Where has all the fun gone?

March 22, 2016 § 35 Comments

After the fuss and feathers of Dick Doper died down, I felt depressed.

In one sense, Dick Doper really did win because he makes me realize what one commenter pointed out, which is that this Keystone Krook is a completely minor player in what has to be a worldwide, multi-billion dollar enterprise of cheating and crime.

And Dick’s doings have affected a lot of people. When I get my ass stomped in masters bike races, some other rider always mutters to me about “the dopers.” As much as I like to attribute my shitty bike racing results to a lifetime of bad judgment and little ability, it takes the fun out of it when you cogitate overmuch on the possibility of who’s doing what.

It’s like that for a lot of people. They want to compete but they don’t want to pay the money and spend the day away to get annihilated by cheaters. I dare you to call that kind of experience or the doubt and skepticism and cynicism it induces “fun.” In the past I’ve always subscribed to the sound theory that “If you want to race bikes you better put doping out of your head or it will ruin it for you.” Dick is another crack in the dike for me, and a completely collapsed dam for a lot of others.

But it’s even less fun than that, because his great results on Strava in conjunction with his drug dealing make it hard to escape the conclusion that people are literally Strava doping. And not this kind, either. So even though I don’t play Strava, the people who are in that particular sandbox as an alternative to human racing have their fun taken away by the same kind of cheating and by many of the self-same cheats.

Of course people have always cheated at games, but there were either fewer of them doing it in local races or we were a lot less informed about it, or both. In the old days if you were a cheater there weren’t many bike options in town once people found you out. But now you can cheat, get booted out of one group, and seamlessly cruise into another. Hell, people will even admire you as a renegade and buy your doper-branded clothing.

It makes you wonder where you can ride a bicycle to enjoy healthy competition and a fair fight. Dick proves that as long as there is anything at stake, be it glory or Internet bragging or a few bucks, a lot of people will cheat to win. There used to be shame associated with cheating, but how could there be now? George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer have shown the little fellows like Dick Doper that as long as you can turn it to your advantage, lying and cheating are just extra rules of the game you have to know about in order to win, kind of like the off-off-menu at In ‘N Out.

But it’s also a good feeling to see that so many people find his lousy behavior as lame as I do. It’s also gratifying when you wind up on the same side of a fight as Steve Tilford. It’s like being on Muhammed Ali’s team. You’re not only fighting for what’s right, you’re teamed up with the guy who’s going to knock the shit out of everyone else.

Best of all, Dick Doper’s behavior seems to show that he has zero remorse for what he’s done. To the contrary, shortly after his plea deal he and his wife began sending out groundless cease-and-desist letters to people who were simply reporting facts, or, as in my case, simply making a joke about a dumb name. That seems like a  violation of the conditions of his plea deal, not to mention a pretty obvious lack of remorse. Maybe someone will bring it to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Los Angeles and also point them to the unbelievable amount of traffic and discussion this has generated in the cycling community.

Wouldn’t it be great if at sentencing time on July 20, the judge took into account Dick Doper’s lack of remorse and hit him with the full $100k, 1-year jail sentence?

That would almost qualify as a happy ending. But it still wouldn’t make it fun.

END

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NorCal cyclists still playing catchup with SoCal

July 20, 2014 § 16 Comments

After years of lagging behind their more talented brethren in Southern California, bike racers in Northern California are finally beginning to make incremental improvements that, they hope, will eventually bring them on a par with the more accomplished southerners.

“It’s going to take years,” says top racer Johnny Metoprol “but we have to close the gap. It’s a total embarrassment, and thank goodness that Logan has stepped up.”

CitSB was able to sit down with NorCal racer Logan Loader and discuss his recent results.

CitSB: So, it’s a been whirlwind these last few days, I suppose.

LL: Yep.

CitSB: And I guess it gives new meaning to your last name.

LL: (laughs) They used to call me “loaded” in junior high, actually.

CitSB: How did this all come about?

LL: NorCal has been several steps behind SoCal for a really long time; it’s that simple. It got to the point to where we were asking ourselves practically every day, “When is USADA going to start showing us some of the love?”

CitSB: How do you feel now?

LL: I’m pretty pleased. SoCal racers aren’t the only ones who know how to get busted. My inbox has exploded with congratulations.

CitSB: Why methylhexaneamine? That’s a pretty weak drug to get popped for.

LL: I knew I’d hear criticism that it wasn’t really big time, I mean, we all know about the guys in SoCal shooting cortisone up into their superficial dorsal veins before races …

CitSB: Their what?

LL: Dorsal veins. You know, the superficial dorsal vein. It’s the one on your … you know … gee, this is kind of embarrassing.

CitSB: Yuck.

