Lance Armstrong Nike commercial, 2001

A classic Lance Armstrong Nike TV ad, back when he was facing early doping accusations in 2001.

EPO? Just do it. (via Tom Murphy)


  1. This is one of the things I like most about ‘science heroes’ like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Dean Kamen as opposed to sports heroes that Nike makes these kind of quasi-religious movies about… they’re just never going to face any brain steroid accusations. Sure, maybe no one would make such a hubris-laden commercial about them, but on the flip side, they wouldn’t then turn in to a sort of document of fraud.

    1. Something tells me if science had as much money to be made out of it as sports does then the drugs would follow, along with the accusations.  (At least money in the aspect of marketing, commercials, entertainment, ect..)

      Kind of like that Sliders episode where intellect/science games were favored over raw physical ability.

    2. Brain steroids, no, but cheating, falsification and fraud? Hell, yes!

      The flipside to your argument is why science anti-heroes like Eric Poehlman, for example, aren’t more reviled than someone like Armstrong, whose misdeeds harmed hardly anyone.

      1. someone like Armstrong, whose misdeeds harmed hardly anyone.

        Say what? 

        What about, just for starters, the people who may well have beaten him if hadn’t been doping?

        What about the thousands of people, all sorts of people, inspired by a belief that his spectacular feats really were the result of hard work and intelligent “tweaking,” by Armstrong and a whole team of other people, of every minute element of his performance?

        What about all the fallout raining down on the many people who have worked with him and for him in his charitable endeavors?

        That’s not “hardly anyone” who’s been harmed by this arrogant, greedy, vainglorious bastard.

        1. “What about the thousands of people, all sorts of people, inspired by a belief that his spectacular feats really were the result of hard work and intelligent “tweaking,” by Armstrong and a whole team of other people, of every minute element of his performance?”

          I’m pretty sure that his spectacular feats were the result of hard work and intelligent tweaking of every minute element of his performance. Just a few more minute elements than previously advertised…

        2. What about the thousands of people, all sorts of people, inspired by a belief….

          There’s a sucker born every minute. Apparently even more frequently these days. Sports is a giant corporate marketing clusterfuck. It’s about as real as Gilligan’s Island.

          1. Well gee, I guess you’re right, Lance is no worse than any of the rest of them!  :-/

            Corporate sports isn’t “real”? You’re saying pro football or baseball games are rigged? If so, there sure are a LOT of people able to keep a huge secret.

          2. Just this week, there’s Manti Te’o’s dying-of-cancer girlfriend hoax and the announcement that match-fixing in soccer is a multi-billion dollar industry. So, yeah, there is a lot of fake. But even the “real” parts are performances for an audience.

            Professional sports exist to sell beer and shoes. No other reason.

          3. Yes, it’s obviously all a big business, and like others of gargantuan size, a corrupt one too, including what amounts to something like doping all around. But I think you’re painting with an overly dismissive, and maybe even snidely elitist, brush. 

            Of course it’s all a performance for an audience–that’s what professional sports is all about. 

            But that doesn’t mean that everyone involved is lying and cheating to the monstrous degree that Armstrong was. It also doesn’t mean that whenever two teams get together to play, the outcome has already been decided–it’s not THAT kind of performance. That difference from something like professional wrestling is obvious. The players still have to sincerely strive and compete if they want the adulation and money that comes with winning.  

            And so, if someone does cheat to the degree Armstrong did (especially someone of his stature), and wins, and we find out about it later, feeling scandalized and disappointed is justified. Feeling that way doesn’t mean we’re hapless saps who can’t see that everyone involved REALLY just wants to sell us beer and shoes.

        3. Yes, a few dozen people slandered, maligned or bullied is hardly anyone.
          Poehlman did all that too. He also falsified research data on the benefits of HRT in menopause, leading to a surge in prescriptions of the carcinogenic therapy.

          How many people got cancer because of Armstrong?

