Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fed Subpoenas 2005 SCA -Armstrong Case: More of the Same

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed documents from a 2005 case in which a Texas-based promotions company tried to refuse making a bonus payment to the cyclist for his Tour de France win, said his Texan based attorney, Tim Herman.

The case was Lance Armstrong against SCA Promotions after the company tried to withhold a $5-million performance bonus, lost the case and eventually paid Armstrong both the bonus money plus attorneys' fees and interest that totaled $7.5 million.

The fact that SCA's attorney's could find nothing under a rock hasn't stopped the federal government from wasting our money to see if they can. It's not like SCA didn't have something at stake.

The deal was if Lance won six consecutive Tour de France victories, SCA guaranteed it would pay him $10 million. One month after he won the Tour again in 2004, SCA refused to pay $5 million of the $10 million performance award and cited rumors of performance enhancement by Armstrong, despite exhaustive testing at the 2004 Tour.

One visit to their site and you see what they are all about: "Incentivize and Motivate," their front page says in huge block letters. They clearly thought he couldn't do it, and when he did--well I guess they didn't want to pay up.

But what the Feds will be getting is readily available on the Internet, and offers a casbah of excellent motivations for all of the bad mouthers around Lance to do what they do. How this could help them other than add to the swirl of innuendo, is beyond non-investigators or perhaps even the imagination. It's so hashed and re-hashed, that's just what it is--hash.

What's more, the deposition of Lance Armstrong himself shows a number of reasons for why Greg LeMond, Emma O'Reilly, David Walsh, and to a lesser extent Betsy Andreu, have all made public statements about him that were according to him, untruthful.

The best read is when the lawyer for SCA Promotions asks Lance about his conversation with Greg LeMond regarding allegations of doping.

Armstrong said he had called Lemond to ask him why he was spreading allegations about him. Below is part of that testimony, with the questions being posed by opposing counsel for SCA Promotions, Jeffrey Tillotson:
Q. Okay. And is it your testimony you could
17 tell that he was intoxicated on the phone when you
18 talked to him?
19
A.
Aggressive, agitated, angry, belligerent,
20 like a drunk.
21
Q.
Okay. Were his words slurring, or was he
22 irrational in some sense?
23
A.
I think his words always pretty much slur.
24
Q.
Okay. All right. Okay. He says that you didn't
3 even invite me to the Ride for the Roses this year.
4 I'm like, wait a minute. Is that the issue here.
I
5 said, well, we didn't invite you because last year you
6 were drunk the whole time. You set up competing
7 autograph sessions when we were trying to do good
8 things for the fight against cancer. I said, we
9 invited you to the gala when we were going to
10 introduce everybody that was there, Miguel Indurain,
11 Eddy Merckx, the greatest of all time. You showed up
12 literally 60 seconds before you were going to be
13 introduced. Of course, we didn't invite you back.
14 We've got people that expect -- expecting you to be
15 there, expecting you to contribute to the cause, and
16 we can't rely on you. No, of course not. That
17 offended him. But that was the truth.
18
What's more, Lemond's testimony--he is being subpoeaned by the same Federal investigators--will be suspect. Read on...

Pic: Lemond and Armstrong in 1999: better days.
So was there any discussion about
11 whether or not Mr. LeMond had doped in connection with
12 his professional cycling career during this phone
13 call?
14
A.
I mean, I think, you know, I reminded that,
15 you know, there was a fairly well circulated report
16 that came out of Italy, I don't know when it came out,
17 called the Donati report, which was authored by Sandro
18 Donati, that chronicled, I think, doping in sport,
19 maybe just doping in cycling. But Greg was referenced
20 in there with his involvement with Doctor Van Mol. I
21 reminded him of that. Of course, he didn't know about
22 that, didn't want to know about it. But then he took
23 that as a direct accusation.
24
Q.
What else do you recall being discussed in
25 this phone call, other than what you've told me?
64
1
A.
Oh, he -- you know, he said the sport is
2 full of crooks, and thieves, and liars, and cheats,
3 and frauds, and -- you know, literally -- literaally
4 screaming at the top of his lungs. And then I just 5 said, well, yeah, and it's made you everything you are
6 today, Greg. He didn't like that either.
If you didn't know, the Donati Report details doping since practically the dawn of time. You can download that too on the Internet.

