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Ten (Australian) questions for Cancer Jesus

If Cancer Jesus ever returns to Adelaide he can expect to be dragged from his private jet at the airport, hitched to the back of a truck with a rope, hauled into the city down Anzac Parade and his lifeless body hung for display from a light standard in Victoria Square while the crowds that once sang his praises to the sky bay for his blood. He doesn’t deserve any better.

Unlike the several hundred thousand Australians that will be glued to their small screens on Friday and Saturday nights this week watching a marshmallow “interview” the biggest fraud in sporting history I’ll have something better to do.

Like eating my own liver. Or standing outside a bar in Darwin’s Mitchell Street picking fights.

I’ll do just about anything to avoid the biggest media stunt in (recent) sporting or political history.

I satisfied myself that Lance Armstrong (aka Cancer Jesus) was a liar and a cheat quite a few years ago and have devoted more than a few hundred column inches and hours of my time convincing others to that view. Most likely, as is the way with anyone going up against a criminal enterprise of the massive scale set up and maintained by Cancer Jesus, with varying degrees of success.

Earlier this week David Walsh, senior sports journalist with The Sunday Times and one of the few that has pursued, and been pursued by, Cancer Jesus and his criminal crew, published ten questions that he thought should be asked of the Texan by the Marshmallow.

• Did you tell doctors at the Indiana University Hospital on Oct 27, 1996 that you had taken EPO, human growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone?

• After returning from cancer how did you justify putting banned drugs in your body? 

• Did you have any sympathy for those rivals determined to race clean?

• Do you regret how you treated Betsy Andreu, your former masseuse Emma O’Reilly and Greg LeMond?

• Do you admit that your friend Dr Michele Ferrari fully supported your team’s doping?

• Is it your intention to return the prize money you earned from Sept 1998 to July 2010?

• Did you sue The Sunday Times to shut us up?

• Was your failure to understand Floyd Landis the key to your downfall?

• Do you accept your lying to the cancer community was the greatest deception of all?

• Why have you chosen Oprah Winfrey for your first interview as a banned athlete?

I’ll bet London to a brick that the Marshmallow didn’t put any of Walsh’s well-informed questions to Cancer Jesus during their cosy fireside chat.

I’ve not been asking questions about Cancer Jesus as long as David Walsh and others pursuing him but have been doing my best to poke sharp sticks under the fingernails of those closest to him in this country since 2009, when Cancer Jesus returned to professional cycling in the South Australian government-run Tour Down Under, an annual early-season down-under training run for pro-cyclists escaping the European winter.

I’ve asked questions of a lot of people in South Australia and beyond associated with cycling and Cancer Jesus over the years. Usually – no surprise here – my questions have been about money, along the lines of “How much did you pay Cancer Jesus this year?

I’ve yet to receive any meaningful response from anyone at any government or non-government agency that has tipped money into Cancer Jesus’ pockets over the years. You can catch up with a few of my pieces here or by a quick search at The Northern Myth home page.

In the unlikely event that Cancer Jesus decides to return to Australia in the near future, here are ten questions that we could ask of him.

1 – How much were you paid by the South Australian Government to appear at the Tour Down Under in 2009, 2010 and 2011?

2 – If, as you claimed in 2010, that money was your personal income, how much Australian tax did you pay on that money?

3 – Will you release copies of the agreement/s between you and the South Australian government. If not, why not?

4 – While competing in the Tour Down Under in 2009, 2010 and 2011 did you take any performance-enhancing drugs (EPO, human growth hormone, cortisone, steroids and testosterone) or engage in the practice commonly known as “blood-doping.”

5 – If you did take those drugs or engage in that practice, what drugs and/or equipment did you bring into Australian, how did you bring them in and who assisted in that enterprise?

6 – Who in Australia knew, or could reasonably have known, that you were engaging in such practises while here?

7 - South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill has asked for the repayment of the several million dollars in appearance fees paid to you for the Tour Down Under cycle races in 2009, 2010 and 2011. What say you?

8 – Will you apologise to the Australian cancer community to whom you have given such false hope for so long?

9 – What arrangements existed – including payment for using the Livestong.com/org image and name – between you, Livestrong.com/org and the Flinders University LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre?

10 – Please identify the Australian cycling administrators, director sportifs, race directors and officials, media commentators who knew, or could reasonably have known, that you had taken PEDs or engaged in blood doping?

Cancer Jesus is scheduled to be back in this country in December 2014 when he is, apparently, scheduled to be a guest at the World Cancer Congress in Melbourne. You can see his performance in Montreal – just days after USADA announced it had imposed a sanction of lifetime ineligibility and disqualification of competitive results achieved by Cancer Jesus since August 1, 1998 - at the 2012 World Cancer Congress here

If Cancer Jesus does come to Australia next year he will be well advised to stay away from Adelaide and anyone to do with Australian cycling, the Tour Down Under and the Flinders University LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre.

The Flinders Centre has already removed his image from their walls and businesses in the city have torn down the enormous posters of his face that were once emblazoned across down-town Adelaide.

