Friday, 24 August 2012

Armstrong Dead-Bats the USADA

The news came through today that Lance Armstrong would not pursue arbitration of the USADA case against him, claiming that "Enough was enough" on the matter, while still declaring his innocence.

This didn't really surprise me, since it would appear to be the only way that Lance can prevent all the sordid details coming out in leaks to the press during a hearing. Instead, the likely legal process now, will be deflected away from the actual evidence of Armstrong's doping and that of his associates, towards a dispute between the UCI and anti-doping bodies WADA and USADA, likely to take place at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, over whether or not he is stripped of his Tour titles.

Armstrong apologists will use this turn of events to declare an end should be made to the 'Witch Hunt' Lance claims he is the victim of, while his detractors will see it as a tacit admission of guilt by a man who dare not allow testimony to be properly aired. In any case, it is a clever tactic by the 7 times Tour de France (former?) winner to keep uncertainty alive, whereas many of his peers, such as Bjarne Riis, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton made belated, full confessions of the reality of the sport they lived in.

In a couple of weeks, Hamilton's likely to be controversial new book, will be released, reportedly laying bare the doping practices and Omérta in the Peloton. It's clear Armstrong knows his decision will not lay the matter to rest and that former teammate Tyler's book will throw even more fuel on the fire, but to the Armstrong camp, denial and keeping uncertainty alive are the central tactics of the Public Relations policy in recent years as his business circle has become more and more defensive in the light of mounting testimony.

An example of this, was Tailwind Sports and Armstrong's claim that a decision by a court to find in his favour against a sports insurance company SCA Promotions was based on the evidence rather than the simple facts that the UCI still recognised his victories and that a doping clause had not been written into the contracts. This served to sway the opinions of many who didn't take the trouble to look into the actual details of the case - a cacophony of threats, intimidation, attempts at bribery and legal manoeuvres to prevent the truth coming out, with damning testimony from multiple witnesses who had all at one time, been part of Lance's 'inner circle'.

Over the next few days we will see the usual calls to let sleeping dogs lie, together with those of the opposite view. My own view probably lies somewhere in the middle; I don't believe Armstrong should be stripped of his titles, since there is no-one credible to award them to. But to those who understand human physiology and know that it is impossible to output 520 Watts for 30 minutes up a steep mountain pass without blood manipulation, it will doubtless be frustrating that such simple facts are not it seems, going to be aired in a legal procedure against the American in order to force him to end his insult of our intelligence.

Like I said previously, I believe Armstrong is more likely to disown his mother than confess so his refusal to take on Travis Tygart in a fair hearing should come as no surprise if it is understood by the observer that Lance is well aware that the evidence against him is overwhelming.

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