LL: Right? And frankly the guys in NorCal aren’t at that level yet. Not to mention the girls. But methylhexaneamine seemed like a good place to start. After my 8-month ban runs I’d for sure like to try some of the better stuff. One step at a time.

CitSB: Any other reasons that an aspiring doper might start off with methylhex? Do you have some advice for the youngsters out there?

LL: Sure. Best thing is that it works great with the “loose powder” defense that was used so successfully by your masters guy down in SoCal last year. You get popped, fill a container with some contaminated substance, and blame it on the manufacturer. And you smile a lot and say “I’m sorry.” Got me down from 2 years to 8 months.

CitSB: Don’t you think the manufacturers are getting a little tired of being blamed every time some hacker turns up positive?

LL: No doubt, but as long as you don’t actually name the manufacturer and just blame it on an “over-the-counter supplement,” it’s pretty much a victimless crime.

CitSB: Let’s go to your tearful confession for a minute, the one that was posted in VeloNews. Pretty funny stuff.

LL: (really laughs) Right?  My favorite line was “I will take full responsibility for my failure to properly read the manufacturer’s label and check for prohibited substances and fully understand the consequences.”

CitSB: That’s a howler, all right. Makes it sound like instead of being a douchebag drug cheat you’re just some moron with a reading problem.

LL: (really, really laughs) Right? (Guffaws, drizzles spit)

CitSB: The apology part was pretty funny, too, especially apologizing to your family.

LL: Like they give a flying fuck, right? It’s shameful enough that I’m a bike racer.

CitSB: Right. My favorite line was this one: “At no point was I attempting to enhance my performance or take part in any unethical practices or sportsmanship.” I mean, if you weren’t trying to enhance your performance why were you taking a supplement? To diminish it?

LL: Hee, hee. We talked a lot about whether to throw in the line about taking part in unethical practices or sportsmanship.

CitSB: I’m sure. What does it even mean?

LL: Nothing. It was just stupid-sounding flummery that we figured was dumb enough for VeloNews.

CitSB: How has your team responded?

LL: High fives all around. We think that with practice and getting used to handling the superficial dorsal vein and a 65-guage Tuohy needle, we can step up our game. No pain, no gain.

CitSB: Goals for 2015?

LL: I think the entire NorCal racing community is behind me when I say we can get a solid 5-year ban in the next twelve months.

CitSB: A second violation might do the trick.

LL: Right?

CitSB: Any last thoughts?

LL: My ultimate dream? A lifetime ban. That would even the score pretty darned quick.

CitSB: Good luck. You can do it.

Saved by a shitty lawyer

November 27, 2013 § 168 Comments

Rich Meeker is one lucky dude, and if you want to know why, you can:

a) Read the 31-page arbitration decision imposing a 2-year ban or,

b) Read what follows, which might not be quite as dry.

To get things started off, let me just say that Rich Meeker, who has always been really nice to me, is a living, breathing example of everything that is wrong with Old Fuck Racing. This arbitration decision proves it.

Just the fucks, ma’am

Here’s what happened, in a nutshell. Beaker Meeker doped, and never contested that he doped. Never. Not once. Get that? RICHARD MEEKER IS A DOPER AND HE ADMITTED IT FROM THE OUTSET.

What also happened is that Beaker Meeker, a 9-time national champion,  had never been tested in more than 35 years of competitive racing, and the first time he had to peel back the foreskin the sorry bastard squirted ‘roid juice. Thirty-five years, nine titles, one test? Those are more than good odds, they’re evidence that USAC doesn’t give a pigfart about integrity in geezer racing as long as the race permits and officials’ fees keep rolling in.

But back to the Jersey Shore: the only thing at issue in the arbitration hearing was whether as a dopefuck dopefucker Beaker Meeker deserved a 2-year ban, a 4-year ban, less than a 2-year ban, or no ban at all. You may be tempted to think that his $100k defense (my estimate), his 14-month running battle with USADA, his testing of Hammer Nutrition products, and all the other shit was an attempt to prove that he didn’t dope.

It wasn’t.

Why? Because according to USAC, the UCI, USADA, WADA, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, if you swallow it, snort it, rub it on your nuts, shoot it into your veins, smear it on your clitoris, or jam it up your asshole, and “it” is a banned substance, then you, sir, are a doper. Of course, if you’re a “sir” and you also rubbed it on your clitoris, you have bigger problems than a positive drug test.

So when Beaker Meeker climbed off his bike at the USAC Old Fucks Race in Bend, Oregon in 2012, found his microscopic penis and shrunken testicles with a pair of tweezers and peed into “the cup,” his cyborg urine was seething with dope. Every good run comes to an end, I suppose.

