FanDuel - WFBC

July 23, 2004

Armstrong punishes a personal enemy: Lance Armstrong wouldn't let Filippo Simeoni, almost 3 hours behind him in the general classification, join a breakaway. Simeoni is a key witness in the pending trial of Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, with whom Armstrong has worked in the past. He also has announced his intention to sue the American over a July 2003 article in the French newspaper Le Monde, in which the five-time Tour winner was quoted as saying that Simeoni had "lied." Is it good behavior for a champion to air personal conflicts during competition?

posted by dusted to other at 03:09 PM - 66 comments

First Armstrong chased Simeoni down, yelling at him to give up, then he attacked the breakaway when Simeoni continued trying. After telling the riders in the breakaway that they would have no chance of succeeding if Simeoni stayed with them, the other riders asked Simeoni to leave. Here are some nice shots of the conversation on the way back to the peloton.

posted by dusted at 03:19 PM on July 23

awesome post!

posted by garfield at 03:27 PM on July 23

Oh yeah, after Simeoni and Armstrong went back to the peloton, the breakaway did succeed, finishing almost 12 minutes ahead. Thanks garfield! Those photos are great, aren't they?

posted by dusted at 03:35 PM on July 23

Who cares if it's good behavior? It's great drama. As a cycling know-nothing, I had no idea the Tour de France was wrestling on wheels.

posted by rcade at 03:56 PM on July 23

As some of the articles have mentioned, Lance has become the patron of the peloton. Speaking of photos - aside from Graham Watson's extraordinary photographs, I've been impressed with those of Caroline Yang as well as Roberto Bettini. Good stuff.

posted by JohnSFO at 04:18 PM on July 23

I don't get it. If Lance was able to catch the breakaway riders, stay with them, even beat them, why didn't he? Wouldn't winning today's stage add to his nearly insurmountable anyway lead? More basic, isn't he supposed to ride his best every day, like any other athlete is supposed to do his or her own best in every competition?

posted by billsaysthis at 04:55 PM on July 23

The Tour is long and hard. Riders aren't expected to try to win every stage: they marshal their energy and ride strategically.

posted by lbergstr at 05:12 PM on July 23

Still, how the hell can Lance justify this? How did pulling this one guy back benefit the peleton?

posted by lbergstr at 05:24 PM on July 23

This followup article on Velonews makes the incident look even uglier. billysaysthis: Barring a disaster, Lance has already won. If it was the first week of the Tour, yes, he should go all out for victory. But he's no longer competing against anyone except maybe three or four riders. For him to join a group of riders so far down in the general classification would be considered selfish and silly. Although if you ask me, what he did today looks pretty selfish and silly.

posted by dusted at 05:26 PM on July 23

Some of the quotes from Lance's interview after the race disturb me: "Everybody understood that this is their job and they absolutely love it and they're committed to it and they don't want somebody within their sport destroying it," he said. "He's not a rider who thinks about other riders and the group in general. So ... when I came back I had a lot of riders patting me on the back and saying 'Thank you.'" I'm not sure what he's talking about, but I certainly hope he's not referring to Simeoni coming forward about doping.

posted by dusted at 05:34 PM on July 23

The Tour is long and hard. Riders aren't expected to try to win every stage: they marshal their energy and ride strategically. With only two stages left I don't see how this comes into play, he clearly had the energy and ability. And isn't Sunday's kind of a formality? Further, dusty, if you are a competitor at TdF level, don't you want the others to perform at their best so you really see how good you are?

posted by billsaysthis at 06:14 PM on July 23

I think it's as dusted says: For him to join a group of riders so far down in the general classification would be considered selfish and silly there's a lot of unwritten rules in pro cycling and that is one of them. just like riders do not attack when a contender has crashed or has mechanical incident.

posted by JohnSFO at 06:23 PM on July 23

dusted, I think Lance was talking about causing scandal where he feels/believes/is clinging to the party line that there was no real wrongdoing. It may look spiteful as all hell (okay, it probably is spiteful as all hell), but this doctor has treated a lot of the riders in the tour. His conviction would paint a very wide swath of suspicion across virtually all the riders at the top of the sport. It's possible he had never tried doping up Armstrong, or even almost anyone. ("Innocent until proven guilty." Just keep repeating it to yourself until you believe it.) But from Lance's perspective, Simeoni's testimony (whatever it may be) is only going to hurt the sport. That's why Lance chased him down (aside from the apparent visceral hatred between the two of them that's there anyway), and why he got the support he did get when they returned to the peloton. I don't know all the details about the trial, but... maybe there's a vendetta between Simeoni and Dr. Ferrari that we don't know about. Perhaps this other history Armstrong spoke of would provide a motive other than the standard "exposing the sordid truth" into the mix. It looks bad, but I have no doubt that we'll hear more about this in the coming weeks and months.

