Phil Fabrizio

Stage 1 Goes to USADA

FAT LADY’s Sad Song & Armstrong’s Legacy Await!

Tour de France yellow jersey

Tour de France – Yellow Jersey

Lance Armstrong said it. Basta! “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say ‘enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” he said on Thursday, August 23, 2012 as he gave up his battle with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

For those of you with a short memory check out my MCM blog on Armstrong and the USADA earlier this summer titled Basta at www.mymcmedia.org/basta/ to get the background context for what I write about next.

I was wrong and was sort of right.

I figured Armstrong would fight the allegations brought on by Travis T. Tygart, head of the USADA. I was wrong. He raised the white flag while claiming his innocence to all doping allegations.

I was right and wrong about Basta!

Basta in Italian means ‘enough’. I said in my earlier blog that we have had enough of the high profile governmental cases against sport athletes. No longer is Armstrong the high-profile target. The USADA is.

So in the above BASTA context I am right. Armstrong sidestepped – the process of defending himself in front of the USADA. He’ll swallow the medicine – a lifetime ban from the sport of cycling and supposedly give up his 7 Tour de France yellow jersey titles. Enough.

This however is only Stage 1 of an even bigger World Tour involving cycling – in a post Armstrong era that began on Friday, August 24th.

Phil, what are you blogging about?

Wait for it!

The FAT LADY has not sung her sad opera tune yet.

Readers, please answer the next three questions for me.

1) Should a taxpayer-funded agency under the Executive Office of the President of the United States rule on a sporting event that takes place in Europe?

2) Will the International Cycling Union (UCI) who governs the international sport allow the USADA to disallow Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France wins?

3) Why would the French, who basically sponsor the Tour, even agree with anything that smacks of U.S. interference with their national event? (PS – that would be like us letting the French tell Major League Baseball – what teams really won the World Series during the steroid era and going back and removing all winning players rings if they took PED’s – a fat chance of that happening.)

The answers to those first two questions and many more raised by USADA actions these past four months against Armstrong will be determined in future stages.

As for answering the third question you can bet that the Amaury Sport Organization, which runs the Tour de France, will act solely on their own interest and not one that adheres to the desires of either the USADA or UCI.

For a touch of reality on how convoluted this lengthy opera is check out Bicycling’s Joe Lindsey’s article titled Texas Fold ‘Em in Bicycling Web Magazine at this URL http://bicycling.com/blogs/boulderreport/2012/08/24/texas-fold-em/
So while the FAT LADY dressed in 7 Tour de France jerseys waits on stage left, there will be more twists and turns to this story than you will find on any French Alps roadside. The answers to all of the above and much more await.

Meanwhile, Armstrong who has had enough basically said – go ahead boys and girls you fight this out – I am going to kick back, pop a Michelob Ultra and enjoy my retirement from cycling, raise some money for my cancer foundation and go on with life, watching my kids grow. TAG, you’re it!

That leaves the USADA wearing the leader’s jersey – something that they did not count on – before starting this inquest. For the next leader stage is to defend their actions to not only the sport of cycling, but to – yep you guessed it – The American People (TAP). Because before this is all over we will have Congress investigating the powers and actions afforded to the USADA – and whether the rights of American citizens (mostly Olympic sport athletes; TAP) that are called to appear before the USADA are afforded due process and protection. (Like, Congress and TAP really need this future distraction.)

Only after all that will the FAT LADY come out to sing on the final opera STAGE.

MY PREDICTION – The music score will be:

No winners here – just many tragic players left on the side of the road on this uphill course nursing wounds.

Armstrong, my guess, will retain at least 5 Tour de France Yellow Jersey’s from 1999 to 2003. For 2004 and 2005, the Yellow Jersey’s that fall within the confines of the USADA eight year ‘look-back’ when doping was said to have continued – those jersey’s will be surrendered.

Then in a spirit of compromise – athletes, the ruling oversight agencies and the US Congress, and maybe even sponsors will revise rules and statues to prevent this operatic tragedy to athletes’ rights that we are now witnessing from ever being played out again.

That revision perhaps will be the true legacies measure Armstrong leaves on this, his sport of cycling.


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Phil Fabrizio

About Phil Fabrizio

Phil Fabrizio is an event and sports photographer in the Washington DC Metro area. He lives in North Potomac, MD and has operated Sugarloaf Photography since 1985. Currently he is a staff photographer with The Town Courier Newspaper in Gaithersburg and Urbana MD. Stop by Phil's SugarLoaf Photography site or visit his SugarLoaf Photography facebook page.

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