Mainstream America woke up to a very different story about Lance Armstrong yesterday.



The Wall Street Journal published an article headlined Blood Brothers, after conducting an extensive interview with Floyd Landis.



Landis admitted doping and levelled allegations at Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong in May when emails he had sent to the cycling authorities were leaked onto the internet. He has since been co-operating with the Food and Drug Agency as government agent Jeff Novitsky seeks to investigate allegations of doping at the US Postal Service team.



The Wall Street Journal article is a tale of clandestine blood transfusions and allegations of systematic doping.



Those who have been following cycling on a day-by-day basis may have been underwhelmed by the allegations in the article. Anyone who has taken a look at the wild west that is the online forum community will have heard similar stuff for years. They may be tempted to say it’s all been denied before and nothing has ever come of it, so what’s new?



However, the Wall Street Journal article is hugely significant for two reasons.



Firstly, it is a credible, mainstream newspaper that people read over their breakfast cereal and coffee - not an internet forum where the wild conspiracies have to be sorted from the grains of truth. Secondly, the article provided a level of detail we have not seen before, certainly not in print. The article gives a date and a place. It says that on July 12, 2004, the Tour de France rest day, Johan Bruyneel organised blood transfusions for Landis, Armstrong, George Hincapie and Jose Luis Rubiera. It says that Lance Armstrong doped during that Tour.



Cynicism about the role the media plays in stories like this is understandable. But the Wall Street Journal is not some rag-bag tabloid. It is a serious paper and its editors must feel they are sure of their facts to publish such a direct accusation.



Perhaps Armstrong or Bruyneel will sue the newspaper, although Armstrong seems to be more concerned with attacking Landis, comparing him to a carton of sour milk in the statement.



On the face of it, that has to be seen as the weakest of denials. Armstrong has been directly accused of cheating in an article published in a mainstream newspaper that has to adhere to the libel law. What does Armstrong do? Pour scorn on his accuser and resort to name-calling rather than robustly challenge the media organisation to produce its evidence and stand up for every word.



WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

The UCI will, presumably, sit on its hands. Darach McQuaid, the brother of the UCI president Pat McQuaid, said on his Twitter page yesterday: “I’ve read WSJ article twice now, and still I wonder what concrete evidence is there 2 justify a paper of such reputation to go 4 this story.”



Of course Darach McQuaid cannot - and is not - speaking on behalf of either his brother or the world governing body, but it is another demonstration that the UCI’s president is too close to Bruyneel and Armstrong.



One has to wonder what set of circumstances will force the UCI to shine a spotlight on the past conduct of Bruyneel and Armstrong.



ASO, the organiser of the Tour de France, is barely independent. It has allowed itself to be compromised too. Anyone who has been in Rotterdam in the run-up to the prologue will see how intertwined the Tour de France has become with Livestrong.



There are Livestrong tents selling T-shirts (made by Nike) and wristbands. Livestrong has people roaming among the crowd selling wristbands. And Livestrong vehicles are a part of the Tour’s publicity caravan.



While it is laudable that the Tour de France should allow a charitable organisation to publicise itself at the race, does it have to be this particular charity? There needs to be openness lest people come to think that the Livestrong brand’s presence at the Tour is a giant yellow security blanket for Armstrong.



The Tour needs to be transparent in this respect too. As does Nike. People who are purchasing these products - identifying the Livestrong name with the cancer charity effort - should be told, up front, what percentage of each sale goes to the charity.



AN AMERICAN CONSPIRACY?

In 2005, when L’Equipe pieced together the jigsaw of the 1999 urine samples and declared that Armstrong had used EPO its story was headlined Le Mensonge Armstrong - The Armstrong Lie.



Now the Wall Street Journal has published allegations that give specific information about how and when Armstrong and some of his team-mates apparently doped.



On Friday, the day before publication, a rumour spread across the internet that Armstrong’s lawyers had tried to take out an injunction to prevent the article being published. That, we understand, was not true. There was no injunction.



There was no repeat of the Festina Affair or the Operacion Puerto scandal yesterday. There was only a smattering of journalists at Radioshack’s hotel on Sunday morning, a few hours after the story broke.



Armstrong’s most defiant fans will point to his fourth place in the prologue as a demonstration that there’s nothing in this story.



