Today’s We Run and Ride blog is from my co-blogger Monte Wehrkamp, whose observations via email often fascinate. He’s proven to be right on many fronts over the years, and many times in my experience of knowing him. So when he takes off on a speculative rant I tend to pay attention.
He is as Hunter S. Thompson was, entertaining when discussing politics or sports because the truth in either of those fields is almost always a subjective problem, a puzzle to discern, and sometimes the fiction of our imaginings that is just as real as the hard won knowledge of history, also a subjective matter.
So, here goes. Monte’s compelling observations on the future of the Lance Armstrong story. It begins with a link that illustrates the business connections of Lance Armstrong, which sets a stage, as it were, to understanding that nothing is as simple as it appears on the surface.
This first link is the article Monte discovered that set off his observations.
And then you’ll be ready to read Monte’s take on the situation, which reminds me a bit of the Jason Bourne Movies in its layers and depth. In fact let’s compare a picture of Bourne to that of Lance Armstrong. There’s a similarity you see…and we may someday find out that Lance is a bit more like Jason Bourne than the lone criminal he’s been made out to be. Is Lance Armstrong a product of something other than his own ambition?
Here’s what Monte thinks.
The Big Picture
Cookson may indeed create the “new and improved” UCI he promised. A Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) Commission may actually happen, and LA has promised if there is one, and it’s a get-out-of-jail-free, all-for-the-improvement-of-the-sport affair, he’s in. He’ll name names.
It’ll all come out at once.
This is where it gets hairball crazy. If you watch the very end of the trailer of the new LA documentary…
He implies that the whole story hasn’t been told. Not even close. And if he ever got the chance to purge himself, without fear of more legal reprisal, he’d let us know McQuaid and Verbruggen were in the know, and may have even encouraged him — went as far as provided him assistance to beat the testers. And yeah, that was a bribe. And yeah, he did test positive. But to the UCI, LA was the goose that laid the golden egg for pro cycling.
He was also golden when it came to cycling equipment in the U.S. Even more than Greg LeMond, LA sold cycling to America (the biggest sports equipment market in the world). Sold yellow banded/garnished NIKE wearable anythings. And Treks, and by association (like a rising tide lifts all boats) all other brands of bikes in the USA.
Under a T&R, Lance might admit Trek provided and funded the drugs and the mule who made drops all over Europe (the guy in Tyler Hamilton’s book, the one on the motorcycle that followed the Tour — he ended up with his very own Trek dealership. From Lance’s gardener to Trek bike store owner. Wonder how that works.) He might admit that Nike and Oakley aided and abetted as well (far beyond looking away and lying under oath). And possibly that his partners at Tailwind Sports (owners of Lance’s bike teams) and who were also connected closely to USA Cycling, were thick in the conspiracy as well, proving this culture went to the very top of the sport in America.
Point of the spear (and sphere)
Lance was, and is, merely the point of the spear. And the spear was very, very long. Still is.
It was because of all this air cover, all this power behind him, he could tell his lie over and over without fear of being caught. Because of the industry power that could be brought to bear (destroying Kimmage, the Andreu’s, Hamilton, Landis, et al), nobody dared touch him. And those that tried, paid dearly.
Like when LA chased down Simeoni – blowing up his chance at a stage win, because if LA chases, everyone chases, cuz he’s the race leader — then doing the zipped lips and cursing him out in front of the peloton. Simeoni was out the sport less than a year later. Shunned. Rebuked. Blackballed. The whole sport was organized around the Lance lie. And powers that be not only encouraged it, they built it.
Will there be a T&R, that’s the question.
Cookson may want one. But then again, he doesn’t.
There is already enough sentiment against pro cycling. That the era of LA made it a sham on par with pro wrestling – and even today, may not be much better than it used to be. A T&R would confirm cycling was even worse than ever imagined. In a way, LA, with his limited admission on Oprah, is helping cycling by limiting the damage mainly to himself. Like Christ taking upon himself the sport’s sins (which is a rather clumsy analogy, as LA is far from sinless, but one he’d probably like to believe about himself). If he came clean, admitted all, named names, exposed the depth of cheating and corruption, it may damage cycling even more. Perhaps forever. (And may show the same powerful people who’ve dirtied cycling also have their hands in other sports, like swimming and track and field, exposing even more corruption throughout all of sport.)
People wonder how McQuaid got any UCI federation votes at all. Easy. It’s possible there are certain federations that wanted him to stay to keep a lid on things. To maintain air cover. To minimize exposure. Limit the blame and responsibility to LA.
So…information trickle or deluge?
Does Cookson risk all with a T&R?
There’s a Bournelike quality to it all.