Hello Operator

Marco Pantani had Armstrong on the ropes. It was the Col de Joux Plane in the 2000 Tour de France and the only time Pharmy was in real, genuine difficulty during any of his “seven” Tours. So he did what any reasonable rider would do: he got on the radio with his team boss and demanded he call his coach and renowned doping genius Michele Ferrari to find out precisely how long Pantani could sustain his effort. Ferrari crunched some numbers on his custom Effort Finder-Outer Machine and got back with the good news that Pantani couldn’t hold the pace to the finish.

The problem Batman had with The Joker was that Batman was rational and The Joker was insane. And insane people don’t always do what rational people expect them to do. Like having a plan, for instance. Or wanting to make it to the finish at all. Lance wasn’t Batman – not by a stretch – and Pantani wasn’t insane. But the point is, they weren’t thinking about the race the same way. Armstrong wanted to win the Tour de France but was a stubborn ass who was too proud to let the world’s best climber drop him. Pantani, on the other hand, had already lost everything and been to Hell and back; he had nothing to lose and was more than willing to sacrifice his own Tour if it meant he could fuck with Pharmstrong, even for a bit.

So he rode until the lights went out and climbed into the team car. Ciao. Armstrong was left holding the bag. Or, rather, not holding a mussette with any food in it. Bon jour, Monsieur avec le Hammer. Comment allez vous?

Cyclists have always used whatever dubious means they can find in order to gain an advantage, this is not news. It is only natural in a sport as demanding as this, which is not to say it is by any means excusable. But cheating has been woven into the fabric of our sport since the earliest days; in the first Tours de France several riders were disqualified for getting tows from teammates via cable and jumping on trains to rest the legs and gain a few extra kilometers over their rivals in the process.

When Greg LeMond helped pioneer the use of radios between riders and the team car, I hardly think he imagined his nemesis using the technology to contact the most notorious doping mastermind in the sport in order to gain a mid-race performance update from Italy. I don’t know why that feels so much worse than regular doping. It almost feels like putting a motor in your bottom bracket or something.

Motors? Now we’re getting far-fetched.

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90 Replies to “Hello Operator”

  1. @chris

    Was that written by Armstrong?

    Lizzie, just fuck off, we’ve heard it all before, there are NO excuses, you fucked up, take the consequences.

  2. @ChrisO

    They tried to call her phone but it was on silent so as not to disturb the person she was sharing the room with.

    And apparently calling a phone is not an accepted method of contact anyway i.e. it doesn’t count as an attempt to contact the athlete. They have to be physically at the place they nominated at that time.

    Yes it seems odd that staff wouldn’t let them up but think about it. A big hotel, hundreds of guests, changes of shift, front-desk staff who are given instructions by their management. Do they let in anybody who turns up and flashes a card at that them – they probably have no idea what anti-doping is. What if it was a celebrity who wanted privacy and some stalker or photographer poses as an official of something or other. Easier to just say no.

    Try calling someone younger than 30 today and get an answer? Have to text ’em… what they carry might be called a phone but it sure isn’t used as a phone. At least in the original sense of what a phone was! That’s just mentioned in good fun, but seriously,

    Much respect to the hotel staff that told the dude to bugger off. It’s their guest and unless instructed otherwise… and

    just me, my personal opinion, I’m 100% in support of her and find nothing at all untoward about not sucking up 100% to a process that really friggen sucks in the first place. World champ or not. This process is just rife for bad opportunity. Can you imagine someone could make someone’s life just miserable as bad as the process is to begin with: on demand giving up very personal space (its’ your blood !!)  anytime, anywhere, any circumstance. That’s a very heavy price to pay to want to participate in sports at this level.

    Any chance she was thinking, “ahhh come on… will they just give me a break already we’ve done this how many times ?!?!”

    I like @EBruner‘s point having been made.

     

  3. @brett

    @Steve Trice

    It’s all too convoluted for me. All of this testing goes on across 17 different sports, and to maybe thousands of athletes, all year round. To me LA’s excuses are full of holes and bordering on desperate, but that’s just an opinion. On the other hand the facts, few as they are, aren’t open to debate, and as the first and third “offences” came a few days before big races that she won, I’ll reserve the right to be sceptical and disappointed. I’ve followed the pro side of this sport for too long to not suspect fire when the smoke starts rising.?

    This.

    She shouldn’t be competing at the Olympics, and probably beyond. Imagine the difference in opinions if she was Russian.

    Why? At present she hasn’t done anything that rule book punishes with a ban of any sort. Two strikes is not out?

    Going back to my previous point; how many riders have one or two misses that we never hear about? I’d guess it’s lots. If that’s the case, this is a non story.

    As for the Russians, the current nonsense probably has less to with doping than it does with giving Putin a poke in the eye for being a complete cunt.

