Sports Opinion & Analysis

Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Lance Armstrong Won’t Be In Baseball’s Hall-of-Fame Because He Had A Fake Girlfriend

In College, Cycling, MLB, NFL on January 31, 2013 at 10:03 am

By Jonathan Danielson

In the sports world lately, if it’s not Lance Armstrong making an ass of himself on Oprah (and an even bigger ass out of all of us who ever believed him), it’s Manti Te’o displaying an equal amount of assness (or just unbelievable dumbassness) on Katie Couric, or Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not being elected to the Hall-of-Fame, or Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez suddenly being outed as the new Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens of South Beach.

More or less how everyone outside of Baltimore or the Bay Area feel about sports right now.

More or less how every sports fan outside Baltimore or the Bay Area feels right now.

I mean, come on. How much more can the average sports fan take? With every big blockbuster trade that excites or infuriates a fan, or hilarious showing of total unsportsmanlike behavior (like Marshall Henderson during the Ole Miss/Auburn game), or sincere moments like Charles Barkley trying to do the weather during his hometown’s news broadcast, there’s a leaked document or online article how this player lied, cheated, or lied about cheating.

Don’t get me wrong, I love stories and news about sports beyond their respective fields or courts (that’s why I do this), but when every story lately is just another story about liars and cheats, it wears on you. It makes it tough to want to willingly open up a new word document and decide which allegation or controversy  to tackle today. And then, even if I wrote about every allegation or controversy, I’d realize I’d only be writing the same article over and over again, only with different names and dates and locations. Writing about sports now seems like only writing about non-sports (since every controversy completely overshadows the game), and no longer feels like it’s journalism but just an elaborate Mad-Lib worksheet.

Shoot! (exclamation), he said roid-ragingly (adverb), as he jumped into his Mercedes (object), and fled (verb) the media (noun) with his fake-model (adjective) girlfriend to self-relfect (activity) on his poor choices (adjective and verb).

At least the Super Bowl this year offers a dose of healthy and positive beyond-the-field drama, what with the Harbaugh brothers coaching against one another, and Ray Lewis’s impending retirement after the game. Oh wait, Lewis’s retirement is now tainted by allegations he used Deer Spray  (yes, that’s what the banned substance is called) and a 49er was recently arrested for assaulting his boyfriend during an argument over underwear. Oh wait, it’s a former 49er, and he’s not even on the team anymore, but he’s still getting brought up on media day. When does it end?

Next you know we’ll hear about how Jackie Harbaugh, the mother of the Jim and John, used illegal fertility drugs and that’s why she was able to give birth to her two sons.

CHEATERS!

CHEATERS!

Right now I’m at a crossroads on how to feel about all of this. First and foremost, spectator sports is an entertainment. We go and watch these athletes because, as fans, they entertain us. At the same time though, these athletes are more than just entertainers. When they put on a jersey with their team’s name and location on it, they are the representatives of that fan base’s state or city. In some cases, a country. By that logic, when these athletes fail, they don’t just fail themselves, but they fail the communities they represent. Remember when you were a kid and you went on a field trip and your teacher told you that if you misbehaved you would get in even more trouble than if you had just misbehaved while at school? That’s because you were representing not just yourselves on those field trips, but your teacher who took you there, and the school you came from, and your parents who raised you. Yeah, that’s a bit heavy, but that was the logic behind it, and for the most part, it rings true.

So when Lance Armstrong cheats for seven years and lies about it, he didn’t just fail himself, or the people whose lives he tried to destroy when they spoke up with the truth, he failed the country he was given the responsibility of representing. When Alex Rodriguez comes up on a list of players who took PED’s in Miami, he fails every Yankees fan who spent the money to get a jersey with the number 13 on the back (although, if you’re a Yankees fan and buying a jersey of a player in the modern era, I have no idea why you would get one that didn’t have number 2 on it). When Manti Te’o’s inspirational story turns out to be a fraud, he didn’t just get tricked (if his claims that he wasn’t in on it are true), but we all did. We all got duped, and if Te’o was in on the fraud, it’s even worse, because then the guy we believed in was the one who willingly betrayed us.

And this isn’t just isolated to a single fan either. When an athlete lies and cheats, he also damages or destroys the sense of community his or her team fosters in its surrounding areas through the people who rally around the team on a nightly basis. It destroys that sense of pride that gets shared from friend and neighbor.