Lance Armstrong” and “Livestrong” were once words associated in the City of Churches with sporting glory and hope against terrible despair and pain. Now those words only bring forth ugly images of fraud and a grand deception on a scale hitherto unknown.

If Cancer Jesus ever returns to Adelaide he can expect to be dragged from his private jet at the airport, hitched to the back of a truck with a rope, hauled into the city down Anzac Parade and his lifeless body hung for display and public humiliation from a light standard in Victoria Square while the crowds that once sang his praises to the sky bay for his blood.

He doesn’t deserve any better.

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  • 1
    evs
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Fifteen uses of the term “Cancer Jesus”. Is that really necessary? It really distracts from whatever point you are attempting to make.

    Saying Armstrong is a cheat therefore the South Australian government should not have paid him is a very simplistic argument. At the time he had never “officially” been caught or sanctioned. The comeback was big news and they were able to secure him for his very first race during his comeback.

    The Lance Armstrong brand sold then and probably still sells now. It resulted in many hundreds or even thousands of people, who otherwise would not have bothered, going to South Australia to follow the TDU and bringing with them plenty of money injected straight into the South Australian economy.

    I will watch the interview because I am a cycling fan and I am interested in his answers. In fact I find it hard to believe anyone can claim they are a cycling fan and at the same time say they are not interested.

  • 2
    Bas Scheffers
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Two things:

    Why would have have to pay Australian taxes? Just showing up somewhere to work for a week or two doesn’t make you a resident for tax purposes. So that argument is irrelevant.

    The SA government has always stated his appearance fees brought in more money than it costs, so they got a good deal. Asking it back makes no sense.

    However, under proceeds of crime laws, the courts could confiscate it? That would be awesome.

  • 3
    Myriam Robin
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    “If Cancer Jesus ever returns to Adelaide he can expect to be dragged from his private jet at the airport, hitched to the back of a truck with a rope, hauled into the city down Anzac Parade and his lifeless body hung for display and public humiliation from a light standard in Victoria Square while the crowds that once sang his praises to the sky bay for his blood.”

    - Ugh, really? Are you suggesting he be killed in an act of mob violence? Given the rest of this piece is so earnest I’m not sure this is a joke.

  • 4
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Cancer patients don’t need an apology Uniquely they know it’s about tomorrow; Not yesterday.

    I blame the UCI and other cycling admins who allowed and were virtually complicit in the corruption of their sport for almost 20 years. Lance has come clean on Oprah? great BUT please no tears, The time for emotional mea culpa’s was 10 years ago.

    This should be an apology to the members of the pelotons who he ripped off, cheated and bullied. Perhaps even a plea for understanding from the fans one human being to another.

  • 5
    Bob Gosford
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Some relevant musings on the nature of apologies from Nick Smith, J.D. and Ph.D., an associate professor of philosophy at the University of New Hampshire and author of “I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies”.

    “Apologies provide many, many different kinds of meanings and we should avoid oversimplifying by asking whether the apology is “good” or “bad” or classifying it according to some other binary notion. Instead, I’ll watch with a few questions in view that provide insight into the kinds of meanings that Armstrong provides and what he leaves out.”

    See more at the wall Street Journal here: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/01/16/all-apologies-a-viewers-guide-to-lance-armstrong-on-oprah/

  • 6
    SBH
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Or you could stand out the front of Squires and ask exiting patrons how they lost their front teeth. What a shame the Dolphin is no more.

    Armstrong’s perfidy is undoubted but there are plenty of others who seem to have slid through without blot or stain. In particular the UCI and its almost certain complicity and Bjarne Riis. How do we lose Hodgie and White and yet Riis remains one of the most influential people in the sport? (I say sport but only in the same way that Mexican wrestling is a sport)

  • 7
    Peter
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    No offence, but this kind of white-hot rhetoric urging a mob to kill Armstrong and ranting about a ‘cancer jesus’ is about as pathological as the bully in question.

  • 8
    WTF
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Your pain is painful to read Bob, your mediocrity must hurt real bad – still regardless of your bile I am certain that LA will never give a rat’s arse what you think. And that should be even more agonising for you to know!

  • 9
    sparky
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t recall”, the answer de jour and par siècle.

  • 10
    Gerry Hatrick, OAP
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Yes.

  • 11
    Kevin Tyerman
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    re evs comment:
    Saying Armstrong is a cheat therefore the South Australian government should not have paid him is a very simplistic argument. At the time he had never “officially” been caught or sanctioned. The comeback was big news and they were able to secure him for his very first race during his comeback.

    You make valid points, but I still don’t agree that amount of public funds paid to bring Mr Armstrong should not be accountable to the taxpayers / citizens of South Australia, or Australia if there was any Federal funding involved.

    In my opinion, public spending should be publically accountable.

  • 12
    Steve Fleay
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Even as a keen cyclist I wont be watching a “marshmallow” interview. LA as has been his practise for a long time has this whole interview carefully controlled. The only interview worth watching would have been live with a credible interviewer.

