Recently-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.