posted by chicobangs at 08:08 PM on July 23

With only two stages left I don't see how this comes into play, he clearly had the energy and ability. And isn't Sunday's kind of a formality? Further, dusty, if you are a competitor at TdF level, don't you want the others to perform at their best so you really see how good you are? The point is, with Armstrong in the breakaway, more teams in the peloton work harder to reel him back in, and the breakaway probably fails. Why shouldn't the peloton do its best to reel them back in regardless? Because cycling's a team sport, and many of the teams had members among the riders in the breakaway. So they're not going to pursue, as it hurts their team's chances of a stage win. (But with someone competing for one of the top positions overall in the Tour in the breakaway, there's more at stake than just a stage win, and all the other teams competing for a top spot will want to catch him.) The other teams in the peloton without anyone in the breakaway should pursue, yes, of course -- if they think they have to to bring the breakaway back and if they think they can overtake them, but those are two big Ifs, and are a big part of what makes a race like the Tour de France what it is. Of course, it's even more complex than this still, but that's the gist.

posted by mattpfeff at 08:45 PM on July 23

Lance has a reputation as something of a grudge-holder. Something that might cause someone else to simply say, "Forget him," leaves Lance (again, by reputation) with a lot more animosity. That's apparently a facet of his personality not specific to any issue, doping or otherwise. As for the doping thing, there have been an awful lot of accusations leveled at Lance, but I can't remember any evidence that's ever been produced, even circumstantial. He could be juiced, but the guy has been and is so intensely scrutinized, and anyone who didn't just fall off the cabbage truck knows that the "undetectable" drugs don't seem to remain that way. Whatever else you want to say about Lance, I don't think you can call him an idjit.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:05 PM on July 23

I don't think you win five-going-on-six Tour de France races in a row without being a psychotically competitive and driven son of a bitch. Armstrong's mean streak, which he's unleashed on a target who sounds pretty deserving to my novice eye, probably explains why he's on the verge of accomplishing such an improbable goal.

posted by rcade at 12:05 AM on July 24

This seems to be a case of "the man doth protest too much." He's all freaked out by the drugs scandal because he's probably on drugs. Likely all the top riders are. Why can't people accept that? So Lance is all riled up because of this drug investigation so he gets all pissy and decides that winning the Tour isn't enough -- no, he also has to ruin someone else's race for no good reason.

posted by molafson at 01:04 AM on July 24

As for the doping thing, there have been an awful lot of accusations leveled at Lance, but I can't remember any evidence that's ever been produced, even circumstantial. It's all circumstantial, but there is some evidence out there- or at least Outside The Lines told me so. ie, he made some chick who worked for him take syringes he used to some other country to dispose of them. Another is recently a top-tier racer came forth earlier this year and said he'de been doping for a number of years, but never got caught (just says that the testing for doping is far from fool-proof). There was other circumstantial evidence but I forget it right now.

posted by jmd82 at 03:13 AM on July 24

It's all circumstantial, but there is some evidence out there- or at least Outside The Lines told me so. ie, he made some chick who worked for him take syringes he used to some other country to dispose of them. I believe that, strictly speaking, that is not circumstantial evidence, but an allegation that circumstantial evidence exists. The syringes, if produced, would be circumstantial evidence.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:13 AM on July 24

I'm sorry, but this strikes me as the actions of a self-important, vindictive bully who is trying to protect himself and his doping chums in the peloton by making a scapegoat of someone who dares to threaten their little drugs party. Maybe he'd be better off taking a look in the mirror and wonder how he can come over so high and mighty when he's clearly a cheat, who is supported by cheats who want to hide the prevalence of doping in the sport. Or maybe better still he'd could try and use his considerable influence within the sport to try to rid it of the culture of doping rather than protecting it.

