Lance Armstrong sued by the Government

Lance Armstrong Sued by GovernmentHere’s a story that makes me want to weep. It’s all bad.

Lance Armstrong is being sued by the government over money the Postal Service gave him, his teammates, and his team during the period between 1998 and 2004. For this financial boon the team was called the U.S. Postal Team during the Tour de France. Armstrong won the race every year from 1999 to 2004 although these victories have now been voided after he admitted to using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).

The government claims it did not receive the value of the services for which it bargained. The idea of advertising is that a business spends money to promote their goods and sees an increase in sales.

Golly, let me try to pick a place to start my rant. It’s not easy. Lance? Lance’s teammates? The government lawyers? The Postal Service?

I’m no fan of Armstrong. Not because he cheated, they all did, but because of the way he ruthlessly bullied and hurt people to keep his secret. His teammates rode along in silence saying nothing until the gravy train came to a halt and only then did they come flying out eager to tell stories. The Postal Service paid $40 million dollars to a cycling team to advertise? What were they advertising? The Post Office isn’t trying to make a profit. They provide a service to citizens. If people want stamps they buy them. The money goes to pay for this service. The Post Office shouldn’t be competing with any private business. They should never advertise. Meanwhile the lawyers who thought this one up can’t possibly think that the publicity for the then heroic Armstrong wasn’t value for the investment. It most certainly was as documented by their own records.

I don’t want to get too deeply into the Post Office but it’s the perfect example of a working tax. People purchase stamps to mail letters and packages. Those letters and packages are delivered by the government. The tax directly supports the service for which it is paid. That’s the way all taxes should be. But, I digress.

Armstrong is not a nice man but he delivered precisely on the investment the Post Office made in him. He won races, he garnered publicity, he wore their colors, and undoubtedly promoted their services. What’s the issue? He cheated and was caught later? They haven’t paid him since 2004. He revealed his lies in 2012. What are the possible damages?

If it turns out my old girlfriend, still love her, great woman, didn’t really like me can I sue to recoup the dinners I bought? I had fun at those dinners. I enjoyed her company.

What if my kitties were just pretending all those years to enjoy the snuggling? Can I sue to get the money I spent on food and vet care back?

As a baseball fan can I sue to get back the money I spent (ok, my mother the season ticket holder spent) on all those years Mark McGuire was hitting home runs for the Birds on the Bat? Did I retroactively not enjoy the games?

This is not only ridiculous but it sets and awful legal precedent. Now, if Armstrong had failed to try during those years, if he had taken the money and not put forward the effort to win, then a lawsuit makes sense. Then the government didn’t get its money’s worth.

I don’t even think this is a money grab. This is someone trying to capitalize on the unpopularity of Armstrong to bolster their own image. Golly, you go Post Office, get that bad man.

No winners here, nothing to see, please return to your lives.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (buy it, seriously, it’s good, $2.99, it’s a bargain)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Lance Armstrong – Hero or Villain?

Lance ArmstrongI’ve spoken about Performance Enhancing Drugs in a number of other posts but with Lance Armstrong apparently admitting to his own use of PEDs in an upcoming (or already passed depending on when you read this) interview, I thought I’d revisit the subject. The main focus of the post will be an assessment of his character, hero or villain.

I maintain now, and have said for years, that virtually all athletes are using or have used PEDs. The testing is, and has been, far behind the sophisticated masking techniques available to athletes in an industry that generates billions of dollars for players, coaches, owners, vendors, and countless others. The cheating likely extends down to grade-school level where students want to gain an unfair competitive advantage over their peers.

But, if everyone is cheating then does anyone have an unfair advantage? My answer is no, they don’t. I’m not going to take on the debate if all PEDs should be made legal or not. Today I want to talk about how divisive a figure Lance Armstrong has become. I’ve been listening to sports radio talk-shows in the morning and reading articles when I come home. There seem to be two vehemently opposed camps.

Armstrong is a cheater, a lair, and a scum-bag. A villain.

Armstrong raised huge amounts of money, gave hope to countless thousands, and his transgressions were minor compared to the good he has done. A hero.

My own opinion is quite simple and, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone else is having trouble coming to the same conclusion.

  • Armstrong survived cancer and continued to play professional sports at the highest level.
  • Armstrong, like everyone else, used PEDs to gain an advantage.
  • Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times.
  • When people accused Armstrong of cheating he lied, he bullied, he attempted to ruin people’s reputation, and he sued for millions of dollars despite the fact that he knew he was using PEDs all along.
  • Armstrong’s foundation raised millions of dollars and helped countless thousands of people.

That’s it. Armstrong did some horrible, reprehensible things for which he should be rightly condemned. Armstrong did some astonishing, wonderful things for which he should be praised.

I think the problem is that those who put their faith in him are either horribly angry at this betrayal or in absolute denial because they don’t want to think they supported someone who could do the bad things that he has done. This is called Cognitive Dissonance and something everyone should know more about.

However, this isn’t a psychology class. Armstrong is a man who did very great things and very awful things. There is no more than that. Those who would absolve him of the evil he’s done because it was for the greater good are delusional. Those who would discount the good he’s done because of the miserable actions he took are just as deluded.

Can’t we look at facts and simply state the truth? He did awful things. He did good things. There is no balancing of one against the other. Both happened. If you choose to forgive him for the awful that’s fine, but don’t pretend it didn’t happen. That he didn’t set out to ruin the lives of those who, rightly, accused him. If you choose to hate him then don’t forget the amazing good he has done for those suffering from the awful scourge of cancer.

That is all. Have a great day!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

Critical Thinking Fail – Lance Armstrong Story

Critical ThinkingA fellow by the name of Arthur Caplan wrote an opinion piece about the Lance Armstrong doping and banning situation. The article has some merit but right at the start he uses a bizarre analogy that has a meaning exactly the opposite of what he is trying to say. Very strange and fodder for today’s Critical Thinking Fail post.

Basically Mr. Caplan uses  the analogy of a female swimmer named Shirley Babashoff to try to illustrate his point that Armstrong has been convicted in the court of popular opinion without evidence. I’m actually on Mr. Caplan’s side in that stripping Armstrong of his wins and claiming he is somehow worse than his fellow competitors is a sham. However, the analogy is insane.

Babashoff was a swimmer in the 1972 and 1976 games when East German women were winning all the medals largely through the systematic use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). She accused them of such wrongdoing and was largely ignored only later to be proven correct.

In this case it is Armstrong being accused of using PEDs so the comparison to Babashoff, the accuser, is mind-boggling. Armstrong is the equivalent of the East German swimmers in this example and Babashoff compares to his accusers.

I’m all for a critical examination of Armstrong and the fact that he didn’t do anything his fellow competitors were not doing. I’m opposed to stripping him, or any competitor of trophies and records when it’s highly likely that their opponents were doing the same thing. It’s hypocritical nonsense to do so. But, Mr. Caplan’s use of an analogy that is actually the opposite of the point he is trying to make is, in my opinion, a Critical Thinking Fail.

What do you think (not about his main point, about the Critical Thinking)?

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Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire