Not Earning His Billables

Aug 5 2010

The "O RLY" owlRecently-hired Armstrong defense lawyer Bryan D. Daly dropped a few jewels in yesterday’s New York Times updatae about the investigation into the seven-time Tour winner.

After citing a lack of “scientific evidence” (there’s actually a bit here and there, if you’re truly curious) presented in the press thus far, Daly attempted to play up the “witch hunt” aspect of the case, saying:

“If Lance Armstrong came in second in those Tour de France races, there’s no way that Lance Armstrong would be involved in these cases,” Daly said. “I think that the concern is that they are caught up in the pursuit of a celebrity to catch him in a lie.”

Bryan, that is a terrible point and you’ve brought shame to your law firm and alma mater. Let’s take a look at the legal histories of the second-place finishers in Lance Armstrong’s TdF wins:

  • 1999 – Alex Zulle: Caught in Festina Affair in 1998, admitted to EPO use; found to have 52.3% hematocrit months afterwards.
  • 2000, 2001, 2003 – Jan Ullrich: Implicated in Operacion Puerto in 2006; DNA matched to nine Operacion Puerto blood bags in 2007; paid 250,000 EUR fine to avoid prosecution on doping charges in 2008; former manager admitted his and Ullrich’s role in Operacion Puerto in 2010.
  • 2002 – Joseba Beloki: Implicated in Operacion Puerto in 2006; “cleared” by Spanish courts (just like Alejandro Valverde, currently serving a suspension for his role in the scandal); further investigation likely stymied by end of career.
  • 2004 – Andreas Kloeden: Implicated in 2006 pre-Tour doping trip to Freiburg with then-teammates and convicted dopers Patrick Sinkewitz and Mattias Kessler in 2009; additional positive tests/DNA links from teammates include Ullrich, Sergei Gonchar, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin; later Bernhard Kohl.
  • 2005 – Ivan Basso: Implicated in Operacion Puerto scandal in 2006, confessed to preparing to dope later that year.

While I will readily admit that there’s a positive correlation between depth of investigation and rider celebrity, when only a single second-placed rider has dodged either serving a suspension or retiring under a massive cloud of doubt, I hardly think you can slap the “witch hunt” tag on the investigation.

If anything, it’s the near-universal guilt [cached version] of the riders Lance vanquished that should should raise the biggest questions in the rational mind over whether or not Armstrong raced clean.

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27 Responses to “Not Earning His Billables”

  1. Jon August 5, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    The same could be said of Greg Lemond, Lance’s would-be executioner. Chiapucci had admitted to doping (though supposedly only AFTER his 1990 TdF 2nd place), and Fignon has recently admitted to doping after being diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps Lance’s case is more suspect because Lance triumphed over dopers 6 out of 7 times instead of 2 of 3, but even Lance’s detractors deserve scrutiny.

  2. Lauren G. August 5, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    “that is a terrible point and you’ve brought shame to your law firm and alma mater.” BLAM! Go Cosmo!

  3. Bryan August 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    The Armstrong defense team has fought the allegations with a PR campaign to steer loyalists and frame the investigation as a witch hunt and waste of tax payer money. While this may work to maintain support for the triumphant superstar and his cause, it will unlikely deter the investigation. Perhaps Armstrong’s power, influence, and political ties are hard at work to sway enforcing agencies to reduce the focus on Armstrong and heighten the focus on doctors and managers. If that is the case, the witch hunt will have wasted tax payer dollars to convict the “true criminals” possibly allowing Armstrong to once again tout that he has never tested positive and all of the evidence is nothing more than hearsay.

  4. Oliver August 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Never heard of this lawyer’s alma mater. The blurb on his law firm’s web page says he’s one of the 10 best white collar crime lawyers in the country. This must be a joke.
    Someone please tell him: only Lance could publicly issue outrageous lies and get cheered by practically everyone. And that time is gone. Certainly a second rate ex-prosecutor who apparently knows about as much about cycling as Velonews does about investigative reporting is not going to get away with it….
    At least I hope not.

  5. Sebastian August 5, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    I was astounded by that second-place remark in the Times place yesterday. Thanks for giving it the statistical smackdown it deserved.

  6. Skippy August 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    WHY are so many people trying to pursue a “dead cause”? Oh it sells , so each and everyone wants on the wagon before it turns over and buries them in crap!
    Does anyone really benefit if it turns out like “Jan Ulrich”, strong smell of smoke but no fire!
    IF as much effort was put into making sure future athletes are clean and the suppliers put out of business we would ALL be better off.
    TALL POPPIES are envied and the worm and those like him will not be missed when the fuss dies down.

    meanwhile the anniversary of “Susan of Fight like Susan” was today, any not sure of who i mean google fatcyclist .com

    RIP Susan

  7. tigwelded August 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Skippy,

    By your line of reasoning, all crimes that happened more than what, 1, 2, 5 years ago are not prosecuted? No thank you.

