Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Irregular Report 20

No Landis Headlines for a While, Dept...

Everybody is going to be talking Lance, Lance, Lance...

Velonews passes on pointers to the Vanity Fair article making the announcement: Lance is saying he's coming back. God help us if there is testing issue. We will not be covering any case that may arise. There will be no shortage of others to take up that cause, should it come to the fore.

Slate has an interesting old article on Douglas Brinkley, the author of the Vanity Fair piece, and chosen Boswell. Imagine, if you can, Armstrong selecting the litererary executor of Hunter Thompson as his mouthpiece. Things are about to get weird, if you ask us.

Here and There

Hot on the heels of the Armstrong rumors comes renewed speculation about the future of Floyd Landis.

Bonnie D Ford at ESPN writes about the rumored return of Lance Armstrong which will allegedly, and perhaps appropriately, be revealed in Vanity Fair of all places. Bonnie manages to get in a few words about Floyd Landis' future as well:

Dethroned Tour winner Floyd Landis is eligible to compete next January and reportedly team shopping, his doping-related exile over. Rock Racing's Tyler Hamilton, banned for two years for blood doping he continues to deny, will be wearing the Stars and Stripes jersey of the national road champion after outfoxing the field to win in a photo finish a couple of weeks ago.

ESPN/AP also posts Astana's denials that Armstrong will ride for them any time soon. With Lance's recent penchant for actresses this may all turn into a reality/soap before we know it.

Racejunkie has lots to spew about this morning, not the least of which is the Armstrong "will he or won't he" rumors, but she saves her best and last for her sadness over the retiring Bobby Julich.

The New Common Sense ponders Floyd Landis' possible comeback as he speculates about the Armstrong rumors.

ArchPundit wonders if Dick Pound's head will explode with all of the talk about a possible Arnstrong comback and speculation that Floyd Landis is "team shopping".

Lij is hoping Landis can make it to the '09 Tour and kick Armstrong's ass.

Rant looks at Armstrong, and wishes him well. He also looks at the Paralympics, now being held in Beijing. Jeff Adams' heats in the 1500 wheelchair are coming up; there is a reported AAF; and the USOC funding doesn't compare well, to say, Canada. It's not a money maker, and The Games are a Business, after all.


Thomas A. Fine said...

It's interesting (to me) that the only confirmed fact in this Lance rumor mill is that USADA says he is back in the OOC testing pool.


bobble said...

So the good news is that Kate Hudson is available!

Thomas A. Fine said...

Lance is going to ride as domestique on a new team, Smith & Nephew LiveStrong. Floyd will be the team captain, and they're going to put together a strong field of the best available US riders. Expect them to try to sign Tyler, as they will not be a team that will shrink from perceived political pressures, and will in fact be there to push back against those pressures.

Well, it's possible, right?


Thomas A. Fine said...

One of articles mentioned that the reason he may have returned to the testing pool was because of his entrance into the sanctioned Leadville 100.

So in that case, it's no longer very interesting. I guess I should stop holding my breath waiting for that Smith & Nephew Livestrong announcement.


whareagle said...

Thom, you read my mind. Perhaps they could bring back Roberto as well, and Santi Perez... Make for a helluva buncha climbers.

Eightzero said...

LA seems willing to subject himself to "that farcical system." He is even apparently willing to post his testing data online.

Well, FL did that as well. He still got suspended for more than 2 years as a doper.

What if it happens to LA?

bobble said...

Here's the yes:


Sorry about the crappy html.

SlimPickens said...

I can't see Alberto or Levi voluntarily rolling over to give Lance another shot at the brass ring.

However, I don't see Lance smoking and joking in the peloton either. The anti-Lance monkeys will howl even louder if that happens. It's got'ta be the dope, man.

If Lance does return, I assume it will be at the request of the cycling industry movers and shakers.

With the world economies slowing, cycling needs Lance more than Lance needs cycling.

Having Lance back on the dance floor may encourage team/tour sponsors to hang in there a bit longer.

Personally, I live in Atlanta and do not want to see the TdG go bellyup.

Thanks for keeping the TBV blog going. I have really enjoyed the commentary.

