By Bookmarked and Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
What the Great White Whale was to Captain Ahab, Lance Armstrong is to author David Walsh. To suggest the Irish sportswriter was obsessed with cycling’s greatest fraud doesn’t do it justice. The relationship between pursuer and quarry was closer to folie à deux. Walsh spent 13 often-very-lonely years trying to convince the world of what he believed was painfully obvious—St. Lance was a cheat. And Armstrong expended just as much energy trying to discredit, humiliate and destroy him.
A journalist with the Sunday Times, Walsh had been covering the Tour de France for a decade when he first met Armstrong in 1993. Initially, he liked and admired the painfully blunt and nakedly ambitious Texan. But when Armstrong returned to cycling’s greatest test in 1999, after his near-fatal brush with cancer, he was clearly a different man: thinner, meaner and much, much better. In four previous Tours, the American had been a threat on the flats, but never in the time trials or climbs (over nine career mountain stages, his best finish was 39th.) Now suddenly he wasn’t just competitive, but unbeatable, laying down scorching rides that eclipsed the feats of men who had already been exposed as dopers. That year, on his way to his first of seven yellow jerseys, Armstrong even failed an in-race drug test. (It was explained away with the help of his doctors and the UCI, cycling’s governing body.) Walsh knew the story didn’t add up, and he earned Armstrong’s eternal ire by pointing it out.
But that’s really just the starting point of Seven Deadly Sins, which chronicles more than a decade of incremental discoveries, denial and enabling. Walsh paid a heavy price for his doggedness—publicly vilified, ostracized by many of his compatriots and forever awash in legal actions. Although, as he describes, many of his sources had it much worse: there were no ends to which Armstrong wouldn’t go to protect his empire.
The book is a victory lap, and as the title suggests, as much about the author as the subject. But Walsh’s engaging and wry style makes even the rehashed aspects of the story well worth the trouble. And for sports fans, and in particular writers, Seven Deadly Sins should stand out for its lesson: if something seems too good to be true, it almost invariably is.
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By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
2012 Newsmakers: Lance Armstrong’s arrogance in the face of incontrovertible truth. Livestrong, as if.
When the shock had worn off and tempers had cooled, the wonder lay not in his misdemeanours but in his resolve. It’s one thing to cheat, another to lie. But to cheat and lie for so long—to draw in teammates, to bind them with threats, to lay waste to their reputations when they confessed—who among us could have done it? We’re used to learning our heroes have feet of clay, that they dope or drive drunk or cheat on their spouses. This was different. Lance Armstrong wasn’t revealed to be human this year. He was revealed to be inhuman.
The lies took more than a dozen years to fall away, hanging this summer by the threads of Armstrong’s brazen denials. Since the first whiff of suspicion back in 1999, when a former French rider spoke publicly about widespread doping in cycling, Armstrong had been on the offensive. He publicly attacked that rider, Christophe Bassons, inviting him to “go home” from the 2000 Tour de France. He ridiculed and sued the truth-sayers who followed—riders, journalists, and racing officials who alleged widespread doping at the highest echelons. In a 2001 TV ad for Nike, Armstrong all but laughed in their faces: “What am I on?” he snarled. “I am on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”
But the drip, drip of revelation kept coming, culminating two years ago in the stunning admission by Armstrong’s former teammate, Tyler Hamilton, that he and Armstrong had taken the blood-doping hormone erythropoietin (EPO) before and during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Tours. Finally, in October, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published its jaw-dropping report on doping on the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery teams Armstrong had led in his seven Tour de France victories. Armstrong wasn’t just a participant in the teams’ doping program, by USADA’s estimation; he was the doping program. His unquenchable appetite for Tour victories, the report said, “led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions, but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and require that his teammates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own.” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, July 23, 2012 at 11:24 AM - 0 Comments
The Olympics in London haven’t even started and yet Britain has already found a…
The Olympics in London haven’t even started and yet Britain has already found a new sports icon.
On Sunday, Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to ever win the Tour de France in its 109 year history. The 32-year old London-native crossed the finish line in Paris wearing the yellow jersey and a winning margin of 3 minutes, 21 seconds, according to the official results. The Daily Mail is even suggesting that this achievement is worthy of Wiggins being awarded with knighthood.
Britain had an extra reason to celebrate their cycling achievements, as 27-year old Mark Cavendish won the final stage in Paris for a fourth consecutive year, writes the BBC.
“It’s a little weird to leave Paris without a party because it would be nice to spend time with the team and really enjoy it,” Wiggins told the AP. There will be little time to celebrate for either, as they must both prepare for the Olympic Games which start on Friday.
By Curtis Gillespie - Monday, July 9, 2012 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
The race is on to make the company, which outfits some of the top riders, a global brand
When the Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal rode to victory in the Giro d’Italia (the world’s second most important race behind the Tour de France), he did so aboard two Toronto-made machines: the Cervélo P5 time trial bike and the Cervélo R5ca road bike. This win vaulted Hesjedal to the first rank of cycling’s elite and put Cervélo at the top of a list it was already near the head of, that being the makers of the world’s finest high-performance bicycles.
