The Silence of the Lambs—- and when the wheels come off the bogey!

5 Oct

Good Evening,

As we sit in the early part of October let me paint a hypothetical situation for us to consider.

Imagine that there is cheating going on within a certain sport. The kind of cheating that goes on behind the scenes and which makes the winning of competitions easier. Imagine that cheating has happened for more than a decade and is widespread amongst a well-known team– a winning team. The kind of cheating I am talking about is not the kind of cheating that spectators or officials will see during competition and at the end of each event a result will be declared and a winner will be lauded. No one will deny that after long and arduous competition the declared winner or winners came first on the field of play going by results. No one will argue that in comparison to the rest of the competition, the declared winner will have performed best and left that competition behind in terms of amassing a winning score and so on.

Alas, what is not immediately evident to the naked eye is that there was cheating. There was rule breaking– rule breaking of a sort which, going by the rules, means that the perpetrator has not won at all. In fact not only have they not won, but the penalty for breaching the rules concerned is disqualification. In other words– you not only didn’t win– you weren’t even entitled to compete in the first place. Those are the rules.

Then imagine another scenario. Imagine someone from the sport’s governing body knew that the winner of many competitions, going back over a decade, was cheating and had been cheating– yet did nothing about it! Perhaps the reason for saying nothing was because the officials of the governing body were afraid. Afraid because revealing this scale of cheating by those involved would severely damage the sport—financially and morally– possibly even wreck it altogether. Then again, maybe the motives behind such silence were altogether different. Maybe the official was threatened with the revelation of some embarrassing personal information– then again maybe the official concerned was financially enhanced in return for silence? No matter what the motive, the official or officials concerned did nothing and covered up the scandal and the rule breaking.

Let’s take this hypothetical one stage further. Imagine that a member of the press attempted to reveal most– if not all — of the above, however was repeatedly met with ridicule and chants of nonsense by all and sundry— even by other press members who covered the same sport. Imagine that press member banged on about such cheating for years and years, suffering brickbats and little support from fellow hacks— at least initially. However, as time goes on, some of what the journalist concerned has been speaking about gets some support and publicity until eventually the damn bursts and much of the scandal he has been writing about comes out in the open. What he has said was the truth, is eventually widely accepted as such– although there are those who will never accept the truth because it is……… unpalatable…….. and implicates them in the wrongdoing or at least suggests they have been negligent in their governance.

However, one major part of this hypothetical situation remains in the ether with only a few willing to support it openly– and that is the suggestion that someone in the governing body knew all the secrets all along and that they helped to cover it up. The Journalist doesn’t back down, he maintains his position although many are too afraid to repeat the allegation or take it further. What’s worse, he cannot absolutely prove his allegation, as his sources are tainted and there is no physical evidence, although there is an increasing body of evidence against others which suggests that something along the lines alleged could have happened, probably did happen and maybe even must have happened. Then, another body, relating to the same sport, makes a ruling. The cheaters are stripped of titles and their victories are quashed and consigned to the bin — only for the dreaded legal appeals to be considered and weighed up, with the whole sordid affair to be examined afresh including the potential uncovering of the “paper chase”  to get underway before the legal boys. A paper chase which the Governing body just may view with horror as it may just prove a few things they would rather keep hidden.

What is such a Governing body to do?

Well imagine what is truly unthinkable. The Heid blazer and the former heid blazer from the governing body go on the attack and take the journalist personally to court and “attempt to silence him” by suing for damages and demanding published retractions and apologies. They do not sue his publishers, his witnesses, his newspaper—just him! Such a course of action is meant to serve as a warning to all others– “do not this way come!”.

Now—— stop imagining, because the above is in fact reality! This is sports administration in the 21st Century- for real!

If any of you have read a book called the secret life of Tony Cascarino (the former Celtic, Chelsea and Republic of Ireland International) you will be familiar with the name of the books author—– Paul Kimmage. Many however will have never heard of him or at least be unfamiliar with his writing on his “main” sport.

Kimmage is a Dublin born former sportsman turned award winning journalist– and he has been singing the same song for over two decades now, with the result that his sport’s governing body has had enough and has taken him personally to court in Switzerland in an attempt to shut him up.

That sporting administration is beleaguered, lacking credibility for inaction and has had the finger of corruption pointed at it by Kimmage, some other journalists and now by a number of former sportsmen who have spilled their guts under pressure. Yet the heid blazers cling on and have now taken the unprecedented action of taking a troublesome member of the press to court in Switzerland.

Kimmage made his mark in the sporting world as a domestique— a support cyclist in the peloton for teams which participated in major cycling events including the Tour de France. After retiring as a professional cyclist in 1989, Kimmage published a book — Rough Ride– in which he claimed that “the tour” was bent and that there was widespread doping going on and that the officials knew about it but turned a blind eye. Whilst the book won awards, Kimmage himself was widely ostracised and branded as a traitor. It was said that he had “spat in the soup” of cycling-a phrase implying betrayal and suggesting his actions would only damage himself. However bit by bit, over a long period of time, it has come to light that more and more that his allegations were in fact true.

One by one, major stars of the pro cycling tour have tested positive for drugs and blood doping, so much so that when the dam burst what came through was not a trickle but a flood carrying big names in its swell. Fairly recent winners of the Tour de France- Pantani (1998), Floyd Landis (2006), Alberto Contador (2007,2009,2010), -have all fallen foul of doping tests. Meanwhile other huge names such as Jan Ulrich, Ivan Basso, Michael Rasmussen, Richard Virenque and others have all tested positive.

However, the big big fish in this tale is of course Lance Armstrong and his all-conquering US Postal team. Armstrong has “won” the Tour de France a record seven times, winning consecutive titles from 1999 to 2005 all with the US Postal team with the exception of his last which was won under the Discovery channel banner. If it turned out that Lance was guilty of doping, then every winner of the Tour de France from Bjarne Riis in 1996 through to Alberto Contador in 2010 would have fallen foul of the rules which meant that until Cadel Evans won the Tour in 2010 the last true champion who was first over the line so to speak was Miguel Indurain with the last of his 5 wins in 1995. Pretty damning evidence that the sport is bent. Maybe too damning.

Whilst Kimmage had for years said that there was active doping in the heart of the peloton, 1998 saw his claims gain credence when  a mass of performance enhancing drugs were discovered in the official team Festina car. By July 23rd nine Festina riders and three team officials were in police custody. Subsequently all team members were blood tested in the middle of the night and former team members including the World Champion Laurent Brochard and Christophe Moreau were arrested. Seven admitted to taking EPO and were ejected from the race having admitted to systematic doping while riding for the team. After a trial several Festina officials and riders were convicted, including Richard Virenque the former team leader and 6 times winner of the King of the mountains title in the tour. Following that incident Willy Voet of the Festina team management wrote a book called Breaking the Chain where he lifted the lid on drugs and cycling explaining that many drugs – Cocaine, Heroin, Cortisone, EPO and various others were deemed necessary to compete in and win the Tour de France!