If I were a rich man, I would hire Kid Rock and throw Floyd the party he intended to have.


marc said...

The Vanity Fair article's pretty good: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2008/09/armstrong200809?printable=true&currentPage=all

Larry said...

A BRIEF moment: Lance Armstrong, the closest thing I've had to a hero in my adult life, is coming out of retirement. He risks his legacy of consecutive Tour vistories, he risks becoming just another athlete (like my boyhood hero, Muhammad Ali) who didn't know when to quit.

OK. Moment over. The headline on the Lance Armstrong Foundation web site says all you need to know:

Lance Ends His Retirement to Promote Global Cancer Awareness.

Anyone got a problem with that?

I didn't think so.


wschart said...

A semantic quibble, Larry: Lance's string of consecutive victories ended in 2006, as I see it, there having been 3 TdFs which he didn't win (because he didn't enter).

Eightzero said...

Larry, if it was only that simple. Sadly, I think we need to be a bit more pragmatic at this stage(!).

Ultimately, is LA's presence on the world's biggest professional cycling stage A Good Thing for Cancer awareness? Like you, I don't see a down side.

Is it good for professional cycing? Depends what happens. As it stands now, he doens't have a team. Astana seems as surprised as anyone. Would Levi and Alberto want to work for Lance? What domestiques wouldn't want to?

Lest we forget, LA and ASO didn't part on the best of terms. Remember the "smashing mirror" when ASO introduced the 2006 race? The ASO, as best I can recall, to this day, believes LA was a doper. Imagine them simply doing to whatever team he is on what they did to Astana this year: they just say no. Why would they want to share their pie, their big event alongside the Livestrong Foundation? Many in Europe, and in France in particular, would be very pleased not to have him back, cancer awareness be damned. Sure, US folks might be pissed, but the ASO likely cares little for US public opinion, except to the extent they attend the AToC.

As far as I can tell, there is no one anywhere that can make ASO do anything, including making them accept LA into the race. And if they do, they might simply target him and his team. With a possible 17% false positive rate on these tests, woe to the Livestrong Foundation and LA if anyone on "his" team, much less him tests positive. That would be *far worse* for everyone than his remaining retired.

Try this one on for size: from ASO "Welcome back, Mr. Armstrong. We have samples of yours in a freezer in Paris. We can't use them for disciplinary reasons, as you've pointed out many times. Will you now consent to their testing in our lab? Drs. Botre and Aryotte will be performing the analysis at LNDD. We eagerly await your response."

Ugh. How can this turn out well?

Thomas A. Fine said...

"We will not be covering any case that may arise."

Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

I wouldn't be able to stay away either.

One thing is for damn sure - Lance never kept up with this site, or he'd never be stupid enough to think that thorough, open testing provides any kind of protection.

If the one lab in the world that is most highly motivated to nail him can't do it through conspiracy or incompetence, Lance's own unusual metabolic processes will probably betray him.

And the die-hard believers (in his guilt) will see evidence in every normal test result he publishes. And if there's literally not a shred of evidence, then his results will be too normal to possibly be true.


Larry said...

8-0, the key here is that this is A Good Thing For Cancer Awareness.

Is it good for pro cycling? Yes, I get that "it depends". Lance is such a towering figure, he may have a tendency to overwhelm the sport and not to enhance it. But if you think of other major figures in other sports -- Michael Jordan in basketball comes to mind -- it's usually the case that the sport benefits from the presence of the major figure.

As for a team for Lance? I agree that Astana does not look like a good fit, since they already have a surplus of GC contenders. Garmin-Chipotle does not look like a good fit, as Lance will probably want a role in the management of any team he rides for, and I can't see Lance and Vaughters sharing power. But there are plenty of other teams that could use a GC contender, some help with management and a heck of a lot of publicity. Or, Lance could form his own team. There's plenty of time between now and the Tour of California.

As for ASO? You are right that ASO can say and do whatever it wants to say and do. I expect that Lance's representatives will contact ASO at an early point to determine ASO's attitude and any pre-conditions that ASO may impose on Lance's racing in the Tour. There's no guarantee that Lance can race in the Tour, which I'm sure he knows (given that the uncertainty of Tour de France participation was the stated reason why Lance and others closed down Team Discovery). I expect that Lance thinks he can get ASO to let him race, and I also guess that Lance will pursue his comeback (at the Tour of California, at the Giro) even if ASO bars his participation in the Tour de France.