It’s obviously irresponsible journalism to not cover these current and disappointing issues, but is it also too much to expect our athletes to just follow the rules, or at least not lie about it when they don’t? If so, maybe I should just give up this altogether. If I can’t trust the people who are paid to represent us in a game, why even bother with that game altogether? Maybe I should no longer care about sports and their outcomes, because in the end, the people who represent our communities through those sports will always let us down on any given timeline, no matter its length. Maybe I shouldn’t try to be a part of that community which our teams create? Maybe there is no community, and I should just stop caring altogether? Maybe that is the only way to no longer become disappointed or dissatisfied with the people who are paid to represent us?

Maybe man really should be an island?

Maybe man really should be an island?

Sigh. Probably not. When do pitchers and catchers show up for HGH testing Spring Training again?

Advertisements

Emails From Friends

In Cycling on October 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm

In response to DopeSTRONG: Part II (even more self reference), I got a friendly reply from user, Operasmorg.

Here’s the post:

Submitted on 2012/10/12 at 3:20 pm

I’m glad you can be persuaded by evidence, but why are you saying that USADA doesn’t have physical evidence when they have his test results? I believe Armstrong, like all the other pro cyclists, signed his agreement to subject himself to USADA jurisdiction in doping matter when he signed for his pro license.

One real disagreement here, tho. Not every pro cyclists he competed against was doping. You can reasonably say that all the top stars that won most of the races were doping, but you are doing the clean cyclists like Bassons or Aubier or Mercier and others we just don’t hear about because they didn’t get good enough results competing against dopers for the media to cover them a great disservice by lumping them in with the dopers. They had already been raped by cheaters. They don’t need to get raped again by over-generalizing bloggers, too.

And so Operasmorg, here’s my response:

As stated in the first article, the UCI, not the USADA, has jurisdiction to investigate and consequently strip Armstrong of his Tour de France victories for doping. While the USADA’s outcome may yield the correct results, the USADA, I believe, overstepped its jurisdiction to pursue its case against Armstrong. Granted, there are allegations that the UCI knew and covered up Armstrong’s PED use, but that is still alleged and not proven.

“Getting away with murder!”

The USADA may have test results, but from everything I’ve read, they don’t have failed test results. There are rumors that Armstrong tested positive in 1999 and 2001, and testimony on how he may have avoided positive testing, but the USADA doesn’t have a little vial of piss or blood they can hold up and say “Behold, the smoking gun to Lance Armstrong’s cheating ways.” 

“And that’s why we should go to war against Lance Armstrong.”

What they have is testimony, and not all the testimony is from the most reliable sources.

Furthermore, there has been an investigation and report, but no trial or hearing to determine Armstrong’s alleged guilt. While the evidence seems overwhelming, Armstrong still deserves due process. As I stated in the article, the court of public opinion though, is already out.

Which leads us to our real disagreement: you’re right, the report doesn’t say every pro cyclist Armstrong competed against was doping. It does say that doping was prevalent amongst Armstrong’s team, and it implied that Armstrong initiated his alleged drug use because of the overwhelming use of PED’s by the majority of cyclers he raced against. The report cites a general cycling culture embedded in drugs and cheating.

Page 637 of the USADA report.

So yeah, maybe Bassons and Aubier and Mercier didn’t do drugs (until apparently proven otherwise), but that is the folly of the situation. They might not have done drugs, but those who did were able to win, and not only the races, but the hearts and minds of viewers and fans. Now those cyclists who ruined their reputations with drug use also ruined the reputation of the sport. To Americans, Lance Armstrong used to be synonymous with cycling. Now, he’s synonymous with cheating. As unfortunate as it is, them’s the breaks. 

The USADA findings state that Lance Armstrong cheated, and you seem to easily accept that. That’s fine, but if you do, you also have to accept the part about the drug using culture  of cycling that the USADA cites as well. AIf that culture truly is the case, which is must be since their case against Armstrong has no fault, then no one will care anything about anything about cycling anymore, and nor should they.

Lastly, if you don’t want to talk about over-generalizations, don’t use ‘rape’ as your verb.

Thanks for reading.

DopeSTRONG: Part II

In Cycling on October 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

Repercussions of USADA report.

Sorry to be self referential yet again this week, but a few months ago I wrote an article defending Lance Armstrong.

After the release of the 1000 (plus) page USADA report, can I get a redo?