In short, The Tour was bent—just as Kimmage had said.

One member of the Festina team who was accepted as refusing to Dope was Christophe Bassons and his “exception to the rule” position brought him a public sporting celebrity far above what had been achieved by his cycling skills. As a result, Bassons was asked to write a column whilst competing in the 1999 tour—the first that was “won” by Armstrong. While most of his articles were run of the mill or fun pieces, a couple of articles soon changed that. First, he spoke out generally against doping and called any cyclist who objected to regular doping tests a hypocrite. This lead to some on the tour shunning him, insulting him, threatening him and even team mates refused to share certain prize money with him.

However, Bassons went on to write that in particular the rides of Lance Armstrong during the 1999 tour had shocked the peloton and had bemused inside observers. Armstrong had performed at a level which he had apparently never shown signs of before. Following the publication of the article, within days of the ride concerned, Bassons wrote that in the midst of a later stage of the same Tour, Armstrong rode up alongside him and advised him that it was a mistake to speak out against or about Armstrong and advised him to leave the sport! This of course was on the first Tour where Armstrong won. When these allegations became public Armstrong was asked for a reaction and amazingly confirmed that the conversation had in fact taken place exactly as Bassons described going on to say “”His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.”

Ultimately Bassons retired from the sport after a period where he was shunned by many riders who insulted him and often waved their fist at him. He is now a qualified teacher and employed by the department of youth and sport in the Bordeaux region of France—where he is in charge of the drug testing regime!

The Festina affair and the articles by Bassons backed up what Kimmage had claimed for the previous decade. The allegations of “intimidation” by Armstrong were not to be the last. As Armstrong continued a career that began to take on legendary status, stories about Doping persisted. Stories began to emerge which supported the notion that Armstrong and his team were involved in regular,  systematic and organised doping. Two Riders from the US Postal team signed affidavits saying the team and Armstrong doped. An allegation was made that Armstrong had claimed that he had had a positive blood test swept under the carpet after the 2001 Tour of Switzerland. In 2006, L’Equipe would claim that Armstrong had been caught doping as a result of a test in 1999 but that it had been swept under the carpet by his claiming that the results had come about from a cream he had been using to treat saddle sores. A US Postal Team Masseuse, Emma O’Reilly would then claim that she had helped get rid of syringes and drugs, and rubbished reports that Armstrong’s odd blood results had come about as a result of creams and medicines taken for saddle sores. She was the masseuse at the time and had there been saddle sores she would have seen them—and there were none!

In 2001, three times Tour De France winner Greg LeMond made a public comment saying that he was disappointed in Armstrong for associating with and employing a trainer (Michele Ferrari) who was known to have been involved in systematic doping and the unlawful use of a substance called EPO. LeMond apologised for any offence caused by the comments shortly after and stated publicly that he did not believe that Armstrong was doping.

However in 2004 LeMond spoke out again as Armstrong continued to amass Tour De France titles. “If Armstrong’s clean, it’s the greatest comeback. And if he’s not, then it’s the greatest fraud.”  LeMond went on to explain that his 2001 apology had come about after he had been contacted by Armstrong who had threatened to defame him and harm his reputation. He also claimed that Armstrong had threatened to ruin his business and he would later claim that he had been contacted by Trek cycles who manufactured and distributed bikes for Greg LeMond racing, and that the company had at the time threatened to end their relationship with LeMond racing at the behest of Lance Armstrong. Was LeMond telling the truth? Some say he is bitter and has his own agenda- but what he said backed up what Kimmage had said many years earlier. He also started to suggest that some of Armstrong’s results simply did not make sense.

Throughout all this time, Kimmage continued to rail against doping in the sport generally but now had a particular focus on the US postal team and Lance Armstrong in particular. Armstrong retired with the record 7 Tour De France titles in 2005 and the 2006 tour was won by Floyd Landis. Landis had been recruited to the US Postal team in 2002 by Lance Armstrong and for the next three years he was seen as Armstrong’s lieutenant. He rode spectacularly in the mountain stages often breaking the pack before leading Armstrong out for his final move to the front. A fellow team mate of Landis and Armstrong who also rode spectacularly was Tyler Hamilton. If anything, Hamilton was far too spectacular for comfort in the toughest stage of the 2003 tour when he won the stage to Bayonne in the Pyrenees. Hamilton rode that day with a double fracture of the collarbone and according to one journalist at least showed considerable pain and discomfort when interviewed the evening before. Instead of struggling to stay in the peloton and keep going in the race, Hamilton amazingly dropped the entire field on the steepest and toughest part of the climb and won the stage by an amazing 4 minutes! Such a performance, such endurance and iron man quality was too good to be true—and so it proved when it came to light that Hamilton had injected a bag of fresh blood the night before the Bayonne stage, giving him a boost of maybe 3-5% over the rest of the field. Blood doping in the US Postal team was alive and well in 2003.

Following the 2004 tour, Landis chose to leave the team and moved to another team- Phonak- sparking claims of betrayal by Armstrong and the US Postal team. Landis claimed he was being paid far more by Phonak than by US Postal- even though the US team offered to match the Phonak offer at the death. Landis had become disillusioned with US Postal and took the view that he would not be allowed to challenge for the Tour title with the team and whilst Armstrong was at the US Postal helm.

Armstrong won the 2005 tour and retired thereafter making a speech on The Champs-Élysées which is worth revisiting in light of subsequent events. Landis was carrying an injury throughout the 2005 tour and was not at his peak but come the 2006 tour, he promptly won as the Phonak team’s main man and then sat back and saw his entire world fall apart.

Following an epic performance on the 17th stage of the Tour, Landis tested positive for excessive testosterone and other substances in his blood. The results did not come through until after he had been crowned champion on The Champs-Élysées. He denied doping but by as early as August of the same year he had been stripped of his Tour win by the International Cycling Union (UCI) although the same body’s rules required that the decision had to be ratified by the cyclist’s national body-USA Cycling- and in turn they turned the case over to the US Anti-Doping Agency otherwise known as USADA.

USADA held a hearing in May 2007 into the affair, where they would hear devastating evidence from amongst others Greg LeMond whose testimony went some way to revealing the huge amount of distortion and desperation within cycling at this level.

