Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ode to the Smartest Guys In the Room

Can we never hope to curtail
how the stale, the pale, and the male
seem only upwardly to fail?


jimf said...

Boys will be boys.
Drugs that can boost energy or blunt pain. . . have been used
in cycling for more than a century. . . Cyclists who weren’t taking
it couldn’t keep up. Greg LeMond, a three-time winner of the
Tour de France, surrendered. In 1993, he pulled out of the race.

Armstrong, just then arriving on the scene, was far more ruthless.
From an early age, he showed little regard for others. He ignored
the traditional hierarchy of cycling, refusing to sacrifice his
performance for the team leader. He discarded anyone who was no
longer of use to him: mentors, friends, girlfriends, even his wife.
“He treats people like bananas,” the widow of one friend told
[Juliet] Macur [author of _Cycle of Lies_]. “He takes what he needs,
then just tosses the peel on the side of the road.”

Armstrong grew up in a culture of cheating. When he was 14,
his parents doctored his birth certificate to qualify him for
a race. His mother, unwilling to comply with a school attendance
law, shopped around till she found a private school (aptly named
Bending Oaks) that would let him graduate despite his absences.
At 19, he was pulled over for driving erratically. He refused
a Breathalyzer test and enlisted a friend to help him beat
the charges. Later, as a pro cyclist, Armstrong joined in
the sport’s custom of bribing competitors to lose. . .

Armstrong organized his schedule around the drug-testing system. . .

As tests became more sophisticated, so did Armstrong. . .

Armstrong did get caught a few times, but he proved quite adept
at gaming the enforcement system. In 1999, he tested positive. . .
He and two associates, according to a witness, arranged a cover story:
a backdated prescription from the team doctor for an ointment containing
the banned substance. In 2001. . . Armstrong arranged a payment to
Hein Verbruggen, the president of the cycling union, to bury his suspicious
EPO test. A few years later, Armstrong’s 1999 urine samples were examined
with a new test for EPO, and they flunked. A pseudo-­independent inquiry,
led by a friend of Verbruggen’s, dismissed the evidence. . .

Having beaten the testing system, Armstrong turned it to his advantage.
Eyewitness reports of his doping couldn’t be true, he reasoned, since
he had “passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.”
To silence the doubters, he announced a private testing program.
It would be run by an expert who was ostensibly independent but in
fact would be paid by Armstrong’s team. . .

The more Armstrong won, the more invincible he felt. When federal
prosecutors and the United States Anti-Doping Agency came after him,
he went over their heads, recruiting members of Congress and targeting
Usada’s budget. He intimidated witnesses, manipulated doctors’
testimony, and used his financial and political connections to
threaten the livelihoods of those who spoke out against him.

Eventually, Armstrong made too many enemies. . .

[T]he. . . accounts teach a sobering lesson. A talented, savage
competitor — the sort of person who will exploit any advantage
and ignore any rule — is often just as clever at manipulating our
methods of enforcement. Everything in Armstrong’s path — the drugs,
the doctors, the tests, the authorities — was just another course
to conquer, another race to win. That was his genius.

Dale Carrico said...

Genius? Or just penius?