Posts Tagged ‘Tour de France’

Lance Armstrong: Innocent and Inspiring as Ever

August 29, 2012

I’m sorry, friends. I haven’t posted in a longggggg time. I know, I know it’s unforgivable (Link warning: Rated X. Or more. You know. You’ve seen it). 

THAT’S WHY I SAID SORRY!

And I know it’s getting to the point of being un-timely, but I’m a busy dude. Plus I can’t just exactly register negative breaking news about one of my heroes and pop a blog out right away. With that being said, here goes…

By now, you all know the news about Lance Armstrong. And before you react to anything, let me clarify something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand: Armstrong did NOT cheat. He did NOT admit guilt, nor did his surrender implicate him.

How do I know this? I researched. Here is the official statement Lance put on his personal Twitter account on August 23rd, after the news broke:

AUSTIN, Texas – August 23rd, 2012 – There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.

I had hoped that a federal court would stop USADA’s charade. Although the court was sympathetic to my concerns and recognized the many improprieties and deficiencies in USADA’s motives, its conduct, and its process, the court ultimately decided that it could not intervene.

If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In-competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?

From the beginning, however, this investigation has not been about learning the truth or cleaning up cycling, but about punishing me at all costs. I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own 8-year limitation. As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges. The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA’s improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority. And as many others, including USADA’s own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process. USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honor its obligations. At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach. On top of all that, USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today.

The bottom line is I played by the rules that were put in place by the UCI, WADA and USADA when I raced. The idea that athletes can be convicted today without positive A and B samples, under the same rules and procedures that apply to athletes with positive tests, perverts the system and creates a process where any begrudged ex-teammate can open a USADA case out of spite or for personal gain or a cheating cyclist can cut a sweetheart deal for themselves. It’s an unfair approach, applied selectively, in opposition to all the rules. It’s just not right.

USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that. Especially not Travis Tygart.

Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.

I strongly suggest reading that entire thing, especially if you are one of the people who believes that giving up a fight against personal injustice in order to better serve your own needs and your family’s needs automatically means said person is admitting guilt.

There is no reason to justify the type of person that Armstrong is. Say what you want about his record seven straight Tour de France titles potentially being tainted, but there’s no denying that a man who started an organization that has now raised almost $500 million for cancer research has his head on straight.

As Lance points out in his statement, he knows he rode clean. His teammates and competitors know he rode clean. But the pitiful fact that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and other witch hunting organizations hell-bent on exposing Armstrong because they don’t understand how he was so dominant in such a grueling sport, is downright infuriating.

How many times has Armstrong had his precious bodily fluids extracted and put into a tube or machine of sort in order to test every microscopic inch of what he has put into his body before, during and after races? How many times has a positive test come up?

I’ll give you a hint: the answer rhymes with “hero.”

Armstrong isn’t the one who should be constantly investigated. It should be the investigators that have gone to such ridiculous measures over the years to frame an honest athlete who should have the search turned on them.

Let’s look at a recent example from a more widely known sport. In 2011, news broke that National League MVP Ryan Braun had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. And in a league that has been shamed so often by cheaters, this was a terrible break for baseball fans everywhere – a popular player, the best in the league, busted.

Now remember back…Braun was indicted on a false-positive and after a minor uproar, it was forgotten. Braun continues to crush the ball this year and we can all assume he was clean.

Yet in cycling, Armstrong has never even tested false-positive and continues to be doubted by seemingly every high-ranking official in the sport? After years and years of passed tests? It doesn’t make sense. As Armstrong states, that is a blatantly illegal, ignorant way of testing athletes in any sport.

So, Lance has a family to raise. A life to live. A body to keep in shape, naturally. So let him go. Armstrong made the entire sport of cycling relevant in America once a year for 7 years, because he was more than really good at riding a bike.

Armstrong is a cancer survivor. A philanthropist to the level most can only dream of. And on the side, he’s really good at riding a bike.

When the news broke on Twitter, I was at a San Francisco Giants game, ironically enough. On Twitter, a local Bay Area radio host was tweeting to thousands of followers that a “guilty man doesn’t give up the fight for his innocence.” I called bull, he told me to get my head out of the sand. There is a difference between “giving up the fight for innocence” and realizing you are running in circles with morons who will do anything it takes to destroy your reputation.

At that point, it’s time to step away. “Giving up” is not the right term. Armstrong has never given up. He never gave up when he was battling testicular cancer. He never gave up when doctors told him he would die. He never gave up on all those steep, twisted hills in France. The term “giving up” isn’t even in the man’s vocabulary.

But the things he does hold dear to his heart are his family and his life. Can’t we all identify with that? Burn the 7 yellow jerseys. Take away the Olympic medal and toss it in the ocean. You know what that leaves him with? The knowledge in his head and heart that he was the greatest competitive cyclist to ever live. It leaves him with a loving family and a fresh, carefree (finally) life. It leaves him with a legacy of millions of fans, millions of dollars raised for millions of sick and dying people everywhere who look up to someone like him.