The doping positive was admitted by Beaker, and so the only question (legally posed) was this: Okay, fucktard, should we ban your sorry dopefuck ass for two years or four? Or less than two? Or none?

D-bags love “none”

Like so many dopefucks before him, Beaker Meeker lawyered up and took a sabbatical from bike racing. You know, because it’s just his hobby that he does in his spare time, a hobby he’s been doing for 35 years, a hobby in which he’s “earned” nine national titles, a hobby in which he has become part of the Old Fuck Racer sporting pantheon.

As he says in his douchefuckery of a press release, “Cycling is my hobby, not my career, and it would make no sense for me to use an illegal substance.” You should probably take that stinking lump of kerfluffle with a grain of salt the size of Dallas, since any Old Fuck racer who’s done 30 races in a season and claims to have been able to do anything more than drool on his keyboard at work is most likely a liar.

Beaker Meeker, of course, decided to fight. Not to fight the fact that he’s a dopefuck, but the fact that he deserves a 2-year ban. To properly understand the Beaker defense, you need only have an appreciation of Cheech & Chong. Like, dude, yeah, man, I had that shit in my piss and shit, but fuck, it got there on accident.

The Beaker Meeker defense

Rich and his $450/hour lawyer came up with a great defense. It was original. It was clever. It was the product of brilliant thinking that could only have been spawned by a bike racer and a lawyer. Here it was: THE EVIL TAINTED SUPPLEMENT MADE ME DO IT.

Yep, in a long line of shitfuckery that was most famously the plot in the Spanish novella, “Contador and the Mystery of the Tainted Meat,” Beaker Meeker decided that he’d beat the sanctions by showing that his Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte capsules were tainted. Never mind that cyclists like Kirk O’Bee, Neil Stephens, Scott Moninger, Amber Neben, Christophe Brandt, Aitor Gonzalez, and others had trotted out this lame excuse and been found guilty of doping — Meeker figured that he could win.

Beaker tried to pin the tail on Hammer Nutrition by sending off various of their supplements to a private testing lab in Tennessee. How he did it boggles the imagination, not because of its creativity, but because of its transparent lameness.

If at first you don’t succeed …

First, Beaker sent off a batch of Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, Hammer Nutrition Anti-Fatigue Caps, and Standard Processing Drenamin for analysis. (Note to self: Standard Processing Drenamin? What the fuck is that?) Leaving aside for the moment that there was no chain of custody whatsoever, one of the Endurolyte bottles, which conveniently contained a variety of pills and “some loose powder” (not making this shit up, folks), miraculously had some steroids in it.

Unfortunately, the steroids in the bottle weren’t the ones that Beaker had tested positive for, so it was back to the evidence fabricating, er, drawing board. Undeterred, on December 3 he shipped off another batch of evil supplements, all of which tested negative for steroids. You can almost hear Beaker and Howie:

BM: “Fuck! When are we gonna get some positives? I ain’t paying Vinnie the Knife to spike that shit with Play-Doh!”

HJ: “Shit if I know! Let’s keep sending!”

On January 17, Beaker mailed off another shipping container of supplements. All tested negative for steroids, and more clumps of already scarce hair were ripped out in frustration. With time running short to prove he was framed, and copies of the Zapruder film not yielding any additional material for the lone nutrition supplement contaminator on the grassy knoll theory, Meeker sent off yet another batch of Hammer Nutrition supplements.

Bing-botta-bing! Incredibly, along with the supplement capsules, there was also some loose powder in the bottom of the bottle. More incredibly, the powder turned out to be (drum roll) one of the drugs that Beaker had been busted for, norandrostenediol. Before the celebrations could begin in earnest, however, it also appeared that the “loose powder” contained another banned drug, DHEA, which, unfortunately, Rich had not tested positive for.

The timing was problematic, as it seemed more than coincidental that the very last sample was the one that happened to be tainted with just the right ‘roid. Beaker Meeker explained it away thus: even though his lawyer had asked for all his supplements, he had only searched the containers in his kitchen, not his “race bag which he kept in his garage.”

I know what you’re thinking: “If my kid ever came up with an explanation that dumb I’d whip him once for saying it, and twice for not being smart enough to dream up a better lie.” You’re probably also thinking, “Yeah, when the lawyer asks for all the supplements, I never give him the stuff that was in my actual race bag that I took to the actual race containing the actual supplements I actually claim to have taken.” Right.

Even so, this presented a mess. How could Rich claim that he lapped up the tainted powder which was contaminated with the two banned drugs, but he only tested positive for one? Perhaps it was time for the “I used to have a forked tongue” theory?