        4. What about, just for starters, the people who may well have beaten him if hadn’t been doping?

          They were also doping.  Go ahead and check.

          I’m not kidding.  Find me a single Tour de France winner who hasn’t doped.

      2. …Armstrong, whose misdeeds harmed hardly anyone.

        It takes very little reading to discover the many people who have been harassed, sued, defamed, and bullied by Mr. Armstrong. It’s that last offence that seems to most accurately describe the man: bully.

      3. I think Millie actually understates with “thousands of people…inspired…”; I’m guessing more like hundreds of thousands, at least. Even in my small burg (in the U.S., where competitive cycling isn’t that big a deal), I’ve already run into several kids who are feeling devastated by his admissions. (As with baseball cheats like Bonds and Sosa; or track and field cheats like Ben Johnson and Marion Jones; etc.)

        Some of the “harmed” include: Sports reporters who truly believed Lance are now nursing injuries to their self-worth and reputations. SCA Promotions (prize underwriters) are hurtin’ to the tune of at least $12M. U.S. Postal Service is on the hook for around $30M in sponsorship and bonuses. And then there’s the people and orgs Armstrong has sued…I think The Sunday Times leads the pack with a $1.5M libel settlement. And there’s a few careers ruined by Lance’s court-based bullying. And the endorsement deals Armstrong secured…and the endorsement deals denied to others that he might have had a hand in blocking. More than enough hurt to go around.

    3. Use of various forms of speed is no all that uncommon in graduate school and among university faculty. I don’t mean like 25% of us, but still a noticeable amount of us are using cocaine, ADD drugs (adderall, dexedrine) and stuff like that. Not to mention coffee and nicotine, which were my go-to chemicals. At any rate, I consider those illegal uses to be brain-doping. I’ve known a few people who depended heavily on their speed to keep them functioning at the level they believed necessary. The only one I kept track of burned out and went home to live with her parents, while in her mid-40s. Sad.

      And quite a few people use pot too, for its boost in creativity. I know that comment will likely draw fire, but pot can serve as a stimulant too.

      1. “I consider those illegal uses to be brain-doping”

        Dare I ask why the legality factors in to whether something is ‘brain doping’ or not?

        People with an ADD/ADHD diagnosis can use performance enhancing psychostimulants legally, people without a diagnosis in that area can’t. Are people in the first category not just as much ‘brain doping’ as those in the second, even if they started out subnormal in certain useful areas, which is why performance enhancement for them is considered licit?

    4. Only because nobody seems all that worried about “brain steroids”, while sports doping incites a veritably religious hysteria about the ‘purity’ of sport that is somehow being sullied.

      I don’t know the exact proclivities of major popular science/engineering figures; but the fields certainly don’t exactly abstain from caffeine, modafinil, amphetamines, methylphenidate, and anything else that seems likely to improve alertness and focus(especially if one isn’t sleeping enough). And if we had ‘smart drugs’ that were further along the risk/rewards scale than the comparatively weak sauce we currently have access to, they’d be used as well.

      The thing that makes sports somewhat exceptional is that we possess medical interventions that(while sometimes rather alarmingly risky, some fairly benign) will actually enhance you substantially; but we are in a total moral panic about it, to the degree that various private bodies have aquired de-facto doctor/cop powers over the bodies of serious athletes and that it is even considered possible to ‘cheat’ purely within one’s own body. In other areas, you can definitely cheat; but you need to bring in a crib sheet, or falsify data, or sabotage a competitor, or something of that nature. Nothing you can do to your own biochemistry is treated as ‘cheating’.

    5. The point of science is to achieve truth. The levelness of the playing field means absolutely nothing. There isn’t even the pretense that folks are going for fair. In science, more or less, all is fair so long as you score yourself some truth. For this reason, doping in science gets a “meh” response by folks in the field, but fabricating data gets you excommunicated for life. Sports are different. Sports have no purpose other than entertainment. We feel that the entertainment is enhanced when the game is “fair” by some arbitrary definition of fair. Hence, we get pissed when our entertainers are found to be playing by different rules than we thought they were.