THAT is what matters to Lance. As it should.

Regardless of what one thick-skulled radio host’s opinion is, or how much flexing the USADA is doing in the mirror right now, any sensible sports fan knows Armstrong is innocent. Hell, Lance himself just announced at a cancer conference in Montreal that he is and always will be the 7-time Tour de France winner.

I don’t even like cycling as a sport. I like Lance Armstrong, the inspiration for the first written piece of work I ever got published. I was 16, and Bedford-St. Martin’s came calling about publishing my article about Armstrong in a college English textbook.

A $250 check and more pride than I could ever imagine later, I was a published author. All because Lance Armstrong inspired me.

So exactly as I ended that article seven years ago, as Armstrong leaves a mob of pitchfork-carrying, French-speaking crowd in the dust of his Schwinn, I will leave you with what needs to happen:

As Lance rides off into the sunset, toward the rest of his life, let us wish him luck in whatever comes his way. Thank you Lance Armstrong, for all you’ve done for athletes everywhere and how much hope you’ve given to anyone that didn’t believe they could succeed. Your legacy will live on forever in the minds and memories of everyone who knows your name. Now go enjoy the rest of your life. You deserve nothing less.

Roger Goodell Loves Mormons

February 4, 2012

Confused? Mission (HAH, mission!) accomplished! I say Roger Goodell loves Mormons, because he is doing everything he can to move games away from Sunday. It’s football, Roger! Games are played on Sundays. He announced a couple days ago that more games will start moving to Thursday Night Football in order to get more teams on prime time.

That’s awesome, considering people work on Friday mornings and will be less likely to stay up late and watch a game during the week. Sunday mornings are about church for some, NFL football for most. You can wake up late, grab a beer and some chips and relax in your Jamarcus Russell jersey all day. Like the league needs more money and exposure anyway. But it’s an impressive job of word-twisting by the evil commish to make it sound like he’s doing it for the teams’ benefits. Moving football games away from Sunday is like moving Christmas to December 26th because it’s a Friday.

At least Goodell isn’t as stupid as the city of Indianapolis (does that statement now make me the most hated man in Indiana? Send me your hate tweets, I can’t wait to read them). I understand the vision here, but I guarantee it’s going to backfire. People will gladly pay a small “fine,” especially when you give them the benefit of calling it a donation to charity, to be exceedingly intoxicated on Super Bowl weekend. This will be one of those grand experiments gone wrong, mark my words. It’s cute how lazy that Indy P.D. is, but when they are overrun by drunken, trespassing ticket scalpers who have a free pass and will take full advantage, they’re going to wish they had just done their jobs.

We have breaking news in the cycling world! Similar to Tiger Woods for golf, if it’s not Lance Armstrong, it’s not cycling news. But one of the greatest, most unfairly-attacked-by-French-people athletes of all time, is finally off the hook for a crime he never committed. The federal investigation into doping claims against Armstrong and his team has officially been dropped. Everyone knew he was clean; that’s why the case was completely, publicly forgotten about for the last three years.

I guess Lance now gets that justification of being told by those important government scientists that his seven straight Tour de France victories will stand. I wonder how much money they spent probing Armstrong over the last decade? No wonder our country is in financial ruin…by the way, I want to see Barry Bonds try to out-ride that field. That dirty cheater.

Yesterday, I was just begging for the news about Josh Hamilton relapsing to be false. Today I found out it was true. Hamilton faced the media, apologized for his relapse, explained what happened and promised to never let it happen again. I believe in Josh, but when he’s on such a big stage, even something like a few drinks at dinner is national news. Hopefully everyone is with me on rooting for Josh to get back to complete sobriety and never let one of those “weak moments” affect him again.

In my last real bit of news, Brandon Jacobs is apparently going to be a boxing promoter when his football-playing days are done. Brandon Jacobs is apparently already a boxing manager. Brandon Jacobs apparently used to box before turning to football full-time. Dude. I don’t care about the first two – who in their right mind would want to fight BRANDON JACOBS (6’4″, 264 lbs. of solid muscle by the way)?? Hang on, I’m going to go change my boxers. Oops. Accidentally punny.

Oh. And hey…do this: WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Before I leave you with the real Saturday Badass Clip of the Week, I’m going to give you a Badass-in-Training clip. Check this little guy out. Great form! He could beat most of my friends, that’s for sure.

Now for the Real S.B.C.O.T.W. – You’re welcome.

Damn, they are all TERRIBLE shots. All right, I’m out of here. I’m going to go see if the Walnut Creek P.D. will accept a charitable donation for my illegal shenanigans. Peace.


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