Grauer: Why Armstrong?

Now that The Aspen Times has published quality reporting on the Pitkin County sheriff’s controversial ownership in Lance Armstrong’s vodka company, it needs to examine why Armstrong was used as a “celebrity” at an educational fund-raiser this summer.

Both The Aspen Times and The Aspen Daily ran stories lionizing Armstrong’s fund-raising prowess for the Aspen Education Foundation’s “celebrity pickleball” event, without mentioning his long-time doping activities.

How was he chosen, when parents, educators and school resource officers in the valley, from Aspen to Rifle, are trying to instill in their children — “do the right thing, don’t do drugs, don’t lie and cheat.”

Both stories failed to meet journalistic standards for context and balance. The publisher of The Aspen Times and the editor of the Aspen Daily News both bear responsibility, not the Daily News sports reporter or The Times’ temporary intern assigned to the story.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing doping over the course of his career and named him as the ringleader of the “most … successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

The USADA cited his “fraudulent concealment” of his doping.
Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles, and the USADA issued a life ban on him competing in any sport using the World Anti-Doping Code. 

He made a limited admission to doping and apologized on an Oprah Winfrey TV show, but anti-doping officials questioned his sincerity:
“If he’s sincere in his desire to correct past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities,” said USADA chief executive Travis Tygart in a 2013 Cycling interview.
The education foundation’s board should consider returning the $25,000 to the donors from the pickleball event (of the $1.5 million raised overall), given its association with Armstrong.

Bernard Grauer