Disgraced former Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong took an inflammatory twitter shot at Fabian Cancellara after the Swiss rider won the Olympic time trial gold medal.
After Cancellara’s Trek-Segafredo team sent out a celebratory “Boom” tweet, Armstrong responded with a simple one word insult worthy of crazy demagogue presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The one word was “Luigi,” which either referred to the name on a blood bag from the Spanish doping scandal Operation Puerto or Luigi Cecchini, a trainer who worked with Bjarne Riis at the CSC team, when Cancellara was part of the squad.
Confessed doper American Tyler Hamilton stated in his book The Secret Race that Cecchini was in on the doping shenanigans along with team boss Bjarne Riis. Hamilton show know — he rode for Riis for a number of years.
So Luigi is a loaded word and like Trump with his incendiary tactics, it was one sure to get plenty of media attention and condemnation.
What Armstrong stands to gain from this needless cheap shot is a good question. It’s been almost three years since USADA and head man Travis Tygart stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour titles. The Boss has been on a rocky path to some kind of public redemption ever since. This social media vitriol isn’t likely to further his cause — especially among the many fans of Cancellara.
It was one of those bizarre outbursts that point to a serial cluelessness from Armstrong — what the psychiatrists and psychologists might call a lack of emotional intelligence. That is a trait that perhaps he shares with Trump, who has treated the campaign for U.S. president like a horrifically distasteful reality TV show. Like Trump, Armstrong threw out this grenade with almost zero understanding of the negative impacts and blowback.
The only argument for the nasty remark is that it follows the cynical line of Armstrong’s strategy for forgiveness. It’s another slide in the Everybody Was Doping So Why Call Me The Devil? powerpoint presentation. Which perhaps has validity for some casual cycling fan who see the sport as a cesspool yet to be cleaned up. Fair enough.
However, we think that’s not the bigger issue for Armstrong. It’s wasn’t the doping, it was everything that came with it: the arrogance, bullying, intimidation, under oath lying, the nearly pathological inability to tell the difference between right and wrong. Which again, has a certain pronounced Trump flavor.
Trump has debased the political dialogue in the United States to a degree unimaginable even given the generally bitter and polarizing climate of our times. Fortunately, his poll numbers continue to slide with every racist, bigoted, xenophobic and egotistical statement he makes.
In Armstrong’s case, we suspect he just dropped his Redemption poll numbers by attacking Cancellara. As The Donald likes to say in his cheap shots — “Sad.”