But cycling glory isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when approaching Cervélo’s Toronto head office and plant, an unremarkable building that looks like it ought to house a discount furniture warehouse. It’s not until you pass through a cardkey-guarded door that the real operation reveals itself. Banks of technician’s desks line the office floor—much as you’d imagine in a Silicon Valley start-up—but it’s what’s hanging from the ceiling that particularly captures the eye. Row upon row of bicycles hang from heavy-gauge wire: early road bikes, carbon-frame bikes, the 2008 Tour de France winning bike. Hesjedal’s Giro bike will soon be hanging here. In the hint of an air-conditioned office breeze, the machines seem to sway like giant wind chimes.
A staggering amount of research and tech development has gone into the bikes. Head aerodynamics engineer Damon Rinard was lured away from Trek bicycles nearly four years ago by Cervélo CEO Phil White (who co-founded the company with Gerard Vroomen) because they shared one simple passion: to make riders go faster. “It’s so enlightening and liberating,” says Rinard, sitting in Cervélo’s boardroom. “Because at most places you’re making decisions for a thousand different reasons, but here we make decisions based on one thing: will it make our clients faster? That’s it.”
By Kate Lunau - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 3:11 PM - 0 Comments
The Canadian cyclist’s win at the Giro d’Italia took training, skill and the right genes
On May 27, cyclist Ryder Hesjedal, 31, won the prestigious Giro d’Italia—the first Canadian to claim one of cycling’s three Grand Tour events, which include the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. The Victoria native entered the race’s ﬁnal stage trailing Joaquin Rodriguez by 31 seconds, but after powering through the individual time trial in Milan, he ﬁnished with a total time of 91 hours, 39 minutes and two seconds, to claim the title.
“It took a combination of skill, technology, tactics and physiology to get that result,” says Jacques Landry, high performance director of the Canadian Cycling Association. Here, the science of Hesjedal’s incredible win.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Friday, July 2, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 2 Comments
Accusations of cheating are louder than ever as Lance Armstrong gets on his bike
Lance Armstrong’s Twitter feed has more than 2.5 million followers. Among them, apparently, the many men charged with making him pee into a cup. Last week, the world’s most famous cyclist and his RadioShack teammates went on a reconnaissance mission to check out the mountain stages for this year’s Tour de France. “Headed to the Pyrenees now,” he posted from his phone, just before lunchtime.
Three hours later, when their convoy pulled up at the hotel, representatives from both the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD) were waiting, testing kits in hand. The seven-time Tour champion allowed himself a not-uncommon moment of snarkiness. “Nice communication guys,” he tweeted before heading off, under watchful eyes, to the bathroom. Minutes later, a little lighter and cooler-headed, he was back online. “For the record—I don’t mind the controls. Part of the game. Test me any time, anywhere, result will always be the same, nothing to find.”
By selley - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 1:37 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: …Jonathan Kay on Omar Khadr; Dan Gardner on the Templeton Prize; Jeffrey Simpson
Goodbye to Guantanamo?
One convincing argument for Omar Khadr’s repatriation, and one train wreck.
The National Post‘s Jonathan Kay lays out a concise four-pronged case for Omar Khadr to be returned to Canada. Prong one: His upbringing was perfectly analogous to that of African child soldiers, who have Canadians’ unqualified sympathy—and thus he should be treated, as they were, as a victim. Prong two: we don’t know that Khadr committed any “crime” at all, and given the American military’s penchant for suppressing evidence and “cover[ing] up friendly-fire deaths,” it’s perfectly reasonable to doubt whether he threw the fatal grenade that killed a US medic (and, we’d add, that he’d ever get anything resembling a fair trial). Prong three: anything he did do was not an act of terrorism, but an act of war played out “on American terms.” Prong four: he’s been treated worse at Guantanamo than any convicted adult murderer would be in either the U.S. or Canada.
That’s pretty difficult to argue against, so the Toronto Star‘s Rosie DiManno doesn’t. Instead, like a ten-year-old, she mocks: “Omar Khadr, the intermittent Canadian, wants to come hooooooome.” It’s a splendid example of the witlessness Khadr’s up against, but what’s amazing is that DiManno agrees with at least two of Kay’s prongs. She says, for instance, that Ahmed Said Khadr “indoctrinated” his son “into the currency of violence.” Now, however the hell you indoctrinate someone into a currency, that sounds like a child soldier to us—but she’s explicitly rejected the idea in the past. She also agrees that “a grenade thrown in the midst of combat isn’t an atrocity,” but perfectly normal. And yet, she devotes the lion’s share of her piece to comparing Khadr’s treatment to “real” torture—thumbscrews and the like—which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with anything. And she concludes that to whatever extent Khadr was victimized, she’s “not sure” his situation justifies absolution” (which needn’t be offered) or “a cheering section” (which, luckily, doesn’t seem to exist).
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 4:48 PM - 0 Comments
La première étoile:… The Continental Hockey League, or the Russian Super League, or whatever
La première étoile: The Continental Hockey League, or the Russian Super League, or whatever it’s called. Who cares. It’s performing a vital public service by taking on every thug, reject and washed-up problem child the NHL casts off and paying him way too much tax-free money to lace up—with all due apologies to Yammy Jagr. The latest are Ray Emery and Chris Simon. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Theo Fleury?
Two minutes for … tardiness. To the state of Kentucky. Having stopped it’s ears and closed its eyes for years to the misuse of steroids on racehorses, the state has just now formed a commission with the power to ban the stuff. Sorry, to vote on banning the stuff. No rush or anything.
Who’s got tickets? Continue…