But others believe this story is a juggernaut that is only just getting up to speed.

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

Armstrong under fire as Landis allegations reach mainstream

Team Sky’s decision to put Wiggins off early back fires

Millar and Thomas hold their nerve in Rotterdam rain

Armstrong defiant in wake of latest revelations

Thomas looks to prologue and sporting new stripes|

Florencio kicked out of Cervelo team on eve of Tour

Tour teams presented in Rotterdam: What the riders said

Andy Schleck faces rough ride over Tour cobbles

Riis: Tour is the goal for Schlecks despite sponsor problems

Armstrong on Arenberg: There will be carnage

Cavendish set for green jersey battle at the Tour

Hunt and Lloyd look forward to making their Tour debuts

Tour de France 2010: Stage reports



Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos



Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Race guide



Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index



Official start list, with race numbers



Brits at the Tour 2010



Tout team guide



Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean



Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures



Tour team presentation, Rotterdam



Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special

 

  • Bandage

    I’m an Armstrong fan, but specifically due to the work of his foundation. Opinion has always been that he must have been cheating because of his unprecedented success. The stories will never go away if no evidence is found. The Armstrong witch hunt has been going for years because he’s the first globally recognised Cyclist and therefore big news (I don’t think he’s the greatest ever, just the biggest profile outside the cycling world).

    Do i think he doped in the past… Yes!

    Do i think most of the peleton were at it in those days… Yes!

    Doping was systematic, and we all know that. What’s important is that cycling moves forward, and thankfully strides are being made toward cleaning up the sport and not before time. Interestingly when I travel abroad that a lot of people think that the GB Track team must dope as how can they be so successful without it. (I’m sure nobody in Great Britain believes that, but it goes to show how things can be perceived).

    Landis… you disgust me, even if all your allegations are true why didn’t you state all this earlier on the previous occasion you bared your soul? No, let’s wait until the the tour for maximum publicity for poor old me and have no regard to the sport you profess to love. Cycling is far more important than Armstrong, or any other rider and what hurts our sport is that because of the likes of Roid Landis, the storys at the start of the tour are all about doping and not actually about the the race itself.

    Finally, does anyone know where i can get a motor for my bike, i want one… allegedly!

  • I Like Our Credibility

    Daniel Bopp, it’s not weak-minded if, as the newspaper says, the Wall Street Journal has three sources backing up what Landis said.

  • Mick

    Larmay, It is quite possible Phonak didn’t have a Program in place during Hamilton’s time as leader…
    Since Hamilton was linked to Fuentes (Operation Puerto), it is been established through Fuentes’ records that Hamilton did his doping independent of the team, paying for the program himself.

  • Daniel Bopp

    Let’s be clear: The WSJ article reported allegations made by Flyod Landis (and some others), it did not report these things as facts uncovered by the newspaper. It also reported on the enormous credibility issues which undermine Landis as an accuser. As always, the WSJ did a fine job reporting and wrote an interesting article which allows the reader to draw his own conclusions. However, to somehow extrapolate the reporting of Landis’ allegations into facts supported by the full weight of the WSJ considerable reputation as a news organization is simply not logical, and frankly, quite weak minded.

  • Larmay

    Hey take it easy Equalizer – just saying some things Landis is claiming don’t ring true. Perhaps if Landis hadn’t spent the last four years saying whatever was best at any given time for Floyd Landis we’d all be a bit more minded to believe him now.

  • The Equalizer

    You seem to have selectively applied your own brand of logic to what the Wall Street Journal actually said there, Larmay.

    Landis said there was no ‘doping programme’ when he joined Phonak. That doesn’t necessarily mean riders weren’t doping. It means there was no programme of systematic doping organised and orchestrated by the team. It’s quite simple to understand really.

    Anyway, wasn’t Hamilton a client of Madrid-based doctor, Eufemiano Fuentes – suggesting that when he left US Postal his doping was done out-of-house?

  • Ken Evans

    Will Armstrong try taking the WSJ, Landis, or anyone else to court ?

  • Larmay

    One bit of trivia I found interesting among Landis’s revelations is that, apparently, there was no doping system in place at Phonak when he joined. Who was the Phonak team leader before Landis? Tyler Hamilton.
    So there was no doping at Phonak when Hamilton was the squad’s star rider? Smells like another Landis porky.