posted by squealy at 07:39 AM on July 24

Look, squealy, I don't see how "he's clearly a cheat." Give me physical evidence, and then I'll believe your opinion. Lance withstood 5 years of the most rigorous drug testing without any failures; the burden of proof is always on those who say that something is the case. There has been no physical proof. On the "self-important, vindictive bully" part of your post, maybe so. But Michael Jordan did the exact same thing to anyone he perceived to slight him. Examples: destroying Gary Payton early in his career after some comments GP made, something like 3 steals and 15 points in 3 minutes; busting Bob Sura's nose with his elbow when Sura defended him too close in '96; the list goes on and on, and these are the minor examples. The point is, MJ was not doping, he was just competive as hell. Being competitive as hell does not mean you're trying to hide something, as you try to insinuate in your post. And billsaysthis, you cannot try to beat the pack all the time alone in cycling - it's just not possible. That's why it's a team sport. Science has measured that you have to work 300% harder without anyone breaking the wind in front of you. No one, not even Lance, can be that good all the time. If Lance tried to do something like that with the overall race already sewn up for him, the pack would try to kick his ass and would probably succeed; he'd probably lose time by overexerting himself, so it just wouldn't be worth it. Lance, like all great athletes, picks his spots, and when he does, no one can match him.

posted by platocave at 09:31 AM on July 24

To expand on platocave's comment - there is a time trial today that Lance is favored to win. However, riding with the breakaway would have expended a lot of energy with an unlikely chance of winning - he's not much of a pack sprinter and would probably get beat at the finish. So, Lance saves himself for today's stage instead of working hard without much chance yesterday and leaving himself more worn out for today.

posted by kokaku at 10:10 AM on July 24

OK then, IMHO he's a drug-taking cheat. Just like virtually every other top cyclist. Which says more about the corruption fo the cycling authorities and their unwillingness to get a grip on doping than it does about the cyclists themselves. You know earlier in the Tour I was making the same point in support of Armstrong - if everyone's doping he has to do it in order to compete. It's one thing to do that though and another to make a scapegoat of someone merely for daring to speak out against it. Those are merely the actions of a vindictive bully, and what's more a bully who cares more about settling personal scores than he does about saving energy for today's time trial (even though he's still winning it as I write). Thanks dusted for bringing this incident to my attention, as I was all in favour of Armstrong winning the Tour beforehand, but this kind of behaviour just leaves a sick taste.

posted by squealy at 10:44 AM on July 24

David Millar has never, ever tested positive for any drug, but has missed the tour because he admitted taking them, so to say that someone has never failed a drug test, therefore he must not be taking drugs is a bit, well, trusting, it seems to me.

posted by Fat Buddha at 02:38 PM on July 24

Here's the deal...they are ALL doping. At least anyone in the top tier of the Tour. It's just like track and field. Given that, you can either view it as a level playing field and enjoy it for what it is or just dismiss the whole sport as a bunch of dopers. Either way singling out one of the top riders is silly. That's why they are all pissed at Simeoni, because they all do it.

posted by pivo at 02:50 PM on July 24

Fat Buddha, take a good hard look at my post. I never said that because Lance has never failed a drug test that he must not be taking drugs. I don't know. But squealy doesn't know either when he says so confidently that Armstrong is a "drug-taking cheat." A basic rule of logic is that the burden of proof is always on those who say something is the case because you can't prove a negative. If you say that gremlins exist, I can't prove to you that they don't because I necessarily have no evidence that they don't - therefore, you have to give me physical evidence to prove that they do exist before I change my stance. I'm not "trusting"; I'm just skeptical about people's half-assed blind-faith assertions that "they are ALL doping." I find it just as hard believing that everybody's all-bad as I do with everybody being all-good.

posted by platocave at 04:29 PM on July 24

That'd be why I changed it to IMHO. Lets get this straight. I don't object to him doping as long as they're all at it, but I do object to him victimising Simeoni for drawing attention to it.

posted by squealy at 05:39 PM on July 24

If it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, there is fair chance that it is a duck.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:47 PM on July 24

It sure would be nice if some of you oh-so-certain people would occasionally express a little doubt about Armstrong's guilt, considering that there is not a a scintilla of evidence that one of the greatest athletes of our times is a doping cheat.