      For the record, there is doping in science. Performance enhancing drugs are pretty common in some circles. The most obvious examples are drugs that enhance wakefulness and concentration. One of the booming performance enhancing drugs right now is Provigal (Modafinil) is pretty commonly used stuff and, when it comes to performance enhancement, freaking amazing. You dump the need to sleep (in the short term) with almost no consequences, and as a bonus, your concentration goes way up. It gives an entirely new meaning to an all nighter.

      The real concern in science with performance enhancement is safety. A little Provigal here and there isn’t going to kill you and won’t raise any eyebrows, but try and skip the need to sleep all together and you are running some serious health risks. If people intervene or setup policies to try and stop doping in science, it is to keep scientist from frying their brains, not because it is unfair. In sports, safety isn’t the issue. We make the pretense that it is, but the Lance thing proves pretty clearly that we don’t give a shit. No one is pissed off because Lance might have been harming his health. Everyone is pissed because he cheated.

        1. He’s being literal.  I’ve ridden for six hours before now and there’s a pretty good chance at least something will be busted by the time you’ve finished. :)

  2. Ah the irony. After seeing the recent interviews with Oprah, I really came to despise the guy. He seems like a sociopath, hardly any emotion or regret for what he did. It wasn’t that just denied doping, he vilified, attacked and frequently sued people who spoke out against him, even though he knew they were telling the truth. And some of the interviews/testimonies they showed of him… wow, he is so good at lying it’s scary, seemed second nature for him.

    Seriously, I hope he gets his a$$ sued off by all the people he attacked and destroyed over the years. Every single Tour he won, he was doping, think of the opportunities lost by the people who should have won instead.

  3. I stopped watching professional cycling because it was so boring. The same guy would win year to year as if he was not quite human. Maybe the people who run the sport will recognise that drugs are pushing their audience away.

  4. It seems a bit rough to single out Lance Armstrong for taking dope in a sport in which drug abuse was widespread.

    1. Lance was the best at what he did, that’s why he’s being singled out.  

      He was the best at riding, the best at doping, the best at lying, the best at being a hypocrite, and the best at demoralizing and bankrupting those why tried to call him on his misdeeds.  

      Now is when he gets to reap the rewards for his non cycling achievements.

      1. I’ve not really followed the whole Lance Armstrong Saga so I’ll bow to your greater judgement on the man.

        Maybe they just need to change the rules of cycling to take all of those extra achievements in to consideration? Maybe the Tour de France could have a “Bully of the Mountains” Shirt; white with blood spatters, or a “King of the Hypocrites” Shirt splashed with the best sponsorship deals? All the flaws you have pointed out would have been positive attributes if he had put his energy into politics or business management.

  5. I think folks should lighten up on Stooge.  He wasn’t defending Armstrong, he was arguing for perspective.  Armstrong won sports trophies he didn’t deserve, and fought like a weasel to preserve an unearned reputation.  Poehlman served a year and a day for scientific fraud, and admitted to bilking assorted granting agencies of over three million dollars by lying on over 17 grant applications; his faked medical research about menopause may well have endangered many women’s lives, as well as other doctors’ careers.  I don’t think it’s a stretch to say his offense was worse than lying about his own drug intake, or that saying so it makes Armstrong look one whit less of a jerk.

  6. Armstrong was a liar and a bully who damaged careers for quite a few people.  He also massively increased interest and as a result the money to be made for everyone involved in cycling and help raise half a billion dollars for cancer.
    Andrew Wakefield is a “scientist” whose anti-vax “research helped create in industry of true believers whose actions can be blamed for hundreds if not thousands of deaths of children.  

    Advantage Armstrong.

