Lance Armstrong has now officially earned the title as the Bernie Madoff of sporting fraud. To fraudulently orchestrate an operation that led to winning the Tour de France seven times in a row all the while running a sophisticated doping operation for himself and his teammates is no small feat. Just as Bernie Madoff could never run a $50 billion Ponzi scheme on his own, Lance needed a lot of players to go along with it. Recent news reports are now suggesting that Lance had help from corporate sponsors to pull off this tragic deception...
For starters, the UCI appears to be as corrupt as anyone involved. We know Lance paid them over $100 thousand directly but reports surfacing today suggest that the head of the UCI, Hein Verbruggen, was paid $500,000 from Nike and Tom Weisel. Weisel was a sponsor of Lance's first team and founder of Tailwind Sports which was a partner with Lance in organizing the teams he was on including the U.S. Postal Service team.
Weisel has been rumored to have provided much of the money behind the doping operation. Unfortunately, Weisel's ties also go to USA Cycling and some people speculate that Lance's protection was not just from the UCI but that it existed in the US as well.
We may never get to the bottom of all the corruption that allowed for this fraud to succeed but I doubt we've heard the end of it yet. In the meantime, if you want to send a message to Nike and other sponsors of Lance, I encourage you to sign and circulate this petition and don't spend your money at these companies.
While the jury is still out on whether Nike was involved in bribing Verbruggen, Nike did state they would stand by Lance even after USADA released their report of the massive fraud Lance orchestrated to damage cycling.