I highly doubt that Lance would subject himself to the nonsense of having old frozen samples tested, nor do I think that ASO would ask for such a thing. There's no scientific validity to the testing of samples frozen for years, and I don't think that any reputable scientist would engage in such a side show. Of course, nothing would stop AFLD from performing such tests, and leaking them, just as they did years ago. I don't know if Lance would seek AFLD-ASO guarantees that no such testing will be performed, nor do I know whether any such guarantees would be worth anything.

I agree that Lance's path at this point is far from certain. I doubt that the European press and public will be happy to see him return, at least not at first. Maybe Lance can repair his relationships with the Euros. Maybe Lance will decide that he doesn't care what the Euros think, that this is just about increasing cancer awareness in the U.S. Maybe Lance will start raising money for cancer research in Europe.

This is Lance Freaking Armstrong, people! This is a guy who commands the attention of millions, who can hold his own presidential debate. Anything is possible.

wschart said...

Timing may be at play here. There has been some in the news lately about the "War on Cancer" that Nixon announced way back, and the fact that cancer seems to be winning. So if at least one of LA's goals is to increase awareness, this might be a good time.

Then this also might be an attempt to answer all the accusations about his alleged PED use. If he could compete and win, or at least do well, and demonstrate clean testing results, this could be a counter to the "no way he could have riden as well as he did without drugs" theories floating around.

Of course, riding clean and doing well in 2009 is no guarantee that he was clean in 1999-2005, just as the disputed Andreue allegations would only apply to his pre-cancer days.

wschart said...

Oh, and BTW, I though the mirror thing was in 2007, as a thinly veiled snub at Landis.

Larry said...

TAF, whatever one might say about Lance, he is not "stupid". He has the wealth and resources to provide himself with the best possible protection against whatever WADA world might decide to throw at him, and the sophistication to know that he might well need that protection. If accused, Lance has the wealth and resources to fight USADA at a level that would dwarf the effort Landis could afford. Lance is a multi-millionaire, and if he needs to raise more money, he reportedly makes $100,000 per speech. If accused, Lance can afford weaponry that will make the Landis team look like guys fighting with rocks and spears.

Lance simply is not on the same level as the other riders we speak of here. With Lance, we're talking about a guy who is being courted by both political parties to run for governor of Texas or national office. (Arguably, the last guy to be so courted was Dwight Eisenhower.) If ASO places obstacles before Lance, then Lance can appeal directly to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. If Lance is confronted with an AAF, he can call on the top research scientists at corporations like Amgen, Bristol-Myers and Genetech, as well as most of the research universities in the U.S. with major cancer centers (like M.D. Anderson, the employer of Dr. Berry). This is a guy who has raised over $200 million through his foundation, who counts among his friends Steve Case (CEO of AOL), Elizabeth Edwards, John Kerry and President Bush.

Morevoer, Lance is simply incapable of doing anything in a slapdash way. If he's decided to ride as a publicly and transparently clean cyclist, he's going to do it in a way that will simply blow the socks off of anything we've seen out of Garmin-Chipotle, or Dr. Damsgaard. Yes, even with the resources available to Lance, he's not going to be able to prove what cannot be proven -- that he is riding without PEDs. But he's going to do a better job of transparent "cleanness" than anyone else has done to date, because he's Lance, and he HAS to be the best at everything he does.

ws, I agree with your posts. I think that part of Lance's motivation is to win a Tour during this "new" age of cycling that is allegedly less tainted with PEDs than the era when Lance raced. (LOL! When did the "era" of PEDs end in cycling? Never? Last year?)

Eightzero said...

Yeah, the mirror thing was to announce the 2007 route. It was directly aimed at Floyd, as it was his image they showed shattering. My mistake.

The 2006 route intro made LA conspicuously absent.

Unknown said...

It will be great for American cycling to have BOTH Lance and Floyd back in the sport. I for one am excited about the potential. Maybe this is the year that I make it out to the Tour of California.