Last Chance for Lance: Confront Accusers or Confess

Last Chance for Lance: Confront Accusers or Confess
AP file photo of Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong still has time to prove that he is a champion.

On December 6, 2012, the UCI sent the disgraced cyclist formal notification that he had 21 days to appeal the governing body’s action invalidating his racing wins dating back to July 1998.  This is a cycling fan’s open letter to the former 7-time Tour de France winner:

Lance,

This is your last chance to take on your accusers.  Request a hearing.  Call all 26 individuals to testify in public to the allegations they swore out in secret.  Prove that there is no proof.  Convince the UCI and every other doubter that you rode clean.  Reclaim your good name.

Or, you can blow the whistle on the whole affair…

Tell the world how the sport was really run from ’98 to ’05 when you prevailed over your fiercest competitors seven consecutive times.  Explain to us how you pulled it off so smoothly.  Give us details.  Name names.  Let the public know what compelled you to risk everything for your shot at fame and fortune.  Point out everyone who was complicit.  Blow it all wide open.  Take no prisoners.

At this point, what is there left for you to lose?

Greg LeMond isn’t content with letting the buck stop with you, why should you be?

If Verbruggen and McQuaid let you get away with cheating because it helped cycling gain popularity, shine a light on their misdeeds.  If systematic doping was a part of other teams’ training programs, share what you were told or made privy to.

LeMond has demonstrated a willingness to doggedly pursue the truth in this matter.  He will stop at nothing to rid cycling of its most notorious cheaters and their enablers.  You can spare us all the drama of an exhaustive investigation into the past.  Your testimony can ensure that the next era of cycling won’t be squandered due to an obsessive desire to reconcile the last era.

Admittedly, my open letter is not nearly as compelling as The apology Lance Armstrong will never give, but I’m certain it will be equally unpersuasive…

And that is very unfortunate.  In the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe that Lance Armstrong was cycling’s equivalent to Lloyd Blankfein or Dick Fuld.  He didn’t create or propagate CDOs.  He didn’t even run a Ponzi Scheme ala Bernie Madoff.  He was akin to the founders of MySpace or Groupon – those plucky IPOs full of promise despite all improbability.  Lance's fatal flaw was getting too greedy and not selling out before investors realized that the product really wasn’t all that special after all.  I’m sure he wasn’t the only overvalued offering on the market at the start of the new century…

It is also unfortunate that he has that little matter of perjury hanging over his head from the deposition he gave in the SCA Promotions lawsuit.  It’s one thing to willingly give back $7 million from his reported $125 million in net worth.  It’s another thing to go to jail for lying under oath.

Cycling has been pretty exciting in the past few months thanks to Travis Tygart’s quest to strip Lance of his 7 TdF titles.  Lance went from a national hero to a scapegoat for all that ails professional bicycle racing.  Yet despite the investigation, the court battle, the sanction, the sponsor defection, the forced resignation, and having his entire career reduced to a late night talk show punchline, precisely nothing has changed in the sport.

The second leading points team from 2012 was denied a Pro Tour license for next season without explanation.  Prominent longtime sponsors (Rabobank, Liquigas) pulled their support, leaving competitive teams holding rider contracts, licenses, and not much else.  A national favorite is being forced to sell its tour buses to pay its last two month’s payroll obligations.  It shouldn’t take a Big Four auditor to see that an antiquated and flawed revenue model not only encouraged doping but is also at the root of all of pro cycling’s other problems.

Lance Armstrong has the ability to actually do what he originally set out to do as a young man on a racing bike: change the history of bicycle racing.  He can become a different type of hero, a true champion.

Lance can champion for all riders and their right to clean competition and fair compensation.  He can lay bare the corruption from the race promoters to the UCI to team management.  He can halt the need for Greg LeMond and Change Cycling Now’s inquisition into cycling’s sordid past.  He can advocate for cycling’s future.

It all comes down to character.  This is Lance’s last chance to reveal his.

 

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Keep riding and be safe!

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