Must Reads: How dopers stole the best years of McGee’s career; meet your new Tour champion

Bradley McGee says dopers stole the best years of his career

Tom Zirbel weighs in — Enjoying The Ride

In his personal blog, multiple-time podium-finisher at the U.S. time trial championships Tom Zirbel rails against the witnesses in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s case against Lance Armstrong, claiming they should bot be held as heroes, but as accomplices. After providing substantial assistance to USADA, Zirbel served an abbreviated suspension of his own for a positive control for DHEA — a result he contests.

“Okay, so say that everyone one of the confessors stopped taking PEDs in 2006 as they claim, what about the residual effects of drugs?” Zirbel writes. “Their level of training and racing on PEDs was so much higher than what they could achieve sans that the benefits of that could last for years, right? There are no studies about this that I know of but I have to believe that the grand tours, training, etc. that they did on the juice had to be beneficial to the body for years to come. Not to mention the confidence and other mental aspects gained while riding/racing better than you’re capable of naturally. In all, it seems like a pretty sweet deal for these guys.”

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Massive fraud exposed — Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated recaps the Armstrong Affair, detailing Lance Armstrong’s ascent to the top of the sport through brash riding and bullying behavior.

“It would have been much easier to process last week’s news if we were European,” write the authors. “Across the Atlantic they have long known the truth about a sport that took root in France at the beginning of the last century. ‘For Americans, doping is entwined with questions of character, with goodness and evil,’ Daniel Coyle wrote in his 2005 book, ‘Lance Armstrong’s War’. ‘For Europeans, doping is simply something cyclists are known to do…. [It’s] the same divergence that occurs when a politician is caught out with a mistress: Americans get outraged—How could he? while, Europeans shrug—But of course.’ Five-time Tour winner Jacques Anquetil of France, who rode in the 1950s and ’60s, once said, ‘You’d have to be an imbecile or a hypocrite to imagine that a professional cyclist who rides 235 days a year can hold himself together without stimulants.'”

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The forgotten ones —

Columnist Gwen Knapp explores an angle few have written about at length during the fallout from the Armstrong Affair and the EPO era in cycling: the mysterious deaths of seven riders in 13 months in 2003 and 2004.

“The rightful destination of the seven yellow jerseys taken from Lance Armstrong on Monday will never be clear. In the absence of obviously dope-free Tour de France podium finishers from those years, they might as well go to the most shamefully forgotten people in this scandal,” writes Knapp. “The jerseys can be draped, one apiece, over the graves of seven European cyclists who died young and mysteriously in 2003 and 2004.”

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How dopers stole the best years of my career — The Age

Australian Bradley McGee writes about the impact of doping on his career, and looks back on more than a decade spent racing against riders now known to have been cheating, such as Armstrong and Alexander Vinokourov.

“The Tour started well and in the first week I was able to match the top contenders, but then there was the first rest day,” McGee writes. “After that, Armstrong and his Discovery Channel completely changed the race. In effect they just tore it to bits.”

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Could Armstrong be forced to repay winnings? — Forbes

Tony Nitti covers the financial implications of Armstrong’s stripped Tour titles, specifically the now-open door for organizers and sponsors to pursue the millions of dollars they paid to Armstrong throughout his winning years.

“Now that Armstrong’s titles have been officially vacated, it’s extremely likely that Tour officials are placing hurried calls to their legal department to start the process of recovering the $5 million in winnings previously paid to Armstrong,” Nitti points out.

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Bonus earnings at stake after Armstrong stripped of titles — Forbes

Kurt Badenhausen writes that, in addition to Armstrong’s earnings from race winnings and sponsorship deals, his SCA Promotions bonuses alone total $12 million. Additionally, according to Badenhausen, Armstrong will lose his $15 million annual earnings from speaking fees — up to $200,000 for each appearance.

“The U.S. Postal Service team owner, Tailwind Sports, took out an insurance policy with Dallas-based SCA Promotions in the unlikely even that Armstrong won year after year,” Badenhausen writes. “Expect SCA to try and recoup its $12 million after the UCI’s decision.”

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Covering Armstrong was a wild ride, but the truth came out — Sports Illustrated

Irish journalist David Walsh, author of “LA Confidential,” writes about his experiences covering Lance Armstrong during the Tour-winning years, particularly in light of having published his book, which accused Armstrong of doping, before the 2004 Tour de France.

“The book would sell more than 100,000 copies and reach No. 2 on the French bestsellers’ list, but to Armstrong and those around him it was the Satanic Verses,” Walsh writes. “In the Salle de Presse the previous day, U.S. Postal team director Johan Bruyneel saw me arrive and said at the top of his voice: ‘Hey, Mr. Walsh, good job, good job eh!’”

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Meet your new Tour de France champion — The Wall Street Journal

Jason Gay interviews a rider named “Vacated,” who has inherited Armstrong’s seven Tour victories. Gay poses questions to Vacated, a pale man who cuts a well-defined figure in the peloton, about his background and his newly-inherited wins.

“I’m kind of an all-rounder, you know? I can climb, I can sprint, I can hold my own in a breakaway, and I don’t skip any pulls on the front,” Vacated says. “Also, I can carry a pizza and a raccoon on my handlebars.”

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UCI can’t escape blame — ESPN

Bonnie Ford explores the UCI’s decision on Monday to uphold USADA’s lifetime ban on Armstrong, and the federation’s refusal to accept responsibility for its role in the sport’s EPO era.

“Most of us closely following the developments didn’t expect a mea culpa,” writes Ford. “The UCI’s reaction to the allegations made about those years has been consistent: Denial, the place occupied by all but a few in the sport until Armstrong’s former teammates finally unburdened themselves. McQuaid insisted that positive tests were not covered up. In a hair-raising bit of rationalization, he said he wouldn’t rule out the concept of the federation accepting monetary “donations” from riders, as it did from Armstrong in his heyday.”

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