Where there’s one problem, there are usually more

This wasn’t the only difficulty. None of the actual Hammer Nutrition capsules was tainted, only the loose powder, which I’m sure no one could have sprinkled into the can. Team Beaker had to explain ingestion of the tainted powder, when prior to the dope test he had testified that he only took the capsules. The solution? Claim that the powder was from broken capsules, and imply that the unbroken capsules he’d taken also had “tainted dust” on them when swallowed the pills. The chart was starting to look complicated.

But as with bad fiction everywhere, this led to more difficulties. If the capsules had broken, then where were the empty shells? The lab had only found powder in the bottom of the bottle. Compounding the problem, Rich testified that he had no memory of picking out the empty capsule shells. The arbitration panel found this big, hairy, 12-pound, blood-covered booger hard to swallow, because the quantity of powder meant that there would have been more than 30 empty shells from the broken capsules.

Facing a fictive narrative that would have given Gabriel Garcia Marquez migraines, Beaker had an explanation: he must have taken capsules that had the tainted powder in them. Yet this too ran into problems, because none of the other tested capsules was positive. Since Rich testified that he took about “37” capsules prior to the race, some number of which were tainted Hammer pills, he would have had to have magically selected only the tainted capsules, randomly, from the bottle, and then, somehow, 36 other tainted capsules (the approximate number of capsules that would have contained all the loose powder) magically exploded inside the bottle while the capsule shells vanished up a unicorn’s ass.

Leave alone for the moment that anyone with a brain, even a bike racer, would be suspicious about a bottle filled with loose powder and no broken capsule shells immediately prior to a national race in which victory would guarantee a drug test, there were even more amazing parts to this poorly cobbled together story.

To add more tomfoolery to an already ridiculous “legal” defense, Beaker’s own lab expert said she’d never seen a bottle with an admixture of various capsules and loose powder like the one they had been given to analyze.

Follow the math

Another big problem for Beaker Meeker was the fact that the doped up bottle was from 2008, and the race was in 2012. Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes contain 120 pills per bottle, and although Meeker claimed to only take them before road races, his testimony that he took four or five pills before nationals means that he would have blown through that supply in four years, easily .

Had the arbitrators asked him to demonstrate how he took all 37 horse pills before nationals, they could have put the lie to him then and there. The idea that you can swallow 37 of anything before a race is right up there with the forked tongue/vanishing twin theory.

The arbitrators were also curious as to the physiology behind the “disappearing DHEA,” i.e., how the norandroshoweverthefuckyousayit showed up in Beaker’s pee-pee, but the DHEA didn’t. Meeker’s “expert,” whose qualifications were vigorously challenged by USADA, couldn’t explain this curiosity either. Perhaps if they’d let the astrologer or the unicorn tamer testify, it would have all made sense.

Just waiting for Moe to nose tweak and eye-poke Larry

Team Beaker next argued that since USADA couldn’t explain how Meeker’s urine got contaminated, the arbitrators were obligated to accept his theory. This is like saying that if you can’t give a satisfactory explanation for the origins of the universe, then you have to accept that all 250,000 species of beetles (each named by Adam) and all 1 billion species of bacteria (also named by Adam) along with the dinosaurs, trees, grasses, fungi, and nematodes (named by Adam, too) were aboard Noah’s Ark.

By trying to force USADA to prove how Beaker Meeker had ingested the dope, the legal team of Tweedledum and Tweedledumbfuck sought to turn the whole evidentiary burden of proof on its head, which would have been a great precedent, relieving dopers of having to explain their vanishing twins and forcing USADA to reconstruct how they cheated. The arbitrators weren’t impressed, after pointing out that Team Beaker had omitted a crucial word in its citation of a prior case, they told him in legalese what anyone else would have said: “Shut the fuck up, doper.”

Then the arbitrators raked him over the coals. They pointed out that he had contradicted himself, claiming various numbers of pills that he had taken, and finally saying he couldn’t remember at all how many he took. He further botched the claims that his lawyer had carefully drafted in the calm of the office, when, under the heat of cross examination, he confessed to not knowing when or from whom he’d actually gotten the 2008 capsules.

And of course the arbitrators masticated, swallowed, and shit out his “loose powder” theory, as well as his expert’s theory about the “disappearing DHEA.” The arbitrators described dopefuck’s testimony as not “consistent, reliable, or complete,” which is short of calling someone a two-bit, lying sonofabitch. I’ll leave you to decide how short.

To emphasize the patent flimflammery of the whole defense, Meeker had the audacity to claim that in more than 30 years of competitive cycling he had never once read the “fine print” on the back of his annual license. Then he complained that neither USAC nor the UCI had ever given him any training about drug testing. A later appeal will likely blame his mom for all that premature potty training.

