Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trust Fox News to Smear Armstrong

Tyler Hamilton in 2007: He alleged
on 60 Minutes that he saw Lance
doping
Fox News did it again. This time their target wasn't a liberal pol trying to save Medicare for the elderly. No this time their arrows are aimed directly at cancer-fundraising cycling giant and seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

In their usual slumming manner, Fox created a headline with the word "Tainted," for an article liberally sprinkled with allegations by a Fox commentator, in guess where, Australia, in a sad grab for eyeballs while throwing no new light on an ongoing Federal witch hunt of the embattled Yellow Jersey winner.

"The continual and damning allegations of doping levelled [sic] against seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is tainting the present and future of cycling, Fox commentator Scott McGrory delcared," wrote Christopher Boyd for Fox.

The article also makes allusions without explanation to a supposed "heated" interchange in a Colorado restaurant between Tyler Hamilton, Armstrong's previous U.S. Postal team member who alleged on CBS-TV's 60 Minutes that he had seen Armstrong doping, and Armstrong.

Hamilton made the doping allegations at the same time that he was launching his new book. Fox News infers that the restaurant exchange was akin to witness tampering during a federal investigation.

The New York Times reported that Jodi Larner, the owner of the Cache Cache restaurant where Armstrong is alleged to have told Hamilton that his lawyers would make his life "a living hell," was being subpoenaed for a video tape from a surveillance camera.

Unlike the Fox News characterization of a vicious spat, Larner told the Times that the tape was not going to help the FBI much because the exchange occurred in the restaurant's bar area, and was a non-event, not more than a passing conversation.

"I wish I had the incident on tape, the whole world could see what happened between Tyler and Lance, and shut up about it already, it was a non-event," said Larner.  According to a more in depth story about the incident by ESPN's Bonnie Ford, there wasn't even an argument at all, and Hamilton's lawyers seized on the incident to create more PR for Hamilton in light of his new book release.

This kind of hogwash is what is to be expected of Fox News, but we never expected them to be so perilously close to a scandal rag like TMZ in their sports "coverage," if you can call it that.

Never mind that Armstrong has never been found to be positive for performance enhancing drugs or high levels of blood doping that the investigation by Federal dog sniffer Jeffrey Notvitsky is looking for.

Lance being interviewed in 2009 after Stage 4
of the Tour de France
Well Fox has that covered: According to McGrory, the testing wasn't so good in those days.

Doesn't that mean that McGrory, gold medal winner in the Madison track events of the Olympics in 2000, which is now 11 years ago, also was not subjected to the same lack of today's controls?

Not that we think McGrory was doping.  We do know he spent one year competing on the same level as Armstrong with the Mapei QuickStep team from 2001 to 2002, and never in a race the same level of the Tour de France.

Which is exactly the point.  If all the riders had the same access to the same drugs at the same time, and all of them weren't tested for those particular drugs, why is it that one man won, over and over again?

Said one cyclist I was riding with two days ago, "Lance went to every stage and rode that stage not once, but three or four times in preparation. Other riders didn't even ride the stage once, they just looked at the map."

What was Armstrong's reaction to Hamilton's public 60 Minutes allegations? "20+ year career, 500 drug controls worldwide, in and out of competition. Never a failed test. I rest my case," he wrote on Twitter.

Scott McGrory reporting (from Twitter)
Anyone whose has watched Armstrong ride a Tour has seen how he approached each stage methodically and strategically, staying back in unimportant stages, and pushing for distance at opportune moments, much like a chess player.

We are not saying that Armstrong never doped, and we aren't saying that he did. What we are saying is there is no evidence that he did, except some ex-cyclists with (unfortunately) lesser past and current careers who have been brought out like horses at an auction by the press.

What's more Tyler Hamilton failed doping tests three times,  in 2004 after winning the gold medal for the time trial in the Olympics, at the 2004 Vuelta a Espana, for which he was suspended two years, and then again in 2009, when he was banned for eight years from cycling competition, effectively ending his cycling career.

What's sad are the news organizations who are using these riders to "allege" while making no effort on their own to do real investigative stories.

And the final worse thing of all? Hamilton's PR folks who have failed to make a high ranking Google result for his new book--not to be found anywhere in the top 10.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You fail to point out the worst of the Fox story's problems. "Armstrong denies any wrongdoing and has passed nearly 500 tests." First of all, he's walked around wrong-doing on countless occasions, not by claiming he raced clean, but that he never failed any drug tests. Second, that he failed no tests is disputable, as he tested positive for cortisone in 1999. Yes, he produced a back-dated doctor's note, but he did test positive. There's also clear evidence that his TdF blood samples from 1999 had EPO in them, though this can't be used as a positive in the sporting world because these tests didn't follow protocol. And there is circumstantial evidence that he failed a test in 2001. Finally, the only people citing "500 tests" are armstrong and his legal team. There is no proof that he was tested that many times. Until there is proof, 500 should be treated as a Goldilocks number.

Now as for cycling being tainted by Armstrong, that is hard to make a case for, with so many of his teammates and competitors testing positive, it's hard to blame Armstrong alone.

As for your take on the Armstrong-Hamilton meetup at the restaurant, Ford doesn't take sides, so your conclusion is a stretch. At the very least, you should point out that Armstrong himself has books to sell and fronts both non-profit and for-profit businesses. As such, Armstrong is himself selling, and many of his comments and actions should be interpreted in light of his own profit motive. You think Nissan and FRS and Radio Shack want to be allied with a notorious doper? If the doping allegations are proven, Armstrong loses lots of income, no doubt.