  • 13
    Peter
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Kevin Tyerman: this public funding was accounted for – the SA economy made a good profit on that transaction. LA’s appearance brought more money into SA than it cost. It was a case of taxes well spent if you look at it objectively.

    Maybe if the SA government would agree to give Lance Armstrong all the money his appearance brought into the SA economy, in return for his refunding the appearance money, that would make sense from a commercial POV.

    Same goes for Nike – they made a handsome profit out of Lance, so to ask for their money back now is a little rich – like renting a race horse, making millions off it’s back, finding out years later it was doped, then wanting the rental money back but keeping the profits you made.

    These sponsorship deals are all completed contracts based on selling widgets by leveraging fame. The doping that’s come to light now doesn’t affect the profits made then by Nike, SA, US Postal or any other sponsor who licensed his image in the past.

  • 14
    SBH
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Peter “this public funding was accounted for” I don’t think that’s right. I’m being lazy and not checking but I seem to remember that Bob Gosford has repeatedly asked questions about the money and repeatedly been given very thin answers.

  • 15
    Bob Gosford
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    True SBH – no details (despite the many attempts by me and others) have ever been revealed about the payments made to Armstrong and related entities for what are suspected to be a number of matters.

    The SA government hid behind the “commercial in confidence” excuse.

    Perhaps these questions may be asked yet again during the upcoming SA election campaign …

  • 16
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    We all know that even a split second appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show guarantees wealth and fame. That’s the power of untrammeled capitalism. If you mix that in with the word ‘humbling’ and a couple of sparkling crocodile tears carefully stage managed and filmed from the right angle and boy, do the sponsors start lining up.

    Remember a while ago when Rupert Murdoch gave his first performance on the inquiry about the phone hacking scandal? After Mr Murdoch got down on his chair and felt comfortable enough he turned his face upwards towards the camera and announced with the sincerity of Bill Clinton’s ‘no, I did not have sex with that woman’, ‘ this is the most humble day of my life.’ Today, Rupert’s media empire is capitalized at , give and take a couple of billions, 63 billion and the sixth largest company in Australia. It would not be surprising if the word ‘Humble’ will be subject to copy-rights in the future, might even get a patent taken out on it. During the beginning of the scandal the company was hovering between 32 and 45 billion. Crime paid off handsomely and the ‘humbling experience’ certainly proved it to be for Newscorp.

    I am sure Lance Armstrong’s future is now guaranteed just as much. Film rights, book rights, biographies. Boy oh boy, it’s just the beginning!

    Banal confessions dripping with insincerity seems to be mainly the domain of the US. Surely, if Armstrong was sincere he would not seek an interview at the feet of the Goddess of Money and Fame, with all the world-wide fanfare and publicity that it would entail and instead lie low and hide his head in shame. He spouted again and again ‘the humbling’ of it all.
    The most ‘humbling’, ‘oh, I am now under a death sentence.’ ‘I don’t deserve that’, he mumbled and humbled. The most ‘humbling’ of all times, he confessed tearfully, was the withdrawal from the Livestrong cancer foundation. Oh, seventy five million dollar a day I am now ever so humbly losing.

    The foundation and original seeds of corny confessions might well have been sown some years back by Pastor Baker and Tammy. Remember the disgraced televangelists, Jimmy and Tammy Baker and the prostitute giving Pastor Jimmy a bit of light hand relief? The whole world was glued to their TV sets for weeks.

    For many years, the Bakers indulged themselves in conspicuous consumption funded by their televangelism on both land and satellite TV. No one at the time thought the glitz and glamour the Bakers surrounding themselves with to be a bit unusual for a nonprofit organization…Jimmy was quoted as saying,” I believe if Jesus was alive today he would be on TV”. After it all came out, the tearstained confession of Jimmy Baker on TV, would have to be one of the most bizarre events ever to have come out from the schmaltz world of American TV shows. Previous to that his “Praise the Lord” TV and Theme park in South Carolina made millions weekly. Some cynics afterwards thought that PTL always stood for “pass the Loot.”

    Well, Mr Armstrong is well on the way of a comeback. The sponsors might sue him but were less shy when he was in the lime-light. Are they also giving back money made while the sponsored products were selling thanks to the fame of Lance at the time? For many years suspicion was rife but money as always speaks loudest. Who would be so silly as to upset the cart that was bringing in the loot?

    I will never be able to ride on the back of ‘a humbling experience.’ It seems even more remote I will ever get an invitation to Oprah. Will you?

  • 17
    SBH
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    As an aside Bob, ‘commercial in confidence’ is an utterly meaningless term invented by Jeff Kennett to hide details of how public money was spent. It has been seized on by governments (whose nature is to obfuscate) of all stripes and has no legitimate place in a democracy.

  • 18
    Bob Gosford
    Posted January 22, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    SBH – agreed – must say that I laughed out very loud when i saw that.
    Some interesting sentiments in this piece from Ashenden.

    http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cycling/state-tour-backed-a-loser-20130121-2d35g.html

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