LeMond claimed that he had had a number of telephone conversations in August 2006 with Landis, and a further conversation with Landis’ business manager on the eve of the testimony. LeMond claimed that he had discussed Landis admitting his guilt in doping during August 2006, but that Landis had retorted if he admitted taking drugs and doping it would affect a lot of people—a lot of well-known people who he ( Landis) felt obliged to protect and cover up for at that time. LeMond claimed that he advised Landis that if he did reveal the truth he (Landis) would be doing a great service for the sport and that he would personally feel a great sense of relief. LeMond then went on to say that he knew this because he himself had a secret which he revealed to Landis by telephone. Alas Landis at that time rejected the advice given and was a man who was clearly in trouble in a number of ways.

Floyd Landis made a public posting on a cycle website saying that he had personal information on Greg LeMond of a sensitive nature which would damage his character severely. He went on “if he ever opens his mouth again and the word Floyd comes out, I will tell you all some things that you will wish you didn’t know and unfortunately I will have entered the race to the bottom which is now in progress. “.

In his testimony given on May 17th 2007, LeMond went on to claim that he had been called the night before by Landis’ business manager who had threatened to reveal what LeMond had told Landis the previous August if LeMond’s testimony was not up to scratch. The secret concerned was that LeMond had been sexually abused as a child—something that LeMond had struggled with throughout his life, and a subject which he has since gone public with, received counseling for and has started to help others with.

Landis admitted to being in the room when this call was made and subsequently sacked his business manager and apologised to LeMond for the stress and impact of the call. The two men are now said to be reconciled after a long period.

Landis was subsequently convicted and banned from cycling for a two year period. He appealed and spent millions of dollars on legal fees ( as did Hamilton when he was caught ) and continued to maintain his innocence which he had done since 2006. Further, although he refused to admit doping, he became increasingly annoyed by the fact that he knew doping was widespread and that no one in the sport appeared to be willing to come to his aid despite his repeated refusal to name names. He began to contrast this with the treatment of Armstrong, who seemed to have huge protection and influence within cycling and its governing bodies, and to an extent others who had fallen foul of the doping rules and who were welcomed backed without too much trouble.

In April 2009, a French Newspaper carried a story alleging that the French National agency which carried out drug testing on the Tour had had their phones hacked and that information in that regard had been traced as having been sent to and through a computer belonging to Landis’ former coach Arnie Baker. Both Baker and Landis were eventually convicted of “benefiting” from the hacking of the computers and received suspended jail sentences. Landis also eventually plead guilty to Fraud charges in relation to the money he raised to help fight his numerous legal battles, being fined almost half a million dollars. In the interim he divorced from his wife and his life fell apart—totally.

Eventually Landis changed his stance and revealed that he had cheated and stopped protesting his innocence.

In November 2010, Floyd Landis gave a 7 hour interview to Paul Kimmage in which he admitted doping from 2002 onwards when he joined the US Postal team, and that throughout his time with the same team he and others regularly doped—including Hamilton and Armstrong. He described certain processes in some detail—including Armstrong having blood transfusions on the floor of a bus between stages, and in hotels on rest days—and alleges that most of the peloton and the officials of the UCI knew of and covered up widespread doping including Armstrong’s. In short Landis became the latest in an ever growing list of people to back up what Kimmage had said in 1990 and what Bassons and Voet had repeated in 1999.

Further, Landis explained his take on Armstrong himself, and alleged the seven times winner presents a public façade that is far removed from the truth. He alleges that UCI officials helped cover up positive doping tests for Armstrong, and that unlike Landis, Armstrong has always had help and assistance from the official bodies when it came to matters of doping. Allegations were made that sums of money passed hands to make problems go away for Armstrong and to ensure that the superstar of the sport was not troubled by scandal—which would be bad for Armstrong, the sport, the business of the sport, the journalists who covered the sport and everyone concerned.

The majority of the interview made its way into an article Kimmage wrote for the Sunday Times—although the paper legally distanced itself from the specific allegations made by Landis as he could provide no proof to back up his story—and it was accepted by Landis that he had no physical evidence to back up his claims.

However, one by one the early US postal teammates that surrounded Armstrong had tested positive in blood tests. Eventually a number of riders, Doctors, officials and managers—in fact people at every single level of running that team— who all worked to help Armstrong achieve his remarkable and record breaking success– were all banned or suspended in connection with doping offences. A batch of 6 Armstrong samples which had been frozen and retained from as far back as 1999 were tested and each one showed irregular and unlawful results although for technical reasons they could not be used against Armstrong. This year USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles, and banned him from racing—although Armstrong maintained his innocence and stated that he was admitting nothing but was not continuing with the fight against the allegations.

In the intervening years, Armstrong had openly clashed with Landis, LeMond and most notably Kimmage who caused a degree of outrage when describing Armstrong’s return to cycling in 2009 as the return of “a cancer” to the sport.

In a couple of weeks the USADA report into its investigation into US Postal and Armstrong will be submitted to the UCI and it is alleged that it will make for uncomfortable reading for the governing body as it catalogues statements and affidavits from former riders and team officials which point to a conspiracy. It will detail payments allegedly made to UCI officials by Armstrong or his advisers that need to be explained or which have openly been alleged  to be compensation for turning a blind eye to doping or for the allowing the use of certain substances and practices.

In the interim, Kimmage has left the Sunday Times and now finds himself being sued personally by the UCI and its officials, in what he says is an attempt to gag him.

For his part Armstrong, continues to deny any wrongdoing pointing out that he has had some 500 negative doping tests throughout his career, and many legal experts (including Georgios Samaras ‘Agent ) question whether or not USADA actually has the right to ban Armstrong and strip him of titles. In essence USADA can’t strip Armstrong of his titles but they can recommend that the UCI should. It is then up to them to endorse the USADA findings.

However the point here is this.

Over 20 years ago, Paul Kimmage spat in Tour de France Soup, as did Christophe Bassons, Willy Voet and Greg LeMond. If they spat in the Soup, then Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton and others have now thrown up over the whole dinner!

However the numerous subsequent positive doping results from so many riders point to the fact that Kimmage was absolutely right to spit in the soup in the first place way back in 1990 with the publication of Rough Ride. The intervening period have seen years where of those who have finished in the top ten in The Tour de France in any one year, up to 8 of the ten have subsequently been convicted of doping and rule cheating. Until this year, there has not been a single year since 1995 when at least one or more of the top ten finishing riders have been found to be dopers.

In just two weeks’ time the USADA report detailing its findings and reasons for banning Armstrong lands on the desk of the UCI. Armstrong is in no position to contest it, but the UCI will not ratify the USADA decision until it has seen and studied the USADA report. It is a report which the UCI may not like at all as it may raise more ancillary questions of an uncomfortable nature for UCI officials.

At approximately the same time, the FTT decision on the Rangers Tax Case will be delivered here and will be available for all to see.

In many respects, the background to these two documents is very different. One relates to doping by drugs and blood transfusions over a long period of time, the other relates to the potential evasion of tax by one club over a period of a decade.