In all seriousness though, I stand by what I said. That the USADA has no physical evidence of Armstrong’s alleged abuses. That they overstepped their boundaries in pursuing their case against him. That the report is based on testimony from disgruntled ex-teammates and a former masseuse (Emma O’Reilly), who admits she never actually saw Armstrong dope, and who was allegedly paid over $8,000 dollars for her original story.

I agree with Tim Herman, Armstrong’s attorney, who said the entire USADA investigation was an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”

But now the report is out. Now, no matter how much or little evidence the USADA has or doesn’t have against Armstrong, the court of public opinion is out as well.

Lance Armstrong is forever the cheater. The fraud. The liar.

“FML.”

There is not much revealed in the report that we didn’t already know. The surprises were the additional testimonies from former teammates who had never spoken out against Armstrong before. There were allegations that Armstrong not only doped, but made all of his teammates dope as well. That he not only took PED’s, but ran a sophisticated drug racket. That he was the Tony Soprano of international cycling.

(When you think about how little you care about cycling, it’s not as cool as it sounds)

Because there is no physical evidence, I can’t say with all certainty that Armstrong actually doped or not. But the sworn testimonies are there. The evidence is overwhelming. Murder convictions have been won on less.

“Psssh, some murder convictions.”

So here I am. I still don’t think the USADA had jurisdiction in the manner. I still don’t trust all of the people who gave their testimony. I still don’t like coming to conclusions without physical evidence. I don’t like the idea that Lance Armstrong failed himself, his team, his country, and his fans. I don’t like the idea that from now on, TBS and TNT will have to dub over all of his lines every time they air the 2004 Vince Vaughn movie, “Dodgeball.”

“I cheated, I cheated, I cheated, I cheated.”

People will say that because of the nature of the sport, Armstrong had no choice but to make the decision he did. I don’t buy it. He could have lost. It would have been better than building a hero status on a lie. On cheating and deceit. It would have been better than failing everyone who watched and cheered for him.

The fact of the matter is Lance Armstrong cheated. His team cheated. Every cyclist in the race cheated.

He is forever the fraud on a fraud team playing a fraud sport no one should care about anymore.

 

 

DopeSTRONG?

In Cycling on August 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

As documented by my Melky Cabrera article, I am a supporter of harsh penalties for cheaters who use Performing Enhancing Drugs (PED’s).

It should then be no surprise I would write an article on how Lance Armstrong’s punishment at the hands of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is fair (losing all seven Tour de France titles, an Olympic Medal, as well as a lifetime ban from cycling), and how Armstrong finally got what was coming to him.

After yesterday, this supposedly never happened (seven times).

Except I’m not, and it isn’t.

When Major League Baseball handed down suspensions for PED’s, it had physical evidence of an offending player’s cheating. It had test results proving Cabrera and Oakland A’s pitcher, Bartolo Colon, took drugs to improve their physical abilities. It also had jurisdiction to hand out punishment.

The USADA has neither.

Doping in cycling is handled solely by the International Cycling Union (UCI), not the USADA. The USADA has no jurisdiction in the matter, and unprecedentedly surpassed its abilities to pursue its case against Armstrong. The UCI even helped fund Armstrong’s defense against the agency, because they believed the USADA was acting beyond the limits of its power.

Quite frankly, the USADA carries as much weight to hand out punishments for doping in cycling as Chick-Fi-La has to decide the Constitutionality of gay marriage.

Take more steroids.

The USADA also has no physical evidence of Armstrong’s alleged PED use. While there are claims Armstrong tested positive for PED’s in 2001, then paid to cover up those results, there is no actual evidence to support this accusation. The USADA’s entire body of evidence is nothing more than “he said this,” and “he said that,” testimonials from former teammates of Armstrong. The accusers are led by Floyd Landis, a disgraced Tour de France winner himself, who not only had his title stripped away for steroid use, but who was also recently convicted of wire fraud.

Not the most reliable, trustworthy witness, to say the least.

“I splash this stuff on me, and it makes my legs stronger!”

I don’t know whether Lance Armstrong took steroids or not. If he did, he needs to be stripped of everything, and cast out into the cold like he would rightfully deserve. But there is no smoking gun to prove that he did take PED’s. There is only hearsay and name calling. Accusations without support. There has been no trial, hearing, or anything to prove Armstrong did anything wrong.

While Armstrong very well may have taken PED’s, I have to admit I don’t know for certain if he did.

Too bad the USADA can’t say the same.

%d bloggers like this: