Showing posts with label Lance Armstrong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lance Armstrong. Show all posts

Video: Trailer for The Program a film about Lance Armstrong

A new film that is a dramatization of the Lance Armstrong story is preparing for release in October. It is called The Program, and it promises to give us an inside look at how the former pro cyclist doped while winning seven straight Tour de France titles. The film stars Ben Foster, Chris O'Dowd, and several other recognizable faces, not the least of which is Dustin Hoffman. It is getting fair reviews thus far, and it looks like it will be an intriguing film for cycling fans for sure. Check out the trailer below, which will give you an indication of what to expect when the movie arrives in cinemas in a few weeks.

USADA Could Reduce Lance Armstrong's Ban

Lance Armstrong might receive an opportunity to plead for a reduction of his lifetime ban from cycling. According to an article posted by the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph, Brian Cookson, the President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body over professional cycling, has been asked to help set-up a meeting between Armstrong and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). That meeting could give the former cyclist an opportunity to broker a deal that could see him return to competition, although there would be some serious stipulations that would come along with potentially lifting the ban.

The Telegraph says that Travis Tygart, the head of the USADA, is in favor of sitting down with Armstrong, but in order for the ban to be lifted Lance would need to do more than just come clean about his use of performance enhancing drugs – something he has already done on more than one occasion. In fact, Outside Online is reporting that Tygart wants Armstrong to cooperate in future investigations of the use of PED's, helping to shed light on new cases that could arise. The USADA would also like the former Tour de France winner to become an anti-doping ambassador who would speak out against the practice of using PED's.

The story here isn't that the USADA is open to discussing a reduction of Armstrong's lifetime ban, as Tygart and his team have always maintained that they would be willing to talk to Lance provided he was more forthcoming about the rampant use of performance enhancing substance in professional cycling. The new element that has been missing from this story prior to recent events is that it seems that Armstrong himself may be willing to cooperate more fully. Since Cookson has been asked to try to arrange a meeting, that would indicate that Lance may be ready to cooperate on a level that he hasn't in the past, possibly opening the door for his return to competition.

Let's face it. Lance isn't going to ride in the Tour de France ever again. Those days are long over. But, he is a talented athlete and he loves competition. He would like the opportunity to compete in marathons, road races, triathlons, and other events. But his lifetime ban from competition prevents him from competing even in local races. If that ban gets lifted, I suspect we'd see Armstrong taking part in competitions again very soon thereafter.

Getting that ban lifted is still some time off I'm sure. But it seems that the door has been cracked open for a possible return. We'll just have to see if Lance is willing to accept the USADA's stipulations.

Lance Armstrong Admits That He Would Dope Again

Lance Armstrong is back in the news once again this week thanks to an interview he gave to the BBC. In that interview Lance talks openly about life after his ban from professional cycling – or competing in any sports for that matter – saying that the fallout from his confession to doping throughout his career has been "heavy." But the part of the interview that continues to make headlines is when the former seven-time winner of the Tour de France admits that he would "probably do it again" in regards to using performance enhancing drugs while racing. This quote has of course let many shaking their heads, particularly if it is taken out of the context of the interview. But if you step back and take a look at what Lance is saying, his words really should come as much of a surprise.

During the interview Lance is asked if he had to do it over again, would he still use PEDs. His answer was "If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn't do it again because I don't think you have to," In that statement Armstrong is saying he'd ride clean if he were part of the peloton today, because the sport is cleaner in general But he goes on to follow up that sentence by saying "If you take me back to 1995, when doping was completely pervasive, I would probably do it again."

The sport of cycling has come a long way since Armstrong dominated the Tour back in the late 90's and early 2000's. It is indeed cleaner, although it is far from perfect. But when Lance was winning races testing for EPO and other banned substances was either primitive or nonexistent altogether. Practically everyone who was riding at the time was using some kind PED to get ahead. When most of the peloton was taking part in the practice, riders had little choice but to either get with the program, or be completely left behind by the sport.

In the interview with the BBC, Lance is simply being very honest with his answer. Those who are shocked by what he said probably don't understand the era in which he competed. It was a time when performance enhancing drugs were common. So much so that since Tour de France officials vacated Armstrong's seven titles they have been unable to award the wins to anyone else because most of the other top riders have tested positive for banned substances along the way as well.

I have often contended that much like the "steroid era" of baseball, the results of that period in cycling should still stand as well. It was a different time when the use of PEDs were so predominant that it was more unusual to find a rider who competed clean than it was to find someone who juiced. That isn't to say that it was right, only that the riders were mostly on a level playing field because nearly all of them were using something. Much like baseball, it is a good idea to compartmentalize that time period, recognize it for what it was, and move on with cleaning up the sport. Fortunately, there have at least been significant gains made in that area, even if there is still work to be done.

As for Armstrong, he is hoping to get his lifetime ban from sports lifted to he can start competing in events once again. There is no denying that he is a true competitor, and he would like nothing more than to strap on a pair of running shoes, or get back on a bike, and show us what he can do once again. He feels that it is time that we forgive him for his use of PEDs. But what he doesn't understand is that for many of us it isn't the revelation of his doping that has shocked us. Rather, it was the tactics that he took to cover up the doping that is most troublesome. When he was at the height of his popularity he made ruthless, systematic efforts to ruin the careers and lives of anyone who dared say that he wasn't riding clean when he won the Tour de France. A number of people became pariahs in the cycling world, and the court of pubic opinion, thanks to Lance's efforts to discredit them. It is that shameful behavior that is most difficult to forgive, and it will take an awful lot to reshape his public image as a result.

CNN Interviews Lance Armstrong

Former seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong continues to be a polarizing figure, both amongst cycling fans and the general public, with whom his story took on a larger-than-life aspect that transcended the sport that made him famous. Since admitting to using performance enhancing drugs more than a year-and-a-half ago, Armstrong has tried to get on with his life as best he can. Over that period, he has lost all of his sponsors, been dismissed from Livestrong, the organization that he founded, and publicly vilified on a number of occasions. In a new interview with CNN, Armstrong talks about life in the aftermath, and where he hopes to be headed in the future.

The interview with Armstrong is just the first of a two part series that takes a look at whether or not redemption is an option for Lance. In it, Armstrong says that he never encounters vitriol from the general public in his day-to-day life. He maintains that not a single person has ever said anything to him directly about the scandal, even though he has sensed that some have wanted to from time to time. He also notes that the characteristics that made him a great cyclist – the drive to win, the intensity, etc. – have also been part of his undoing in the wake of the revelation that he used PED's while riding in the Tour. That combative attitude served him well as a professional athlete, but not so much when he has tried to reconstruct his public image.

Over the months since he admitted to doping, Lance has attempted to apologize, both to the general public and to those that he hurt along the way. That includes the likes of Greg LeMond, the former Tour de France winner who doggedly accused Armstrong of using PED's, even when the rest of the world was willing to believe he was clean. LeMond has not accepted Armstrong's calls. On the other hand, Frankie and Betsy Andreu, former friends of Armstrong who spoke out about his use of performance enhancing drugs, did accept his call. Lance says that his first apology was to Betsy, and she accepted, but now he feels that she has revoked that acceptance, and continues to carry a grade. While combatting all those accusations over the years, Armstrong was vicious and unrelenting in his counter attacks on those who questioned his story. That is something I'm sure is almost impossible to forgive.

Armstrong goes on to say that he won't pass the blame on to anyone else. He is responsible for his actions, and is owning up to the decisions that he made. He also says that he's ready to re-emerge in the public eye, although in a more understated fashion. He wants to relaunch the Lance Armstrong Foundation, his original cancer-fighting organization, and he is planning to write a book to tell more of his side of the story. Whether or not anyone wants to read it remains to be seen.

The interview is a long, and comprehensive one, and a good read for cycling fans, or those who have ever had an interest in Lance's story. He is still a complicated figure, and it is often hard to reconcile feeling for what he has done. But, Armstrong recognizes this, and seems like a man who just wants to set the record straight, try to make some amends, and get back to doing the the things he loves.

The second part of CNN's Armstrong story takes a look at the people that he stepped on as he was on his way to the top, and again when he came tumbling down. People like the Andreus, who say Armstrong still isn't coming completely clean with his story. Betsy says that she and Lance had arranged to meet, so he could not only apologize in person, but he could look them in the eyes, and hash out some of the things he did and said. But she claims Armstrong cancelled that meeting at the last minute, and has spun the story to make it seem like she was the one who rebuffed him.

Greg LeMond talks a bit about his side of the story as well. When he first spoke out against Armstrong, he was helping to design bikes at Trek – a major sponsor of Lance. Trek would abruptly end their teal with LeMond which would put the former Tour champ – the only American to be recognized with that title – in serious jeopardy. With his business in ruins, and Armstrong's lawyers coming after him with a full-court press, LeMond faced dramatic financial problems. That has all changed now, and he is weighing his options for suing Armstrong as well.

The gist of this second article is whether or not Lance can be forgiven for his bullying tactics. For years he went after those who spoke out against him, only for us to find out later that what they said was true. I've often said that while I was not surprised by the doping – it was part of the culture of cycling during Lance's era – it was his behavior of attacking those who spoke up that disturbed me the most. He was heartless in his attacks, often running careers, and those are the actions that are most unforgivable.

Where the Lance Armstrong story goes from here remains to be seen. I applaud him for his efforts to get his life back on track, and continue to do good things to combat cancer. But I'm not sure he'll ever be able to redeem himself completely. Lance Armstrong is a determined guy however, and I would never count him out of anything.

It should be noted, that the Livestrong Foundation has also donated $50 million to the University of Texas to help fund a new cancer research unit there. It is the organization's biggest donation since Armstrong left, and it is a sign of his continued legacy as well. Something that should offer at least a little hope for forgiveness.