Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Savile: fallen heroes

The names of two fallen heroes have featured widely in the headlines this week: Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Savile. Although the alleged offences are very different, the two cases do have things in common. 

Both Savile and Armstrong were famous (admittedly Savile's fame was probably largely confined to the UK), which made those in the know reluctant to come forward, and Britain's libel laws may well have helped to hide the truth. In Armstrong's case there was a libel case following the publication of an article by David Walsh in The Sunday Times, which was eventually settled out of court in Armstrong's favour. The Sunday Times is now reported to be considering taking action to get that money back, said to be around £1 million including costs. Both Armstrong and Savile raised large sums for charity, which provided protection. Savile may well have chosen those charitable acts that put him in a position to abuse children.

As well as The Sunday Times revisiting the libel settlement, Armstrong may also face legal action from SCA Promotions who were reluctant to pay out $5 million on Armstrong's sixth Tour victory in 2004 because of suspicions of drug-taking. The Federal investigation against Armstrong may perhaps be reopened and he could face perjury charges at having denied ever doping in court. In the meantime Nike continues to support him – will avoid buying Nike in the futute, although I can't recall having brought their products in the past.      

The fallout from the extraordinarily detailed case against Armstrong released by the USADA (US Anti-Doping Agency) continues to reverberate. Johan Bruyneel has been dismissed/left by mutual consent from his job as boss of the Radioshack team, while Matt White, sport director at Orica-GreenEdge, has also resigned over his doping past.  Unfortunately their likely successors are both reported to have failed drug tests while competing. 

The UCI (International Cycling Union) has yet to decide what to do. They have 21 days from receiving the USADA report (10th October 2012) to decide whether to accept it or go to arbitration. It will be difficult for them not to accept it but the USADA report repeats the accusations made by Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton that the UCI know about Armstrong's doping, covered up postive tests and accepted a large donation from Armstrong. Exactly the accusations over which the UCI, Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen took Floyd Landis to a Swiss court and will be taking Paul Kimmage to in December. 

If the UCI accept the USADA report can they really continue to take Kimmage to court? If McQuaid and Verbruggen had any sense they would have dropped the case by now not least in recognition of the role that Kimmage played in exposing Armstrong's doping. Left to the UCI nothing would have happened with Verbruggen only last year insisting that Armstrong had never doped!     

Kimmage's defense fund has now past $61,000 ($61,740.95)* with contributions from 2001 donors. If the UCI continues its action this total will surely grow substantially – I will certainly be making a further contribution. This steady increase in the Paul Kimmage fund not only reflects support for a journalist singled out by a powerful association but is more and more becoming a vote of no-confidence by cycling fans in the UCI. What a PR disaster for UCI!  

David Millar has called for Verbruggen to resign, while Christian Prudhomme, boss of the Tour de France, wants there to be no winner between 1999 and 2005 (the seven Armstrong years) as it is almost impossible to find a top contender in those years who was clean. Many have also called for McQuaid to go, too.          
There have been articles on those brave enough to speak out years ago about the doping – Betsy Andreu, Emma O'Reilly and Filippo Simeoni.    

Sadly the veteran broadcaster, Phil Liggett, made himself look ridiculous at the end of August with his attack on the USADA calling the organisation 'nefarious'. Retirement may beckon. 

Further coverage on SteepHill here.  

15.10.12: * Paul Kimmage Defense Fund is now over $62,000 ($62,060.95) with contributions from 2019 donors.


Frank said...

Unfortunately the USADA and WADA have been negligent in their custody of samples. Or are those reports due to the Armstrong propaganda machine as well?

If their adherence to professional standards had been impeccable, it's possible that fewer people would have gotten away with doping for so long.

Jim Budd said...

Frank. It is possible but I haven't seen the reports that suggest USADA and WADA have been negligent.

The onus is surely on the UCI to explain why this doping culture went on so long, especially after the Festina affair in 1998. Why did they accept a large donation from Armstrong?