Posts Tagged ‘Ben Johnson’

Lance Armstrong’s Downfall

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been banned for life from cycling and stripped of his titles, with all 14 years of his meteoric career officially expunged from the records.  According to International Cycling Union (known by its French acronym of UCI) president Pat McQuaid, “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.”  Armstrong had previously been banned from the sport by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which found “overwhelming” evidence that he was involved in “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program.”

Estimates are that the scandal will cost Armstrong at least $150 million in lost corporate sponsorships from companies such as Nike, RadioShack, Anheuser-Busch and Oakley.  Despite that, all four plan to continue supporting Armstrong’s anti-cancer charity, the Livestrong Foundation, which has raised more than $400 million since 1997.  In 2011, Livestrong served more than 325,000 individuals.  Additionally, the French Cycling Federation (FCF) has asked Armstrong to return € 2.95 million (the equivalent of $4 million) in prize money. Armstrong’s team sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service, also paid the cyclist more than $12 million in performance bonuses between 1999 and 2005, which it may ask to be returned.  Additionally, Armstrong may be stripped of the bronze medal he won at the 2002 Sydney Olympics, although he will be allowed to keep his yellow jerseys.

Armstrong continues to deny that he has ever used performance-enhancing drugs, noting that he has passed multiple drug tests.  Despite the denials, he recently changed his Twitter bio to reflect his new status from “Father of five amazing kids, seven-time Tour de France winner, full-time cancer fighter, part-time triathlete” to “Raising my five kids.  Fighting cancer.  Swim, bike, run and golf whenever I can.”

Armstrong became a wealthy man over his career, amassing a fortune worth $125 million and he was the sport’s greatest star.  The 2005 tour de France – the last that Armstrong won — drew 15 million viewers watching from along the road, while another two billion worldwide followed the race on television.  In 2005, cycling was a $6 billion industry in the United States alone.

Although Armstrong’s downfall is of epic proportion, he is not the first athlete to be discredited.  Legendary Olympian Jim Thorpe lost his gold medals when it was learned he had played professional sports, which was not allowed in 1912.  The medals were restored in 1982 – 30 years after Thorpe’s death.  Ben Johnson – once dubbed “the fastest man in the world” – was stripped of his gold medal after he tested positive for a banned steroid.  Track superstar Marion Jones, the first woman Olympian to win five medals, pleaded guilty to perjury after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.  She also was banned from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and sentenced to six months in prison and two years of probation for lying about her drug use.

Waiting for Defaults

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Commercial real estate may be in better shape than thought. Real estate professionals who had been expecting a worst-case scenario – an onrush of distressed commercial properties coming onto the market – are still waiting for that to come to fruition.  Ben Johnson, writing in the National Real Estate Investor, notes that “Keep on waiting/lurking seems to be the prevailing view.  According to New York-based researcher Real Capital Analytics, the default rate for commercial real estate mortgages held by the nation’s FDIC-insured depository institutions did increase by nine basis points to 4.28 percent in the 2nd quarter, up from 4.19 percent in the 1st quarter. For those of you keeping score on a historical scorecard, at its cyclical low in the 1st half of 2008, the commercial mortgage default rate was 0.58 percent.  A mere pittance.  Year-over-year, the tale is more striking, with the commercial default rate up by 139 basis points.”

Instead of accelerating, Johnson says that the negative drift seems to be slowing.  “Year-over-year increases had been accelerating for 13 consecutive quarters through the end of 2009, but have moderated more recently,” he said.  The dollar volume of commercial mortgages in default recorded the smallest increase since the 2nd quarter of 2007.  Approximately $46.2 billion of bank-held commercial mortgages currently are in default, an increase of $547 million from the 1st quarter of 2010.