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Daily Archives: January 5, 2013

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Lance Armstrong, Sponsors, And Lawsuits – Pt 2, One More Thing…

There was one finer point I wanted to make in my last post and to tell the truth, I got so wound up it slipped my mind while I was writing…

Here’s the quote from the New York Times article that really got my dander up:

This is another way of saying that Mr. Armstrong put a layer of legal protection between himself and the money. And if nothing else, it shows that he has had good legal counsel over the years.

Now, being a fairly honest fellow and having come from a life of nothing and having turned that into something, there are two ways to look at that sentence.  The first is that, through a series of unfair loopholes, Lance protected his money and he did this because his lawyer was good…  But understanding that statement in that way is just a little more than ignorant considering what is normal with wealth in the US.

That reality leads to the other way:  One thing painfully clear when it comes to money is that for every one person who accumulates wealth (New Money), there will be many more who will try to take some of it.  The only way safely accumulate wealth – or at least as safe as possible after the politicians have their way with you – is to add “layers of protection” between your income and your corporation(s).  Compared to Armstrong, I’m seriously small potatoes but that hasn’t stopped people from trying to steal from me – both those above me in the food chain, and those below me as well.  The “layers of protection” between my money and my company’s simply means that if something happens to the company, my wife, kids and I won’t be penniless – out on the street.  After all, we owners don’t get unemployment if we have to close up shop, we’re just out.  Most in the middle class, who work for a company or corporation, don’t understand this concept fully.  They mistakenly assume some level of “unfair treatment” – that if I make a mistake that ends up costing me my company, “fairness” dictates that others should be able to take my personal effects and wealth as well…  This is usually backed with something to the effect of “well they’re rich, they can afford it” (I’m not even close by the way, though many make the ignorant assumption that I am rich simply because I own a company).

Theft by Lawyer (or Retirement Funding by Lawyer) is funny that way, and rarely are those same people willing to point that dagger at themselves.  Take a factory worker working for an hourly wage and a 401k or pension.  They make mistakes that cost their companies money on a regular and consistent basis.  Should a company be allowed to go after their wage or 401k to recoup that money?  Not if you ask them, but that is exactly what will expect from others – they just going after deeper pockets.  Automaker doesn’t stop a shop worker whose at work while she’s drunk or stoned and she kills somebody?  They gottta pay, millions!    It’s not the Automaker’s fault but that’s who they go after…and it gets even better!  If a bunch of employees are found getting stoned on their lunch break – on video, clear as day, that company can’t fire the workers.

The point is, while you’re accumulating your wealth (rather than a pension and huge benefits), to not protect that wealth from the vultures would be colossally stupid – because the only other thing that’s as sure as death and taxes is that if you are wealthy, there will be people looking to knock a chunk off for them…  Of course, the way that the writers at the New York Times lean politically, I wouldn’t expect them to understand this.

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Lance Armstrong, Sponsors, And Lawsuits – Here’s A Twist

There hasn’t been much in the way of news on Lance Armstrong lately, and then I bumped into an article that states Lance is kicking around a confession, here, to get his lifetime ban reduced so he can compete in sanctioned triathlons.  Reading that article reminded me of a post I’d intended on doing back when there were rumors that his sponsors would (or could) seek monetary damages or demand the return of money paid during his TdF reign as champion.  The New York Times did a pretty fair write-up, here, about the unlikelihood of that happening but they only glossed over the key reason why this should never be allowed by quoting his attorney…

Here’s the quote:

Mr. Herman, Mr. Armstrong’s lawyer, seemed prepared for this line of argument [that because Armstrong denied allegations of doping, the US Government was defrauded, that Lance garnered funding by making false statements – Paraphrased]. He said that from 2001 to 2004 the Postal Service paid Mr. Armstrong’s team $32.27 million and received a return on its investment of $103.63 million. He cited what he said was a study commissioned by the Postal Service on the indirect benefits from the relationship.       

“You have an annual return on investment of 320 percent,” he said. “I hit my knees every night hoping someone defrauds me like that.”

Then the New York Times presents the other side like this:

Still, it is easy to see how double damages for the entire sponsorship period, along with legal fees, could erode Mr. Armstrong’s wealth.

And then this:

Mr. Herman said he expected many people to try to sue Mr. Armstrong. I imagine this group could include the dozens of cyclists, spouses and trainers whom Mr. Armstrong is said to have bullied into silence. That could chip away at his wealth, too, but Mr. Herman intimated that he did not think these people would have much success because Tailwind, the corporation that owned the team, was “the contracting party.”       

This is another way of saying that Mr. Armstrong put a layer of legal protection between himself and the money. And if nothing else, it shows that he has had good legal counsel over the years.

So here’s the short version:  Companies like Nike, FRS and the US Government (USPS) paid Armstrong handsomely for the use of Lance’s name over that time and profited even more handsomely in the process, 320% according to the study done on the USPS.  I can only imagine the percentages involved with the Armstrong/Trek, FRS or Nike deals.  So yes, while it could be argued that Armstrong is a dirt-bag for doing what most in his profession did to stay competitive, what you can’t argue is that for the period in question, with years in between his retirement from the sport and any concrete evidence being presented to the public who supported those companies with their cash (the public paid for those products using Lance’s name and the public is, generally speaking, far more ignorant than industry insiders) were the one’s who were technically defrauded – the companies still profited on the relationship.  For any of those companies or the US Government to try to go back and recoup their initial “investment” money after he doubled or tripled that investment is, I would argue, far more contemptible than Armstrong doping in the first place.

