credibility as commentators now.

time for Rendell and Boulting...

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Rupert49 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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Very bored now. Move on  37

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mick intherain [14 posts] 3 years ago
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Muppets. I wonder what the working conditions are like in the mine? Who cares as long as you get your money eh Phil!

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theclaw [73 posts] 3 years ago
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Sam1 wrote:
theclaw wrote:
pwake wrote:

And it's not just his former supporters; he's still driving a lot of traffic to this site and Paul Kimmage has made a career off the back of LA. Speaking of Kimmage, I remember him as the next big thing in Irish cycling after Kelly & Roche and after finishing sixth (I think) in the World Amateur RR Champs and I can understand his bitterness/disillusionment with the sport; he really was a bright star in the making. But he knows, for sure, that to make a name for yourself you go for the big names. He did it with LA; now it looks like he's out of material there, he's started on Wiggo.

pwake what a complete and utter load of drivel. You are obviously very bitter that your idol has been snuffed out and kicked out of sport. Maybe also you are bitter because in the end, Kimmage, Walsh etc have actually proved to be better at their jobs than Lance was at his? Is that what you're grinding your axe about?? Kimmage and Walsh and Ballester arr high quality, extremely competent journalists whose work extends far beyond their investigations of Lance Armstrong.

There's no doubt that Kimmage wrote about and stood up to Armstrong in press conferences eg Tour of Cali in 09 when very few others apart from Walsh, would do so. But just to be correct: he didnt do any investigative journalism unlike Walsh and Ballester. He based his articles on his unerring believe that Armstrong was cheating (bolstered of course by Walsh and co's investigative findings and the results e.g. LA Confidential).

Kimmage is not, nor has he ever been, an investigative journalist.

No doubt this is going to unleash a tirade from you for seeming to bismirch him but this is the case.

Sam1 no this is not going to unleash a tirade of any type - to the best of my knowledge, you appear to be correct when you state that Walsh/Ballester did more investigative journalism whilst Kimmage stood up and joined some of the dots that these investigations threw up. It doesn't take away from the fact that he was one of the very few to publicly stand up to Lance, nor does it take away from the comment that he is a high quality journalist who also writes excellent pieces away from cycling. He never needed Lance to survive, period. And he doesn't need Wiggo to survive either - he will carry on doing high quality journalism for quite a while, me thinks. And no, I don't think you are seeking to bismirch him.

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antonio [1119 posts] 3 years ago
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Time for these two to take over top spot in the next series of 'Spitting Image', now that would be funny.

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BigDummy [314 posts] 3 years ago
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It seems pretty clear that Landis and Hamilton at least were in no way motivated by "jealousy". Rather, they eventually blew off steam because they simply did not want to keep lying. Lance pretends he feels the same, but it isn't terribly convincing.

And George Hincapie was so "jealous" of Lance that he loyaly stayed put on the man's teams for years.

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Sam1 [220 posts] 3 years ago
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Sam1 no this is not going to unleash a tirade of any type - to the best of my knowledge, you appear to be correct when you state that Walsh/Ballester did more investigative journalism whilst Kimmage stood up and joined some of the dots that these investigations threw up. It doesn't take away from the fact that he was one of the very few to publicly stand up to Lance, nor does it take away from the comment that he is a high quality journalist who also writes excellent pieces away from cycling. He never needed Lance to survive, period. And he doesn't need Wiggo to survive either - he will carry on doing high quality journalism for quite a while, me thinks. And no, I don't think you are seeking to bismirch him.[/quote]

I have my own concerns about Kimmage's approach, but he is a very good writer. Have you read 'Engage' yet?

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badback [302 posts] 3 years ago
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You'd have thought working in media that they ought to know when to keep their views to themselves.

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crazy-legs [733 posts] 3 years ago
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Phil Liggett - never mind the LA debate, he's just past it, has been for a few years now. His commentary has been woeful verging on cringeworthy - missing breaks or other race action, confusing the identity of riders, mis-pronouncing names.