Saved by the shitty lawyer, though

Where Beaker Meeker got lucky was the part where the arbitrators rejected USADA’s demand for an aggravated sanction, which would have kept the doper out of the masters ranks (think keeping a pedophile out of the playground as an analogy) for four years instead of two. USADA’s claim was essentially that any idiot could see what had happened: Beaker Meeker had doctored up a bottle of capsules with tainted drugs, fabricated evidence, and sought to dupe the hearing officers into letting him off the hook.

All USADA’s lawyers had to do was show, through testimony or other evidence, that Beaker Meeker had engaged in deceptive or obstructing conduct to avoid the detection or adjudication of an anti-doping rule violation. But they failed to elicit any testimony or put on any evidence or retain any experts who could testify to the absurdity and/or impossibility of Meeker’s claim. The standard was tough, but they didn’t even try, and now Chester will be back at the races with a trench coat full of lollipops in September 2014.

What’s it all mean?

The above analysis is, of course, the kindest and most favorable reading of the arbitration proceeding. But what if, you know, they really were going easy on him? What if he deliberately doped up a can of pills, blamed Hammer Nutrition, and made up a complete cock-and-bull story in order to preserve his reputation as the pre-eminent Old Fuck Cyborg?

What if he defamed an innocent maker of unicorn powder and supplement fluffery and tried to sabotage a legitimate business just to save his ass? What if he was not only guilty of doping in 2012, but in every year for the last two decades?

Wouldn’t that make him, like, the biggest douchebag ever? And doesn’t it strike you as diseased that he could ever enter another race again? And doesn’t it make the silence of Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer “masters” team and every one of its riders seem like the silence of witnesses to a grotesque killing?

I think the answers are “yes, yes, and yes.”

And maybe a “hell, yes” for good measure.

Let the unexplained absences begin!

July 11, 2013 § 29 Comments

Whoa!! Blasted on the front pace of SCNCA.org web site was this:

SCNCA enters into agreement with USAC and USADA. Drug testing is coming to SCNCA races in 2013

Awhile ago, we mentioned that USAC and USADA were developing a program to bring anti-doping testing to local races. The reaction from the local racers was overwhelmingly positive. We are happy to announce that the SCNCA has signed an agreement to join USAC’s “Race Clean” initiative. Using a portion of the SCNCA surcharge that has been collected this year, there will be local testing by USADA this season. They will be at a minimum of two races. USADA determines the races…even the SCNCA will not know when and where they will be testing. USADA will be considering all remaining Road, CX, and Track events for 2013.

Huh? Drug testing in local SoCal races? That’s absurd! No one here dopes, or would dope, or has ever doped, or knows anyone who has ever doped. I once had a second cousin twice removed on my Uncle Clem’s sister’s side (paternal, step-son of the third wife’s adopted niece) who had heard of someone who knew someone who doped, but that was in Tennessee. Doping in SoCal master’s races? You’re kidding me, right?

I’m revolting!

I for one am disgusted that my tax dollars are going to be used to test for drugs instead of being used to purchase more surveillance equipment so that the FBI can zero in on my favorite porn sites. I’m even more disgusted that they aren’t even using my tax dollars, and most disgusted of all that they aren’t using yours.

Drug testing in SoCal is going to ruin our beautiful sport. Without drugs, masters would still be racing like we were in the 80’s and early 90’s. You know, LSD, hairnets, wool jerseys, no bibs, and chamois that bunched up like a crazy home video edition of Sanitary Napkins Gone Wild.

Without drugs, we won’t get to cruise the Interwebs late at night looking for Chinese EPO labs that are cheap, discreet, offer guaranteed delivery without bothersome customs inspections, and whose blood doping products aren’t cut with lead or arsenic.

Without drugs, we won’t get to go to our doctor and get various steroidal ‘scrips for our “asthma,” for our “saddle sores,” and for our, uh, “autoimmune disease.” But most of all, without drugs we won’t get to be pro. What’s the use of having a 12k rig and a trick team kit and a wrapped team car and masseuse tables and adhesive race numbers if you can’t also be on the juice?

I suppose I will get my head around this eventually. But you want to know what’s really gonna suck? Not being able to blame my own shitty results on other people!

“I woulda had that sprunt but ol’ Grizzles is on the juice.” Gone!

“How can you expect me to hold ol’ Clogstacle’s wheel on the climb? Fuggin’ doper.” Gone!

“I was shelled out of the break, yeah, what do you expect? Everyone else was snortin’ EPO.” Gone!

Oh, well. Back to the drawing board. And I’m not even an artist.

Armstrong wins ATX flat stage; overall still in doubt

October 19, 2012 § 17 Comments

7-time Tour strippee Lance Armstrong stormed across the finish line in Austin, Texas tonight, showing flashes of the combativeness that made him the most feared competitor of his era, but doing little to dent the commanding lead taken in the previous mountain stage by USADA.