The entire testimony makes for an interesting read, but nothing is proven or unearthed in it, except perhaps some indications that many people around Armstrong were trying to capitalize on his fame for their own pocketbooks or harbored deep resentments that he didn't take them on his high ride of fame.

Take for example Emma O'Reilly (whose brother Sean O'Reilly lives in New York City.) She was the massage therapist who worked for the U.S. Postal team and was fired--we don't know exactly why.

But she then followed up with allegations in a book by David Walsh, "From Lance to Landis," detailing having to dispose of syringes that were used for drugs by the team. O'Reilly was reputedly paid $9,000 for information by Walsh, a highly controversial move by the journalist since  the profession frowns on renumerating sources. He also reputedly paid other sources, lending doubt to the veracity of their accounts.

O'Reilly's (paid) allegations come up in the testimony, and Mr. Herman asked Armstrong why she would do something like that, make false allegations?
Pissed. Pissed at me, pissed at Johan.
23 Really pissed at Johan. Pissed at the team. Afraid
24 that we were going to out her as a -- and all these
25 things she said, as a whore, or whatever. I don't
126
1 know. But primarily, I have to confess, I think it
2 was a major issue with Johan.
3
Q.
Now, when -- when --
4
A.
And it wouldn't have been a very good book
5 if it was JB confidential. There would not have been
6 a lot of sales

And then there was Betsy Andreu, the wife of Frankie Andreu who was on the US Postal Team with Armstrong in the early 2000's. Betsy is alleged to have said that Armstrong admitted in his hospital room at the Indiana State University Hospital where he was being treated for cancer by Dr. Larry Einhorn, --that he had taken performance enhancing drugs,  'EPO, growth hormone, cortisone, steroid, testosterone.' "
Pic: Frankie Andreu, before 1996 when he was accused of doping and before his wife Betsy made allegations about Armstrong.

In the transcript for the SCA deposition, Herman takes Armstrong through this entire incident and asks him whether it happened. Armstrong responds that such a conversation never took place, and if Betsy Andreu was in the room with him, it was when they were watching a football game with many people, and he was not being examined by his doctor.

Q. Can you offer, or can you -- can you help
10 explain to me why Ms. Andreu would make that story up?
11
A. Well, she said in her deposition she hates
12 me.
13
Q. Do you believe she's making that story up
14 to -- to get back at you or to cause you harm?
15
A. Whether she's making up that she hates me?
16
Q. No. Do you believe that she's making – I mean, she's -- according to you, this story where she
18 said she specifically heard you say stuff --
19
A. Yeah.--Q. and that she -- and you remember she
21 testified she took Mr. Andreu out and confronted him
22 regarding whether or not he was doing the same thing.
23 Do you recall that testimony?
24A.
Yeah. Vaguely. But I have no idea why she
25 did that --
23
1
Q.
Okay.
2
A.
-- other than she hates me.
What is so interesting is with so much at stake, SCA Promotions could prove nothing and had to pony up $7.5 million in the end. Why? Because Dr. Einhorn had nothing in his medical records--legally recorded documents--to support the allegations by Betsy Andreu. Despite hundreds of tests made during and after an between competition there were no positive findings of drug use or use of banned substances.

What would be at stake if the allegations proved to be true? Armstrong says it himself very succinctly when asked about his contract with Tailwind, who was his sports company:

Q. Okay. So I noticed in -- in your most
20 current contract with Tailwind, there's -- there's no
21 provision regarding doping.
22
A. Uh-huh.
23
Q. And there was one in your prior contract.
24
A. Uh-huh.
25
Q. Are you aware of that distinction?
118
1
A. Not necessarily, but that -- that'2 irrelevant, because if you have a doping offense, or
3 you test positive, it goes without saying that you're
4 fired from all of your contracts, not just the team,
5 but there's numerous contracts that I have.
6
Q. That would all go away. Sponsorship
7 agreements, for example?
8
A.
All of them. And the faith of all the
9 cancer survivors around the world. So everything I do
10 off of the bike would go away, too. And don't think
11 for a second I don't understand that. It's not about
12 money for me. Everything. It's also about the faith
13 that people have put in me over the years. So all of
14 that would be erased. So I don't need it to say in a
15 contract, you're fired if you test positive. That's
16 not as important as losing the support of hundreds of
17 millions of people.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Report a Bad Driver

Yesterday I decided to take a 20 mile ride from Saugerties to Woodstock in upstate New York. It was a relatively nice day and I was in a good mood.

