Survey's in. Crowd's verdict? They all did it.



"only a fool would imagine it was possible to ride the Tour on just water"                                                                                                                                                                      -   Jacques Anquetil


Flandria Cafe "Wisdom of the Crowd" survey says!...

90.1%  of you believe that Lance and his boys took illegal performance enhancing substances during their years of Tour de France domination.  90.1% of you believe  Floyd Landis is telling the truth.

Only 9.9% believe Lance and his blue train raced those Tours 'clean'.

For you statisticians, based on sample size, that's a +/- 5% confidence interval, at the 90% confidence level.    Or in other words, if you buy into the wisdom of the crowd theory - that a diverse crowd's estimate is always an amazingly accurate predictor of the 'correct' - then you can be 90% certain the true likelihood the boys in blue were juicing lies somewhere between 85-95%.   Take it to the bank boys.

Now of course, this fun little aficionado survey is probably skewed in that it was likely only taken by cycling fans...er...ok, ok... cycling lunatics.   Not really a nationally representative, or diverse enough sample.   If I'd polled more Lancoids, more non-cycling service economy workers from Missouri, and Joe-average schmoes, maybe the result would have been less lopsided.  A good friend said to me the other day, "Americans love to believe in fairy tales."   Maybe more 'real Americans', and fewer 'euro-wannabes' would have balanced this survey's outcome.

But would it have swung back to 50/50?   Doubt it.

Despite all that, this survey supplies us another interesting insight - that worldly-wise followers of this virtual wielersupporterscafe love the sport, but still know the score.  A mountain of circumstantial evidence has a cumulative effect over time.  And pattern recognition is a sure-sign of intelligence.

Lance the PRmeister said "We like our story."  Jeez, sorry Tex.  Seems the top of your core constituency pyramid ain't buying a word of it.

Here's another statistical probability angle:  Hmmm...now let's see.  Virtually all Lance's rivals were later caught with blood red hands in the 'Hemoglobin-jar' (i.e. Heras, Valverde, Ullrich, Zulle, Virenque, Pantani, Vino, Basso, Tyler, etc. etc. etc.).  Yet for 7 straight years, Lance and co. not only beat all these juicers, but completely dominated the Tour. Like never seen before.  Ever.  Not Anquetil's team, Nor Merckx's Molteni.  Not even Hinault's Renault or La Vie Claire squads.  Just a blue train, motoring along on the front.  All day.  At record average speeds.  Rouleurs dropping the best climbers in the Pyrenees.  For 7 years straight.   Yeah, sure.


And they were only ones who were clean?    Sorry mate, statistically impossible.  

Several of you emailed me to say although you believe Floyd's telling the truth, you didn't think much of his whistleblowing or his character.  That he's a rat.

Well, he's not the rat, Jack.
So why'd he do it?  Isn't it obvious?  Here's a guy who grew up in an insular Mennonite community.   Raised in a culture that's never given a rat's behind what the rest of the world thinks of them - just living and following their own sense of morality.

The guy is probably highly motivated by a strong inner compass telling him what's 'right', and what's 'wrong'.   A strong inner core that allowed him to leave a tight Mennonite community against significant family pressure.  It provided him the belief that could still fight back from a hopeless situation and win the Tour - which he did with the greatest performance since Hugo Koblet's solo from Brive to Agen.  The same core provided the resolve to toe the omerta line in pursuit of his ambition.  For awhile anyway.

Floyd's a guy who left one insular world for another, only to be shunned, and left with only his own conscience to answer to.   He doesn't owe the cycling establishment squat.  

Bonnie Ford of ESPN has an very interesting interview with Floyd here.   Read it and see if you think these are the words of a 'crazy blackmailer.'

Whistleblowers may never be admired.   But they do help clean things up.   

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