Over the past few years I’ve written no end of pieces here and at Crikey on the relationship between Mike Rann’s South Australian Government and the American cyclist (now retired) Lance Armstrong. Back in 2009 I wrote:
Lance Armstrong went to Adelaide for a fortnight in January. While there he spoke to a few cancer charities, visited hospitals, charity fund-raisers and cancer victims, and schmoozed with Kevin Rudd, a fawning South Australian Premier Mike Rann, assorted SA Ministers and half the population of Adelaide. Oh, and between schmoozes he rode around on his bike for seven days during the Tour Down Under. For his troubles he trousered a wedge understood to be up to $AU3 million in cash.
…the only response that Crikey received from the South Australian government to our questions in 2009 was this short statement: “Any payments associated with teams or cyclists taking part in the Tour Down Under are commercial in confidence. This has been the case since the inception of the race 11 years ago.”
A week ago Crikey again put several questions to Rann about the 2009 payments to Armstrong and asking how much he, and other riders, might be being paid in 2010 by way of appearance money. At the time of going to press we’ve not had a response.
Back then, in Australia no less than in the US, concerns about Armstrong’s credibility as a sportsman and promoter of his anti-cancer Livestrong.org charity (and the closely related Livestrong.com commercial arm) were largely limited to the well-informed fringes of the cycling and business press.
Armstrong came to Australia to race in the Tour Down Under again in early 2011, but this time he opened the LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre. I and more than a few others were interested in the various relationships between Lance Armstrong, his various charitable and commercial entities, the Flinders Medical Centre (where the Livestrong Centre is based, and Mike Rann’s government.
Here is part of what I wrote then:
Earlier this week I sent a number of questions to staff at the Flinders Medical Centre (Flinders) in Adelaide concerning the relationship between Flinders and organisations closely associated with it, particularly the LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre, and Mr Lance Armstrong and organisations associated with him. Those organisations include the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), which, according to the LIVESTRONG.com website owns both the copyright and trademark for LIVESTRONG™.
I am interested in the relationships between Flinders and LIVESTRONG™, Lance Armstrong and organisations associated with him because of reports that the Flinders Medical Centre may have paid for the use of the LIVESTRONG™ trademark. I approached Flinders to clarify this point because it conflicted with comments that suggest that the use of the LIVESTRONG™ trademark had been gifted to Flinders. I was also seeking a response to reports that Flinders had paid Armstrong for transport-related expenses and for his appearances at events related to the LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre. I was also interested in whether Armstrong or his affiliated organisations had made any donations to the LIVESTRONG™ Cancer Research Centre.
Apologies at this point for the long-windedness of all this but the point needs to be made – at no time have I – or anyone else in the Australian media seeking answers to these and many more questions about the relationships between Mike Rann, his government and Lance Armstrong and his related organisations – received any meaningful response to these questions.
Those answers are now long overdue and the time for Rann to respond to these issues has now come.
Later today US time the CBS 60 Minutes program will broadcast a program that rips yet another ugly scab off the myths that surround Lance Armstrong.
As the CBS website reports:
“60 Minutes” has learned that at least three of Lance Armstrong’s former teammates – including one of his closest, George Hincapie – have told federal authorities they used banned substances and saw Armstrong use them as well.
Hincapie testified that he and Armstrong supplied each other with the endurance-boosting substance EPO and discussed having used another banned substance, testosterone, to prepare for races, “60 Minutes” has learned. Through his lawyer, Hincapie declined to be interviewed, citing the ongoing investigation. Armstrong has steadfastly denied ever using banned substances. Hincapie was a member of Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service-sponsored cycling team. Another former member, Tyler Hamilton, has given “60 Minutes” an interview for Sunday’s report in which he says he used EPO and saw Armstrong inject it, too, in preparation for races Armstrong won, including the sport’s ultimate event, the Tour de France. Hamilton has also made these revelations to federal authorities.
There is more – a hell of a lot more – to come on this.
I’ve posted a few useful links to recent reports below for those interested in following this saga.
While this latest chapter of this very sorry saga unfolds overseas there are many unanswered questions here in Australia.
Surely it is now time for Mr Rann and his minions to finally cast Lance Armstrong adrift and start answering the many outstanding questions about the relationships between his government and Armstrong?
I’m happy to re-phrase them for anyone interested…
In the meantime here are some useful links to some of the recent overseas press and my earlier posts…
From CBS 60 Minutes: Ex-teammate testified on Lance Armstrong and EPO
The best for mine of the recent posts – David Walsh from The Sunday Times: Its not about the bike, its about the drugs
Followed closely by this piece by Bonnie D. Ford at ESPN: Armstrong’s tight inner circle crumbles
A very good piece from Lionel Birnie at Cycle Sport Online: Lance Armstrong: the endgame begins
A personal view from someone who has removed her Livestrong yellow wristband
Drew Sharp at the Detroit Free Press: Wheels suddenly coming off for Lance Armstrong