posted by rcade at 06:04 PM on July 24

I'd add to what rcade said: from what I understand, Armstrong comes under more scrutiny than anyone else on the Tour, and has for years. So if he's been doping, why hasn't he been caught? What's the explanation for that? I can think of several possibilities, as follows:

  • Somebody on the take. Possible, but this has a lot of holes in it. It'd have to be a lot of somebodies, wouldn't it -- and they'd all have to dummy up good, and what's the likelihood of that? In a conspiracy of more than one, somebody is going to talk.
  • Armstrong is somehow so much more incredibly clever than everyone else at evading detection, even at a higher level of scrutiny. How likely is this? Whatever he's allegedly on, he's not cooking it up by himself in his hotel room. He'd be getting it from somewhere, and then we're back to the whole conspiracy-of-n-plus-one thing.
  • Incredibly lame enforcement that couldn't catch anyone, no matter what. The flaw with this is that they have caught people.
I don't have a strong opinion on whether Armstrong is doping or not doping, but I don't agree with the "he's gotta be doping" school of thought. Some folks have been saying that for years, and yet this gotta-be-doper has never been caught, and -- for the reasons outlined above -- I find the whole gotta-be reasoning a little thin.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:59 PM on July 24

Well, if he isn't doping one would have thought that he would be against dopers, who one would assume he would see as people trying to take him on using unfair means. So he should be applauding Simeone; he should be assisting him. But the reverse is true, he hates him and one has to wonder why. All Simeone appears to be doing is singing like a sparrow apropos drug use, why would riders who don't take drugs detest him so much, why would they want to protect cheats? I ask again, if the tests are so good how come Millar, a self confessed drug user, was never caught? It would appear that one does not have to be a genius to evade detection in cycling. Whatever, Armstrong's behaviour towards Simeone has certainly sullied this victory for me.

posted by Fat Buddha at 04:47 AM on July 25

Well, if he isn't doping one would have thought that he would be against dopers, who one would assume he would see as people trying to take him on using unfair means. So he should be applauding Simeone; he should be assisting him. But the reverse is true, he hates him and one has to wonder why. All Simeone appears to be doing is singing like a sparrow apropos drug use, why would riders who don't take drugs detest him so much, why would they want to protect cheats? Yeah, and if you're not a terrorist, why would you object to any of the provisions of the USA Patriot Act? If you're not a drug dealer, why would you object to having your car searched by the cops? Why would you object to being scrutinized if you've got nothing to hide? Why would you object to being accused if you know you're innocent and will eventually be vindicated (even though, gosh, you can't prove a negative)? I don't know why Armstrong finds Simeoni objectionable. You don't either. You're speculating that it's because of a guilty conscience. Perhaps so, but while that's an explanation that can be hammered into place to fit the available facts, I'm unconvinced that it's the explanation. As I stated in an earlier comment, Armstrong is known for holding a grudge, and Simeoni has accused him of cheating. Being on the receiving end of a false accusation would certainly put someone like Armstrong into a state of advanced and prolonged pissoff, and I'd fully expect to see that play out in the race. I'm not saying that that's what's behind it all; it's just another possible explanation.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:14 AM on July 25

Buddha: The doping accusations hurt the whole sport. I can understand why even the most clean rider would be against one of their own making the claims in public. In baseball, how many active pros have ever made accusations about steroid abuse against other players? All I can recall are former pros like Andy Van Slyke.

posted by rcade at 07:52 AM on July 25

I say, lil-brown_bat, talk about an escalation in hyperbole, most impressive, if pointless stuff. Simeone is talking about what he knows regarding a particular doctor. He isn't placing the whole sport under scrutiny, Armstrong has done that, by his actions. Are you suggesting that Simeone should say nothing, in case someone gets upset? It is as plain as the nose on your face that the sport is rife with drugs; the only moot point is the extent of it. The sport is already hurt, with or without Simeone. The hearts of too many apparently fit young men have prematurely stopped beating for there to be any other conclusion. I don't see how Simeone stating what he knows hurts the sport, it only hurts the individuals involved.