The route I took is normally a pretty tame one, though on one stretch which travels along the ridge of the Blue Mountains in the Catskills, linking the two towns, it's a straightaway and drivers often exploit the lack of police presence to go faster than the posted 45 mph.

The area is a mix of vacation home occupants who drive the car of choice, Subaru, to get through the snow in the winter, and regular working people who often drive pick-up trucks.  There is also the occasional red-neck a-hole, excuse my verbiage, who drives something in between and today it was a blue Corvette, a new model.

I could hear him behind me more than a half a mile away his engine was so loud, and I could judge, based on experience, that the driver was traveling very fast and was an angry person. I put my arm out in a gesture to give me space on the narrow road, but as the loud roar of his engine approached I had a feeling there was going to be no room given. I rode straight into the side of the road, into the dirt, grass and stones of the ditch, and as he roared by scaring the daylights out of me, I saw he gave me exactly one half a foot of clearance--from the ditch. If I hadn't moved I would have been dead.

In my anger and fear I didn't see his license plate. But further down the road I encountered two walkers, walking on the other side of the road. They confirmed they saw the driver, "really booking it," and the model of the car, but not the license plate.

When I got to Woodstock, I saw a police officer on bicycle duty, and reported the incident to him. Later I called the Saugerties Police Dept., and gave them the same report. Even without a license plate, a car like his is sure to draw attention and be unique in an area like this, and if and when he repeats his gross indifference to human life, there will be a record of what he has been doing on file.

Five minutes later another cyclist pulled up: he was out of breath and scared, and said he had almost been killed. I motioned for him to come over and make a report. He hesitated. How many times have you hesitated between making a report, and saving time?

He came over, and told Woodstock Police Officer Tony Smith that he had been descending Rock City Road at about 11:40 am when a driver in a silver Sienna van came to the edge of lower Byrdcliffe road, looked him straight in the eye and pulled out in front of him. The cyclist, James van Alstine, 47, of Palenville, NY said he had to swerve into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid hitting the car because he was going 30 mph. "If there had been a car coming in the other direction I would have been a hood ornament," he said. "He didn't care," if he hit me, said Alstine. But he didn't have a license plate number.

Woodstock was one of the first communities in Ulster County to have a police force on bicycles said Smith who helped start it in 1992.  Both Woodstock and Ellenville started the bike police forces so they could get through traffic, respond to incidents more quickly, and travel down trails and other off road locations where police are often necessary.

The van had disappeared, and had two occupants, a male driver and female front seat passenger.  We looked around the parking lots to see if they had parked nearby, but James gave up and went off to the Overlook Bike Shop to pick up some brake pads. Lo and behold, what did he find on the way there the silver Sienna, license plates EMU8801. He called back Officer Smith, and made a report.

I asked Alstine how often these types of experiences happen to him and whether he usually reports them to the police. "If I see an officer right away, yes. But if time passes, and I don't see one, I let it go," he said.

And how many times a year does this type of event happen to him? "Once or twice a year," he responded. "Really?" I replied. It happens to me several times on a ride, I noted. "But this was a near death experience," said Alstine.

BBB is starting a new service: For any near brushes with cars, if you are buzzed, pushed off the road, screamed at, threatened, knocked off your bike, or the object of aggressive riding, please report the driver's license plate, location and time of the accident, your name and email address, as well as what happened. We will publish every single bad license plate incident, and keep a record of the incidents.  Please email your reports to reportbaddriver@gmail.com

Sunday, July 25, 2010

TDF 2010 Stage 20: A Relieved Contador Rides into Paris

July 26, 2010
...and the Relentless Marketing Machine Drills On
Alberto Contador rode into Paris with a broad smile on his face for the third time as winner of the Tour de France since 2007.

