Saturday, May 21, 2011

More on Armstrong

Picture from VeloNews of Hincapie and Armstrong
A commentator updated my Thursday post in which I predicted that a federal indictment of Lance Armstrong is imminent.  According to the commentator, Lance's long time inner circle cycling associate, George Hincape testified before the grand jury acknowledging performance enhancing drug use ("PED")--which if true will support the claims of Tyler Hamilton and previously, Floyd Landis.

This is Neal Rogers' account from VeloNews, which as I've said repeatedly over the last couple of years, is the most invaluable resource for news for all aspects of the sport of cycling.  The report:

"George Hincapie, one of Lance Armstrong’s closest friends during their time together at the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams and the only member of all seven of Armstrong’s Tour de France-winning squads, testified before a federal grand jury that he and Armstrong had supplied one another with EPO and testosterone, CBS News reported Friday afternoon.  According to CBS News, Hincapie testified that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and discussed having used testosterone to prepare for races.

Through an attorney Hincapie declined to be interviewed, citing the ongoing federal investigation led by FDA agent Jeff Novitsky.

Hincapie, reached by VeloNews Thursday, declined to comment on Hamilton’s confession and accusation. 'I know you’ve got a job and you’ve got to ask these questions. I’ve got a job too. My job is here to race my bike, promote the sport that we all love; that I’ve sacrificed my whole life for. I just have no interest in dragging this sport through the mud, so I’m sorry, but I have no comment.'
When asked whether he had a reason to disbelieve Hamilton, Hincapie, who rode with him at Postal from 1997 to 2001, said, 'I’m sorry. I’m not commenting.'

The story’s release Friday afternoon was the latest salvo in a war of the words that broke out after CBS News broadcasted an interview with former Postal teammate Tyler Hamilton Thursday night, in which Hamilton said he had witnessed Armstrong inject himself with EPO. A full report, with more from Hamilton, is scheduled for Sunday evening.  [Negotiations to obtain Armstrong's interview for the program ended with Armstrong's public relations folks accusing the 60 Minutes producers of not being "straight shooters."]

Armstrong downplayed the accusations by tweeting: '20+ year career. 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case.'   In a letter to Fager, two of Armstrong’s lawyers, Robert Luskin and Ted Herman, said that 60 Minutes was engaged in 'disgraceful journalism' and 'a serious breach of the most fundamental journalistic principles.'

Hamilton and former USPS [ed. United States Postal Service] teammate Floyd Landis each have an uphill battle in establishing their credibility. Each changed their stories fundamentally — from vehemently denying doping, to confessing and accusing Armstrong and others.

Hincapie, however, a three-time U.S. national road champion, has a solid reputation, is the co-owner of a successful outdoor clothing brand, and has remained friendly with Armstrong. At times Armstrong and Hincapie have referred to each other as best friends, and in an interview last year, Armstrong described Hincapie as like a brother.'  While 60 Minutes is reporting that Hincapie testified before a federal grand jury about his and  Armstrong’s use of PEDs, he declined to be interviewed by '60 Minutes,' which will air its piece on the Armstrong investigation at 7 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Several sources have told VeloNews that the show will reveal further bombshells, beyond those of Hamilton and Hincapie."
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The implications of the pending fraud charges against Armstrong, et al. is that proof of fraud destroys the illusion that these astounding athletic accomplishments, 7 Tour de France victories and many other victories worldwide were legitimately and legally achieved.  The whole Livestrong Charitable foundation with its ubiquitous yellow rubber bracelets, the inspiring comeback from cancer all of that will appear to be rot.  Hundreds of millions of dollars were amassed by Armstrong and his associates based on the representation that they rode these races clean.  If Armstrong was lying he and his friends obtained these millions fraudulently.  The sheer scale of the wrongdoing is such that under the federal sentencing guidelines Lance is looking at decades in federal prison.

For years, Lance skated despite rumors because it seemed unlikely that so many people (other cyclists, team managers, and others)who would have had known could have remained silent about performance enhancing drugs.  But truth be told they weren't silent.  When someone spoke up they were ostracized and ridiculed.  Since other cyclist were involved, their testimony was immediately suspect.  And since Lance never "tested positive" it was always claimed that he was riding clean.  The thing is, cyclists cheat and manipulate their test results, and then again there were various claims of positive tests, and bribery, and manipulated controls.  One of the most ludicrous moments in all of this was when Floyd Landis was caught trying to hack the computers at a testing lab in an apparent effort to manipulate a positive test result.  

7 comments:

  1. Lance Armstrong's significance to professional road cycling can not be underestimated. In the aftermath of the Festina doping scandals and his recovery from cancer Lance seemed like a whole new day. He animated te sport of the cycling. He was the big man, the boss. That it turns out that he was another corrupt chump is heart breaking. The damage Lance did cycling is enormous, but I can't even fathom the damage he did to cancer charities. Should you ever believe in a sports hero, no.

