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Summary of Walsh's From Lance to Landis
By Kevin
Posted on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 11:44:27 AM EDT

[editor's note, by chris] This is comprehensive coverage of the Walsh book, including links to various responsive articles in the comments. Nice work Kevin!

David Walsh's book is a history of the mingling of European cycling culture (doping) and American cycling culture from the 1990s on. It weaves the story through the testimony and documentation provided by four doping cases. The book is well written, unfortunately, primary source material is not presented in footnotes or end-notes, and the breezy narrative format doesn't match the gravity of the information presented. In spite of that, this book will spark some discussions that might be useful in moving the sport forward.

I'm at the bookstore, looking for the VeloNews Tour guide, when I'm ambushed by another book that's been on my "don't buy" list since I heard it advertised: From Lance to Landis: Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour de France. I wished to avoid it, because I'm a little tired in reading the stories about doping; it's a bit like driving past a car wreck--you don't want to look, but can't resist. I pick it up, read a couple paragraphs, get hooked, plunk the debit card down, and walk out of the store with a copy. The opening case hooked me, because I hadn't heard much about it: Greg Strock versus USA Cycling, former junior national team coach Rene Wenzel, and former senior national team coach Chris Carmichael. (Yes, that Chris Carmichael, the Tony Robbins of cycling coaches, and a former member of the vampire squad of the 1984 Olympics.)

The story relates how the young, talented Strock was introduced to doping in the European peleton of 1990 while riding in the Banesto development squad:

The next step, says Strock, went further. "I was told I needed an injection and was given one. As well as that I was given these vials and pills, approximately seven to ten days' worth that were to be taken each day in the case of the vials, and the pills twice a day. They were described to me as `a variety of pills and extract of cortisone.'

I got the impression that European cycling is irredeemably corrupt--that when a fresh faced teen goes on his first group training ride, he gets a club jersey, and then some creepy old soigneur comes up and injects pot belge into his temple. Apparently, the American cycling establishment was just as bad: The doping continued, and injections were performed by Wenzel and Carmichael.

Selecting an ampoule and a syringe, Carmichael inserted the needle into the ampoule, drew some liquid, and injected Strock in the upper part of the buttocks. Strock says he was told the injection was "extract of cortisone"

What could go wrong when you mix cycling coaches with medical procedures involving needles? Chronic illness. Greg Strock contracted an extreme form of human parvovirus.

The next case that Walsh discusses is SCA Promotions versus Lance Armstrong. If you've been a cycling fan for more than a couple of years, you've heard it all before in drips and drops from different sources. Walsh elaborates the details of the case, relying mostly on Emma O'Reilly's and Betsy Anrdreu's stories, calls bullshit on the Discovery Channel propaganda about Lance's superhuman physiology, and frames it within the context of the SCA lawsuit.

In a nutshell, SCA is a company that's like an insurer (or bookie) for sports contracts. They structured a deal to pay bonuses if Lance Armstrong won one or more Tours. He won seven, but they didn't pay up, since they heard Lance was a cheatin' dopah. Armstrong sued them to get his cheese. Since most of the evidence available at the time was circumstantial, Lance won. (According to the NPR story: "A panel of arbitrators ultimately ruled in Armstrong's favor. SCA was forced to pay the $5 million bonus, plus $2.5 million more. SCA contends it lost because the bonus contract was poorly written, and not because SCA failed to prove Armstrong had cheated by using banned substances.")

After reading what O'Reilly and Andreu had to say, reading the Vaughter/Andreu IM transcript, and the revelations of Operation Puerto, Basso, and Ullrich I'd have to have my head pretty far up my ass to think Lance was clean.

But what does that mean? We all need to chew on the cycling history of the 90s to make sense of it. Yep, they ALL doped and 99% of them lied about it. The teams, riders, doctors were guilty and the media were pussies complicit. What are the ramifications? I guess we're just starting to get our brains working on that.

Next in line in the book is Tyler. I don't believe Tyler. Nobody needs to flog Tyler anymore.

Finally, Walsh wraps up the book with a discussion of the Floyd. He presents arguments for and against Floyd's Testosterone guilt. The most interesting thing in the Floyd chapter is a few new lines from the infamous Vaughters/Andreu IM transcript:

FDREU: After 1999, you know many things changed. lance did not I believe that's part of whey kevin left, he was tired of the stuff

Cyclevaughters: funniest thing i ever heard--Johan and Lance dumped Floyd's rest day blood refill down the toilet in front of him in last yrs tour to make him ride bad

FDREU: holy shit, I never heard that. that's craz!!!

