The Spokesmen 67 – The Piranhas of Cycling

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8 comments to The Spokesmen 67 – The Piranhas of Cycling

  • Thom Collins

    Enough ped talk . Love the show.


  • Thom:

    Normally, I agree, but this subject at this time is simply too important. The future and legitimacy of professional cycling is at stake.


  • Thom – thanks for the compliment and for listening! We all appreciate it. Like David, I agree…enough on the doping already! But, since it keeps coming back up in the news like a bad penny, it’s the topic of the day some days and that’s what this show is about…hopefully (fingers and toes crossed) there isn’t anything doping related in the news the next two weeks and we can have a show free of that…and, please, please, please feel free to suggest topics for us! We’d welcome some ‘happy’ cycling stories or even plain ole issues of the day to talk about…at least I know I would.
    Ride safe!

  • Packfodder

    What happened to Jim Moss this week? Is he a Lance Apologist, or has he just not followed this issue much? I found myself arguing aloud (kind of embarrassing, since I was listening on my iPod, and no one else could hear) with his arguments supporting Armstrong and suggesting that Novistky’s lawsuit is somehow illegitimate. Two points stood out in particular:

    1. “RICO doesn’t/shouldn’t apply here”: Wasn’t RICO enacted to prevent leaders from shielding themselves from prosecution for the crimes they order/direct? Ie if Jimmy-the-Nose suggests to Vinnie-the-Hammer that UnluckySam should have an accident and might die as a result, RICO is the law that facilitates prosecution of Jimmy when Vinny whacks Sam. Sounds a lot like Lance (the part-owner and established leader of his team) facilitates doping on his team and/or suggests that everyone should be doping, and the others get caught. RICO is the applicable legal tool.

    2. “This is like me getting a *lawfully-prescribed medicine*, changing its bottle, and bringing it out of country.” The argument is based on a false premise; my prescription is legally obtained. Show me one pro cyclist with a legal prescription for Epo. A better analogy is “I and my friends buy a bunch of oxycodone tablets on the black market, put them in ziplock bags, and bring them to France. Repeatedly. For years on end. Do you really think that shouldn’t be prosecuted as a crime?

    This is not a witch hunt or a publicity stunt by Novitsky (how many public statements does he give? He is hardly a household name outside the world of sport-doping.) I don’t for a minute believe Lance-as-doper is the target. Maybe Lance-as-dealer/ringleader, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are going after even bigger fish.

    As an aside, one of this week’s participants – I can’t recall which one – made the “never tested positive” argument in support of Armstrong. I would only point out that neither Marion Jones nor David Millar nor Frankie Andreiu nor Bjarne Riss(should I continue?) ever tested positive, despite multiple tests. All have admitted to doping. I suspect their combined tests exceeds Armstrong’s purported 500. The takeaway point is not that 0 for 500 proves Armstrong is clean; it is that the testing regimen as it existed circa 2000-2005 was a farce.

  • Packfodder you make some great points. I don’t think any of your statements are wrong; I just have a slightly different view of most of them.

    Remember as an attorney I differentiate between what is legal and what is a violation of the rules. In the case of cycling there is a major difference. A lot of the rules of cycling are not acts that get you jail time. Yet the cycling industry seems to confuse those.

    I deal in a lot of areas other than cycling. In the past month I’ve been dealing with four fatalities in other sports. So in the big scheme of things, whether or not someone is using drugs to win a race seems minor when dealing with a young kid who lost his dad. Not an excuse, just I believe there has to be a little perspective on this entire matter.

    Yes for cycling it is a big thing and as Davis said, the sport may crater because of it. And I should not slight it or minimize that issue. I just think that in our world of 2011 there are more important things to really get excited over.

    Or maybe I’m tired of the entire thing.

    Personally, I don’t think there is any doubt that there are a lot of violations of the rules going on in cycling. However I look at the prosecution of Lance as a grand standing event, not as a way to stop the doping issue. Whatever law that is being used to attempt to bring down Lance, it has nothing to do with the doping. The legal issues, the pure legal issues, are did you lie to a government agency and did you lead a group of people to perpetrate that lie. So yes I think it is pretty bogus.

    Is doping legal? No. Was the law violated by Lance? Possibly I think you need to ask another question. Is it worth the prosecution?

    I think there are bigger problems that prosecutor could be spending millions of our dollars on. By the time this prosecution is over, win, lose or draw, it will cost you and me millions. Maybe we can cure cancer instead?

    Professional cyclists do not have EPO because it violates their rules. But that does not mean it is not legal to have and use the drug. Outside Magazine has twice paid journalists to take performance enhancing drugs and write about their experience. Here is one of the articles. It is legal to take EPO if you have a prescription. It is a violation of the rules of cycle racing to take EPO. It is not criminal.

    You are right there is an issue when you purchase an illegal drug to sell in another country to third parties. However the only violation of the law in this case is the purchase of a legal drug with or without a prescription which I then give to someone whose name is not on the prescription. I legally own EPO and give it to another friend that violates US law. No one is ever prosecuted for it, unless it is done for profit.