Problem is he's a "name". It's Paul and Phil who between them conquered the entire US cycling commentary market thanks to LA.

Never underestimate just how interlinked everyone is in this. A lot of people seem to think LA = archvillain but the network is far far murkier than that. Have a look at this link - LA and his associates pretty much run US Cycling, a lot of the media and have a huge influence in politics. It's hardly surprising Phil has been defending him to the hilt.
http://www.cyclismas.com/2012/06/lance-armstrongs-business-links-a-flowc...

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JulesW [36 posts] 3 years ago
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If they were motivated by jealousy then surely this would have come out years ago. Most seem to have been keen to clear their name all for the cost of a 6 month out of season suspension and possible book contracts. Thos who ride with him were happy to ride in the strongest, most successful team and presumably share teh high winnings and annual contracts.

I have heard people say that LA has been lying for over 15 years hence his inability to realise how much damage he had done to those who stood in his path. He will show little empathy for a good while.

In the same vein, Phil Liggett has been LA's vocal supporter for almost as long. He cannot see LA as a criminal with huger personality defects. He was a member of his inner circle after all. He needs to say sorry just as much as Lance does and with conviction.

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vbvb [577 posts] 3 years ago
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The ill-informed tabloid layman nature of many of these knee-jerking comments is a warm testament to how widely popular big money pro cycling has become. It's a business and a brand, just like Formula 1, snooker, or Big Daddy pro wrestling, and it'd be naive to think there's not a heap of pragmatic decisions being made within the races as well as the sport, even now.

Those saying they'll choose another commentator based on doping stance might want to read about those other commentators' own pasts a little.

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Sam1 [220 posts] 3 years ago
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vbvb wrote:

The ill-informed tabloid layman nature of many of these knee-jerking comments is a warm testament to how widely popular big money pro cycling has become. It's a business and a brand, just like Formula 1, snooker, or Big Daddy pro wrestling, and it'd be naive to think there's not a heap of pragmatic decisions being made within the races as well as the sport, even now.

Those saying they'll choose another commentator based on doping stance might want to read about those other commentators' own pasts a little.

What dirty secrets do Dave Harmon and Carlton Kirby harbour? You've got me worried now  1

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Colin Peyresourde [1690 posts] 3 years ago
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I suppose you're referencing Sean Kelly's prominence in the latest David Walshe outing?

I don't think many of these comments are ill-informed. Many people have repeatedly said they dislike Liggett and Sherwen. I prefer Eurosport everyday of the week, but I can't be bothered with purchasing the Sky package.

You are right that people have protected the brand, and some comments (e.g. those of Eddy Merckx claiming to be shocked about Armstrong, even after having introduced him to Dr Michele Ferrari) appear to be tremendously naive.

Cycling is such a lucrative sport these days because of Armstrong, and it has become a multi-million pound industry because of his backers. But for those of us who followed cycling before Armstrong, before the Festina affair saw Armstrong's performance, read Walshe's articles and knew the truth, and saw how Armstrong (in particular) crushed cycling. Liggett in particular is such a self-interested insular donkey that he has nothing interesting to say about the sport anymore, and has been spectacularly blind to Armstrong.

His commentary is positively geriatric, but that fact that he comes out with these statements is idiotic and stupid to say the least, and those that love and know their cycling wish he would be gently moved to one side.

Murray Walker he isn't!

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ianswindon [3 posts] 3 years ago
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He is past his sell by date now, use to have so much respect for him, now he's gone all David icke, turquoise shell suit next??

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Dog72 [106 posts] 3 years ago
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He's just another Person who's dreams have been shattered. Give him a break, not everyone is as objective, rational and well informed like atypical forum posters.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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I recall Phil Liggett saying he could prove that "agents" were offering riders bribes to testify against Armstong. A straightforward lie. If you're not part of the solution...

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