Cyclevaughters: that's from floyd he rode this year with no extra blood

FDREU: I never knew he did great also

Though I'm weary of dopage, dopage, dopage, I think the sport is finally bottoming out. Hopefully, this book will spark some discussions that might be useful in moving the sport forward.

"); //-->

Tyler, IMO deserves to get dragged through the mud

for ever and ever.

    But then again I'm the sucker who wanted to believe he was the good guy in a world of questionable characters.  Maybe even the anti-Lance.  I didn't worship him or anything like that but he might of been the first athlete that I actually cared about his sponsorships and wanted to support the companies that supported him.  That trust, being the life blood that allows money to flow into the sport should never be violated.  Years later and I'm still following the sport but don't have a favorite rider and no brand loyalty.  I'd prefer to be trusting and supportive, but until the riders figure out a better ethical code than omerta to live by I'll probably keep a certain, safe distance away.

The S. Obedient Flying Dog Boy

by flying dog on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 08:08:58 AM EDT

From lance to Landis

You incorrectly say that sources are not cited in the book.  That is incorrect.  Every source is cited except for the one rider who says doping products were dumped down the toilet on the bus when they were afraid the French police might come onto the bus (1998).  Every other source is named.  The book doesn't rely on just my and Emma's testimony.  Frankie as well testified the hospital incident happened when lance admitted to having used the slew of performance enhancing drugs he did.  Stephanie McIlvain ended up making a better witness for SCA since there is tangible proof she lied under oath to protect lance. Proof also exists that Bill Stapleton, lance's agent, committed perjury as well as having inconsistencies in his deposition and testimony.

by Betsy on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 08:51:18 AM EDT

I misspoke

I'd prefer to see the sources cited as in a scholarly work or more fomal journalistic work, e.g.

[1] Podium Cafe Posting:

Walsh clearly identifies the people that provided his information. I'd like to be able to look at the primary information when applicable.

The tactics from the doper's legal defense playbook are deplorable. I hope most people see right through them now.


by Kevin on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 09:14:05 AM EDT
[ Parent ]

I updated the story

to more accurately state my opinion on that topic.


by Kevin on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 07:44:55 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

NPR story on Betsy Andreu's SCA testimony

can be found here, in case anyone doesn't know the background on this. I know I didn't... Betsy, I admire your honesty. IMO, cycling needs a whole lot more of that

Team Saddle Soar - Winning isn't everything

by Jimbo on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 01:41:21 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

Some links

Lance's response: Walsh is a Liar Who Wants to Cash in on My Name

Skeptic of the Lance

C'mon lance post your defense.

I didn't read it, and I didn't have to. Here's my review


by Kevin on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 10:31:02 AM EDT

same old stuff

lance should release all documents including the conversation between Frankie and Bill; the conversation where Stephanie admits the hospital room happened; all documents and testimonies.  Instead he continues to attack personally.

by Betsy on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 01:32:15 PM EDT

Thanks Betsy

It's nice to have people who find themselves in the middle of cycling stories come by the Podium Cafe, even an unpleasant story (for you and others) such as this. Most of us fans hear various conflicting stories and are left wondering what to believe. If you don't already know, this is a community site where you can chime in on existing posts, or use the diaries to start your own post. You're probably getting more media attention than you want, but if you're inclined you can write a diary and give your own take on things. Either way, you're welcomed here any time.

Got a problem? Va fa Napoli!

by chris on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 05:28:39 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

