I’ve got some dollar amounts now on the Lance Armstrong ride and now I really don’t get it. The United States Postal Service paid Lance Armstrong almost $32 million for a four-year sponsorship from 2001-2004. A deal was struck between the United States Postal Service, a government agency, and a for-profit sports management business called Tailwind.
The $32 million from the American taxpayer-funded government agency was funneled to Armstrong and his (wholly owned subsidiary) team through Tailwind. The United States Postal Service gave the $32 million to Tailwind and Tailwind gave the $32 million, minus its fees and commission, to Armstrong. The United States Postal Service did not renew its contract and in 2004 the Armstrong team changed its name from the United States Postal Service Team to the Discovery Channel Team, which started paying Armstrong. (No beef there except about Discovery Channel’s business judgment.) Discovery terminated the contract in 2007.
Lance Armstrong is the only athlete ever paid and sponsored by a government agency, which gets its money from the American taxpayer. We the taxpayers were not informed about the Postal Service’s arrangement to give Lance Armstrong our money. The Postal Service kept the arrangement as secret as possible for as long as possible, and the details are only now available, but not because the Postal Service wants them to be available. You have to dig to get them.
The money question (pun intended) is why are we so apathetic to our own plundering? It’s part and parcel of the American taxpayer bailing out the banking system, automakers and insurance companies, and no one (make that few) says anything. Nothing happens. There are no adverse political consequences.
Why is whether he took performance-enhancing drugs still the only question being raised about Lance Armstrong? The contract between Armstrong and the United States Postal Service is much more profoundly disturbing and unhealthy for our democracy.
What if the United States Fish & Wildlife Service were to sponsor the United States Fish & Wildlife Service Women’s Volley Ball Team for $35 million? What if the United States Department of Homeland Security were to sponsor the United States Department of Homeland Security Rifle Shooting Team for $40 million? Maybe there would be the same acquiescent silence, but wow, I just don’t get it.