posted by Fat Buddha at 09:01 AM on July 25

Fat Buddha, you're one to talk about "escalation in hyperbole." I've said that I don't know whether Lance is doping or not; lil_brown_bat said that he didn't know either. You're the one talking about "plain as the nose on [my] face" and "If it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, there is fair chance that it is a duck": statements that show your lack of reasoning and serious discernment on the matter. It is not plain because there is no evidence. You're spouting generalities and promoting stereotypes without any rigorous logic behind your thought. Of course, there is no guarantee that logic is the most important thing in being right - I still may be wrong, I'll admit - but burden of proof is something that you can't cast off so blithely. Here are the facts: The sport is rife with drugs - true. Simeone sues Armstrong - true. Armstrong is an arrogant, competitive sob - true. Armstrong decides to take out Simeone personally on Friday - true. Armstrong is definitely a doper - ? The logic just isn't there. But ultimately, what is more important than logic is evidence, and you have none of that either. Case closed for now.

posted by platocave at 09:22 AM on July 25

Basically, I don't see how anyone can be so goddamn certain either way, and until something real comes up, I will not treat Lance as guilty. Evidently you can.

posted by platocave at 09:30 AM on July 25

Given the increasingly pathetic denials of a whole sorry crew of American and international athletes -- Hello, Marion Jones -- that their success has not come from the bottom of a pill bottle, I think it's natural to suspect that Armstrong's monumental TdF record is the result of doping. Natural, but wrong. I'm a cyclist, have been for close on two decades. Greg LeMond was one of my boyhood heroes. From my knowledge of cycling and Armstrong, there are some things to remember:

  • Lance has the best coach in cycling who has crafted a revolutionary way to train. Before, the philopsophy of training was simply: Eat lots of pasta and pedal as hard as you can as long as you can. Chris Carmichael's system delivers much higher results by focussing on cadence speed -- basically, how fast you can turn the cranks -- and aerobic capacity, Carmichael built Lance's post-cancer success.
  • Lance has the best team; maybe the best team ever. Day after day in this tour, the team sat in front of Lance, set a punishing pace, and the other teams and their leaders simply imploded. One of the many incredible facts of this tour is that Lance won -- and won five stages -- without ever attacking once. Lance has Olympic medallists as his domestiques; he has guys like Acevedo, Landis and Hincapie who would be team leaders on other teams.
  • Lance is, by every account, a complete genetic/physiological freak. His resting heartrate is 32, he has a heart 33% larger than the average, a VO2 max of 85, twice an average athlete (VO2 max measures how much oxygen can be delivered to the body.) In "The Lance Chronicles," a doc about his prep for this year's Tour, Lance comes back from a training ride and Carmichael gives him a jab with what looks like a blood-sugar monitor. It measures lactic acid in the blood -- the substance produced by anaerobic activity; it's the thing that makes your muscles burn and stop working -- and the monitor reads '4'; Lance says to the camera he's never seen it go above 6. Most people produce about 12 during exercise.
  • In other words, Lance has the best training, the best physical assets, the best team, the best gear, a legendary mental strength and committment -- knowing this, the question becomes not "Is he doping?" but "Why would he ever dope?" And remember that all of the people questioning him have strong ulterior motives. Journalists want to tear him down to make their names. His former masseuse is, by all accounts, bitter about being replaced on the US Postal team. LeMond -- who said Lance is a doper during the Tour this year -- has been eclipsed by Lance as the greatest American cyclist of all time, and still holds a huge grudge against Bernard Hinault, another five-team tour winner, who is a close friend of Lance's. And, of course, Lance has passed every drug test ever administered to him. I would also suggest that larger Franco-American political relations plays a role in the "Lance is a doper" campaign. Know that cycling has a place in French culture not unlike baseball does in the US or hockey in my native Canada. And the tour is not just another bike race, it is a national passion/ symbol/ festival in France. And know that French cycling is in complete breakdown. There has not been a great French champion since Hinault in the 80s. Indeed, a Frenchman has not worn the maillot jaune on the Champs Elysees since 1985 -- almost 20 years. The only time a French cyclist makes the news -- except for the exceptional ride of Voeckler in this year's tour -- is when he's revealed as a doper. And now, an American -- and a Texan at that! -- comes and just schools the peloton for six straight years. Imagine if the situation was reversed. Imagine if a French pitcher became the dominant player in the major leagues, easily striking out every Yank sluggers, winning 30 games in one year, becoming the dominant starter in a World Series winner team. Don't you think the usual suspects on FoxNews and talk radio would accuse him of doing everything up to and including barbecuing dead babies to win? No, I don't know for an absolute certainty that Lance is clean. (As a scientist, I don't know anything for an absolute certainty.) But the preponderance of evidence tells me Lance is not a doper. Sorry for the long post. But I feel very strongly about Lance, not only as someone who loves pedalling two wheels, but also as someone who believes sport should be something that inspires. What we are watching today on the Champs Elysees is maybe the greatest sporting achievement of our lives, up there with DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Mark Spitz's five gold medals or Gretzky's 50 goals in 37 games. Quite simply, there are times when athletes come along who redefine their sport. And their are times when athletes come along who transcend their sport and teach us things about being human. Lance Armstrong is one of those athletes.

