Having stripped the former winner of seven Tour de France titles, the United Stated Anti-Doping Agency is now insisting that Armstrong give up his nickname “The Boss.”
“Given his involvement and indeed his leadership of an incredibly sophisticated doping program at US Postal, we are planning to strike “Boss” from the Armstrong lexicon,” said USADA CEO Travis Tygart.
The head of USADA had given Armstrong a February 6th deadline to testify under oath and tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. After numerous quotes from Armstrong that he would refuse the offer, he abruptly changed course on the last day and asked for a two week extension.
However, life is not going to get any easier for Armstrong in his dealings with Tygart and USADA. According to one source, intense negotiations are currently underway between the anti-doping agency and Armstrong lawyers as to what monikers and nicknames Armstrong may keep.
At this point in the proceedings, it appears Armstrong has lost forever his patron of the peloton title, the “Boss.” However, high pressure talks between longtime Armstrong lawyer Tim Herman and USADA are aimed at protecting the other Armstrong nicknames. For example, the disgraced cyclist is believed to be fighting to keep his Spanish alter-ego Juan Pelota and his sly twist on the French maillot jaune, Mellow Johnny.
“Lance is prepared to give up “Boss” and “Big Tex” but that’s where we draw the line. Lance has invested a lot of time and money in building his nicknames and personas. Certain things are not negotiable,” said Herman.
However, the nicknames-for-testimoney trade-off may not be so simple. “We insist on names, dates and places and then we’ll talk about what nicknames he can keep,” said USADA legal counsel Adam Balkrunch. “If he wants a reduction in his lifetime ban and the possibility of keeping one or two cool nicknames, then he better start singing.”
While USADA stripped Armstrong of his Tour de France titles, it remains unclear what the legal ramifications are for also wiping out several of his nicknames. “I doubt that is part of the USADA mandate and we may see a challenge from the UCI,” said Alan Dershowack, a professor of intellectual and creative rights at Boston University. “Lance has the right to call himself whatever he likes. It may not be popular but there really is no precedent for nickname eradication.”
Travis Tygart isn’t worried about Armstrong’s legal bid to hang on to several of his more memorable tags. “I nailed the guy to the wall. After his desperate move on Oprah failed, he came crawling back to the table. But who’s The Boss now, him or me?”
The Armstrong camp now has until February 20th to work out a plan that allows the former champion to hang on to a few small vestiges of his former glory. “Maybe he keeps Juan Pelota, but I think he lost $75 million and several nicknames in one day,” says Dershowhack.