Cheating doper Lance Armstrong still has plenty of gall

Written By BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist Posted: 08/24/2014, 02:35am

Disgraced cycling star Lance Armstrong was asked recently by sportscaster Dan Patrick if he could have won his seven Tour de Frances without doping.

‘‘Not in that era,’’ said Armstrong, who since has been stripped of those titles. ‘‘It was an arms race. . . . I don’t know about today. Not from the late ’80s to the mid-2000s.’’

Armstrong said he and his American racing team went over to Europe ‘‘for a knife fight. Lo and behold, the rest of them had guns.’’

So he, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and others armed up with bazookas. Every kind of performance-enhancing drug that could or couldn’t be detected found its way into their systems.

Then the kicker: Did he ever come close to admitting he was a cheating doper?

‘‘Never,’’ Armstrong said.

We done now?

† THE TODD BERTUZZI-STEVE MOORE CASE has been settled 10 years after then-Canucks forward Bertuzzi sucker-punched then-Avalanche center Moore, sending him face-first to the ice, where he was piled upon and suffered a Grade III concussion, three fractured vertebrae in his neck, vertebral ligament damage, stretching of the brachial plexus nerves and facial cuts. Oh, and amnesia.

The lawsuit against Bertuzzi was big, as was the brawl. The attack ended Moore’s career and basically destroyed Bertuzzi’s. As you might guess, there was more to the story than a simple, out-of-nowhere assault.

Five days earlier, Moore had checked then-Canucks captain Markus Nasland in the head, giving him a concussion and knocking him out for three games. The NHL did nothing to Moore, so the Canucks had to exact their own primal payback. Such is pro hockey.

But the revenge was so severe that even Moore’s parents sued Bertuzzi. They were watching the game on TV and were so distressed that they sued for $1.5 million for ‘‘negligent infliction of nervous shock and mental distress.’’

Bertuzzi immediately lost close to a million dollars in suspension and endorsement costs. He was accused of trying to protect his wealth by transferring his $1.2 million house in Ontario to his wife shortly after the incident.

Two days after the assault, Bertuzzi went on TV and apologized to Moore. He wept, saying, ‘‘For the kids that watch this game, I am truly sorry.’’

This was a mess. But it was far from over.

In 2008, Bertuzzi filed a third-party complaint against then-Canucks coach Marc Crawford. The complaint alleged that he — Bertuzzi — was just following orders, as he contractually was obliged to do, when he blasted Moore and that Crawford should be held liable for anything Moore might be suing for.

Just following orders. It’s a defense used whenever underlings do the obscene. And it’s a defense that is often right. The question is, when do ethics kick in for any human, no matter where he is on the totem pole?

At any rate, it’s now over. Millions of dollars — it’s not clear how many millions — have been awarded to Moore.

The NHL, which still loves fighting, has nothing to say.

† FINALLY, LET’S SAY a proper farewell to former White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, who was traded to the Angels on Thursday for cash or a player to be named.

Beckham arrived in Chicago with great publicity and expectations after being selected eighth in the first round of the 2008 draft. His best season was 2009, when he shared Sporting News Rookie of the Year honors.

After that, nothing much happened. Except hope.

A college All-American at Georgia, Beckham never had faced failure the way most ballplayers do. We all kept hoping he would learn how to be a great major-league hitter, but he didn’t even become a good hitter, leaving town with a .221 batting average this season.

He was — and is — an excellent fielder and a good guy. I remember asking him why he scratched ‘‘Getz Is Gay’’ into the infield dirt with his foot during a game against the Royals in 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field. Chris Getz, his pal and former Sox teammate, was playing second base for the Royals.

‘‘Wow,” Beckham said, shocked. ‘‘Chris is one of my best friends. It was a joke. I didn’t know anybody could see.’’

Oh, eyes are everywhere these days. And they see stats perfectly.

Browse More 'Uncategorized'