Lance Fear


I don't have an opinion on whether Lance doped or not, but what I'm sure of is he has the flex of the most powerful of god-fathers.  I get the feeling that there is a very powerful network constantly checking on who's in line with Lance and quickly targeting and neutralizing potential threats to his reputation. I just wonder if it is healthy for cycling to keep this story alive and keep Lance in play.  He obviously has deep pockets, a no-rest attitude towards maintaining his reputation, and absolutely thrives on conflict.  I am a psychotherapist, so at some level Lance is quite the subject of study ( I'll spare you my personality diagnosis).  In short, he flourishes in conflict, whether on the bike or any venue he chooses important, as many like you have found out.  I just wish we would allow him to pass into the history books of cycling and start a new a fresh era of cycling.  If Lance is kept in the picture, it keeps him charged, motivated and focused on an enemy... he thrives on stage and desires it and when the spotlight hits him he shines.  If the stage was taken away, then the only drama he could create would be about fighting cancer, not a bad place to cause drama. My professional opinion (not that it was asked); at times we meet a few people with personality styles so powerful and domineering, that it is better to move on along because a kind-hearted person will be taken apart by them.  Even if dethroning or "winning" against LA were to occur, I guarantee that the cost to your life quality would hardly make it worth it. Just some thoughts...

by jonmholmes on Sun Jul 01, 2007 at 10:31:26 PM EDT

I see your point

Chris - grazie!  Italia e' nel mio cuore.
jonholmes - I hear what you're saying and in some respects you are correct.  However, I disagree with letting lance get away with it all.  He will go at nothing to impugn people's character and it is because of his outright lies the truth must be told.  I always said the doping was bad but it is the cover-up which is bigger.  A reporter told me there was more evidence against lance than barry bonds but lance is hiding behind the cancer.  It is very sad.  Just because he's raising money for cancer doesn't preclude him from his actions and outright lies to further and promote himself.
I have something behind me he doesn't:  the truth.

Articles worth reading:
(short 2 page article on the web)


by Betsy on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 10:05:06 AM EDT

You know what was interesting

in the Bicylcing piece was that the guy made the point that for many years Postal could insure a relative degree of media silence because Lance was a white-hot media figure, and therefore the control of access to Lance insured what I'll charitably call a "soft focus" on certain issues. As the guy said, cycling journos need their finishing line quotes.

Now that Lance isn't racing, that control of access to Lance is not a factor ... and we're starting to see (however glacially) a bit more of a critical eye.

(Let's be honest here, though, too --- barring a few shining examples, sports journalism isn't exactly known for its intelligence or rigor, as evinced by your local paper's sports section, with its larger font and fewer syllables per sentence. Unless you read USA Today, but don't get me started.)

I heard Coyle on the radio shortly after Landisgate broke last year --- I actually found that book to be quite insightful and not at all a fawning portrait --- and the two knucklehead sports-show hosts asked Coyle point-blank if he thought Lance had doped.

Coyle hemmed and hawed, and you could hear issues of access and no doubt potential litigation whirring through his mind, before he finally came back with, "I think that one day Lance will have a Barry Bonds moment before Congress."


by 72andSunny on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 02:10:33 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

truth and belief

Over the years, I've followed the doping stories in cycling, and started to pick up on the patterns from the doping defense playbook.

From a star athelete's point-of-view, he or she is most interested in preserving his or her image in the public's mind. Basically, using the tried and true methods of classical rhetoric to engender a belief in his or her goodness. I think that's accomplished by providing a story about the athelete's accomplishments and life that people can easily understand, and that fits in with the mythical archetypes that are practically programmed into human DNA. Lance, for example, rises from the dead and goes out to conquer the world, not for his personal glory, no for the cancer sufferers out there.

Unfortunately, all the cycling mythology is enmeshed with the doping story. The truth of doping threatens that myth. Those who profit from that myth feel threatened by the doping story.

So, obviously, part of preserving that myth is to attack the credibility of people who say anything negative. The method of attack is to make ridiculous allegations, that are almost always lapped up and repeated by the media. Take Manzano's allegations for example. He basically said, "dude, I saw Valverde remove a Testosterone patch. We were all doing it! Wake up!" He's sullied with the classic--"he was not a very good rider, so now he's trying to make money telling his story" (as if only talented riders can tell the truth). There are people who will sink to some pretty low places--Will Geoghan is just the latest, most disgusting, and most public example--to try to preserve the myth.

The problem that's set before people who wish to tell the truth about this, is that they'll be smeared every which ridiculous way. The problem that is to get your truth through all of the static that they will put out there.

You can do that by being careful to tell the story in a clear, concise,  accurate, and even constructive way. So be careful about how you tell your story, and don't respond to every little slight that's levelled at you. Eventually the tide will turn.

At the same time, in my opinion as a cycling fan, it's not important to unmask Lance, or knock him down, or whatever. He was an important part of cycling history, even if the history of the sport is messy.