     

  4. Chris, my last thought. Let’s just say these are the only occasions she’s been unavailable for the surprise test. How much bad luck is that? They turned up once when she was at a hotel with uninformed, uncooperative staff and happened to have turned her phone on to silent. The second time was a cock up on her part but shit, they turned up on THAT day, and then they arrived once again on the day she had a family crises. I suppose I’m asking, is this bad luck, REALLY bad luck, or is she frequently not where she’s supposed to be?

  5. @brett

    @chris

    Was that written by Armstrong?

    Lizzie, just fuck off, we’ve heard it all before, there are NO excuses, you fucked up, take the consequences.

    can’t see how the tester is taking the fall on this, seems like they went to the location and were unable to take a test, Yates had to take a suspension for an ‘admin’ error, the only way this stuff can work is if there are NO exceptions, admin, act of god, or personal tragedy doesn’t matter, consistency is the key and seems like that is the biggest problem – banning Russian athletes with prior form and not other countries athletes WTF?

    LA chose family over work, fair enough, but she needs to bear the consequence of that decision, if she really loved the sport she would do so, this all looks bad, bad, bad, regardless of the truth in the matter.

  6. @chris

    @brett

     

    She shouldn’t be competing at the Olympics, and probably beyond. Imagine the difference in opinions if she was Russian.

    Why? At present she hasn’t done anything that rule book punishes with a ban of any sort. Two strikes is not out?

     

    Why? Because her attitude to anti-doping is at best casual and at worst dismissive.

    Great, she got off on a technicality because British Cycling helped fund her appeal to CAS to overturn a decision which as she points out had already been rejected. I strongly suspect had that been a less-favoured athlete without medal prospects then they wouldn’t have had such assistance.

    Favouritism to elite athletes by national bodies has been a consistent part of the blight of doping. The whole thing with the Russians is about supported doping from national bodies and state organisations. This sends a message that you’ll get help to bend the rules if you’re good enough and in the current climate that’s a pretty shit message to be giving out.

    I’m hoping she doesn’t medal now. It will be tarnished if she does and there’s no avoiding it.

  7. @brett

    Good to see you’re more cognisant of the facts than CAS. Perhaps they should be vetting all potential doping cases through you now?

     

    The rules say no ban until three missed tests confirmed, and one of the missed tests has not been confirmed. Hence, by the rules in place, LA (coincidental initials, wtf!?) is able to continue to ride.

     

    The rest is just blather, bluster and pure speculation.

  8. @ChrisO

    @chris

    @brett

    She shouldn’t be competing at the Olympics, and probably beyond. Imagine the difference in opinions if she was Russian.

    Why? At present she hasn’t done anything that rule book punishes with a ban of any sort. Two strikes is not out?

    Why? Because her attitude to anti-doping is at best casual and at worst dismissive.

    Great, she got off on a technicality because British Cycling helped fund her appeal to CAS to overturn a decision which as she points out had already been rejected. I strongly suspect had that been a less-favoured athlete without medal prospects then they wouldn’t have had such assistance.

     

    Don’t recall BC giving Jon Teirnan-Locke much support, and he still says he didn’t dope.

  9. @RobSandy

    I’d suggest that was a bit different as in that case there was a Passport irregularity and as I understand it some doubt that a bender could produce that irregularity.

    Also in the LA case as I understand it one was not a “failed test” but a spot check where there was a discrepancy in where she was vs the paperwork – no one actually tried to contact her to perform a test.  I had not realised that a) that was done (but good that it is) and b) that being done it would count as an actual fail.

  10. @Teocalli

    @RobSandy

    I’d suggest that was a bit different as in that case there was a Passport irregularity and as I understand it some doubt that a bender could produce that irregularity.

    Also in the LA case as I understand it one was not a “failed test” but a spot check where there was a discrepancy in where she was vs the paperwork – no one actually tried to contact her to perform a test. I had not realised that a) that was done (but good that it is) and b) that being done it would count as an actual fail.

    I was just agreeing with @ChrisO about BC supporting some athletes not others.

    And I feel torn in this case; I love Lizzie and 100% believe she’s clean, but I think we’d all be screaming if this was a Russian, or a Spaniard, or a Texan…

  11. @RobSandy

    @Teocalli

    @RobSandy

     

    And I feel torn in this case; I love Lizzie and 100% believe she’s clean, but I think we’d all be screaming if this was a Russian, or a Spaniard, or a Texan…

    Exactly. The defending of her and now silence on this is astonishing.

    And it’s getting grubby now… Armstrongstead’s boyfriend Phil Deignan, a C grader on Sky who I have on excellent first-hand authority is “thick as shit”, tweeted about PFP’s personal life and then quickly deleted it. Sounds kinda familiar tactics doesn’t it?

