Monday, November 8, 2010

Lance Armstrong Investigation: Praise from Abroad

Jeffrey Novitzky's investigation into Lance Armstrong's alleged doping while racing for U.S. Postal is getting some praise from around the globe. A recent article said the following:
General Director David Howman said in a speech to the Association of National Anti-Doping Organizations in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that other countries could use the USA as an example. Its anti-doping agency, USADA, has teamed with the federal government in the past to convict sports stars Marion Jones, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
"The challenge I gave them was, try to be as good as the United States. You look at USADA and the way they partner up with enforcement agencies," New Zealander Howman told the Associated Press. "You see they're not scared to do the hard work. They're not scared to look at high-profile athletes who might be caught."
Jones, Bonds and Clemens were some of the athletes that passed anti-doping tests, but failed to escape federal investigators. Jeff Novitzky of the US's Food and Drug Administration helped investigate Bonds and Jones in the BALCO scandal, the federal probe into the San Francisco Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Novitzky is now the head investigator in the Armstrong investigation. The investigation gained attention and momentum in May when Armstrong's former team-mate Floyd Landis spoke out about doping. Several of Armstrong's former team-mates and associates have already faced federal prosecutors in a grand jury hearing.
Howman explained that similar doping cases exist around the world.
"These kind of doping issues aren't present only in the United States," said Howman, "It's a global issue."
"The message is, you've got to use what tools you have," said Graeme Steel, the president of the Association of National Anti-Doping Organizations, ANADO.
"Anybody who knows anything about this would understand that testing is far from a perfect tool. It's an important tool and it will catch athletes from time to time. But over time, they've proven they can beat it, and the response has been, we need different, sometimes more powerful tools and allies."
In addition, Paul Kimmage, author of a well-known book about doping in cycling titled "Rough Ride" recently commented on the investigation as well. Here is part of the article I read:
Kimmage is convinced the (Lance Armstrong) investigation will be a milestone in the history of the sport. "The last was in 1998, the next is with investigation in the USA," he says. "When we get a result, the sport will be at another crossroads. Maybe Armstrong will fall, but that won't actually be enough. What we need is root and branch cleaning. We need to get the people who were complicit in it all. They need to go. They are part of the problem and have been for 20 years."
Armstrong and many of his former teammates have rubbished Landis' accusations but Kimmage is convinced he is believable.
"He's absolutely believable. Because he's saying the same stuff that Frankie Andreu said, what Betsy Andreu said, that Emma O'Reilly said. This stuff didn’t happen in isolation. He hasn’t said anything we didn’t know, he's given us more detail and painted a bigger picture because he was higher up the food chain. There is no one bigger than this sport. It's too good a sport to not survive."
Kimmage also expressed frustration that the supposedly clean riders in the peloton are not more critical of those found doping. He said:
 "I'm losing my patience with the good guys too. They can't have it both ways. We can't change things without upsetting people. I say: 'Stand up and speak out'. If they don’t, they won’t have the respect of the public and things won't change." 
"For example I saw that Andy Schleck offered his support to Contador the other day. I couldn't ... believe that. Nobody stands up for the clean guys, who were screwed and ignored. Nobody has made a case for them. Riders lose their credibility when they say they want to retain their friendship with a rider involved in a doping scandal."
Interestingly, in a separate article today, world champion, Thor Hushovd's was quoted as expressing some criticism of Contador's doping situation. Here is a sample of what Thor thinks about the Contador situation:
Thor Hushovd has spoken out against the support that Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is being given in Spain and especially in his home town of Pinto, near Madrid. Contador is currently under investigation for returning a positive doping probe at the Tour, but he is still receiving a lot of public support and was appointed first honorary citizen of Pinto last week.
World champion Thor Hushovd has now reacted to Contador being honoured, finding the treatment "odd" and saying that this would probably never have occurred in Norway.
"To do it while his doping investigation is still ongoing is odd. I think and I hope it would not have happened in Norway," Hushovd told Norwegian TV 2 Sport...
Tour de France green jersey contender Hushovd said that this showed a different view of doping in Spain than in Northern European countries. "It tells of a different culture," he stated, before adding that the Spaniard should not benefit from any other treatment than other cyclists that were being investigated from doping offenses.
"He must be treated like everyone else, and if they find out that he has cheated, he has to take the full punishment. And if it is two years, he must take it."
Finally, a few comments from Kimmage about the Contador investigation:
Kimmage is also disparaging about Contador's justification for his Clenbuterol positive test at this year's Tour de France.
"His excuse that his meat was contaminated is laughable. It's an ... insult to our intelligence," he says.
"After the Dauphiné Libéré I couldn't see how he could improve so much in time for the Tour. He wasn't the same guy we'd seen in the past and had a lot to do. But he got there and won the Tour but then tested positive for Clenbuterol..."
"Now I'm not a man of science but for me the key to it was the day of the test. When I found out it was on the second rest day, that was the give away for me." 

1 comment:

  1. My favorite line: 'Stand up and speak out'

    I think that this may, in the end, be one of the most important keys to solving the problem of doping in cycling. If Andy Schleck really is clean, he needs to condemn Contador, Armstrong, Cancellara (assuming there really was mechanical doping in Paris-Roubaix), and all the others. The clean guys have to be "tattle tales" or they will probably start doping themselves.

    The doping has got to end, or professional cycling may be irreversibly damaged.