The U.S. Postal Service is getting plenty of free media exposure today, but probably not the kind USPS execs were hoping for when they ponied up big bucks years ago to be a primary sponsor of cyclist Lance Armstrong’s team.
Instead, this is how the organization appears in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s statement on the results of its investigation into Armstrong’s alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs: “The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
That should sell a lot of stamps.
Of course, there’s no indication that the Postal Service itself had any role in the alleged doping (and please, hold the jokes about speedier delivery), but, as the sponsor, the mail carrier’s name turns up dozens of times in the anti-doping agency’s 202-page report.
USPS spokeswoman Patricia Licata had no comment on the findings. While the Postal Service sponsored the team from 1996 to 2004, officials could not confirm how much was spent “because it was so long ago,” she said in an email. The total was substantial, however, according to contract documents posted online.
A 2003 contract modification, for example, pegged the amount at $31.8 million, but leaves unclear the duration of the agreement.
Postal pooh-bahs may have gotten something out of the deal, too. Another document says that Tailwind Cycling would provide “a complete hospitality package for selected guests of the sponsor at the Tour de France.”
The package would include lodging and meals, as well as transportation in Paris, the document said. Tailwind also agreed to “customize the VIP package for postal officials attending and will bill back those charges to the United States Postal Service for their respective lodging, meals, transportation and other related charges.”
Nice, n’est-ce pas?
[This post has been updated]