Ironic email subject heading from Livestrong this morning: “Texas Sized Smiles.”
Well, not for the most infamous person in Texas, the disgraced pro cyclist, the former winner of seven Tours de France, Lance Armstrong.
Nope, the smile is on the face of the man from Pennsylvania, the mad Mennonite, Mr. Qui Tam whistler blower FLoyd Landis.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that the U.S. Justice Department has decided to join Landis in his lawsuit that alleges Armstrong and his team defrauded the US government in assuring them there would be no use of performance-enhancing drugs.
As we know from the opening questions on Lance’s Oprah interview, the answer to doping is yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Now, the Justice Department has also given a reply on whether they’re interested in up to $90 million — by law the damages can be up to triple the amount of the $30 sponsorship. Yes, money, sounds good.
So no smiles from Armstrong and no “sonrisas” from his Spanish alter-ego Juan Pelota. The Livestrong email was a fundraising effort for cancer but “smiles” added some humor, given the ongoing Lance-Myth destruction.
Once again, what Armstrong has failed to mentally and emotionally process is that he is no longer the Boss, the patron on his own redemption. No, that title has now been officially given to USADA CEO Travis Tygart.
Just a day ago Armstrong said no to Tygart for the third time and everytime he has paid in blood and millions of dollars. Before USADA published its Reasoned Decision, they offered to let him keep a few Tour titles if he spilled all the beans under oath. Armstrong said no and he lost all seven of those wall-mounted maillot jaunes and his Olympic medal.
Then months later in a Denver airport hotel conference room, Armstrong belatedly decided he wanted a deal. (And by the way, Twisted Spoke would love to hand out bad legal advice for $500 an hour like Lance’s lawyers.) Tygart listened and essentially said, we offered you a deal, you didn’t take it, we stripped your titles, game over.
This put Armstrong into a raging froth of defiance and he shouted his famous “You’re not in charge of my redemption,” line punctuated with a few F words. Lance out-witted again by a guy that never raced a bike.
That’s twice that Tygart and his USADA team have beaten Armstrong silly and it appeared that the former champion had finally come to his senses. He asked and received a two week extension on the USADA deadline to testify under oath.
However, after further debate, he decided he still hated Tygart and would rather promise to testify before a non-existent Truth & Reconciliation Commission. (His lawyers also dragged out a few last “witch hunt” claims just for old times sake — like spin master PR guru Mark Fabiani wanted a few billable hours.)
In refusing to testify before USADA, it would appear that Armstrong has lost yet another battle with Tygart. Since both WADA and the UCI have stated that USADA has the legal jurisdiction in Armstrong’s case, his chance for a reduction in his lifetime ban seems unlikely. Bad timing meets bad judgement and Twisted Spoke thinks Lance went into full CYA mode — Cover My Assets.
Now, with this morning’s news that the Justice Department will join the Landis suit, the odds of Armstrong winning that case go down significantly. Armstrong is in legal Hell Groundhog day, an expensive and financially draining experience that appears to have no end in sight.
In our opinion, the real story on the Justice Department story is what changed their mind. And that answer is that for the third disastrous time, Armstrong has doubted the power and influence and relentless pressure of Travis Tygart.
Only a day ago, a Velonews story said the Justice Department was unlikely to join Landis. What altered the actions of Attorney General Eric Holder? We’d assume it was the letter he received from — you guessed it — Travis Tygart. We’re pasting in a large chunk of his letter because it simply shows that Tygart ain’t never letting Armstrong slip away.
“Fraud and other crimes were committed,” Tygart wrote. “Illegal drugs were used and trafficked, both within and outside the United States; witnesses in both the USADA and federal investigations were intimidated; riders were coerced into using drugs to keep their places on the teams; an insurance company (SCA Promotions) was defrauded by false testimony under oath; and sponsors (including the U.S. Postal Service) paid tens of millions of dollars to the team based on representations that there was no doping, which turned out to be cold, calculated lies… Further, we suspect that the evidence of fraud assembled by the FDA and FBI, working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, exceeds the evidence of fraud which USADA has uncovered.”
“USADA’s specific request here is that the Justice Department join in the reported pending civil action to bring to light and impose financial consequences on the non-sports individuals who owned and controlled the U.S. Postal Service team, which we now know was involved in a massive economic fraud on the United States Postal Service and other easily-identifiable individuals, companies, and the public. USADA is willing to share with your office the information it has gathered in its investigation. We would also be happy to meet with you to discuss this request.”
As more than a few critics have noted, Armstrong has failed to realize the most fundamental truth: he is no longer in charge. This is a time for humility, honesty and making amends.
Lance is no longer in control because in the simplest terms, he is no longer the Boss. If you count Judge Sparks jurisdiction ruling against Armstrong and the UCI and in favor of USADA, Lance is now 0-4 against Tygart. Travis Tygart is the new Boss.
There is no Texas Sized Smile.