Livin' Too Strong?
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times contained a 4,359-word story that can best be summed up this way: Some bicycle racers say Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during the 1999 Tour de France. He says he didn't. Rinse. Repeat. Nothing all that new there, except the Times based the entirety of its piece on "thousands of pages of transcripts, exhibits and other records... filled with conflicting testimony, hearsay and circumstantial evidence" from an arbitration hearing that took place in Dallas earlier this year. (All that stuff flies in arbitration hearings, but the Times admits the testimony would be considered "questionable in more formal legal proceedings.") Armstrong took to court Dallas-based SCA Promotions Inc., which promised to pay Armstrong $5 million if he won the Tour de France in 2004 (which, duh, he did). Apparently, the company refused to pay Armstrong after he was accused, once more, of doping for that particular race. The Times reports that the case "was settled before any action by the presiding three-judge panel, with SCA Promotions agreeing in February to pay the contested $5-million fee, plus interest and attorney costs," for about $7.5 million.
SCA's kind of an interesting story itself: Bob Hamman, its founder, is a Los Angeles native who moved to Dallas in the late 1960s to join a professional bridge team; dude's an 11-time world champion bridge player and writer of a book about his life. He started SCA 20 years ago after he was asked to underwrite a hole-in-one contest during his time in the insurance biz; says on SCA's Web site "the challenge of analyzing the risks associated with a contest piqued his interest, so he started a business to cover promotional prizes." Among the clients of SCA, which is on Douglas Avenue, are Adidas, Daimer Chrysler, Dr Pepper and The Dallas Morning News.
As for specific allegations that came out during the hearing, the Times says the Dallas arbitration case provided "some of the most serious doping allegations to date and the first on-the-record outlines of a possible case against one of the most popular athletes in the United States." They include "testimony with new details about tests in 2004 that apparently detected drugs in Armstrong's preserved urine samples from the 1999 race," "testimony that Armstrong once acknowledged to doctors that he'd used drugs, what one former teammate called 'hot sauce,'" "testimony of some teammates that they discussed with Armstrong adopting a doping regimen to improve their Tour competitiveness as early as 1995" and "allegations of prohibited blood transfusions by members of Armstrong's team in 2005." They're familiar alegations--like summer reruns hauled out to fill the schedule--and Armstrong, of course, denies them all. But it is a long story, which I totally respect. --Robert Wilonsky