This year's race wasn't as easy for him as in the past, he admitted. “It is a Tour in which I had a lot of pressure, especially physically as I was not at my best level," he said.

"For example, everyone said I had already won the Tour after the stage to the Tourmalet. But we saw yesterday, in the race against the clock, that it was not fully played out. Today is therefore a great relief for me, " he added.

Mark Cavendish bested the top sprinters to the line on the Champs Elysees in Paris, but the Green Jersey was awarded to Alessandro Petacchi who had won the most sprint points in this year's Tour.  Only 11 seconds separated the Cav from the Green.

Although the Manx man was philosophical about the narrow win he was happy to have 5 tour wins: “I’m disappointed this year not to win the green jersey. I set out to do so – it was a target for this year – but I had some bad luck in the first days and was out of the running but the team fought back, did our best and I lost it by 11 points."

Andy Schleck was second on the podium, and Denis Menchov was third.

It was a Tour for narrow wins that's for sure. Schleck who was within 39 seconds of his rival Contador, won the White Jersey for best young rider for the second year in a row. He also gained second place on the podium for the second year--not bad for his young 23 years of age.

The Luxemburger said he wasn't going to dwell on the 39 seconds, but at the same time, he feels he came a lot closer this year to wearing the coveted Yellow Jersey.

“It’s a completely different feeling to when I came second in 2009. I got up there and looked at the yellow jersey now and I realize I was so close – but in the end it’s so far away." 

This final 102.5 km from Longjomeau to the Champs-Elysées in Paris, was delayed because of a little brouhaha between the RadioShack team who wanted to wear black jerseys with “28” on the back, representing the 28 million people around the world living with cancer.

The UCI jury said that in accordance with race regulations, the jerseys had to be changed back to their red (regular) ones.

RadioShack did replace the jerseys for the nine riders from the squad that won the team classification--including Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Kloden and Chris Horner, but they also had to ensure their race numbers were properly pinned on.

The mix up caused a long delay in proceedings on the day that Lance Armstrong says will be his last day of competition.

The team did however wear the black jerseys on the podium in Paris when they won first place in the team competition. It was just another reminder of how marketing has become an all inclusive package for the Tour de France. Back in the day, 100 years ago when riders crossed sections of the Pyrenees for the first time, they did so on steel bikes, alone without a caravan of support vehicles and radio communication with team managers.

It also was not broadcast on television--there was no television--like today when there are millions of dollars being poured into advertisements, among them Cadillac, RoadID, Nissan, and RadioShack, Izod, and even a beer company showing Lance relaxing (oh my!) with a cute brunette (double oh my), their relationship mysteriously undefined. The ads were relentless, the jingles habit forming. Even the experienced commentators for this year's Tour, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, were forced to call replays by the name of the sponsor, or remind viewers of how gorgeous France is as a place to visit.

Somewhere behind those cajolements may have been a promise of money or a quid pro quo for freedom to cover the Tour by Versus. What's more, lost from their reporting entirely was the back story about the developing cheating scandal opened by Floyd Landis, so you could hardly call it real reporting. It was more like a glossy travelogue of the Tour.


The forces of marketing also took over the peloton on the last day: As customary, the first hours of the final stage were spent with riders idling along the course, and posing for photo opportunities, covering only 25 km in the first hour.

But once the peloton arrived in Paris, the Astana team came to the front for the symbolic first crossing of line, the beginning of eight laps of the circuit on the Champs-Elysees.
An escape group formed as it passed the ‘Haut des Champs’ for the first time prime – won by Kuchinski (LIQ) – and then 11 riders broke free of the peloton, among them Sorensen (SAX), Casar and Roux (FDJ ), Riblon (ALM), Martin (THR), Kroon (BMC), Knees (MRM), Pauriol (COF), Perez Lezaun (EUS), Hondo (LAM), and Perez Arrieta (FOT). Through the stage they were only 25 seconds ahead of the peloton at any time.