    I don’t believe I made the argument that Lance was clean, I only stated that Lance had made those statements. If I did, I apologize, I screwed up. I think I mentioned which side of the fence I was on when mentioned I had a great discussion many years ago with Greg Lemond. Greg has always maintained that testing was a farce. The rules were made to allow the participants to beat the tests. Not to make sure doping was found. I agree with him. Once I studied the rules I burst out laughing. They truly are a joke. So if the rules are a joke, made so they are easy to beat, is it really wrong (not illegal just a simple moral wrong)? That seems like an easy discussion, a gray area, but I believe it is a monster gray area.

    If we want to bring the legal issues into the sport the sport will go down. Besides going to jail for doping, can I sue if you crash in front of me and I go down injuring myself and dropping out of the race? I was going to win and your negligence stopped me from winning? US courts have spent decades and hours keeping sports out of the courtroom and I agree with that.

    Do you think that the prosecutor who brings down Lance Armstrong will be forgotten for a while? He does not give statements because he is a federal prosecutor working on a case.

    Marion Jones went to jail for the same thing most of the prosecutions in sports are all about. Did she commit a crime? Yes. Did she admit to a crime? Yes. Was it worth the cost of putting her in jail for six months?

    Personally I find it hard to justify that when people are shooting each other, kids are being beaten by parents and cancer still kills.

    I guess it comes down to cycling needs to clean up its act. Do we want to do that in a courtroom? More importantly, will putting Lance in jail eliminate the violation of the rules of cycling?

    Thanks for staying on top of this and listening!

  • Packfodder

    Jim, You make some good points. Believe me, I have long ago gotten over any angst about the “validity” of Armstrong’s victories. After all, of the nine podium finishers during his 7-year run, all but 2 (Escartin and Kloden) have either admitted or been sanctioned for doping (Kloden was never convicted, but he did pay a $26,000 settlement in Germany to stop an investigation – no admission of guilt.) I respect what Armstrong accomplished as an athlete – because I believe the playing field was level – even if I don’t have much respect for his personal ethics and his treatment of those with whom he disagrees. As to the moral gray areas of doping in sport, I would recommend the movie “Bigger Faster Stronger,” an entertaining documentary that raises those same moral ambiguities. I agree it is not the American Court’s role to enforce cycling’s rules – that is for the UCI and CAS.
    My support of the investigation has nothing to do with sport. I appreciate that governments do not prosecute sporting rule violations (although that didn’t stop Congress from holding hearings about doping in baseball.) But the FDA is charged with regulating and controlling the distribution of medicine. Prosecution of violations is expensive because generally the parties involved are well-funded and sophisticated. Do we want a justice system that chooses which laws to enforce based on the wealth of the defendant? Novitzky’s work in the BALCO case, and his mandate as an FDA investigator, suggest to me that he is looking at the larger distribution networks, not at individual dopers. If you take the sporting aspect away, you have evidence of systematic illegal drug use by a group of individuals, the cumulative value of which is millions of dollars per year (epo is not cheap), and he is investigating the network of users and the supply chain, seeking the source. Yes, Epo is legal, but so is oxycodone and the legal use of each is dependent on the method of procurement. If there were a suspected focus of oxycodone distribution, no one would question the investigation.
    I’ve left out the aspect of fraud that would be specific to Armstrong (the US Postal sponsorship contract – ~$35million – reportedly had a no-doping clause), because I’m not certain that falls under FDA jurisdiction.
    I guess I don’t understand what you feel Marion Jones went to jail for, but to me it had nothing to do with sport. Marion Jones went to jail because she stood in court, swore an oath to tell the truth, and then lied. She committed perjury. The irony is that, had she told the truth she would have faced no legal jeopardy. Society looks to the courts as the arbiter of truth. I’m jaded enough not to believe that personally, but society’s faith in our legal system requires an expectation that individuals will testify truthfully and sharp penalties for those whose lies undermine this expectation.

  • oboe

    I don’t for a minute believe Lance-as-doper is the target. Maybe Lance-as-dealer/ringleader, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are going after even bigger fish.

    This is an excellent point. You rarely hear this mentioned in these sorts of fora, but I’d be stunned if the FDA weren’t interested in finding out exactly *who* has the power to actually get their hands on these PEDs, and to pass them on to doping pro athletes. The issue isn’t one of sport, necessarily, but of wholesale illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

    As Packfodder says, if this were about tracking another set of prescription drugs–specifically those that can be abused recreationally–to their source, no one would bat an eyelash at a dogged federal investigator. Of course, that’s because recreational drugs are Bad. But illegal drug distribution of non-recreational drugs? A-OK!

  • Thom Collins

    Happy cycling ideas ! Who would think that would work ? ;0) I was in Florida that week and only road bike for the time I was there . No car ,no rain, just a fat tire one speed bike . Good clean fun. Enjoy your ride whatever you ride .

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