The key thing, I think, is how to go about embracing a messy past. That's a problem that people are confronted with again and again, not only in cycling, but in personal life, or politics, or whatever. Probably anyone older than 10 or 11 has done something that they're not proud of, or has suffered someone else's bad actions. There are several ways to deal, or not deal with that.

I don't recommend total destruction. If you look at political history, for example, total destruction of what people believed was corrupt rarely (never?) results in the utopia that the revolutionaries hoped for. Two examples, the French revolution, and the cultural revolution in China. People hoped that by destroying what they felt was corrupt, they would establish perfect political systems. In neither case did that happen. The problem is, the capacity for doing nasty stuff is in everyone.

Cycling is the same problem on a small scale. The cretins that filled cycling to the rafters with EPO and other drugs are still there. I think it would be a mistake to pretend that they are evil, and we are good. We like to think we would do something different if put in their place, but maybe not.

It's always better to step back, take a comprehensive view, and try to do what's really right. Often, it's difficult to determine what really is the right thing to do.

My guess is telling the truth is a good starting point, but simply telling the truth about doping is only a starting point.


by Kevin on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 11:00:04 AM EDT

great comment

Here's something fans can do: stop seeing athletes as anything other than great athletes.

Beyond that, cycling fans--most of whom, in the US at least, started following cycling because they thought it was purer or more noble in some way than traditional American sports--really need to go back and watch Breaking Away carefully.

And, rhetorically, when anyone resorts to an ad hominem attack as a defense, the most reasonable presumption is that they lack a substantive defense.  

by R Mc on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 11:47:29 AM EDT
[ Parent ]

Excellent comment

I would suggest that the IOC/WADA utopian "zero tolerance" policies will eventually lead to the total destruction of professional cycling because of how entrenched and widespread doping apparently is.   I don't believe it will be replaced with something fresh, clean and incorrupt.  It will most likely be worse.  This is the usual outcome when humans are involved.  

by ghisallo on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 12:34:57 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

Nice job Kevin

Got a problem? Va fa Napoli!

by chris on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 01:49:47 PM EDT

Lance Fear... Keep up the fight!

If you and Frankie are resilient and made out of teflon, then keep up the good fight. I agree that he's using cancer as somewhat of a cloak.  I'm also interested in his salary package and its comparison to other non-profit corporations. I think if the masses could better understand the personal destruction he has heaped on many for not being loyal by his standards, then they'll begin to see that Lance's cancer efforts may not be all that genuine and compassionate, but a self-serving effort to service his financial needs throughout the remainder of his life.  On the flip side, he may not be the kindest or most truthful character out there, but his organization continues to raise funds and finance cancer research, and that is good. I also believe that if we remain patient, the truth will come out.  At this point the truth is that many of his Postal / Discovery compadres have apparently turned up doping dirty.  He won 7 tours, yes, but at best he did it with several key support riders juiced to the hilt and each routinely passed all of the doping controls during those tours.  This reality throws the statement, "I'm the most tested athlete in history and have never tested positive, not once!", right into the trash. Maybe the others didn't test positive because Lance and the Postal / Disco team provided the best doping cover and procedures that money could buy; and then he retired and many went and found other teams to ride for and found themselves taking a 2 year vacation and racking up some hefty legal expenses trying to cut short their vacation. Makes me wonder when Tyler Hamilton was becoming a possible threat to Lance and the Disco Team, if he merely call Fuentes and said blow the whistle on Tyler, give him the wrong blood bag and see what happens.  It's interesting to me that the year Tyler was caught was the same year Lance financed, via W.A.D.A, the testing equipment necessary to catch Tyler.  He looks like a anti-doping hero and elimates a threatening rider who betrayed him and Postal in years past.  I wouldn't be surprised if the riders don't speak out because they know they don't have pockets deep enough to fight the Lance legal team as they would file endless libel suits against them. Just some thoughts...

