There’s at least one immediate repercussion of the latest batch of charges and allegations against Austin cycling icon Lance Armstrong: His triathloning days are all but over, including his goal of doing the Hawaii Ironman later this year.
The case against Armstrong brought by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Wednesday means he is immediately banned from competing in the triathlon because it is an Olympic sport and subject to the policies of the USADA which oversees the anti-drug campaign in Olympic sports in the U.S.
But unlike the Federal case against Armstrong, which was dropped in February, the USADA charges—if proven—don’t bring criminal ramifications. However, he would be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles (1999-2005) and possibly his Olympic bronze medal from the 2000 Games. Even worse, he would be forever branded as a drug cheat.
On Wednesday, Armstrong maintained his innocence of the doping charges that the USADA details as EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone between 1998-2005 and that he previously used EPO, testosterone and human growth hormones through 1996.
Armstrong released a statement on Wednesday which read, in part: “I have never doped and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.”
It’s good to hear such a strong denial after so many obfuscating statements from him in the past—“I like our story better than their’s”—but simply because Armstrong says he has passed drug tests means zilch to the USADA, USOC and to the American public which has grown weary of this stuff.
Drug cheats such as Ben Johnson, Mark McGwire, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Manny Ramirez, Justin Gatlin as well as Armstrong teammates Floyd Landis, Frankie Andreu and Tyler Hamilton all passed numerous drug tests, denied everything and later copped to doing performance-enhancement drugs.
The Tour de France peloton has been the dirtiest group of athletes in the world. Guilt by association doesn’t mean much and Armstrong is innocent until proven guilty, but it’s always been a stretch to believe that he was the one clean rider in the race who also happened to be the best by a historically wide margin. As much as we want to believe in his innocence, that simply has never added up.
Making it even harder to believe in Armstrong’s innocence is that so many of his former teammates now admit to doping. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Armstrong did anything wrong, but Landis and Hamilton will almost certainly testify under oath—as will 10 other riders—against Armstrong. USADA has other evidence it intends to use in its case against Armstrong.
Armstrong must decide by June 22 whether he will attend these hearings and face his accusers. He’s already declined to meet with the USADA because, his attorney said, USADA wanted a confession, not more information.
From the case USADA is building, it sounds like the agency is confident it has all the information it needs. If Armstrong loses this latest fight, he will receive a lifetime ban which will include the triathlon.
Unfortunately, he’ll lose a lot more than that.
- Services were held this afternoon for Mark Gobble. The 37-year-old father of two was killed while running on Sunday morning near Circle C by a hit-and-run driver. Gobble, who had been a history teacher and associate principal at the Texas School for the Deaf and was a Ph.D. candidate at UT, was running on a sidewalk on West Slaughter Lane when he was struck by a truck and died later at Brackenridge. A proponent and leader in Austin’s deaf community, Gobble was deaf and didn’t hear the truck swerve onto the sidewalk.
- Betzy Jimenez, the former UT star, PR’ed last weekend in the 5000 meters in 15:49.44 at the Portland Track Festival which barely meets the “B” provisional standard (15:50) for the Olympic Trials which begins June 21st in Eugene. Now, Jimenez has to wait and see if she gets in. In the same meet, Kara Thorne was ninth in the steeple in 10:32. Thorne ran in the ’08 Trials.
- At last weekend’s San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run, 40-year-old Lorena Devlyn finished as the 14th woman in 29:03 in her first 100-miler. David Brown of Boerne placed 18th overall in 22:42. Paul Salazar, in his second 100-miler, was forced out of the race after 16 hours.
- The next big thing to arrive on the Texas track is going to be Kyle Merber who in May ran 3:35.59 which may or may not be the fastest collegiate 1500 ever run by an American born runner. (It is confusing, but the only Texas runner who has ever run faster is Leo Manzano who holds the school record of 3:35.29.) Merber graduated last month from Columbia with a philosophy degree, but the summer before his junior year he stepped on a piece of glass and tore a tendon in his foot which caused him to miss an entire year of competition. Since Ivy League schools do not allow an athlete to redshirt, Merber still has a full season of eligibility (cross-country, indoor and outdoor track) which he will use as a grad student in the fall at UT. Merber, who is from Long Island, will not be the first Ivy Leaguer to run for the Longhorns. Both Paul Morrison (Princeton) and Owen Washburn (Brown) ran at UT while attending graduate school.
- Former Austinite Mason Reay, who now lives in Seattle where he runs Nuun, won the masters division last weekend of the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon in California in 2:54:36. Other Austinites included Bryan Morton who was fourth in the 30-39 in 2:38:06, Elijah Kerry in 3:26:03, Robert Moore ran 3:12:22, Robert Canik finished in 3:20:50 and Joseph Shuffield scored a 3:28:57. Ashley Rollins ran 1:47:10 in the accompanying half marathon.
- One of the great masters marathoners in US history—Dr. Alex Ratelle of Minneapolis—died this week at the age of 87. Ratelle ran the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth 21 straight years and in 1977, at the age of 52, he finished fourth overall in 2:37:32. A World War 11 veteran, Ratelle once held eight world age-group bests and 32 American age-group records. He posted his PR of 2:30:40 at the age of 56 in 1981 at Grandma’s.
- Ironically, this Saturday is the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. Its accompanying half marathon—the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon—will serve as the USA Half Marathon Champs this year (and next) and at least two Austinites are running the US champs. Boerne High School and Team Mizuno teammates David Fuentes and Chass Armstrong left today for Duluth. Fuentes has been on a roll. In the past six months, he has won the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon as well as the Bun Run 5-K and the Chuy’s Hot to Trot 5-K.
- My good friend Jeff Galloway, who is still mending a damaged hip (injured in a fall), will make his annual swing through Texas this month. Jeff’s schedule looks like this: June 28 (San Antonio at the D.R. Semmes YMCA from 7-8 p.m.), June 29 (New Braunfels at NB Family YMCA from 6-8 p.m.), June 30, (Temple at Lions Park from 3-4:30 p.m.), Waco (On the Run, from 6-8 p.m.). On Saturday June 30th, Jeff will be in the ATX for a meet and greet at RunTex from 8-9 a.m. For info on his Austin appearance, contact Will Carlson@email@example.com.
- It’s starting to look like former Austinite (and two-time winner of the Livestrong Austin Marathon) Keith Pierce is getting back in race shape. Pierce, who moved a year ago up to Holliday where he teaches and coaches, is talking about running the El Scorcho 50-K on July 15th. Pierce and his wife Stephanie had triplets about a 1 ½ years ago which put the brakes on his running, but he’s planning on being at El Scorcho in Fort Worth which starts at midnight.
- Ultramarathon king Scott Jurek will talk about his new book “Eat and Run” on Monday night (June 18th) at 7 p.m. at Book People at 6th & Lamar. An hour before his talk, Jurek will lead a group run, starting at 6 p.m. from Luke’s.
- What I’m listening to this morning: “Live 1969” by Simon & Garfunkel.
Have any juicy news for me? (It doesn’t have to be entirely true.) If you have something, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.