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  2. Reluctantly Agreeing With Greg LemondMay 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Yeah, and Lance and his followers savaged Greg Lemond after he cast doubt on the so-called achievements of US cycling in the Lance Era.

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  3. It's not clear from this blog post what federal indictment Armstrong is at risk for. Most of the stuff discussed is from 99-01. What is the specific indictment are you predicting? otherwise, it's seems you're just full of S.

    Prescient or not, Greg Lemond is still a douche bag.

    Fausto should explain the damage LA has done to cancer charities in raising in excess of $400M. This seems pardoxical.

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  4. Yeah, well, Aaron, imagine a scenario where a bunch of talented young men get together and conspire with one another to game the professional cycling circuit. They systematically implement a doping strategy and a strategy to mask the doping. Parlying early achievements and a compelling backstory they obtain sponsorship monies in the tens of millions annually while saying that they are riding clean as a whistle. Anyone departing from the script, that is anyone telling the truth is immediately put out in the cold, blacklisted, treateed contemptuously in the press and cycling blogs, like Lemond who they pissed all over. When an insurance company refuses to pay $5 mil because it suspects doping and fraud it feels obliged to payout because cyclists lie in court proceedings under oath. That be fraud, conspiracy, gangster behavior. I thinnk that's what the feds are going to think too. Your canceer charities, camouflage for the racket run by Lance. How much of the Livestrong money ever made it to the cancer community as opposed to how much ended up in Lance's pocket? Can you tell us?

    Oh, and just why is Greg Lemond a "douche bag." There's someone who rode clean, accomplished it for real and cameback from a real tragedy.

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  5. Fausto, shut a your mouth and stop bogarting the water bottle...

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  6. Well Fausto, that's a nice tantrum and all, but let's look at your blather more closely.

    First, a bunch of cyclists 'game' the professional circuit. By this you mean what? they were the ONLY ones? That their success was exclusively the consequence of their drug use, and zero other riders were juiced? outstanding reasoning. But, according to Andreu's own words, 200 hundred guys in the peloton were dropping him. Plus, this is a difficult issue to pursue as breaking federal laws. I've asked for some help distinguishing between 'wrong-doing' and 'federal indictment'. If you want to be helpful, try to do the same.

    Second, lying is generally not against the law (neither is stupidity, you should be glad to learn)...so I'm not sure the Feds are investigating Armstrong to figure out if he misled a set of sponsors...if that were the case, there's a long list of athletes headed to jail, (including Hamilton and Landis). This hasn't happened, nor does it appear to be imminent - why is that? You guess, then maybe in a subsequent post I'll offer an option.

    I don't think Armstrong owns/operates/controls the press or cycling blogs, so whatever grief you have about how a bunch of snitches and b itches are received and treated by the public isn't really the substance of a federal investigation - which was my original question.

    To restate: 'What is the content of the *imminent* federal indictments?'

    Now, lying under oath - that will get you a ticket to prison (unless you work for Goldman Sachs or some investment house, then it will get you a seven-figure bonus)...so this 2005 insurance trial has the makings of an indictment in some circumstances but I don't know the specifics of the insurance trial - and it hardly seems like the sort of substance that a convenes a federal grand jury.

    OK, so back to your list 'that be fraud, conspiracy, gangster behavior'.
    Fraud: statute of limitations on this is apparently 5 years, unless there are ongoing illegal measures to cover up the fraud (i.e. more than lying). You also have to follow the money trail to demonstrate that someone/something of a federal interest was actually defrauded. This drug use stuff is more than ten years old. The USPS is involved, but this seems complicated.
    Conspiracy: Maybe, but then Armstrong needs to be el presidente, in charge of fund disbursement, hiring, firing, accounting, and all manner of chicanery. Maybe that's the case, but it's a bit much to deduce from a few statements on epo use in 1999. Is he a liar? probably. Is that a FEDERAL crime? Only if it's to a grand jury I suspect.

    Epo is legal in US incidentally, so whether the Feds are interesting finding a way to pursue criminal charges for breaking the rules of an international sport association would seem dubious (or every US track and field medalist in the last twelve years should be in jail). Marion Jones got busted for check fraud and lying to investigators, not cheating, just to remind you.
    Gangster activity: That's awesome. A bunch of skinny white guys with huge legs in spandex putting out hits, extorting politicians and businesses, collecting from bookies, fixing fights, muscling competitors out of the trash collection business. These guys are the gangsters the Feds need to put at the top of the priority list? I guess the RICO statues could be in play here, but is that the intent of these laws?

    So let me understand this, Livestrong charity is a front that funnels money to Armstrong? That's amazing. You should tip off the IRS. I don't know how much money from that charity makes it the cancer community, but I'm going to hazard a guess and say 'most'.

    ....and give Gino the water bottle back before you drop it amongst all your fumbling.

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  7. Aaron,

    You are wrong.

    It's now cliche to say, you are entitled to you're opinions but not the facts. Unfortunately for Lance the facts are the facts. So we shall see.

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