    Jan Ulrich will tell all as soon as the statute of limitations runs out on prosecution. This is the norm for confessing cyclists now.

    Future athletes are indeed served by prosecuting the Armstrong machine. The more the rules can be enforced and actions investigated regardless of the outcome of that investigation(!) the better it is for American cycling.

    Ending with a vague reference to cancer doesn’t make your case any better. For many, vague cancer references are a reminder that Lance/Weisel/Stapleton used cancer to build and sustain the myth.

    Before you reply with some scripted “All the good done…” drivel, know that the *strong.org non-profit spends most of its money on fund raising and transportation, not research grants. Where is the boundary between the *strong.com and *strong.org? Nike’s role? It’s all stuff created to sustain the myth borne on the backs of the sick and dead. Feeling strong yet?

  8. Alex August 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    So who among those five riders were investigated by US Federal prosecutors? None of them, and not only because of jurisdiction. Daly is right; if Lance had come in second, the US Federal prosecutors, most specifically Jeff Novitzky, wouldn’t be involved. Nobody would give a hoot what Lance did or didn’t take because he wouldn’t be a scalp for Novitzky to claim. Does anybody think George Hincapie would be the subject of such an investigation? The US prosecutors only went after BALCO and Barry Bonds when he started threatening cherished records – and nobody asked McGwire about creatine until he hit #62. If Bonds had hit 45 homeruns every year and finished his career with 562 hrs instead of 70 and 762, Novitzky would never have gone after him. It may be true in European countries that high profile cyclists are big gets, but not here.

    Lance isn’t the only completely self-serving jerk involved in these cases. Floyd, Novitzky and many many others are out for themselves only.

  9. Josh August 5, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Skippy, I have to disagree. Completely.

    Fortunes were created for MANY people in the industry around the economic ecosystem of ‘Team Lance’, for one. Trek, Giro, people that make little yellow armbands and USA cycling; to name just a few.

    If Bruyneel and LA systematically doped in order to achieve greater year over year sponsorships and endorsement deals, based on previous performance, and were doping every year, they are guilty of fraud. Not sporting fraud, fraud.

    Furthermore, if found to be true; during ANY of his tour victories it will be the greatest sporting fraud since the Black Socks.

    The likelihood that this guy is physically THAT much better than guys who were on and admitted they were on systematic doping programs is infinitesimally low. As I have said before, the best thing that LA could do is simply step forward with EVERY current legend of the sport and tell the truth; tell how to fix the sport and simply admit that it was ‘the way sport was’ at that time. He can be a savior again, like he has been to the cancer community. He doesn’t deserve to be, but I truly think that he has the ability to pull this off.

  10. Morgan August 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    While I agree with the general idea of the post, and that Lance’s triumph over a series of known dopers is highly suspicious and he probably was doping, some the arguments presented in the ‘Lance Armstrong’s tragedy’ article are just absurd.
    How do you explain, based on the 5% theory, that Ivan Basso is still winning?
    And that unsuccessful cyclists have often been caught doping? Judging by what the article says, either literally every single rider in the peloton was doped, or doping doesn’t have such a well-defined effect.

  11. tigwelded August 6, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    Alex,

    Daly’s wrong. I’m sorry you’ve been lead to believe the Armstrong myth. If there’s anything to hang onto it’s that Weisel and other Tailwind principles may be in far more trouble (and earned it) than Armstrong.

    Josh,
    Fortunes were made by Tailwind principles. Pharmstrong.com is a for-profit winner due to the fact it’s close association with cancer (not funding much research though) at Pharmstrong.org. Using cancer to sell exercise equipment is heroic. Yes? No? Trek was growing in the cycling business for other reasons.

    Your Ivan Basso question is hardly controversial. Lots of reasons why he can still do fine. One of them is the possibility he’s still doping. The entire peloton appears to be doing less, but the whole micro-dosing Landis shared makes it clear that it’s still happening. Doping does not turn a donkey into a thoroughbred. Anecdotal evidence from riders suggest some doped to life-threatening levels while others doped just enough to stay on the team and in the peloton.

  12. tigwelded August 6, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    I conflated Morgan and Josh’s comments.

    Josh,

    This is Black Socks scale fraud.

    IMHO none of Public Strategies currently pitiful attempts to influence opinion will not work well enough. Armstrong can always ask for forgiveness on Oprah and go back to being a selfish pr1ck. A perfect politician.

