Least I be accused of practicing ‘Omerta’ here’s what’s on my mind regarding a certain cycling commentator, Mr. Liggett, and his much criticised views on LanceGate…
The last time I wrote on this subject my pal ‘Denis from Montreal’ said; ‘Hood should stick to deraillieur reviews.’
But you have to give grudging respect to any man that still refers to a rear mech as a ‘deraillieur.’
Here on our site we ran the video interview in which Phil Liggett gave to the ‘Ballz’ South African radio station under the banner of ‘Liggett’s hypocrisy.’
The dictionary definition of the word is;
“a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”
Least I be accused of hypocrisy, I have to inform you that I’m not ‘Mr. Cycling’s’ greatest fan when it comes to commentary.
But if Liggett believes that there are other motives behind USADA’s Terminator style onslaught against Lance; ‘it absolutely will not stop, ever!’ then that doesn’t make him a hypocrite.
And it doesn’t necessarily make him wrong, either.
Albeit, I do think he’s naive; Lance looking into his eyes and denying doping means nothing.
Floyd Landis managed to get folks to part with nearly half-a-million green backs on the strength of his lies.
And some of what Liggett says is incorrect; much as it pains me to write it, Eddy Merckx did fail a test other than the alleged ‘framed up’ one in the 1969 Giro.
He actually failed two tests – after the 1973 Tour of Lombardy and 1977 Fleche Wallonne.
But if Liggett believes there are other forces at play, then the man is allowed to think that and say that.
I don’t spend enough time reading the newspapers to be ‘politically aware’ but I do know that things are getting serious in the lead up to the US elections.
Until recently I believed that Lance would ‘walk’ from all the allegations against him, on the grounds that for him to be seen to be the biggest sporting fraud in history would be a PR disaster of huge proportions for the USA.
I don’t know why the Federal investigation against him was halted; the rumour (horrible word) is that they had shed loads of evidence against him.
Given the Machiavellian nature of US politics it’s feasible that the US Government – and remember that’s a Democrat government – didn’t want to be seen to take Lance down.
If they did, then there would be cries that it was ‘political’ – bearing in mind that Lance is a compadre of George Bush and a ‘Good Old Boy’ Texan Republican, who at one stage was rumoured (that word again) to be going to enter politics and run for the governorship of Texas.
But if a sports body took him down, well, that’s different.
And it would do the Democrats no harm for it to become apparent that one of the Republican’s most famous ‘poster boys’ is a cheat on a scale that beggars belief.
Liggett also asks about ‘the evidence’ we’ve all heard so much about – where is it?
I’m not talking about the David Walsh/L’Équipe/forums stuff which we all know about and which has been in the public domain for years.
I mean fresh, hard evidence or testimony.
The testimonies of Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis cannot be taken into account; whilst I have little doubt that huge swathes of what they say will be correct, they lied on a massive scale for years and have to be disregarded.
And as for Tyler’s book; whilst the ‘forum boys’ are salivating awaiting its arrival, it’ll be very difficult to know what to believe.
Tyler wasn’t just cheating at some Flemish kermis, it was on the biggest stage there is – the Olympics.
If the main testimony is from riders who have cut deals with USADA to save their own skin, then that testimony is open to question too.
These riders didn’t voluntarily come forward, burdened by conscience, but rather had to winkled-out, promised immunity and their identities kept secret.
When Bjarne Riis admitted to being doped when he won the 1996 Tour de France, the initial reaction from a conservative Danish public was one of horror.
But as it became apparent that the first ‘clean’ rider in the race would be somewhere around 27th place, the attitude changed to; ‘well, he just did what he had to do.’
By prolonging the agony and failing to present clear, emphatic proof of the Texan’s alleged misdemeanours, Usada are merely fuelling ‘conspiracy’ theories.
And by singling out Lance and not setting the affair in proper context – a cycling world where ‘kitting’ was team-wide barely a secret and the sport’s governing body did close to nothing about it, there’s little doubt they will make Lance a martyr to a large percentage of the public.
The last time I wrote on the subject the mail box response surprised me.
I had expected a flood of righteous indignation about my ‘liberal’ view point.
And whilst ‘Denis from Montreal’ didn’t miss me, I was surprised at how many people believed that the affair was being badly handled and was a waste of time and money.
Liggett also makes the valid point on how USADA can go back to 1998, when their statute of limitations is only eight years?
And his point is unarguable that none of the riders who finished second or third are either ‘clean’ enough or willing to step up to the top of the podium retrospectively, to take the laurels.
Bringing us to his main point; this is one very, very complicated case which has a long ways to go – and it’s hard to argue with that.
Sorry, must dash, I have a Benelux four speed to road test.