  • dim

    @jr “That article, while “more detailed”, only repeated what was already known. There was no news”

    Yes there was. The fact that THREE riders have spoken to the wst (and assumedly) the feds, and one of those has admitted doping is news. We knew that 2 riders had co-operated (and are riding the tour), the third was news.

    We did not previously know about the sale of bikes to fund the doping program. We knew there were issues over bikes, riders riding old bikes in the vuelta etc but we did not know why.

  • Brian

    “I assume that everyone agrees that Armstrong came 3rd last year with out any dope. ” No Robert Duncan, I disagree. Armstrong came 3rd last thanks to doping as always. It is a testimony to his talent as the greatest ever cheat. FYI there is currently in France a police investigation regarding seryngues with traces of blood and insulin found at last year TDF in the Astana team. Bruyneel and Galopin have already been invited to answer some questions. Obviously they denied … But the French police just like the FBI will give not up.

  • Al Spohn

    Conspicuous is the fact that this article never brought into question Landis’ shredded credibility. Also, there is a profound difference to be had between a paper having proof to back up allegations and having the story vetted for legality. The statement that “there must be something to it” just doesn’t stand up merely because this paper isn’t a tabloid. And let’s face it – anybody can come up with “specifics” – good lord, I could write a more convincing testimonial riddled with specifics that could never be confirmed. The tone of this article, i.e., “What more does the UCI need?” smacks of the same old sour grapes – thankfully the fact that Landis essentially brings nothing to the table is recognized by the majority of the press and cycling savvy public.

  • JR

    The WSJ maybe used to be a respectable newspaper, but it’s not so clear now. Remember Rupert Murdoch bought it a few years back and it may be trending tabloid, trying to increase its readership.
    It was mainstream as a business paper, but not as widely read as you seem to think.

    That article, while “more detailed”, only repeated what was already known. There was no news. The interview with Landis was in May, so they held the article to July 3 to get attention from the start of the Tour. That’s crass hyping of the story.

    My point is, printing the same claims in a different forum does not make them stronger. And the WSJ is not looking so high class these days as you imply.

  • mays

    i did wonder why armstrong wasnt rushing off to court to sue.

    but then i remembered.

    hes got dirty hands….

  • barry davies

    if you look at armstrongs blood values from last years tour his values rise as the tour goes on especially after the rest days.
    after the giro the UCI stated that they expected blood values to decrease as the race went on proving that there was no doping
    so how come armstrong is allowed to ride with increasing blood values???
    oh yes he gave between $25000 – $500000 depending who u belive to the UCI.

  • Wendi

    Landis SHUT UP! You are embarassing yourself. “Coming out” over and over makes you look awuful. WHY do it now? Let’s just follow the race. You’ve made your claim not SHUT UP!!!

  • Ronald Duncan

    I assume that everyone agrees that Armstrong came 3rd last year with out any dope.

    My view is that Armstrong would be insane to dope on his comeback, and give all the nay sayers credibility that he doped all along. Armstrong seems sane, intelligent and committed to his charity, which would be destroyed if he doped on his comeback.

    So assuming that Armstrong has half a brain and is not doping on his comeback. 3rd last year was amazing, and beating Contador to be top of the potential GC contenders in the prologue is a big big testimony to his talent age 38, whilst having all the distractions of this charity work.

    Compare with some other legends
    Hinault last win aged 31 came 2nd at 32 and retired
    Anquetil last win aged 30 raced 3 more years without wining tour 3rd in Giro at 32 and 33 years
    Merckx last win aged 30 came 2nd at 31,and 6th at 33
    Indurain last win aged 29 came 11th at 30

    If any of them could have won a 6th they would have done it. They all lost their legs as they got older.

    So Armstrong to come back and look like he was not cycling smoothly and still come 3rd, whilst almost certainly clean is a real testimony to his talent as the greatest ever, along with his ability to keep winning tours up to the age of 33, after missing his peak years with cancer.

  • Mauhum

    I so far sit on the fence on this affair, and agree innocence until proved guilty, but in the past, anyone who has accused Lance of doping has faced a lawsuit. Landis is singing like a bird, but no hint of Lance taking him to court. All he does is put Landis down, comparing him to a carton of sour milk. I find this odd, don’t you?!