  13. Sean August 6, 2010 at 4:01 am #

    @Cosmo,

    So Armstrong was probably doping from 1999-2005 because all the guys who came second to him were doping in 2006? That doesn’t sound very convincing to me.

    To my mind, what puts Armstrong’s doping beyond reasonable doubt is his actions since the 1999 EPO (uncorroborated) positives came out in 2005.
    If he didn’t use EPO in ’99 then he knows (100%) that either:
    a. the EPO test can yield false positives
    b. the lab is incompetent
    c. the lab is out to frame him (or perhaps American TdF winners, given Landis’ later positive).

    I find it untenable that he could know this and still come back from retirement.
    I think a reasonable explanation is that he was confident his updated doping regime could beat the tests.
    Another reasonable explanation is that he had stopped doping.

    Still, I agree with those who say it sounds like a witch hunt.
    I suppose, since Landis and maybe others are wanting to clear their consciences, that We Might As Well Know what happened. I kind of wish they had waited until 2015 or something when Armstrong might say “Leave me in peace; everybody takes dope.”

  14. Morgan August 6, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    Tigwelded,

    “Lots of reasons why he can still do fine.” I’m really curious to hear some, cause since his recent suspension I find current doping highly unlikely. No matter how far ahead of testers the dopers are, I think Basso has learnt by now that he doesn’t need to test positive to get caught. And since I’m assuming he doesn’t have the lab skills to carry out such a doping scheme by himself, there’s always gonna be someone who can eventually turn him in. I don’t think his career can take another hit or another two year ban.

    And while what Landis said is clearly possible, even likely in the peloton, it obviously wasn’t effective enough for him to win the Tour, or he wouldn’t have resorted to exogenous testosterone and gotten himself caught.

    Bottom line is, if you wanna prove a point you’re always gonna find some sort of data on Science of Sport to back it up. It’s easy to draw conclusions from there, and I just think the fact that most of his direct competitors and a lot of his teammates, were caught is what should make him suspicious, not the numbers.

    I guess it’s an illusion to think that at a time when everybody doped, Armstrong wouldn’t be doing it either, although I think “everybody doped” is a bit of a stretch. Cause if it were true, then Armstrong would still be the best among dopers. It’s mostly sad for the actual clean riders who keep seeing dopers ride ahead of them. And being given a win years later is hardly any consolation.

    What actually amazes me is the remarkable job Armstrong and his team must’ve done to cover their tracks, and you can’t expect him to confess when he has everything to lose and no prospect of Americans believing he’s guilty unless undeniable evidence is shoved in their faces.

  15. Arjan Hulsebos August 6, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Daly is now calling the investigation “un-American and a waste of taxpayers’ money”. The Feds must be getting on to something….

  16. Alex August 6, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Tigwelded,

    I think you and I are arguing different points. I’m not asserting that Armstrong is innocent; I’m asserting that Daly’s statement (“If Lance Armstrong came in second in those Tour de France races, there’s no way that Lance Armstrong would be involved in these cases”) is accurate. If Lance came in second, there would be no investigation for many reasons, among them that there wouldn’t be millions of yellow bracelets, hundreds of millions in LAF and massive marketing campaigns built around him. He simply wouldn’t be a target for United States Federal Prosecutors. Outside of those of us who read fantastic websites like this one, nobody would care about Lance – and as such he’d be free to spend retirement in anonymity. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I really really really doubt that Leiv Leipheimer, a highly successful rider, would have ever crossed the radar even if he was the capo of the US Postal Team. No?

    I think we all have a healthy amount of cynicism about Lance (don’t accuse me of drinking the kool-aid based on one short post), I just think that there needs to be more cynicism regarding everybody else involved in these cases as well. Novitzky is a crook; he uses his position to break laws all over the place, like leaked grand jury testimony, hazy immunity packages, etc., that are the foundation of the legal system. Please keep in mind that he is no less self-serving than Lance. Novitzky, and most likely the majority of the other federal prosecutors involved, are in this for themselves, not to clean up cycling.

  17. tigwelded August 6, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Sean,

    I don’t know what you think was accomplish by confusing the facts. The widespread use of EPO in the peloton 1999-2005 is very well documented. EPO use went all the way down into the amateur ranks. In the U.S. Chris Carmichael and his fellow coaches were doping American Juniors when he was a USAC coach. That Carmichael is a saint! Juniors were dying in their sleep in countries where competitive cycling is more popular. The UCI pretended the problem didn’t exist.

    Morgan,
    Your “bottom line” relies on WADA’s side of the battle. (enforcement) Landis shares the facts about micro-dosing with WADA and the world. WADA had no knowledge of the practice. They didn’t detect it and it would have continued without detection.