“The team was there for me when it mattered,” said an obviously knackered Armstrong. “And now…let’s have a helluva good time tonight!”

Surrounded by his teammates, most of whom have been at his side for each of his previously stripped Tour non-victories, the mood was defiant, even though the win in Austin took back only fifteen seconds from USADA’s overall advantage of more than ten minutes.

Teammate Gerry Goldstein, a criminal defense lawyer who has had his hands full of late, gave a blunt response to reporters after the stage who questioned how Goldstein could support someone whose charity was built on the back of history’s greatest sporting fraud. “I’m a big fan of what he has done. Overcoming cancer and doing what he did, who gives a fuck about anything else? That’s so much more important as a role model and a human being. Quit whining about it. This is the 21st Century. The ends justify the means.”

Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who donated a pair of cleats to the silent auction, said he wants to continue supporting Livestrong. “Obviously, some things have a left a little scar, but people think it’s still important to come out and support Livestrong,” Guthrie said. “Charles Manson left scars too, but you know what? He’s helped a lot of people through his Minister for Life Prison Ministry.”

Experts question whether there are enough stages left for an Armstrong comeback

“They’ve only got two big mountain stages left,” said veteran race strategist Betsy Andreu. “The UCI stage into Aigle, and the Livestrong stage. He’s got strong teammates for the Aigle stage in McQuaid and Vergruggen, but USADA’s beefed up its mountain team this year with that 1,000-page dossier, eyewitness testimony, and the three new riders from Lausanne, Padua, and Montreal.” [Ed. note: Andreu was referring to the three new team USADA signings of Jean-Paul Cas, Benedetto Roberti, and Emilio Wada.]

USADA refused to say the race was over, pointing to Armstrong’s history as a 7-time strippee. “He’s the favorite. We’ve done our best. The hay’s in the barn, as G$ would say. All we can do from here is race smart and hope our team does what it’s been hired to do.”

Armstrong saw it differently. “It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for me and my family, my friends and this foundation.”

When asked if this is the toughest race he’s ever ridden, Armstrong smiled wryly. “I’ve been better, but I’ve also been worse. ‘Unaffected’ was probably not the best choice of words,” he added, referring to a tweet immediately after USADA attacked on the lower slopes of the Col d’Lifetimeban, which put the cycling star into difficulty without obvious recourse to his stalwart suitcase, which former teammates now claim contained something stronger than courage.

Livestrong stage could be pivotal

If Armstrong manages to regain time in Monday’s stage into Aigle, commentators believe that the race will boil down to the final mountaintop finish on Plateau d’ViveForte. “Even if he takes back five, six minutes, it will still be extremely difficult on the final stage,” says crisis management expert Bud Packington.

Adds Packington: “His key climbing allies have either crashed out or have gone home in the broom wagon for finishing outside the time limit. Nike, Trek, SRAM, Anheuser-Busch, all gone, and Oakley getting shelled with every acceleration. Who’s he got left? Robin Williams?”

Smedley Turkins, brand manager for Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, and Charlie Hustle, concurred. “Read his statement when he stepped down as chairman of Livestrong: ‘To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship.’

“What the fuck does that mean? It’s an admission that the controversy has affected Livestrong. Fine. What negative effects, and spare the foundation from what? The impact hasn’t been financial; donations have actually increased since he walked away from arbitration. It hasn’t been legal; no one’s suing Livestrong for fraud. Yet. What’s left? It’s the negative effect on the board from all the people who support and fund the organization who are saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute. We will not have the organization we cherish headed by a cheat.’ For now it’s a shrill voice, it’s a minority, and it’s only within the organization. But if he gets creamed at the stage going into Aigle, if McQuaid and Verbruggen crumple and fold, then that internal dissension will increase. He’ll risk going from chairman to board member to out the door. This was a prophylactic feint, and it’s a hint of things to come.”

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

“Don’t you believe it,” laughed George Hincapie when asked about Armstrong’s prospects for the remainder of the Tour. “He’s toughest when cornered. He’s got options galore.”

When pressed, Hincapie said this: “He’s going to confess. It won’t be a full confession, and it will be carefully worded by the leadout train. Herman will string it out in the last 3k, Fabiani will get him to the last kilometer, and Garvey or Ullman will deliver him to the final 200 meters. It will be a polished, nuanced admission that doesn’t even admit to much. You’ll see.”

Others were less sanguine. Joe Papp, CEO of Felons for Clean Sport, was tersely dismissive. “Never happen.”

Tardstick Ludington, loathesome Internet troll, was even more direct. “Wankmeister is a sociopath bully who lives in his parents’ basement,” he said in between electroshock treatments.

Before getting on the team bus, which was being pelted by angry Canadians who’d paid $35,000 apiece to be dropped and insulted by Armstrong on his annual “Jocksniffer Special” to Lake Louise, he evaluated his prospects thus: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Then he climbed aboard the bus, with not so much as a smidgeon of egg on his face.

Wankmeister cycling clinic #12: Wazzup with Lance?

August 25, 2012 § 19 Comments

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m not a cycling fan because it’s so boring. Riding bicycles? For a living? But I read that Lance Armstrong got busted for doping even though he passed 500 piss and blood tests and is the most tested athalete in the history of sport. WTF?

Curiosity-like,
Rover

Dear Rover:

He is the victim of a witch hunt. This where people hunt for witches, which don’t exist in the real world. So they find an ugly old lady with a droopy bosom and scraggly hair, call her a witch, and then put her on a giant wooden scales with a duck to see if she floats like a piece of wood in water or sinks. Then they burn her. Have you ever seen shirtless Lance Armstrong? Major droopy bosom. No scraggly hair, but a pretty scraggly face. Ergo witch. Now they’re going to burn her. Him. It.

Salem (means “peace” in Hebrew)
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’m a Harvard-educated attorney who specializes in personal jurisdiction. It’s absurd for USADA to claim that they had jurisdiction over this matter. Pennoyer v. Neff.

Case restingly,
Natty Turnbull

Dear Natty:

The legal issues in this case are exceedingly complex. Please see the handy-dandy chart I’ve devised to help you crack the “code.”

Legal Issue Legal Precedent Legal Outcome
Who has the most $? USADA USADA wins
Who has jurisdiction? The richer party USADA wins
Is USADA a govt. agency? They act like one USADA wins
What is the statute of limitations for doping? Fucking forever USADA wins
Is Lance a douchebag? Last 20 yrs. of his behavior Yes
Where is Johan Bruyneel? Never missed a big race Living in a cave
Who gets Lance’s jerseys? Bjarne Riis: Kept ’em The only clean team in sports: US Kegel Team
What happens to Vaughters et al.? [Keep a straight face here] Nothing
What’s the evidence that he doped? [Quit screeching with laughter] Come on. Really, now.

First Year Lawyerly,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

I’ve been a Livestrong fan since its inception. Now my son Billy is asking me shit like, “Daddy, is Mr. Lance a cheater?” and “Daddy, are you going to quit wearing those cheater bracelets?” and “Daddy, what are you going to do about that big tattoo?”

Chagrinedly,
Roll J. Model

PS: Do you know anyone who would like a couple of crates of really cool yellow bracelets, extra cheap?

Dear Roll:

If you cave on this, your relationship with young Billy is toast. Forever. The best defense is an overwhelming offense. See if you can get him to crack with one of these opening gambits–

  1. “Son, if you believe he’s a cheater, then you’re calling me a liar for calling Mr. Lance a great champion. Five is kind of young to be living on the streets, isn’t it?”
  2. “Son, if it’s written in the media it’s a lie. The media are liars, every single one of them, except the ones who refuse to be suckered in by the lies of the media. So who are you with? The liars or your Dad and Mr. Lance? Choose wisely. It’s cold in the winter when you’re living on the streets.”
  3. “Son, it really hurts to have you say this about me and Mr. Lance. But it’s going to hurt you more when I get through beating your ass with this belt.”

With discipline,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

Justice has been done. A terrible cheater and fraud on humanity has been brought to account for his misdeeds. This is the happiest day of my life.

Thankfully,
Tubby Benders (Former hall monitor)

Dear Tubby:

I’m very happy for you. Now please go to Costco. I hear they’re having a 2-for-1 “Get a Life” sale this week. You can borrow my membership card.

Contemptuously,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

LA did a lot of good by curing cancer. Shouldn’t that count for something?

Perplexedly,
Freddy Samaritan

Dear Freddy:

Let’s imagine you raped the shit out of a bunch of kids. Then, while you were raping the shit out of them and fucking them up for life, you formed a charity through your famous football job to help displaced children, which also helped you find more kids to rape. After factoring in the good you’d done for those kids you actually helped, do you know what you’d be? A child rapist and a convicted felon. Get it?

Ethically unchallenged,
Wankmeister

Dear Wankmeister:

When can we get back to cycling?

Bored to death with this shit,
Average Joe Cyclist

Dear Average Joe:

Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, Riviera Village, Redondo Beach, California. Life begins again.

Damn straight,
Wankmeister

That funny taste in my mouth

August 23, 2012 § 19 Comments

In the same week that Lance Armstrong’s challenge to USADA got tossed out of court, Bicycling Magazine released an in-depth interview with Jonathan Vaughters about his doping past. The irony was exquisite.