However in many respects they are very similar.

They relate to a phenomenally successful run in sport at a time when it is alleged that there was perpetual rule breaking. They both relate to a period and a process where at least initially there was reluctance on the part of the press to investigate or question. They both relate to a situation where it is very hard to understand how the governing body could have sat by and not noticed what was going on within their sport by their most successful and politically connected team, and both carry a suggestion that certain activities were hidden and that the truth was never disclosed as required by the rules of the sports concerned

The court action taken by the UCI is a very dangerous one. It will be defended, with one US Cycling magazine setting up a defence fund for Kimmage which has raised at least $40,000 to help with his legal costs. Essentially it puts the whole Landis allegation- and all that surrounds it and supports it- into a court of law with the result that a court may find in favour of the UCI and award damages against Kimmage, or alternatively it may find in favour of Kimmage in which case it may well come very close to finding that the UCI and its officials were engaged in a criminal conspiracy!

Oscar Wilde once famously had the Marquis of Queensbury prosecuted in the English courts for libel in referring to him as a homosexual—at a time when being homosexual was a crime. The Court proceedings only lead to Wilde’s arrest, trial and conviction for acts of gross indecency with other men and resulted in the ballad of reading gaol. Not since then, has a court action been such a clear double edged sword.

The FTT decision when it appears will reveal far more than is already public and like the USADA report  will cause many to ask numerous questions of a beleaguered Governing body and a former board of Directors who may well be thrust further down the road “to the bottom” as Landis put it .

For example, of the players that are already known to have benefitted from EBT payments, many had some form of side letter or contract. Those letters were issued “By and on behalf of the board of Rangers PLC”. The letters date from the early part of the last decade to 2010/2011 apparently. The Directors of Rangers PLC throughout that time are a matter of public record and one is now the President of the Scottish Football Association. As I understand it, other potential signatories to those letters may well have sat on influential SFA committees whilst being party to a repeated and long lasting breach of rules which, it might be argued, they attempted to cover up.

So who signed those letters on behalf of the Rangers PLC board?

That will be just one of the interesting questions to come out of the FTT findings.

Alex Rae has recently said that he was advised that all of his dealings with Rangers and the EBT were above board and that at the end of the season he was simply advised to sign an application for a loan which was to be paid tax free and which was never to be paid back. He claims he has all the documentation.

Well, who advised him and what was this advice based upon? Who told him it was all above board and why? Why would a professional footballer suddenly apply for a tax free non repayable loan to an unknown trust at the end of each season? If he – and others– had the benefit of an indemnity from Rangers PLC in respect of tax that may become due, is that not an acknowledgement that he was knowingly taking a risk in the full knowledge that whilst being advised there was no tax to be paid, that might not actually be the case and that Rangers PLC would in fact pick up his bill should that prove so?

Did Alex Rae apply for a loan on a tax free non repayable basis at the end of each season when he was playing for any other club? Who determined how much the loan would be for and how was that conveyed to him? Is he prepared to make any of that documentation which he has public?

Several former managers of Rangers FC benefitted in this way too. Were they party to the negotiations between club and player when the players salary was agreed and when any level of EBT payments were agreed? It is understood that the original trustees to the EBT trust all resigned because they thought the scheme was not being worked and administered properly- basically saying that as all the loan applications they were receiving were in an identical format, this was a breach of the legislation concerned and that they were no longer happy acting as trustees.

Were the Rangers managers told any of that? Is there any documentation or correspondence which found its way to Rangers which would have alerted the Directors to the fact that they were not operating the scheme correctly and so making it illegal? Were the players’ representatives shown any of this?

David Murray has denied categorically that there were ever any dual contracts for any player during his time at Ibrox. Remember this is a man who at one point was in charge of a business with many thousands of Employees and who is used to complex contracts and negotiations. He has had the benefit of advice from major firms of lawyers and accountants for years. If the SPL Tribunal or the FTT turn round and state that it was clear and obvious that there were secondary or side contracts what are we to make of Murray’s insistence that there were no such contracts? If he says that he did not “think” that these documents actually were contractual then what does that say about his business acumen and judgement?

Murray himself was the biggest beneficiary in terms of EBT payments yet during the period from 2000 on Rangers made colossal losses year in and year out and over a prolonged period of time. Even with EBT’s, even with really creative accounting (especially for the year ended 2005) and with player sales like that of Boumsong and Hutton, was Murray justified in donating such large sums from Rangers PLC to a trust only to get the money back by way personal payments upon which he himself paid no tax?.

Further, the CEO of the company, Martin Bain, appears in some documentation to suggest that under certain circumstances his contract with Rangers PLC should be fed to the shredder in order to make sure that its terms do not become public or fall into certain hands. Bain also benefitted from EBT payments and held certain positions within the SFA. Why would someone like that want to shred his contract?

Why did no one within the SFA – who have responsibilities and duties to all clubs for licensing, checking financials, administration and so on– not see- or for that matter even question– how far out of control Rangers PLC were given what they disclosed at the time, and why have they sat back and instigated absolutely no retrospective investigation into how Rangers appeared to comply with their own checks and balances over that period?

It is all very well to sit back and say we are the appellate body re the SPL investigation and so on, but given that Alastair Johnston has confirmed that there was direct communication with the SFA in relation to the ability to gain a licence to play in Europe- and all the money that brings—why have the SFA simply sat back and done nothing at all other than allow Stuart Regan to repeatedly tweet at one time that “nothing had been proven yet”! Nothing will ever be proven unless you investigate and it is that very point and that very failure which lead Paul Kimmage to cry foul in the first place and to live in the cycling wilderness for many years.

There appears to be a reluctance among journalists to ask the really awkward questions in the whole Rangers case and some have gone extremely silent altogether in recent months. Of course there are questions to be asked of Charles Green and his consortium, but I believe we are about to go into a period where there are far more questions to be asked of a governing body and their relationship with the past practices at Ibrox as well as questioning how they tested the robustness of the current management’s financials and bona fides.

Further, if BDO are appointed and seek to recover some tax that is due on the back of the FTT finding, is there any possibility that they will come knocking at the door of the Alex Rae’s of this world? If that happens will the former Rangers man and his team mates get any support from David Murray or anyone else or will they- like Floyd Landis- end up having to pay the piper whether they like it or not and feeling somewhat let down?

The absolute silence from so many who have been named by the BBC—and perhaps less surprisingly from those who are still to be named—cannot be a coincidence. If by the end of the month it is made plain that taxes are due to be paid after many years and the players themselves are asked to pay that tax, will that silence, and whatever code has brought it about, remain in place? Will a former player, or a former employee, “spit in the soup” and will anyone listen?