    posted by docgonzo at 10:40 AM on July 25

    Two comments from today's column by Ann Killion in the (unlinkable, IMO) SJ Mercury News, agreeing with Doc Gonzo: Unlike the problem-plagued 2003 Tour, this year Armstrong seemed shepherded by good fortune. His rivals never materialized: Tyler Hamilton, Iban Mayo and Roberto Heras all dropped out; Joseba Beloki and Alexandre Vinodourov never even started; Jan Ullrich, who will finish a career-worst fourth, simply couldn't keep up. and Even his rivals concede that he outworks them. He attacks mountains in the sleet while his competitors are hibernating for the winter. His U.S. Postal Service team is so far superior -- it can take credit for much of Armstrong's fat 6:38 lead -- that it makes the competition appear minor league. Finally: HE WON! HE WON! HE WON!

    posted by billsaysthis at 11:03 AM on July 25

    France's reaction to Lance's win.

    posted by platocave at 11:42 AM on July 25

    platocave, my dear old thing, I don't believe I have ever said that Armstrong has taken drugs and I challenge you to prove that I have. You won't be able to, old chap, so your arguments against me would appear to be facile. I have said that the sport is rife with drugs, a stance with which you appear to agree, and I have wondered why anyone should be so full of anger and hatred for a person who is giving evidence against someone else, a question I will continue to ask as it perplexes me. I do not know who is or isn't taking drugs and have never suggested otherwise, but maybe some, maybe many, or maybe all of them are; to believe otherwise would as big a triumph of hope over experience as a second marriage.

    posted by Fat Buddha at 12:55 PM on July 25

    If you got sued, Fat Buddha, you wouldn't get angry? Even if you wouldn't, people are different. Some people accept their diagnosis of cancer and try to live as full a life as possible in the time remaining. Lance has said that he thought of cancer as an enemy, that he was in a huge fight, that he got pissed off at his cancer. You don't think he would get pissed off at Simeone?

    posted by platocave at 01:34 PM on July 25

    Let's get this straight. Armstrong defamed someone in public by calling them a "liar", but is angry that said person is sueing him for defamation? Well duh, Lance.

    posted by squealy at 02:21 PM on July 25

    That ESPN article posted by platocave convinces me that the French will always be far more gracious toward Americans than we Americans will ever be toward the French. Or the rest of the world, for that matter.

    posted by monkeyboy at 02:21 PM on July 25

    Simeone stated that he took drugs (note he never tested positive) in a court of law, under oath; he further stated that Dr Ferrari prescribed those drugs. Armstrong has publicly stated that Simeone is lying, which, obviously, Simeone disputes and which has made him angry. Simeone has since stated that he intends to sue Armstrong for defamation, but has not yet done so. Tell me, what would you do in Simeone's place? A great beast, the most feared man in the peloton, the most famous man in your sport, calls you a liar, what do you do, if you perceive that you told the truth? Simeone hasn't accused Armstrong of taking drugs, he has merely stated that he has taken them himself, and that Ferrari was his doctor at the time. He has done himself no favours by doing this. All he has done in respect of Armstrong has been to announce his intention to respond to an assault upon his character. What is so wrong with that, platocave?

    posted by Fat Buddha at 02:31 PM on July 25

    There is nothing wrong with that, Fat Buddha. You said you were perplexed as to why Lance would be so angry. Well, Simeone was as surprised as anybody that Lance took it personally, but Lance obviously did take the intention to sue personally. All I was saying is that that prickliness seems to be in line with Lance's character; to ask why seems like asking why the earth is round.