    Not everyone doped. Those that didn’t at the time suffered. Very few didn’t and actually stayed employed at the Euro-Pro level professional cyclists. Look at LeMond’s last Tour to get an idea of what happens when a clean cyclist competes against a doped peloton.

    What made Armstrong special was his commitment to doping. He and the rest of his team (riders were not given the option of riding clean) were on the most sophisticated program. When riders left the Armstrong cult, doping postives! This suggests the UCI’s role in drug detection is dependent on your team’s profile in the sport.

    Not only was Armstrong pursuing the best doping practices, but the UCI appears to have had a role in letting Postal doping flourish. This is where Lance’s ‘donations’ to the UCI as well as the UCI’s role in promoting doping come into question.

    As I mentioned in another reply, this is Black Socks scale fraud and scandal that goes all the way through to the sanctioning bodies of the sport, USAC, and the UCI.

  18. tigwelded August 6, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Alex,

    I would not go as far as to say Novitzky is a crook.

    I would say the work of prosecuting cases is very much like making sausage. (not pretty) May I remind you defense attorneys are making their own sausage too. It’s the consequences of an adversarial legal system. By your standard, there’s plenty of name calling to go around.

    I don’t know what a prosecutor gets out of this. They certainly won’t win any friends in private industry when they are prosecuting the worst and dumbest offenders. They don’t get rich doing it.

    The Rule of Law is fundamental to the health of a stable society. We need them to uphold the Rule of Law and step on many toes to do it.

  19. tigwelded August 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Morgan,

    There’s no reason why Basso shouldn’t still be doping. The UCI selectively enforces doping positives. WADA passes anonymous testing information back to the UCI for the UCI to ejudicate. There are persistent rumors WADA is passing current (2010) Biological Passport violations and the UCI is not ejudicating them. The latest Leipheimer(sp!) revelation confirms the allegations the UCI lets drug positives pass.

    To restate, doping will not make a donkey into a thoroughbred. Basso came to the sport with great potential (a ‘natural’ thoroughbred)

    Now that doping is held to “safer” levels, he (along with Vino) with the assistance of the UCI still rise to the top.

  20. Morgan August 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Agree with Alex on Novitsky. For some people there really is no such thing as bad publicity.
    And Tigwelded, I find it curious why you’d find a conspiracy theory to frame Armstrong absurd (as do I), but one to protect him completely plausible. And yes, I do believe both Basso and Vino are riding clean and own their victories this year. People’s hatred towards Vino in the beginning of the season gave UCI absolutely no reason to help him rise to the top.

  21. Anonymous August 7, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Doesn’t anyone else ask why we will spend a big chunk of taxpayer money to chase after a bunch of guys who ride their bikes? Is this really where our priorities should be????

    If people go to jail for this….then we get to spend even more taxpayer money.

    Great!

  22. Joe August 8, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    There is a double use of the word ‘should’ in the last sentence.

    Also, the lawyer is speaking for the general American audience, not bike racing fans. They’d agree with his sentiments because they would have no idea who those 2nd placed riders are, nor their implication in various doping scandals, nor would they care.

    In speaking to his audience, this lawyer has got the tone of his message right, even though his facts are wrong. I would think this is excatly what he is paid to do.

  23. Erik August 9, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    Anonymous,
    But it doesn’t bother you that taxpayer money may have been diverted to fund organized doping?

    In a free society, if the decision to investigate, prosecute and punish crime were a vague concern for “taxpayer dollars” we’d have a nation without laws, and a no-longer free society.

    It’s like complaining about highway projects as a waste of money, without recognizing the fact that the cost of a poorly-maintained infrastructure is *de facto* deferred to the people through increased vehicle maintenance costs and decreased commerce, AND at the same time ignoring the fact that an improved infrastructure stimulates the economy and paradoxically brings in more tax revenue to pay for itself.

  24. Coramoor August 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    just want to point out that it’s Serhiy Honchar not sergei gonchar, the latter is a hockey player

    • cosmo August 13, 2010 at 8:55 am #

      @Coramoor, well, astonishingly, there’s still some debate on that point. The cyclist himself has specified it should be a G, but I think a typo has legally changed his name to Honchar, since that seems to be the dominant form on the results sheets.

      I’m guessing this Wikipedia disambiguation page is accurate, and that it’s probably a transliteration issue from a non-Roman alphabet (like Sivtsov vs. Siutsou — though I’m told the latter is more correct), and once a certain spelling is accepted, it’s tough to get things changed.

      Let’s just hope Tejay can get that disappearing R sorted out before it’s too late.

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