The success of the RTC blog was to ensure that salient information was made available to an ever increasing readership and a wide public audience. Paul Kimmage’s book- Rough Rider- sought to bring the cycling doping scandal to a wider audience. Both were branded as rubbish at first only to gain credence later. Yet the scandal that Kimmage sought to uncover is not yet over and has not yet been fully revealed twenty plus years on. It has taken all of that time to achieve a drug free top ten in the Tour De France.

In the interim several well-known cycling teams have simply disappeared as a result of their having been found to be involved in doping. Riders who effectively came second in the Tour de France have officially been declared as winners of the event years later. That is the way the most damaged sport in Europe – possibly the world— has chosen to deal with cheats and rule breakers. The disappearance of teams has partly come about as a result of commercial sponsors saying “thanks but no thanks” and choosing to take giant steps away from a team that is tainted with widespread cheating.

There is a big further point to consider yet—and it was part of the intention of Kimmage’s book. That point is the effect that cheating has on other competitors and the spectating public.

Kimmage wanted to let the public know that what they were seeing was not real—not real in terms of the rules of the sport at least and that if the riders were being doped the public was being duped. Further, the misuse of drugs and doping was so widespread, that anyone wanting to reach the top of the sport and compete in the grand tours such as the Tour De France and the Giro D’Italia more or less had to dope and fall in line with everyone else in the race. That is the message that comes across loud and clear from guys like Tyler Hamilton and so many others. If one party is cheating and achieving success then everyone has to follow that route and that model as that is what is necessary. Accordingly if you were a young talented rider who was capable of becoming an elite rider- one who is appointed team leader and who was deemed to have a real chance of winning-there was every chance you would be introduced to
drugs and doping at the top end of the sport—which is exactly what happened to Floyd Landis who apparently had been nowhere near banned substances until he joined the US Postal team to become Armstrong’s number 2.

There are cyclists who have talked about feeling ill when they learned that they have lost out to a rival who has since been found to be involved in doping. Remember that the effort of winning something like the Tour de France is huge—absolutely huge— whether you have doped or not. The Tour de France is effectively the toughest team and individual sport in the world. To find that you have trained and competed to the edge of your endurance only to lose to someone who has not played by the rules, who has enhanced their performance where you didn’t, can be shattering. That was the view expressed by Greg leMond when it was later revealed that rivals such as Laurent Fignon had in fact used drugs— drugs which now look to have contributed to his death at 50.

However, beyond the cyclists, there sits the public. They look upon the performances and the races and react to what they see. Many describe following the Tour as a social experience, where there is a great thrill in following the racing especially where someone makes a race changing break away from the Peloton or where they squeeze out a faster time in a time trial. But what if what they are seeing is in fact false—is the result of cheating and doping. Can they rely on what they see and does that lessen the thrill of supporting and the overall social experience?

Think of all those supporters who cheered winners home only to find that they are later disqualified and that they were not watching the winner at all. How do they feel in retrospect?

One writer when considering the position with Armstrong looks at matters this way.

Armstrong won the tour repeatedly amidst a period when damn nearly every single top rider was found to be doping apart from Lance Armstrong. Those in sports science have assessed that by taking EPO, by transfusing blood, or drugs which speed up muscle recovery—a doped athlete will have a 5% advantage over a clean one. That is a huge margin of gain. If you are the team leader then it is the job of the team to get you to win and so there will be certain key stages where it is important that you are performing way better than others, but equally important are the stages where you can recover from those extra special rides and hopefully take it easy in comparative terms. Whilst Usain Bolt is dominant in modern sprinting, his natural physique allows him to tower over rivals with a resultant stride which is longer than other competitors. Yet he is only 1-2% ahead of the field to gain that dominance, therefore a swing of 5% among top athletes is huge.

So how could a clean Armstrong overcome a 5 % advantage gained by the likes of Pantani, Ulrich and others who were known and now admitted dopers? The suggested answer is that it is impossible.

Further, while Armstrong claims that he has never doped and has never had a test that proved positive— this is not true as two tests in 1999 did prove positive and repeated claims have been made in papers like L’Equippe and by author David Walsh that Lance’s tests were either doctored or that false evidence was presented to explain the results. Lance has never sued over those claims and brought the matter to court despite having the opportunity to do so.

Further, it has been pointed out that people like Florence Griffiths Joiner and Marion Jones to name but two have also undergone repeated testing but were also found to be clean when we all know that the very clearly weren’t.

But testing there was in the Tour de France. As a result of journalists like Kimmage highlighting the problem with the resulting calls for tighter testing there is  now scrutiny by the bucket. Something that seems to have been absent when it comes to the financials of Rangers PLC.

The comparison that falls to be made here is in the above analysis of recovery from injury, the effect on the competition and the effect on the public.

If Rangers “doped” their accounts and hid the real method of player payment and reward for a decade or more, then what was the actual effect of that in terms of games and results?

Well for a start, had they chosen to pay the same squad legally and above board then their financial figures would have been much worse, with- one would have thought- a hastening of the decision of David Murray to either sell the business or back away from further investment and financial support. As we have now seen, Murray’s pockets were not a bottomless pit and despite Alastair Johnston’s plans to constantly rely on the Bank of Murray, Rangers would have come crashing to a financial halt far more quickly possibly as early as 2004-2005 as the 3 previous years financials were horrendous.

Further, with an illegally paid squad of a size and quality as amassed by Rangers during the period, they as a club were able to recover and continue from any injuries and suspensions far quicker and better than they would have had they played the game by the rules. In essence, this was just like the drug taking in cycling, in that the doped financial position allowed a far bigger and stronger squad than could legally be justified for the financial outlay with which to face your rivals each and every Saturday.

Those rivals could not match that depth of squad in the main, and so, forgetting Celtic, Rangers could go through season after season in the SPL in the knowledge that no matter what, they would have a far better team than all other teams in the league irrespective of any injuries etc that befell them. They would not have to play with a weakened team or with star and essential players carrying a knock. They could just rope in a highly paid replacement of suitable quality—unlike the Hearts, the Dundee United’s and so on.

Further, the impact on the opposition was clear. Whilst other teams stretched budgets and overdrafts to their long term disadvantage, operated within their means as best they could with many just hoping to survive in the SPL, Rangers would always plan for the top secure in the knowledge that they had a bigger and better pool. They did not recruit on the same basis as other clubs and their manager was the only manager in the league who could offer “Tax free” remuneration. In persuading a player to come to the club that did not equate to a 5% advantage— it equated to a 40% advantage in any signing tug of war or in being able to afford a player who could make a difference to a successful league or European campaign. Of all the players who have been named as receiving tax free EBT payments, how many would not have signed without that inducement? It would be naïve to suggest that the answer is nil.

