News24

Beleaguered Lance isolated

2012-10-19 10:19

Los Angeles - Lance Armstrong, increasingly isolated in the face of a devastating doping report, is now hoping Livestrong, the cancer charity he founded, will weather the scandal.

The US Anti-Doping Agency dossier painting Armstrong as a central figure in a massive doping scheme that helped him garner seven Tour de France titles finally sent corporate sponsors - including key backers Nike, Anheuser-Busch and Trek - scurrying and prompted Armstrong himself to step down as chairman of Livestrong.

But even as the shock waves reverberated through the world of cycling, Livestrong vice president of communications Katherine McLane said those at the foundation were trying to carry on.

"Lance's direction was 'Stay focused on your work. Do not be distracted.' And that's exactly what we've done," McLane said on Thursday.

It's perhaps not surprising then that Armstrong's first public appearance since USADA's latest report will be at a Livestrong event in his hometown of Austin on Friday - a gala fundraiser marking the 15th anniversary of the organisation.

Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and Robin Williams were among the celebrities slated to attend.

Organisers will release a video recording afterwards on YouTube, but he'll face no tough questions from the press.

David Carter, a sports business professor at the University of Southern California and executive director of USC's Sports Business Institute, said any Armstrong journey to reclaim public respectability must include a confession.

"The only way they come back is when they take personal responsibility and accountability for what they've done," Carter said. "He has not taken responsibility."

For years, Armstrong has denied doping allegations. Despite sworn testimony from dozens of witnesses, including former team-mates, in the USADA report, McLane said that many continue to view Armstrong not as a drug cheat but as a cancer survivor who used his experience to reach out to others.

"That doesn't go away," she said. "People here at the foundation, and I think within the cancer community, know Lance in a very different way than a larger public person, as a cyclist."

Still, the repercussions were being felt in the sport.

Hein Verbruggen, the Dutch veteran who was president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) when Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times between 1999 and 2005, also moved to distance himself from the American.

Verbruggen scoffed at allegations that he took a bribe to cover up a positive Armstrong test result in 1999.

But he said a report in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf "unjustly states that despite USADA's dossier I still insist there is no proof."

Verbruggen's statement emerged as Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the USADA report and more than 1,000 pages of supplementary testimony had opened a "Pandora's box" of shady dealings.

Italian investigators are probing a doctor said to have overseen Armstrong's use of banned substances, Michele Ferrari, who is said to have offered an "all inclusive package" to top athletes on how to cheat the dope testers.

Dozens of athletes were reportedly implicated in the so-called "Ferrari system" and sometimes entire cycling teams, with the network involving money laundering, tax evasion and secret Swiss bank accounts.

The Italian probe could yet cause fresh controversy for the embattled sport.

Current UCI chief Pat McQuaid, whose organization is reviewing the report prior to issuing its own decision on whether it accepts the findings and supports USADA's life ban of Armstrong, insists cycling has moved on from its murky past.

But USADA chief executive Travis Tygart told velonews.com that he believes former Armstrong teammate Levi Leipheimer was punished by his Belgian team for coming forward about his own doping and contributing to the USADA report.

The American was sacked by Omega Pharma-Quick Step on Tuesday.

"At the end of the day, the last thing the sport needs is an attempt to silence those who had the courage to come forward, because that's the only thing that's going to allow the sport to move forward," Tygart told velonews.com

AFP

Comments
  • fanie.viljoen.73 - 2012-10-19 10:51

    Keep your chin up Lance. This whole thing is like when Hansie Cronje had to take the fall for Cricket match fixing, Aussies like Shane Warn and Mark Waugh + all the Pakis and Indians got away, and Hansie took the plunge. Everybody dropped Hansie and at his funeral they all tried to be "there" for him. Same types to see here again.

      paula.marnitz - 2012-10-19 11:04

      Thank you...at last a decent comment, the way some people carry on, you would think Lance is a serial killer. They forget he is a cancer survivor and has done so much to help cancer victims. I wish everyone would leave him alone. Thank you for your comment, it has made me feel better about humanity !

      derek.francois.3 - 2012-10-20 06:38

      Geez I just don't understand the Lance groupie syndrome - leave him alone they say what a joke - no LOCK HIM UP - SUE HIM FOR EVERY CENT HE HAS FRAUDULENTLY EARNED - he has lied under oath - intimidated others into silence - has not got the balls to come clean - influenced a generation of cyclists to think the cheating is cool - the comment I despise the most is "everyone was doing it so why pick on him" we pick on him because not everyone won 7 tours and he is the ringleader. At least Hansie came clean and took he's punishment like a man which I respect. In the Armstrong case all those around him are taking the fall except the main scumbag. I have do not have an iota of respect left for him and what I despise the most is that he is a COWARD. To think of all those wasted hours watching him win 7 tours thinking he was a hero when in fact he was just another CHEATING SCUMBAG COWARD...............................

  • gregory.jurgens - 2012-10-19 11:05

    Zuma s a thief

  • heikii.kawaguchi - 2012-10-19 11:05

    It's not a matter of stading for Lance or not. This guy is one of the biggest cheaters in the history of Sports. But in the end just look around everyone was doing the same. The only thing UCI should do is just clear everyone from their positions in those dark periods of cycling. Armstrong wasn't the only one. Ex-colleagues confessed that other teams were doing the same. As for Armstrong and US Postal they cheat. There are proves and so what?

  • george.outremer - 2012-10-19 11:09

    Wishful thinking on the part of Tygart. a) Leipheimer has been sacked because he has confessed his guilt - even if he wasn't sacked, he would be required to do the honourable thing by quitting. b) It will take a long time for the sport to recover from this. Tygart has opened up a Pandora's box with his report. There are only losers in this mess.

  • dirk.bester - 2012-10-19 13:14

    Seeing that Livestrong hired a lobbyist to persuade politicians that USADA should have its powers reduced makes you think about how clean an organization they really are. Hiding behind the cancer curtain is low

  • mark.botha.142 - 2012-10-19 14:14

    Quite funny, if they are taking the medals away from Lance they need to pass it onto someone else as the winner and if they were truly honest I am not sure they would find a cyclist in the race that was not on some kind of drug or the other...

      marco.marcosi.16 - 2012-10-19 17:28

      I believe they've decided that those 7 years will be "winnerless", for that exact reason. Apparently in one of the years he won, you'd have to go back to the 10th place rider to get a name of someone who has never had his name linked to any kind of scandal.

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