We'll interrupt our regular coverage of Churchill Downs and their juice hike for a moment. Just go to social media if you want to be kept informed. Or read a Vegas sportbook fellows view about it here.
The Bloodhorse reported today that USADA head Travis Tygart spoke in Lexington, KY yesterday to about 50 horse racing stakeholders about federal legislation and doping. The USADA is one of the organizations that federal horse racing legislation has tabbed for overseeing horse racing.
To readers of the Bloodhorse column, the reaction might be "ho hum, another legislator without teeth". However, I think that would be wrong.
Travis Tygart was the man who brought down Lance Armstrong.
Despite three death threats and Armstrong’s accusations of a witch hunt, Tygart guided a staff that compiled 1,000 pages of evidence and testimony from 26 witnesses, 11 of them former teammates, to bring down the cycling icon.I recently read Tyler Hamilton's (world class cyclist and Olympic Gold Medalist) book The Secret Race, and he spoke quite a bit about Travis Tygart.
“We focused solely on finding the truth without being influenced by celebrity or non-celebrity, threats, personal attacks or political pressure because that is what clean athletes deserve and demand,” Tygart said.
Tygart may have looked like a coolheaded lawyer, but underneath he was a passionate advocate for the rights of the clean athlete and the importance of changing cycling's win at all costs culture. To let Armstrong walk away with anything less than the required penalty would be a signal that nothing had changed.When people speak about change in horse racing, some think you are the unabomber, some think lip service is fine because nothing will really happen. Let's face it, this is horse racing; a place where people talk about change but watch nothing happen because an alphabet, or those who yell really loudly, needs to be appeased.
If you are thinking Tygart is a guy who would care about who yells loud, after dealing with Armstrong, his minions and the sport itself, you may be disappointed.
“Clean athletes appreciate us not bowing to political pressure or the personal attacks. If we’re going to cave to attacks by those attempting to cover up their sporting fraud, we might as well shut down,” Tygart told the newspaper.“That would mean we’re afraid and don’t have the courage to support clean athletes. You have to endure those attacks."So, in my opinion, just from reading a little bit about the man, if you want him in as a leading force for horse racing, expect change and expect lip service to take a back seat. If you're the rank and file who kind of like the way things are going and hope for tweaks to the system, not big change, you surely don't. And if you're looking for in-between - someone to slog in the bog of the mushy middle, trying to make everyone happy - I think Travis Tygart is probably not your man.