Did the depth of squad and the ability to pay that squad highly and rotate personnel make a difference to the Rangers squad which edged out Celtic for the title in the last day of the season in 2003 when a consistent Celtic squad had played a very very long European campaign alongside an SPL programme? Martin O’Neill was famous for more or less playing the same team week in and week out, something which must eventually catch up with any squad of players. So did Rangers have an advantage by being able to pay a larger squad of a certain quality and so have the ability to call on fresh legs at crucial times?

The fans of other clubs got used to a dominant Rangers or at least a successful Rangers—how did that affect them? Did they decide not to go to their team’s matches against Rangers because they had become accustomed to the likelihood of losing to the Ibrox side? That seems to be the suggestion coming from Ibrox at times as it is argued that the gates of other clubs cannot sustain them in the absence of  visiting Rangers fans who swell the coffers of the lower teams twice a year.

Perhaps, if their team was more evenly matched with Rangers—or should I say more fairly matched—some clubs would have had greater attendances and therefore greater revenues which in turn allows for a better team? What is clear is that Rangers PLC regularly boasted record attendances and income as a result of fielding a financially doped team, so their revenue streams seem to have been maximised unless they progressed ever further in the champions league. Whereas other teams would have far greater scope for financial improvement in the event of greater success on the park. So, like the cyclists who felt sick at finding out they were never on a level playing field, do chairmen and others who worked within a budget— who risked their own money within the rules that the SFA and the SPL were meant to ensure were upheld and complied with— do they now feel sick at the thought that while they struggled to play within the rules, Rangers simply ignored the rules and splashed cash that they didn’t have or wouldn’t pay tax on with impunity?

And what of the Rangers fans? Those spectators who paid their money and emotionally invested in the club? If they had been told a dozen years ago that they had the choice of watching a team that was financially doped, which would bring success and give them days to cheer about and so on, but that the price down the road was liquidation, ignominy and division three football for their club—would they have bought into that concept and accepted such a situation with joy?

What about those Rangers fans who invested and parted with more money for shares in 2004? Most fans don’t buy shares for the financial return, but how do they feel given that the very board that they paid the money too appear to have lined their personal pockets with EBT payments which helped bring the whole club crashing down and ensured that no matter what those fans were never getting their money back?

In this sense, Rangers fans are amongst those who have been cheated against the most because what they were seeing was not real, not within the rules, could not be sustained and would ultimately lead to a price being paid which they-the fans- were never consulted about. Instead they were ignored and simply asked to part with their money consistently and regularly in blissful ignorance of what was going on behind the scenes. They did not know what their chairman or other directors were being paid by way of EBT payments. They did not know how that scheme was being administered. They did not know what payments were being made to former managers or that there were those who had for a long time taken the view that Rangers PLC was in mortal danger from a tax investigation which alleged that millions of pounds was due in back tax, and instead were fed the line by Murray that all in the garden was rosy with no provision for the eventuality that the roses were infected, had withered and had died. All the while, the very same fans were being asked to cough up their money, and the same suits who would lead them to the brink of disaster just kept on taking and pocketing the cash by regular means and otherwise.

It seems to me that Rangers fans have been robbed and treated very badly by those who have simply attempted to look after themselves for years and years, with no care or consideration as to where they would leave the fans.

Then came Whyte and all his spin and subterfuge. Yet amidst all the nonsense spouted by Whyte and about Whyte he did say one thing clearly which got sort of lost in the fog of sheer chicanery that surrounded him—and that was that year on year Rangers PLC had an operating hole of around £10M. That of course should have been no great surprise, because if on average you add on something like £10M to the bottom line of the Rangers PLC profit and loss accounts year on year you come to something like break even. What he was saying was not rocket science. What Whyte did not do—although he did do plenty— was operate a flawed EBT scheme and oversee a regime where there were dual contracts or side letters with players.

Those in charge of Rangers FC, Rangers PLC, The Rangers Football Club Ltd all have a chance to comment on double contracts, payments out with contract, payments by third parties and so on before the Independent Tribunal commissioned by the SPL. Yet they choose not to do so and seek to justify that stance instead of facing their accusers and the allegations with or without the help of the former board of Rangers PLC. They justify their stance by saying that either the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction over them and/or that the whole Independent Tribunal Process is flawed.

This stance is again very similar to a stance taken in the cycling world. Lance Armstrong, in the midst of explaining just why he would no longer be prepared to fight the allegations brought against him stated “I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.” It is to be remembered that Armstrong was the subject of a criminal investigation which looked into questions of fraud, conspiracy to defraud and so on. No charges were ultimately brought and the investigation was dropped. Score one for Armstrong.

However he also went to the Federal court and argued that USADA did not have the appropriate jurisdiction over him and that their processes violated the rule of law in the USA. The court, whilst expressing some reservations about the processes adopted by USADA refused to grant Armstrong’s application to end the process and pointed out that in terms of the rules of the sport which he signed up to, he agreed to the process and the jurisdiction. Further, the court commented that USADA followed processes which allowed each side to put its case, ensured independent judges, had rules re evidence and so on—and although there were certain checks and balances missing which would have existed in federal or state hearings, the overall process was one which the court would not declare unlawful. This then left Armstrong to face the charges and proffer his defence. Strike one for Armstrong! He chose not to bother.

If you are looking for someone to help you understand why that is a stance of the utmost arrogance and  without any merit then consider this statement from USADA- the body that raised charges against Lance Armstrong and who were prepared to have those charges ruled on before an independent judicial panel—just like the SPL:

“Following the dismissal of Mr. Armstrong’s lawsuit on Monday, August 20, 2012, by the federal court in Austin, Texas, Mr. Armstrong had until midnight on Thursday, August 23, to contest the evidence against him in a full evidentiary hearing with neutral arbitrators as provided by U.S. law. However, when given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him, and with full knowledge of the consequences, Mr. Armstrong chose not to contest the fact that he engaged in doping violations from at least August 1, 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions. As a result of Mr. Armstrong’s decision, USADA is required under the applicable rules, including the World Anti-Doping Code under which he is accountable, to disqualify his competitive results and suspend him from all future competition.

“Nobody wins when an athlete decides to cheat with dangerous performance enhancing drugs, but clean athletes at every level expect those of us here on their behalf, to pursue the truth to ensure the win-at-all-cost culture does not permanently overtake fair, honest competition” said USADA CEO, Travis T. Tygart. “Any time we have overwhelming proof of doping, our mandate is to initiate the case through the process and see it to conclusion as was done in this case.”

As is every athlete’s right, if Mr. Armstrong would have contested the USADA charges, all of the evidence would have been presented in an open legal proceeding for him to challenge. He chose not to do this knowing these sanctions would immediately be put into place.”

Now let’s be absolutely clear, the Armstrong case hugely divides opinion. Many argue that there is no physical evidence against Armstrong, that he has passed over 500 organised and spot tests for drugs and that if he were doping that would be impossible. Further, all the evidence against him is alleged to be “hearsay”—verbal or written evidence of self-confessed dopers who after years are testifying against Armstrong when they previously denied that they and he engaged in doping. Additionally, it is alleged- and not denied- that some of the statements provided by some of these witnesses have been given in return for immunity from further disciplinary procedure in relation to potential charges against the witnesses themselves. It is further alleged that various key people such as the head of USADA- Travis Tygart- have a personal vendetta against Armstrong and are persecuting him with an unhealthy zeal. Witnesses such as Landis, Tyler Hamilton (who has just released his own book entitled The Secret Race) and various others are all now said to have a personal vendetta against Armstrong and that their word is not to be trusted especially in the absence of physical evidence. Further it is said that even if Armstrong chooses not to contest the hearing, the Independent Tribunal should still sit and test the evidence presented by USADA- whose only power is to request that the titles be stripped by the UCI who then have to endorse their request/decision!

Against all of that there is the counter argument that Armstrong should step up and present his evidence and face the evidence against him head on. The statements of others are not heresay they are eyewitness accounts. There are no vendettas; there is only a collection of statements and accounts of evidence from over a dozen separate witnesses all of which have a common theme and present a consistent and detailed account that Armstrong doped. Contrary to Armstrong’s statement that he never failed a doping test there is clear evidence that he did—something admitted by his lawyers—but who then argued that these tests were “non negative” results and that there were reasons for the odd results. There are those who will testify that Armstrong openly admitted that he failed tests and that he paid money to the UCI officials to make the problem go away. There is evidence that Armstrong did indeed pay money to the UCI executives ( not denied ) which need explaining and those explanations need tested. There are arguments that the number of negative dope tests repeatedly mentioned by Armstrong count for nothing. Many other athletes who later admitted to doping actually took and passed more tests than Armstrong— Marion Jones etc etc etc. Further, it is alleged that more modern testing and analysis methods show samples of Armstrong’s blood retained from his racing years have blood counts and results which are physically impossible to achieve unless you have taken certain substances and so on.

Beyond that, virtually the entire US Postal team has since been convicted of or admitted doping and it would be hard to believe that Armstrong was the only one not doping—unlike Basssons and Festina—there is no chance that the whole team will turn around and testify that Armstrong conscientiously refused to dope. The team masseuse ( Emma O’Reilly) who  swept away needles and who rubbished the claims that Armstrong’s positive results came from saddle sore creams and medicines claims that she has been bullied, pressured, intimidated and effectively terrorised by Armstrong by way of court summonses, lawyers letters containing threats, claims for damages and so on over a number of years. The legal proceedings raised against her by Armstrong became so regular and often that O’Reilly and her boyfriend became friends with the officers serving the warrants. All that court documentation is there for all to see and examine. Again this is not the first or the last accusation of intimidation by Armstrong. LeMond, O’Reilly, Bassons and others allude to Armstrong’s wrath.

With the Armstrong case those are roughly the two sides of the factual argument- leaving aside the legal points of jurisdiction which is an argument which has no impact on the actual facts. Neither USADA nor Armstrong has seen fit to actually take part in any form of hearing. The UCI has stated that while they have to ratify the USADA findings, they will not be taking them to the court of Arbitration unless they find very good reason to—although that very good reason may well be found in the allegations that UCI officials covered for Armstrong for years. Armstrong maintains he is just walking away from a worthless and flawed process that is not worth his time. An alternative interpretation is that Armstrong and many others, who may well be caught up in any type of hearing followed by a determination in open court so to speak, cannot afford for there to be any hearing. If the facts were to be established and a ruling made against him, it is possible that he would then face financial ruin by way of lawsuits from former sponsors and other parties.

Instead, the pros and cons of the Armstrong case are debated on the internet and on the comments sections beneath the never ending articles that now appear about cycling, Armstrong, doping and the Tour de France. In this respect, Kimmage has achieved the goal that he set for himself in 1990 as the world and their granny now accepts that there is or has been a huge drug problem within cycling and especially within the toughest sports competition in the world—The Tour de France.

Comparing the Armstrong case to the Rangers situation throws up a number of contrasts and comparisons. There will be an independent investigation and hearing in the Rangers dual contracts or payments outwith contract enquiry whether anyone from Rangers old co or new co turns up or not. Unlike the Armstrong case, there is physical evidence by way of documentation—loads of it—and individual players have admitted to having that documentation to this day. Further, in relation to the EBT allegations there has been a full hearing lasting months. In that case, no one is saying that the payments were not made or did not exist, the defence is that these payments were not illegal or that nobody thought they were illegal. The FTT did get to test evidence and rule on credibility of witnesses who will have been tested under cross examination.

Yet the effect on the sport is very similar.

Nobody wins when those in control of a football club choose to cheat in terms of financial doping. Not the club, not the fans, not the football supporting public at large, not the governing bodies, not the system of bringing on young players who might make the grade— nobody! The players concerned may well be enhanced financially, but even they are cheated in true sporting terms as no matter what they may say to the contrary their real sporting talent and achievements are ultimately undermined by the fact that the ruling bodies ultimately declare them as ineligible for competition in the first place. They may as yet also suffer financial sanctions if the tax man suddenly starts to look at their personal income received and the tax that has been paid on it. They may yet be asked to pay over substantial sums of money which they may or may not have.

In the intervening years since Paul Kimmage wrote and published Rough Ride, professional cycling has seen such a flow of doping scandals that it is hard to imagine. The sport has at times eaten itself up and the regulatory bodies have struggled to maintain credibility. Last year, a secret list containing the names of all athletes in the 2010 Tour de France was leaked. It was a list prepared by the sport’s Governing body the UCI.  That list rated each athlete in terms of how likely they were to cheat by way of doping. The list caused outrage as some realised they were rated at 10 out of 10 whilst others were rated at 1 or even zero out of ten.

Bradley Wiggins tweeted something along the lines of “Great! Now we are all under suspicion—just some more than others!”—clearly expressing the notion that he did not want to be associated with the known dopers in any way.

Wiggins was rated as being more suspicious than David Miller, Ivan Basso, Daniel Moreno and many others who have all admitted doping in the past and were suspended. Wiggins was also regarded as more suspicious than Lance Armstrong.

The compilation of the list raised many questions as to how the UCI justified the ratings for each rider, and of course subsequently USADA has banned Armstrong and revoked his titles. The current heid blazer of the UCI- Pat McQuaid has previously been accused of being soft on doping and a German newspaper has suggested that he flips his opinion on doping and testing as and when it suits him instead of simply applying a consistent set of rules.