  12. Team Velominati,

    I’m calling BS on all the rampant negative speculation surrounding Ms Armitstead. Yes I hear everyone and with much respect to PFP I appreciate her perspective. She’s super cool and kicks a**. No doubt. I also have read the perspective of Cycling Tips Female Secret Pro as ex fwiw. And you know what? I’m not picking up what all is being put down. And I hope to see Ms Lizzie kick a** in Rio… only to get beat by USA of course.

    I swear, if there were ever a reason I’d not encourage my daughter to carry her success in this sport to the next level it is EXACTLY THIS reason. It flat out sucks. And is a regrettable circumstance of our loved sport.

    We should all expect better. And it’s not on LA… it’s on the people managing the sport. I will not hold it on her. Given any doubt whatsoever I most assuredly, today, am siding with the athlete on this specific issue. I’d bet much $$$ that she’s not doping to win, she busts her a** to be prepared, she works hard to follow the rules and yet this latest BS is simply what can happen if ya haven’ perfected the process or even chose, maybe mistakenly, but probably not, that something else is more important. A for sh** process to begin with that doesn’t deserve perfection as is but better deserves to be revised and modified constantly to reflect reality.

    I don’t like it. And I’m not holding it against LA. The issue is much bigger than her and her actions.  Maybe it’s hard to explain a perspective well enough w/ words that one, me in this case, just feels. The ol’ classic, I don’t know how to describe but I know it when I see it perspective. But this is an aspect of the sport that really, really is not cool.

    F*** the COTHO for getting us here.

    Cheers all

  13. There’s also a noticeable lack of supportive noises coming from her peers. I am getting the distinct impression that, inside the ladies’ pro peloton, she is either resented or suspected (or both).

  14. When I read all this, it seems that top athletes should wear RFID device connected with WADA surveillance unit except when in the competition. The next step would be living under strict video supervision 24/7. Attending funerals of own children is off course prohibited.

    This world went crazy…

  15. But the UKAD officer apparently f***d up the process. That’s the ruling. And yet despite the administrative process having been wrong, the UKAD moved forward on something in retrospect they shouldn’t have. They should have done better by her and all the athletes should expect better. And the end result is all of this BS never should have come up in the first place had the UKAD just managed their own process fairly and correctly. And unfortunately for Ms Armitstead, she bore the responsibility of pointing out she was wronged and it became a public affair. At least she had the resources to do that. How many athletes would simply get steamrolled by the process?

    I’m siding with the athlete on this one.

    @Pali65 no kidding!

  16. Under the whereabouts provision the targeted elite athletes are required to provide their whereabouts for one hour every day 90 days in advance. Did I read somewhere that Lizzie was tested something like on avg once every three weeks in past year and three times alone in one week. Can you imagine not only being the pincushion for this process but also having to let the prickers know exactly where they can find you EACH and EVERY day so that they can draw your blood when they chose to do so and certainly not at your convenience??? Where is the privacy ?

    These process is simply looney friggen tunes to begin with and due to admin cock-ups, yea, sure she brought on some herself, she has to deal with the public speculation and suspicion ???

    It just stinks to me and IMO.

     

     

  17. @Randy C

    And yet the people who actually live and work under the same terrible regime – her fellow athletes – have been virtually unanimous in a range of reactions from raised eyebrows to outright condemnation.

    Which suggests that the system is not the problem here.

  18. @ChrisO I don’t know… I understand what you are saying. It’s like they all want to say the politically correct thing other than acknowledging the process really does suck. Maybe someone oughta just stand up and say you know, this sucks and it’s time to change it. But then again, I know no one wants to have to compete against cheats… There just needs to be a better way.

    And reality is: most of peloton aren’t targeted elite athletes getting blood drawn at a moments notice every couple of weeks. For the life of me, I can’t imagine thinking for my daughter, yea sweetheart, this is what you sacrifice and get to look forward to if you want to participate.

    Let’s just say this: She’s apparently been following the process correctly for years and years and three times it’s cocked up and everyone throws her under bus so to speak ?!? And it NEVER should have been a public issue in first place.

    It’s wrong.

  19. @Randy C

    But the UKAD officer apparently f***d up the process. That’s the ruling. And yet despite the administrative process having been wrong, the UKAD moved forward on something in retrospect they shouldn’t have.

    Are you sure on that, Randy? Don’t forget she didn’t appeal that first missed test, so UKAD would have simply logged it as a standard “not available for testing”. The officer not trying hard enough argument might not have appeared on their radar until after they’d sanctioned her, at which point it could only be reversed on appeal.

  20. @Randy C

    She’s apparently been following the process correctly for years and years and three times it’s cocked up

    That’s what makes them suspicious isn’t it? All of those years getting it right and then she cocks up and is suddenly unavailable for tests a few days before 2 big wins?

    If anybody is getting thrown under a bus it’s the tester. Wonder if we’ll ever hear their side of the story?