  7. If sports fans can stand there spewing nasty remarks about Lance, then sit down to watch a football game and cheer for Michael Vick, then there is something very wrong, broken, and disturbing about how we think.

    1. Professional Sport seems to be pretty much crap all over. Apparently the Kabaddi champions are tested for blood doping these days. Maybe the governments of the world should bring in a blanket ban on all sports advertising and sponsorship? Without the huge rewards, there would be less incentive to cheat. Or maybe a ban on spectation; if you want to enjoy a sport, you’ve got to take part?

  8. Sports are expected to be a fair contest because people bet on the outcome. Big important people have legal businesses that depend on those bets being as represented. You wont find any big shots betting on the outcome of professional wrestling. Lance Armstrong screwed all those people (just to name a group with concrete losses.) Then he proceeded to lie about it over and over to the point of successfully suing people who accused him. You have to lean back really far to say, “So what?”

  9. I’ve posted elsewhere on BB about my daughter, a damn good player who quit her softball league when the coach began instructing her team on ways to cheat – Including lying to oneself by calling it “gamemanship” or rationalizing by saying “The other guys are doing it too”.

    So I rely on her opinion in this matter, because she read Armstrong’s book and reported, simply: “This guy’s an asshole.”

  10. I have been an avid cyclist since I was four years old. When my peers and I turned 16 we all got our cars, but I never gave up riding the bike. The bicycle has led me to many friends and employment in a field I love and am very intimate with.

    I wound up in the cycling business, working all kinds of facets from shop to distribution, and half of the business for me is getting people on saddles. Most people who ride get that; The euphoria of moving quickly and silently, kind of a grounded version of flying. It nullifies this clumsy ‘fall/catch yourself, fall/catch yourself’ that seems to be our lot as legged beasts.

    I ride mostly for transport, but I recognize the sport of racing is a heavy draw on our industry. It inspires a lot of people to ride. This scandal is one that I and some here posting will be all too familiar with up til this peaking point. As more and more cyclists were found to be guilty of cheating in this fashion, Lance’s victories teetered between belief he was super-human to just another cheater. I didn’t dwell on it for several reasons, mostly because I was too aware of the history of the Tours, the proliferation of ‘doping’ through every competitive sport, the high-horse the UCI sits on, etc. I mean, they couldn’t even hand down the victory to the next rider down 20 times over. They’d ALL been doping. Thus I hadn’t given any more criticism to Armstrong as any of the others.

    But there are a couple of differences with Armstrong that we should take in. Armstrong fought vehemently about his innocence, up to and including suing parties for telling the truth. Lance represented the US’s return to the Tour De France. We saw a huge surge in the industry because of Armstrong. And some people until last week (and probably right now) insist he is innocent. For some it’s the death of a hero. For some it is vindication after being sued (successfully) for defamation of character.

    Armstrong’s guilt meant little to me personally as his ‘victories’ meant little to me either. The whole race was kind of rigged to me. The UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) was a political organization, hell-bent on control of every facet of cycling, something that’s never sat well with my ideals of cycling. There has always been a big push to make the sport televisable, a ‘close’ event(The first Tour for example had a second place finish 3 hours behind the winner). And cyclists were glad to go along with doping. The UCI and USADA I felt turned a blind-eye to a lot simply for the sake of business. Most don’t know that their own statute of limitations were broken by the organizations to bring Lance’s guilt out, kind of suggesting to me they were under some kind of pressure. The whole thing is poisoned for me, from Armstrong, the other riders and the organizers themselves.

    In the end Armstrong’s narcissism has caught up to him via an organization that’s trying to regain their composure and, more justly, a lot of people who have been trampled under the ego a lot of people built up for Armstrong. His legacy is in tatters and financially he may very well be destroyed too. For me, he my have contributed to the wane of road-cycling in the US but more importantly he hurt the legacy Dodgeball…

    Edited as I made some repetitive statements…

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