by jonmholmes on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 09:08:08 PM EDT

truth is the best defense

Thanks everyone.  
How did lance get away with it?  A number of factors.  He testified that he gave Hein Verbruggen, yes head of the UCI (the governing body responsible for testing lance) a contribution to the UCI although he, lance doesn't know how much, how he paid, when he paid, why he paid, where he paid.  He spoke to Hein Verbruggen about this donation and under oath guesstimates the donation given to the UCI was $25,000.  From lance's deposition:
Q.(legal counsel for SCA):  So you have no idea why you gave $25,000 to UCI at all.  And you don't even know if you called anyone before --
A. (lance): I don't know.
  Kathy LeMond testified to the following (He being lance's personal mechanic Julian DeVries): "He had told us that he knew of a $500,000 payment to the UCI to cover up a positive control for Lance Armstrong in 1999."  Julian denies this in an affidavit.  Back in 2000, he signed an affidavit stating that the actovegin (cow's extract) found with Postal was for him since he's a diabetic.  How many diabetics use this?
If only Barry Bonds would be so generous to MLB and Bud Selig.

by Betsy on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 09:49:24 PM EDT

Although they don't know why or how

Actovegin helps blood circulation with type 2 diabetes sufferers: bstract

by R Mc on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 10:58:25 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

With all due respect, Betsy

but wouldn't even you agree that your evidence is flimsy and circumstantial at best?

This is not an attack on your character, but merely an observation that you may be fighting an unwinnable fight.  I'd like to know why you are pursuing  "Lance doped to win"  with such vigor.

Fame was like a drug. But what was even more like a drug were the drugs.

by bethie on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 10:54:31 PM EDT


My evidence is not flimsy.  Those who have lied under oath did so to protect lance because they have something to hide.  lance has lied, his agent Stapleton has lied, Stephanie his Oakley rep at the time lied. There is tangible proof.  Why weren't those other people in the room: Chris and Paige Carmichael and Lisa Shiels Bela deposed by lance's legal team? Why wouldn't they talk under oath?  Again, James Startt testified Stephanie told him about the hospital room.  Stephanie testified 2 people (we said doctors) entered the room.  She testifies Paige Carmichael was there. Chris Carmichael, however, in a mere statement says his wife wasn't there. Then when these doctors start asking questions her mind goes blank.  Yet she discussed this same exact situation extensively with us, Greg and James.  If you think I'm going to be a doormat with lance, you're wrong.  He is attempting to discredit me and impugn my character with his outright lies.  Why should I not defend myself with vigor?  This isn't a question of winning it's simply that the truth matters and that lance et al are trying to cover-up that truth. Since 1996 four of the Tour de France winners have been sanctioned for doping except for lance.  Tyler, Floyd, Heras, all guilty of doping.  Frankie and an anonymous rider on lance's Tour team admitted to using epo in 1999.  2005 Basso and Ullrich stand under lance on the Tour podium and he beats these dopers clean?  Oh, I forgot, Basso didn't inhale and Ullrich is now mute.

by Betsy on Mon Jul 02, 2007 at 11:21:42 PM EDT

One moment suggested

that Lance could and would lie, for me, anyway.

I forget which tour--either 01 or 02, probably 01.  A certain Mr. Andreu interviews Mr. Armstrong post-stage, and starts a question with something of "I know how you get" and continues into a "where you trying to put them in their place" sort of question.

Armstrong pooh-poohs this and starts spouting "nice-nice" stuff.  Hmm, thought I, he's good--at lying.

by R Mc on Tue Jul 03, 2007 at 09:32:19 AM EDT
[ Parent ]

Sick and Tired!

I'm not a rider, just an avid fan, not a Lance fan but a fan... I am so SICK and TIRED of hearing about Lance Armstrong, doping, and Betsy.. If Betsy has so much evidence than she should sue Lance in a civil lawsuit for defamation. I don't think you can sue a guy (yet) for being an a**hole and wanting to protect his legacy. He is NEVER going to admit to doping. Move on, shut up, or sue him. I for one want to enjoy the tour and not think that everyone in the Peloton is on drugs! Go Jens....

by miller3 on Tue Jul 03, 2007 at 03:08:15 PM EDT

Not cool

You have every right to be sick and tired. I think a lot of people share your exhaustion of the "Lance doped" story; I for one am fully ready to forget it all given the more pressing issues in the sport, like whether guys who aren't retired are doping.

But I think given our general rule here about civility, and given the fact that whatever you think of Betsy's story she probably hasn't been enjoying her moment in the limelight, saying "shut up or move on" is uncalled for.

Got a problem? Va fa Napoli!

by chris on Tue Jul 03, 2007 at 04:48:44 PM EDT
[ Parent ]

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