In fact, I find that so egregious I will be following this story to see which companies try to sue for their money back – and I can guarantee you I will never buy a product from those companies again and I’ll make the biggest possible stink that I legally can get away with about them here.  To put this in perspective, can you imagine anyone deciding not to buy another Nike product or using the US Postal Service because they sponsored Lance and Lance doped?  That seems pretty unlikely if you ask me – and beyond unlikely, it would be stupid.

So, a note to Trek:  Fellas, I haven’t seen your name in any of the press regarding seeking to sue Lance, but in case you’re contemplating it, please let it go because I love your bikes and it’d break my heart to have to switch to someone else’s…  For what that’s worth.

Running/Cycling: Where Do You Get Your Drive?

Mrs. Bgddy asked me a question the other day that really surprised me and caught me a little of balance.  She asked where I get my drive to run and ride as fast as I can over a long distances and how do I get passed the urge to conserve until I’m on the home stretch.  The question really caught me by surprise because I generally don’t think of myself as all that special in terms of pushing it…  In fact, in a constructive way, I generally consider myself a weak-willed sissy (sissy is a substitute word to keep the post PG).

My wife, as she explained it, has a tendency to “over conserve” until the last 200 yards before she kicks it.  The end result is that she runs/rides at a level well below her potential.  I’ve actually read about this phenomenon in a few posts since that exchange, so I don’t think this is a rare conundrum.  Now, my wife could have kept up with me and maybe even beaten me in a race several years ago, but to put this conservation into context, she currently runs at a 5k pace of 10-1/2 to 11 minutes per mile, where I’m in the 7’s.  She could run in the 9’s easy but she over-conserves “in case she needs it around the next corner”…

So we had a conversation about how I keep from conserving too much – there are a few different aspects that work into the equation:  Distance, Speed, Desired Pace/Goal and Drive.  First things first, running and riding are two very different things – I’m a lot more willing to push it on a bike than I am running because the ramifications of bonking on a ride are a lot less problematic – I can average 15 mph on my bike after a bonk (I’ve done it before).  That notwithstanding, I hate finishing a hard workout with anything left in the tank so depending on the distance, there’s a delicate balance between pushing and conserving.  For this post I’m going to concentrate on the shorter distances – 35 miles for a (solo) bike ride and a 10k for a run.

I know that I can go for a solo ride under optimal conditions – ride all out, averaging about 22 miles per hour, and make it 30 miles before I run out of gas (this includes having to stop at stop signs and a few traffic lights so my average would actually be a little higher).  I know this because that ride that I bonked after 30 miles on was a 35.5 mile loop – I bonked with five and a half miles to go.  Those last miles I crawled back, averaging only 15 mph – and that only added about ten minutes to my ride, even if those last miles were uncomfortable.  That’s hardly unmanageable.  I handle running the same way, just change the distances…  For a 5k, running all out only has bad ramifications in the extreme cold – get sweaty and bonk after two miles and you’ll freeze on the last mile walk back, but in the summer time?  No problem.  Last summer, in an attempt to see just how fast I could run, I did a 5k and tried to bonk…  I was used to running a high 7 minute (7:50’s+) to a low 8 minute mile over that distance.  I started out fast, a 6:40 pace, cranked that back a notch and finished the first mile at just over 7 minutes…  I carried the 7 minute pace into the second mile and was good until just before I finished that second mile…  I finished that mile at 7:10 – and then the wheels fell off.  I walked the last mile and some.  The next time I went out I just dialed it back a notch and did the whole 5k at a 7:31 pace – a personal best.  Last year was the first time I’d ever broken into the 7 minute miles over any distance…and the only way I could find out that I could run that fast in the first place was to run till I bonked.  From there, it’s not too hard to turn that 5k into a 10k, you just slow down a bit to manage the distance, then speed up the pace on the last two miles.  The next week, speed up the pace on the last three, then on the last four…  If you bonk on the last mile, so what?  You walk back for a mile knowing you left everything on the road.

That’s the how, but what about the why?  That’s a tougher question to answer.  The truth is that I just want to do as well as I can with my natural ability.  To me, it makes absolutely no sense to take 30 minutes to run a 5k when I can run it in 22, get a better workout, burn more calories (though arguably not more fat if current zone understanding is correct) and release more endorphins.  The only thing that would change that would be if I’m running with someone else who is slower.  My drive is simply about doing the best that I can because doing less, while it may be more comfortable, is counter to my overall goal – to be as fit and as awesomely slim as possible.

Finally, and this is important, I don’t go as fast as I can all of the time – there are the comfortable slow recovery rides and easier runs, because going all out, all of the time isn’t any fun either, I need balance…  Part of that balance though, the part that makes the easy rides and runs enjoyable, is knowing that I worked hard enough to have to take it easy to recover.  This is the very nature of “fitness should be worn like a track suit, not a straight jacket”.  Here’s my drive:  Going slow all of the time is just as boring and detrimental as going fast all of the time – if I’m dogging it to “conserve” energy because I might “need it” around the corner, I haven’t been training enough.  I have trained enough so I know, damn near beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there isn’t anything around the corner that I can’t motor through.

Therein lies the rub…  The only way to be comfortable with pushing is to push so hard that you fail – oh, and I fear failure less than I fear living with the knowledge that I could have done better.