I was all set to post a tiny link to a recent interview on pezcyclingnews with former US pro, Mike McCarthy. McCarthy was an interesting track-to-road “cross-over” (a designation he rightly rejects in the interview, by the way) in the mid-80s to early-90s, often gracing the pages of Winning magazine. And, the track-to-road path is going to be discussed quite a bit this next month, with Brad Wiggins now a bona fide Tour threat. My little tidbit of note was that, like a number of former American pros and cycling big-wigs from that era and just beyond (e.g. Jim Ochowicz, Darren Baker, ??), McCarthy apparently ended up with a job in finance through, you guessed it, Thom Weisel. I know the whole omerta/mob thing with cycling, doping and US Cycling gets tiring…but, shit, if it isn’t true that Weisel’s money and power weren’t/aren’t the tentacles running through the sport for the last 25-30 years!
However, what comes along but the US Anti-Doping Agency’s much anticipated case against Armstrong and, as it turns out, Bruyneel, Ferrari and a number of other doctors and trainers (first came out in Washington Post, so here’s the original).
The usual “let it alone/it serves no purpose/why just Lance?” talk is of course bubbling up (articulated, for instance, and in typically overblown and just-a-little-too-wordy fashion, at Red Kite Prayer). But, I’m having none of it. Sure it drags on; that’s Armstrong’s fault, largely. Everyone else confessed and ate their big bowl of shit, it’s Armstrong who keeps pushing it back away from his place setting.
The thing I get most irritated by – and this brings us back my whole “Armstrong is a sociopath” meme (ok, it was like two blog posts) – is the endless sanctimonious duplicity from him. It was only a month or two ago that we got (in the aftermath of the federal inquiry being mysteriously dropped) the “I’m not fighting it any more” line – classic “I’m bigger than this and walking away” talk from Armstrong. But, of course, Armstrong had an immediate and aggressive response to yesterday’s announcement. We will see, though, if this is actually followed up with any true resistance to the USADA proceedings and hearings.
The most interesting bit from the USADA material is that they directly allege blood manipulation from his comeback period as well. You know, the comeback that was intended to “prove to his children” (a rough quote, but that was basically what he said) that he was a clean winner, dispel all the doubts, etc., etc. The irony – and the indicator for a sociopathic disregard for risk and the reality of how others might actually perceive you – is that the comeback was what actually set the Landis confession in motion and kept the inquiry relevant and alive. On top of that, and despite the massive attention devoted to the comeback, Armstrong still had the confidence to think he could play the “preparation” game and it would never get out. With everyone else having confessed, and now Bruyneel pulled in on this inquiry (and the speculation about him stepping out of Radio Shack/Trek/Whatever It’s Called already beginning), I’m not sure what options Armstrong has left. I figured that last interview, with the “no more fighting” talk, indicated a strategic non-resistance strategy, leaving Armstrong open to the option of saying “I’ve got this black mark from USADA…but I didn’t even contest that, so it’s a technical rather than substantive smudge on the record”. So, we’ll see what the real strategy is, rather than just the rhetoric, as the process drags on.