The full report compiled on the Armstrong/US Postal case will be delivered to the UCI in the middle of October and even before seeing it McQuaid and the UCI have decided to take Kimmage to court all these years after he went public about a now established scandal within the sport— a process which will be interesting to watch from the sidelines.

The FTT decision will appear in Mid-October too and the Nimmo Smith enquiry is set for November 13th.

It leaves me back with a hypothetical situation or two to ponder.

When the detail of the FTT report is published together with the detail of all the evidence, and the findings of the Nimmo Smith enquiry are made available for all to consider along with the evidence that the three independent panel members will have considered by that time— will questions start to be asked about how all of this came about and was allowed to go undetected and unchecked in Scottish Football for over a decade?

Will the press reflect on all the articles that were written at the instance of or under the influence of David Murray and wonder just how they were so daft as to repeat what they were told without question or will the Scottish Sporting public have to continue to rely on an anonymous blogger and the likes to ask questions over the internet pages in the hope that someone actually takes them up?

If the SFA were to compile a list of all Scottish Clubs and assess their likelihood to present “doped” financial figures I wonder where “The Rangers Football Club” would appear on that table today and I wonder where Rangers PLC would have appeared in say 2005/2006?

If it is the case that one powerful and influential man such as David Murray, can utilise the services of lawyers and accountants to come up with tax saving schemes and ultra-creative accounting methods to effectively mask the true financial picture of one of the country’s largest football clubs, is it not about time that the SFA employed their own forensic accountants with all the qualifications necessary to scrutinise annual accounts in detail so that they have the fullest information when deciding to grant licenses on behalf of UEFA?

If Campbell Ogilvie is found to have been the author of any of the so called side letters or second contracts, thus instigating and furthering the implementation of EBT payments to any player, can he remain in situ within the SFA?

If it is discovered that certain EBT payments were paid to persons who were not employees of Rangers PLC but who were employed by other companies and organisations, and where these same people have been deemed to be among those who are to be treated as “other service providers” within the meaning of the Rangers PLC accounts—will we ever get to learn what service these same people provided?

Will Rangers Debenture holders, who paid money into the club in the utmost good faith, ever receive any compensation for their loss if BDO pursue the Directors personally in respect of creditors losses? The Debenture holders may be said to be a class of creditor unlike no other in that the Board were empowered with a degree of trust in looking after that investment. The Board appear to be in breach of that trust by way of actions which were designed to enhance them personally on a tax free basis whilst ultimately ensuring that the investments concerned became worthless.

No one wins when rules are not adhered to and complied with in any sport.

And there is no recovery when the wheels eventually come off the bogey………. Or the bike.

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20 Responses to “The Silence of the Lambs—- and when the wheels come off the bogey!”

  1. TallBoy Poppy (@TallBoyPoppy) October 5, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    “spit in the soup” Hope that one gains traction. Murray’s hold on the soup-takers – and how he achieved it – might even get an airing if he feels threatened enough. The Sevco fans are determined to take Scottish football down with them. I wonder if (-S)DM feels the same
    about his dinner guests in the ‘fearless’ fourth estate. Best wishes.

  2. David Limond October 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    You wake up in the morning you think about Rangers. during your day you think about Rangers, when you rest your head on your pillow you think about Rangers.

    Stop for a second, take deep breaths and relax and ask yourself “Why have I not got the same passion to write an 11,000 blog on Celtic?”

  3. gaz October 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Aren’t blogs meant to be short and sweet? This must be the longest most boring and pointless blog post i’ve ever had the misfortune to read.

  4. john clarke October 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    Super piece, again, BRTH.
    When the various reports become public, I suspect that not one Scottish based journalist or broadcaster will want to be first with the hard questions.

  5. Gerri McLaughlin October 5, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    That’s a mighty fine read Brogan and hopefully we will have more answers than questions sooner rather than later..Starry Plough..

  6. The Craic (@TheCraicForum) October 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Now that’s what you call an article!

    It’s something which I often have trouble comprehending, the level of cheating which has went on, and the complicity of those who are now, and have been previously, involved with the running of the game.

    Campbell Ogilvie should never have been appointed in the first place. As a former director, employer, and shareholder of Rangers FC (IA), this would, in a normal society, be viewed as already being too conflicting.

    That he can manage to remain in power for so long, even after being exposed as being someone who benefited from what is financial doping, is as worrying as it is perplexing.

    I have a felling that this whole situation might come to a head very shortly. There will almost certainly be an attempt to gerrymander the leagues for the benefit of one club, at the expense of others. Hopefully football fans can still count on the likes of Turnbull Hutton to stand up for us in the face of the dinosaurs and blazers at Hampden.

  7. John Smith October 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Magnificent piece of work – bravo to you sir!

  8. voguepunter October 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Strandsky,fantastic piece ,as per usual.
    Thanks for warning of length of article , managed to to get a couple of beers in at half time.
    Respect vp

  9. Vincent October 5, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    That is an outstanding piece. I really enjoyed that. Many thanks.

  10. timabhouy October 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Hail hail !

  11. gerrym October 5, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    surely the people who owned and administered rangers must be open to legal action if they’re found to have cheated

  12. jacob1972 October 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    A great article, and the TdF comparison works making the RFC picture clearer. It must have taken some time to research, plan and write. Thanks for putting in the effort.

  13. cam October 5, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    I think those thousands of words(didn’t read it,don’t care) encapsulate perfectly the main difference in the two sets of fans.
    For me there’s the Gers and then there are some other teams,,,what they do,say,think is irrelevant to me,,,let them come after us we welcome the chase.
    If i ever got so obsessed with Celtic and their affairs that i felt it necessary to spend weeks/months researching crap in order to score points i would seek help.
    Please get assistance, its not too late.We can help.

  14. The Iceman October 6, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    Excellent stuff Brogan.I have often considered the parallels between the two situations. With the UCI as SFA. Do we have a USADA at all though in Scottish football’s case. I had hoped UEFA or FIFA with their claims to “Financial fair Play” would have been all over the SFA. To date they appear determined to steer clear. Perhaps the SFA are not an isolated body in this, and UEFA know that other jurisdictions will not stand up to scrutiny either. I will stop now – veering into whataboutery here – i am.

    Great article.

  15. Henry Clarson October 6, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    A very well argued case for the prosecution, BRTH.

  16. Dan October 6, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    An excellent read Brogan. Shared on twitter.

  17. John Finnigan October 6, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Thank you an article full of analysis and common sense, I complement you.

  18. mick October 6, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    what a fantastic article you really are a keyboard clattering bampot and a inspiration to the rest of us keep up the good work and remember its not over till its tesco

  19. timabhouy October 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Have only 2 people read this ?

  20. lou October 8, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    That was a great read……makes me realise how much I miss RTC.

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