  • Brian

    Very good article CW! Pro cycling is so corrupted. I will always be disgusted by Armstrong talking about “Credibility”. This cheat is nothing more than a living liar. Credibility he has none. No wonder that the UCI has prevented the AFLD to carry out the tests since Lance the doper came back.

  • John Petrocik

    Question: How can you tell when a liar is telling the truth?

    Second question: How can you tell when Lionel Birnie is reporting rather than conducting an on-going campaign?

  • barry davies

    Armstrong can easily dope up to the eyeballs and win this tour, because there is no way that the UCI will announce that he has failed a test, he has Mcquiad in his back pocket
    I got 6/1 odds on him winning so looking forward to making some money out of the cheat.

  • rufus

    There is no smoke without fire.

  • mikieg

    Landis is a proven liar, cheat and con-artist(his appeal for funds to prove innocence). As far as I can see all he has given the newspaper is a statement with dates. But where is his evidence to back up what he says? I don’t know of any documented failed tests by Armstrong only alleged accusations by L’Equipe and Landis. I have no love for Armstrong and hope he doesn’t make the podium this year but we need definitive evidence to prove him guilty and I haven’t seen any yet.

  • John Calliott

    Just prior to the Wall Street Journal article, there were other stories in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times telling about the real Lance. The Times, for example. mentioned that riders from other teams who were present recalled how Armstrong badmouthed Contador at the Astana dinner table while Contador was there. Americans trust those three publications, and especially the Wall Street Journal, which did interviews to corroborate the details.
    So, what’s up with Carlton from Eurosport UK? From the day the Landis story first hit, he’s tried to rubbish the story. Yesterday out of all the messages they received, he chose to read a “most tested, never positive” one. Today out of stories in a number of papers, he said that Landis talks, but the media isn’t bothering to cover it. I cringe when I hear his voice.

  • Séamas M.

    Innocent until PROVEN guilty doesn’t mean anyone should stop looking for the proof.

  • Robert Harper

    I believe that Armstrong most probably has doped at some stage of his career however this article seems to be written with the purpose of adding to ‘the juggernaut’.
    What I failed to read in this article was any mention of Landis’ rather unconvincing past. A man that wrote a whole book based on the fact he didn’t dope! He lost his credability some time ago.
    The passing reader may miss the fact that this article is so completely biased. I’m not a huge fan of Armstrong but change the record CW, in fact, why not change it to a record about certain Italin ‘legends’ (some of whom were caught doping rather than just accused of it)

  • GD

    safe to say CW is on the juggernaut. Articles are increasingly anti Armstrong and becoming tiresome. Innocent until PROVEN guilty.

  • myles

    balanced and on the button

  • myles

    balanced and on the button

  • Matthew

    Good piece. Lance keeps shifting the argument to talk about “credibility”, I don’t care about credibility, I care about truth.

    Like if a mafia/gang boss is convicted based on evidence of someone who was also formerly in the same gang. Generally people don’t break rules in front of others who possess outstanding moral conscience or integrity. Sure the person providing the evidence might not have much integrity, but they may well be telling the truth.

    Anyway if we really must change the argument to talk about credibility instead of the truth: I like the multi pultizer prize winning Journal’s credibility, I like it a lot.

    As an aside — Darach McQuaid also had a Trek bike used by Lance Livestrong for sale on eBay. Highly amusing given the allegations of how the systematic doping program used by US Postal was funded…!
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2010/0515/1224270461694.html

  • Festinagirl

    Darach McQuaid has been selling an Armstrong Trek bike on ebay, according to the Irish Times. Interested to know why this is acceptable to Trek yet they took Greg Lemond to court for the same thing? Obviously It’s not about the bike but the corruption, greed and dark heart of cycling.

  • keith warmington

    A good article and the point about the legitimacy of the paper is well made. The Wall st Journal doesn’t publish articles like this without being sure of its ground and , importantly , it will have been legalled first . I agree that Armstrong’s reaction is curious … no truth in it then surely a wealthy man with his own legal team would be taking action not resorting to name calling . Finally the relationship between armstrong /bruyneel and the UCI and AMO has long been far too cosy . If anything called for transparency it’s this .