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The VV View: It’s Not About the Drugs – Lance Armstrong on Oprah


I didn’t stay up, I must confess; but I was trawling YouTube as the clips were still being posted. The man, Lance Armstrong on Oprah; he “fessed up” – my jaw dropped, I never thought I’d see the day.

Albeit I think his memory is flawed about the comeback years.

I thought Oprah made a decent fist of the rest of the interview.

Lance Armstrong on Oprah
Lance Armstrong talking to Oprah, where it seemed he was rather selective in his admissions and recollections. Photoitelegraph/Reuters

It’s all very well to say that Lance needs to face an ‘Attack Dog’ interviewer – but perhaps the most famous interview in history is Frost/Nixon – they even made a film about it – and Frost was always ‘softly, softly…

But apparently Lance’s confession is not enough – we need more names, more dates… It’ll never be enough for some folks.

It’s already overdue to draw the line in the sand.

And despite USADA’s assertion about Lance running the “most sophisticated professionalized programme” it’s becoming clearer that Rabobank ran them damn close; ‘a way of life‘ says Thomas Dekker.

And let’s not forget that Telekom/T-Mobile were using university facilities and staff on their programme, whilst Raimondas Rumsas’s wife had enough kit in the boot of the family car to keep Festina going through an entire Grand Tour and Ivan Gotti’s folks had their camper van set up as a mobile clinic.

But all of this is forgotten in pursuit of the Devil incarnate – The Poltergeist of Plano.

It’s as if Lance invented drugs culture single handedly and then forced his team mates to take the same kit.

I’ve seen no mention of the calibre of hand gun he held to poor George Hincapi’s temple every time he made him sign those evil big-bucks contracts.

But hyperbole and hypocrisy are the norm when it comes to Lance bashing.

A certain “well known Italian” was imploring Lance to confess all – this is the same man who was tipped-off by the Italian Federation doctor on when and where the testers would be appearing at races.

And word is that the UCI told him to ‘fling a bag over his career’ because his blood values were haywire.

And isn’t it time that David Walsh and Paul Kimmage ‘fessed up’ to the fact that they did not “bring down” Lance Armstrong?

Then there’s the two ‘ill’ megastars who didn’t race for half a season – despite the fact that every time we saw photos of them they looked like film stars.

The word with them was similar; ‘go away and sort out your blood values before you do anything else.’ One of them is now strident in his condemnation of ‘drugs cheats.’

And isn’t it time that David Walsh and Paul Kimmage ‘fessed up’ to the fact that they did not “bring down” Lance Armstrong?

The Texan did that himself; starting the process when he refused to give Floyd Landis a ride on the team, and then there was the slight matter of millions of dollars of US tax payers money.

But they’re happy to bask in the ‘glory.’

If there was ever an endorsement for drawing that ‘line in the sand’ message, it came in the shape of the yesterday’s Argos press release which stated;

“Kemna declared that during his active career as a rider, he had used a banned stimulant (EPO).

“The existent culture in competitive cycling, but also in Kemna’s former team, promoted the use of banned substances.

“Although the prevailing culture and peer pressure certainly influenced his slip, Kemna takes full responsibility for his actions and thoroughly regrets them.”

Kemna will take a six month suspension from his role as DS.

Lance Armstrong on Oprah
Rudi chats to Martin about the Skil team’s approach and attitude, they want to ride with ‘bravura’. Second Rest Day, 2009 Tour de France. Photo©Ed Hood

If you’ve ever met Rudi Kemna then you’ll know that he’s the real thing – committed, focussed and a man whose heart is in the sport.

In my opinion he’s one of the last guys who would point young riders in the direction of kit in 2013.

Perhaps it’s a pre-emptive move and a newspaper is going to run the story ?

But I fail to see the point of gestures like this when the sport is still full of tainted names who keep their heads down and go quietly about their business.

And in the chaos of the Lance pyrotechnics there are changes going down which aren’t healthy.

The Italian ruling not to select riders who have failed drug tests for the Worlds or Olympics seemed like a sensible one to me. Everyone at the highest levels wants to ride the Worlds and being prevented from doing so would certainly carry a deterrent factor.

However, that rule has quietly been rescinded – no reasons given, but it’s believed to be ‘political.’

Ufe Fuentes
By his own admission, Dr. Fuentes was treating many more elite athletes than just cyclists. Photo©Reuters.

And Dave Meek recently reminded me that Puerto has kicked off in Spain but with the caveat from the Spanish Government that only the cyclists – who constitute only around 30% of those involved – should be investigated. The other 70% is believed to contain track and field athletes, top tennis players and members of the Spanish football World Cup squad.

Fuentes has already said that if he tells the whole truth, he’ll found bobbing about upside-down in the Med.

It would be good to know why WADA aren’t jumping up and down.

I’m writing this on the plane to Berlin and the Six Day; our pal Stewart Anthony is making the pilgrimage too – but not to wash shorts or empty pee-pails – like some, I may add.

He’s just handed me a page from the sports section of today’s Times;

“When Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, said here that he had one blood test in seven months and in the next breath felt the doping regime was sound, it was a shocking mixed message.”


Soccer is as bad, if not worse, I heard Wayne Rooney moaning about how intrusive a ‘whereabouts’ system would be.

I’m not presenting an, ‘it wiznae me, it was him anaw‘ argument – but I am saying that the UCI should be fighting the sport’s corner and pointing to the disparities in drug testing standards across the spectrum of sports.

I’m just thankful that the season has started and Cav, le Gorille and Geraint are all doing the biz.

“It’s Not About The Drugs.”

The Guardian’s Owen Gibson writes about WADA calling for all the
names involved in Operation Puerto to be investigated.