     

  21. Oh, and as previously mentioned, if she’s only been unavailable for testing three times in the last year, how unlucky is it that the vampires turned up on those very three days?

  22. @Steve Trice

    @Randy C

    She’s apparently been following the process correctly for years and years and three times it’s cocked up

    That’s what makes them suspicious isn’t it? All of those years getting it right and then she cocks up and is suddenly unavailable for tests a few days before 2 big wins?

    If anybody is getting thrown under a bus it’s the tester. Wonder if we’ll ever hear their side of the story?

    That would be suspicious apart from that in each instance she was tested the next day or the day before or shortly afterwards.

  23. @RobSandy

    of the story?

    That would be suspicious apart from that in each instance she was tested the next day or the day before or shortly afterwards.

    Yeah, but it’s all in the manual, Tyler Hamilton’s “Secret Race”. Dopers know their “glow times” and when they can and can’t be tested. I got the impression most readings could be manipulated to within normal parameters given a few hours. Part of Armstrong’s success was in getting tip offs so he knew when vampires were coming, so he was always prepared. However, if they turn up at a really bad time, the only choice is to avoid the test. She’s exhibited classic evasive, doper behaviour. It doesn’t make her guilty of anything, I hope she’s not, and I’m happy for people who can so easily look at this stuff and not be suspicious, but this whole affair is full of holes and inconsistencies.

  24. @Steve Trice

    Oh, and as previously mentioned, if she’s only been unavailable for testing three times in the last year, how unlucky is it that the vampires turned up on those very three days?

    That would be suspicious if she was only targeted on three occasions, if it was 3 out of 30 attempts, less so.

     

  25. @Randy C

     

    Let’s just say this: She’s apparently been following the process correctly for years and years and three times it’s cocked up and everyone throws her under bus so to speak ?!? And it NEVER should have been a public issue in first place.

     

    For several weeks – until it was overturned on appeal – her status was of having missed three tests and she was not permitted to race. She was suspended by the UK anti-doping authority.

    Far from it never needing to be a public issue, actually we should be asking how the world champion gets banned and we don’t find out until 10 days later when it is overturned.

  26. @chris

    @Steve Trice

    Oh, and as previously mentioned, if she’s only been unavailable for testing three times in the last year, how unlucky is it that the vampires turned up on those very three days?

    That would be suspicious if she was only targeted on three occasions, if it was 3 out of 30 attempts, less so.

    Less so, but still incredibly bad luck. Perhaps she was being targeted.

  27. @ChrisO

    @Randy C

    Let’s just say this: She’s apparently been following the process correctly for years and years and three times it’s cocked up and everyone throws her under bus so to speak ?!? And it NEVER should have been a public issue in first place.

    For several weeks – until it was overturned on appeal – her status was of having missed three tests and she was not permitted to race. She was suspended by the UK anti-doping authority.

    Far from it never needing to be a public issue, actually we should be asking how the world champion gets banned and we don’t find out until 10 days later when it is overturned.

    One explanation would be that UKAD or whoever was responsible for the botched couldn’t find her test attempt knew they’d fucked and once they’d properly reviewed the case had no intention of contesting it. You’d have thought, though, that if that was the case they’d have found a way to drop the whole thing without a hearing.

    Another would be that as missed tests in themselves cannot be taken as proof of doping, the process isn’t publicised until guilt is properly established to ensure that @brett‘s hang em high gang doesn’t get too rabid on something that turns out to be an administration error.

  28. @Steve Trice

    @chris

    @Steve Trice

    Oh, and as previously mentioned, if she’s only been unavailable for testing three times in the last year, how unlucky is it that the vampires turned up on those very three days?

    That would be suspicious if she was only targeted on three occasions, if it was 3 out of 30 attempts, less so.

    Less so, but still incredibly bad luck. Perhaps she was being targeted.

    Anyone in the whereabouts program is essentially targeted yes ?!?

  29. @Randy C

    @Steve Trice

    @chris

    @Steve Trice

    Oh, and as previously mentioned, if she’s only been unavailable for testing three times in the last year, how unlucky is it that the vampires turned up on those very three days?

    That would be suspicious if she was only targeted on three occasions, if it was 3 out of 30 attempts, less so.

    Less so, but still incredibly bad luck. Perhaps she was being targeted.

    Anyone in the whereabouts program is essentially targeted yes ?!?

    Essentially yeah, but I believe they can step up testing of specific athletes if they have reason to suspect doping or violations of the programme.

  30. @chris

    @Brett

    @chris

    @brett‘s hang em high gang…

    Yep, I’m just a do-gooder leftard feminazi and it’s PC gone mad.

    I’m not sure I’d go that far, you’re just a grumpy old shite.

    Well if calling a spade a spade and not burying my head in the sand makes me grumpy, so be it. Fanboys always come out looking stupid. I’ll take grumpy over stupid any day.

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