But HTC-Columbia, Sky and Katusha were working behind them to line their sprinters up for the finish, and caught with 11 km to go.

Sky had numbers in the front with 1,500 m to go, then Lampre came to the front and drove the peloton after the ‘flamme rouge’. 

Then, on the place de la Concorde Cervelo led to the final straight and Hushovd was in a good position for the victory but Cavendish started his sprint 200 m from the line, and the rest of the sprinters were history.


Roll of Honor at the End of the 2010 Tour de France

1 CONTADOR Alberto ASTANA 91h 58' 48"
208 PETACCHI Alessandro LAMPRE - FARNESE 243 pts
153 CHARTEAU Anthony BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 143 pts
11 SCHLECK Andy TEAM SAXO BANK 91h 59' 27"
TEAM RADIOSHACK 276h 02' 03"


General Classification Standings at the End of the 2010 Tour, Paris

1. CONTADOR Alberto 1 ASTANA 91h 58' 48"
2. SCHLECK Andy 11 TEAM SAXO BANK 91h 59' 27" + 00' 39"
3. MENCHOV Denis 191 RABOBANK 92h 00' 49" + 02' 01"
4. SANCHEZ Samuel 181 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 92h 02' 28" + 03' 40"
5. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 101 OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 92h 05' 42" + 06' 54"
6. GESINK Robert 195 RABOBANK 92h 08' 19" + 09' 31"
7. HESJEDAL Ryder 54 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 92h 09' 03" + 10' 15"
8. RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin 77 KATUSHA TEAM 92h 10' 25" + 11' 37"
9. KREUZIGER Roman 44 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 92h 10' 42" + 11' 54"
10. HORNER Christopher 23 TEAM RADIOSHACK 92h 10' 50" + 12' 02"
11. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon 161 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 92h 13' 09" + 14' 21"
12. PLAZA MOLINA Ruben 168 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 92h 13' 17" + 14' 29"
13. LEIPHEIMER Levi 25 TEAM RADIOSHACK 92h 13' 28" + 14' 40"
14. KLÖDEN Andréas 24 TEAM RADIOSHACK 92h 15' 24" + 16' 36"
15. ROCHE Nicolas 81 AG2R LA MONDIALE 92h 15' 47" + 16' 59"
16. VINOKOUROV Alexandre 9 ASTANA 92h 16' 34" + 17' 46"
17. LÖVKVIST Thomas 37 SKY PRO CYCLING 92h 19' 34" + 20' 46"
18. DE WEERT Kevin 133 QUICK STEP 92h 20' 42" + 21' 54"
19. GADRET John 85 AG2R LA MONDIALE 92h 22' 52" + 24' 04"
20. SASTRE Carlos 91 CERVELO TEST TEAM 92h 25' 25" + 26' 37"

Stage Standings at the End of Paris, End of Tour

1. CAVENDISH Mark 111 TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA 2h 42' 21"
2. PETACCHI Alessandro 208 LAMPRE - FARNESE 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
3. DEAN Julian 52 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
4. ROELANDTS Jürgen 108 OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
5. FREIRE Oscar 193 RABOBANK 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
6. CIOLEK Gerald 142 TEAM MILRAM 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
7. HUSHOVD Thor 95 CERVELO TEST TEAM 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
8. BRESCHEL Matti 12 TEAM SAXO BANK 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
9. MC EWEN Robbie 75 KATUSHA TEAM 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
10. OSS Daniel 46 LIQUIGAS-DOIMO 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
11. MAASKANT Martijn 56 GARMIN - TRANSITIONS 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
12. MONDORY Lloyd 87 AG2R LA MONDIALE 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
13. TURGOT Sébastien 158 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
14. ROJAS Jose Joaquin 169 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
15. PEREZ MORENO Ruben 186 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
16. ARASHIRO Yukiya 152 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
17. HAGEN Edvald Boasson 36 SKY PRO CYCLING 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
18. BOOM Lars 192 RABOBANK 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
19. BALLAN Alessandro 122 BMC RACING TEAM 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"
20. HONDO Danilo 205 LAMPRE - FARNESE 2h 42' 21" + 00' 00"