On the one hand, Armstrong is in the final throes of being ground down by a long, tortuous process that punishes drug cheats. On the other, Vaughters has escaped all punishment, been rewarded as a hero and spokesman for clean cycling, and continues to make a comfortable living at the pinnacle of the sport whose rules he once abused with abandon.

Is it justice? Or is it Memorex?

To be sure, Armstrong still has a few cards left to play, but they’re certainly not face cards from a strong suit. At this point, however, it’s hard to imagine his athletic career and sporting legacy ever reviving. You just don’t come back from a lifetime ban unless you’re a zombie.

There is, in the anti-Armstrong camp, a sense of jubilation, or grim satisfaction, or plain relief that the doors of the doping jail are closing shut. What there isn’t, and what there shouldn’t be, is a sense of justice having been done.

Vaughters proves it.

Unlike Hamilton, or Landis, or Basso, or Ullrich, or Pantani, or Virenque, or Millar, or any of the numerous riders sanctioned for cheating, Vaughters walked. The same system that has zeroed in on Armstrong and made sure that he gets punished for cheating has turned a blind eye to Vaughters. It has done more than turn a blind eye: It has anointed him.

How can this possibly be fair, even in the weird world of pro cycling? The sops at Bicycling can barely even raise the question, let alone pursue it with the rigor of a journalist.

Lips moving? He’s lying.

In the interview, Vaughters contradicts himself with previous statements so quickly that it’s as if he doesn’t believe in the Internet. Here’s Vaughters, a scant ten days ago in the NYT:

If the message I was given had been different, but more important, if the reality of sport then had been different, perhaps I could have lived my dream without killing my soul. Without cheating.

Here he is today:

Obviously, I’m not a victim. The decision (to dope) was mine and mine alone.

Which of these two versions would he like to have for dinner? They’re mutually exclusive. If a rotten system forced him to choose between cheating and quitting, he was a victim. If, on the other hand, the decision to dope was his and his alone, he’s not a victim, but rather a douchey cheat. Sound confusing? It is, even to Vaughters. That’s what happens when you’re a habitual liar: You can’t keep your bullshit straight even in the same article.

Immediately after telling us that the decision to dope was his and his alone, he describes the process through which his team director, a devout and principled man, told him that henceforth he would be put on EPO. Vaughters:

I quickly figured out he was talking about EPO. As much as I should’ve said no, and as much as I was intelligent and should have said, ‘Wait, this is bullshit,’ in my mind he’d just spelled out that I wasn’t going to dope; we’d just make my hematocrit what it would have been had I not been riding my bike so damn much.

In this scenario, Vaughters was either forced into it by his team boss, ergo victim, or he knew what he was doing and did it anyway, ergo douchey cheat.

Let the ends justify the means

Vaughters flips back and forth between “I’m not a victim” and “The system made me do it” over and over, and he does so with good reason. Not only is the interviewer, Joe Lindsey, a patsy, but these mutually exclusive explanations are the only way out of the dense forest of logic and morality that has him hemmed in on all sides.

To be a victim is untenable because no one would believe him. To have done everything of his own free will strips him of the moral high ground he’s so desperately seeking to gain in the eyes of the cycling public.

Vaughters plays his readers for fools, and his interviewer for a buffoon, by talking about what a difference doping can make. Here, in the NYT:

How much does that last 2 percent really matter? In elite athletics, 2 percent of time or power or strength is an eternity.

Then, a few days later, he patronizingly lectures his audience that the true evil of blood vector doping is that it gives certain users massive advantages that are far more than marginal:

“He [Vaughters] goes on to explain that the largest gains in oxygen transport occur in the lower hematocrit ranges—a 50 percent increase in RBC count is not a linear 50 percent increase in oxygen transport capability. The rider with the lower hematocrit is actually extremely efficient at scavenging oxygen from what little hemoglobin that he has, comparatively. So when you boost his red-cell count, he goes a lot faster.”

Vaughters’s point for Bicycling is not that dopers dope for an extra two percent, but that they do it for potentially massive gains depending on their physiology. Which is it? Two percent? Or the logarithmic increase depending on your body’s natural capacity for scouring oxygen?

Does it even matter?

Not really

In the context of pushing for cleaner pro competitions, we can and should excuse this mumbo-jumbo that’s easier for Vaughters to say than, “I’m a lying douchey cheat, thanks for all the money.” But in the context of fairness, he shouldn’t get off so easily.

Or, since he has, maybe we should take a minute and deflate for a minute now that Judge Sparks has sent the Armstrong legal team packing. If Lance gets hung out to dry, and Vaughters is deified as the admitted madman running the asylum, was justice done?

Are we good with calling one douchey cheat a douchey cheat, and calling another douchey cheat a role model and hero?

Doesn’t that stick in your throat?

Just a little?

Sure does in mine.

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