    posted by platocave at 04:50 PM on July 25

    I think it's as simple that people believe Lance does drugs for two reasons: 1) by proxy - since most people know dick about cycling and the athleticism/stamina/coordination needed they just repeat what they hear, and juicy news is better than boring old news. 2) He's superhuman. It's easier to believe that a guy can't come back from terminal cancer without massive drug assistance than the alternative, which appears more and more to be the truth; he's fucking superhuman and we're a bunch of cynical bastards.

    posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:00 PM on July 25

    squealy, what if Simeoni is lying?

    posted by platocave at 05:11 PM on July 25

    The same investigation which snagged Simeone also brought forth allegations about Ferrari from Claudio Chiappucci, Gianluca Bortolami and Fabrizio Convalle, so are they lying too? Actually Chiappuci and Bortolami are lying about something because although they coughed to the police they changed their stories in court. Conspiracy theorists might like to note that doping charges were brought against Massimo Guandalini, a pharmacist who supplied many of Ferraris riders. He pleaded guilty and received a 2 year sentence and was banned from working in a pharmacy for 5 years. I suppose Guandalini could have been lying in order to enjoy an extended career break. I can think of easier ways.

    posted by Fat Buddha at 05:33 PM on July 25

    Yeah platocave, and what if Armstrong is doping? The mind boggles, but pointlessly.

    posted by squealy at 05:48 PM on July 25

    It's easier to believe that a guy can't come back from terminal cancer without massive drug assistance than the alternative, In fact, he did have massive drug assistance. They call it chemo. It doesn't exactly enhance performance, though, except insofar as you consider keeping someone alive to be enhancing performance. which appears more and more to be the truth; he's fucking superhuman and we're a bunch of cynical bastards. Well, as has been said before in this thread, you can't ever prove a negative, and you can't ever prove that he doesn't take or hasn't taken performance enhancing drugs. But, in the absence of any actual evidence that he has, I sorta hope that people lighten up with the "he's gotta be, no way it's possible without 'em, blah blah blah". He's alive today, and to many people (myself included) that makes him a hero and one in a million -- even if he never got on a bike again. And, oh yeah -- on the subject of his character, he is by all accounts an aggressive, competitive, arrogant SOB. But he's also doing some good things to try to ensure that, down the road, he's not one in a million. A lot of people, maybe including some of us, will come to owe the man a debt of gratitude in years to come.

    posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:51 PM on July 25

    In fact, he did have massive drug assistance. They call it chemo. It doesn't exactly enhance performance, though, except insofar as you consider keeping someone alive to be enhancing performance. Wow, geez they use 'chemo' to treat cancer? How do you pronouce it? KEE-mo? And I thought school was out for the summer. Good gravy.

    posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:10 PM on July 25

    Weedy, I realize this thread has been more than a little heated but I still think your last comment was not really called for. Hopefully 'nuff said.

    posted by billsaysthis at 10:02 PM on July 25

    I think that as this discussion went down Doping Alley, some of the cultural aspects of Lance's move have gone astray. That's to say, those who only know of the 'Tour de Lance', or at least don't remember an era before Indurain (i.e. pre 1990s) don't really appreciate how Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault were patrons: some would call them bullies, others would call them greats. They dominated races. They intimidated rivals. They rode like Dale Earnhardt Sr drove. Indurain changed the Tour by turning it into a 'win the time-trials, survive the mountains' event. (He was a bit like the New Jersey Devils in that regard.) And Lance seemed to continue in that mode, until this year, when he truly became a patron. And I liked that. To be a true legend in cycling, I do think you have to be a bit of a bastard. Simeoni tried it again, of course, on the run-in to Paris. And Ekimov gave him the cuckold's horns as the USPS team hauled him back in. And you know, if I were Simeoni, I'd consider a different role from that of a mosquito. (If you read French, this Le Monde article covers some of this ground.) As for doping? Urgh. It's undeniably been part of the sport for nearly half a century.

    posted by etagloh at 04:38 AM on July 26

    Wow, geez they use 'chemo' to treat cancer? How do you pronouce it? KEE-mo? And I thought school was out for the summer. Good gravy. Did someone crash on the cobbles and pick up a road tattoo and become a little thin-skinned? Just what is this about, Weedy? It wasn't some kind of personal attack, ya know, nor was it intended to suggest that you were ignorant or something; it just struck me as more than a little ironic, speculations about Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs juxtaposed with what he must have gone through in the course of his cancer treatments. 'Nuff said.

    posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:06 AM on July 26

    etagloh, I started watching cycling in the middle of Indurain's run, so I never had a chance to see Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault or even LeMond race. I've never seen anyone dominate like Lance (and his team) this year, because even when he was winning the first five, he never lost focus or took unnecessary chances. What other rider has energy to spare for swatting mosquitos like Simeoni? Perhaps that's why everyone made such a big deal about it - the newer viewers hadn't seen a patron in action until that move.

    posted by dusted at 11:44 AM on July 26

    Did someone crash on the cobbles and pick up a road tattoo and become a little thin-skinned? Just what is this about, Weedy? It wasn't some kind of personal attack, ya know, nor was it intended to suggest that you were ignorant or something; it just struck me as more than a little ironic, Oops. I knee-jerked it = apologies. Cheerfully withdrawn!

    posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:53 PM on July 26

    Oops. I knee-jerked it = apologies. Cheerfully withdrawn! Cheerfully accepted. Friends? :-) I guess I was trying to say, in my awkward way (and as someone who just watched a close relative go through chemo), that I can imagine someone who's been through it feeling like more drugs would be about the last thing they'd want. Ugh.

    posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:05 AM on July 27

    Folks, if you think Lance is aggressive, he is positively a politically correct wimp in wanting only the Yellow Jersey. Look in the books and you'll find 5 time winners like Merckx and Hinaut (pardon my spelling) that won ALL THREE primay jerserys (Yellow Overall, Green Sprint and Polka Dot Mountain) in the same tour. On some other TdF tours they merely won TWO of the jerseys. Talk about taking all the marbles and emasculating your competition. With regard to drug testing, Lance's books talk about the unbelieviable level of drug testing in cycling. Anytime of the year, they knock on the door and you have to give up the bodily fluid of their choice or get kicked out of the sport on the spot. I think I remember reading that one of the drug testing teams (man and woman) knocking on the Armstrong door just as Lance and wife were about to leave for the hospital for the birth of their twin girls. Didn't matter to the testers, they still left with their fluids. Also, as part of the test protocol, some of the bodily fluilds are stored for retesting later. If one day someone comes up with a new test, out can come the old jars for a new whiz quiz. I know drugs and their dependency are powerful - look at the number of "successful" people that lose their fortunes just for recreational drugs. If Lance every got caught using performance enhancing drugs, it would be this century's version of "Say it ain't so, Joe"

    posted by Golfbike at 01:13 PM on July 27

    Well, this is interesting. Italian drug investigators questioned Simeoni for three hours, trying to find out what happened during the 18th stage last week.

    Italian authorities are now considering whether to open legal proceedings against Armstrong "for sporting fraud, violence and intimidation of a witness."
    So now people can face criminal charges for tactical moves during a sporting event?

    posted by dusted at 05:07 PM on July 27

    It wasn't a tactical move though was it old chap? Armstrong had nothing to gain by chasing him down and nothing to lose by leaving him be. It went far beyond tactics and it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest otherwise.

    posted by Fat Buddha at 05:51 PM on July 27

    You're right, old chap, calling it tactical is wrong. Allow me to re-phrase... I find it really bizarre that an aggressive move in the middle of a bike race results in charges as serious-sounding as "sporting fraud, violence and intimidation of a witness." Even with the background of Ferrari's trial and their obvious animosity, what is fraudulent or violent about Armstrong's move? This move by the Italian authorities smacks of revenge as much as the original act.

    posted by dusted at 06:16 PM on July 27

    Actually, I find it really bizarre that any move in the middle of a bike race results in charges.

    posted by dusted at 08:28 PM on July 27

    So, dusted, deliberately kicking a rider off their bike shouldn't result in, say, an assault charge?

    posted by rodgerd at 11:16 PM on July 27

    I understand what violence and intimidation of a witness are, but what in heaven is "sporting fraud" when it's at home?

    posted by squealy at 02:45 AM on July 28

    For anyone interested in learning more about Simeoni, this profile is fantastic. (via TDFblog)

    posted by dusted at 10:48 AM on July 28

    Presumably manipulating the results - sounds like the sort of thing you'd charge a boxer with for rigging a fight.

    posted by rodgerd at 04:43 PM on July 28

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