[Did Armstrong, pictured, dope in the Tour de France?  This 2003 victory photo raises serious questions.]

About a year ago I was on quite a tear around here about The New York Times‘ coverage of steroids in baseball.  Most notably, in my opinion, that the Times Michael S. Schmidt got fed his stories about Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez from the government.  Such a tear, in fact, that NYT sports editor Tom Jolly felt the need to comment at CSTB.  Me, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that since the gov’t was court-ordered to hand back its confiscated lab information to the MLB players union in 2009, that Schmidt nor anyone else has broken a major baseball story in this regard since.  It could have been the government, it could have been lab techs for them “ but no major player has been named since the gov’t gave back the records.

And I’ll ask this question again:  Why are all the post-Bonds leaks “ A-Rod, Sosa, Ortiz, Ramirez “ black or Latino?  What is the agenda of those leaking the names?

Schmidt has never been able to successfully challenge the players union press conference of August 9, 2009 in which the basis for his stories “ the so-called 104 dirty players list who tested positive “ was discredited.  Turns out, the “104” (or whatever the actual number may be) is made up of inconclusive results, players counted twice for positive tests, and positive tests for then legal substances.  The three players Schmidt named were all on that “list.”  Schmidt has never clarified which categories Sosa, Ortiz, or Ramirez came from “ nor even ruled them out of the inconclusive category before naming them “ because as he has also stated in the NYT, that he himself never saw the records.  Since his gov’t sources dried up, so has Schmidt’s ability to break any notable news in this area.

Until Lance Armstrong?  Now that the government is back in a high profile steroid investigation, so is Schmidt.  This time, Barry Bonds’ failed antagonist, FDA agent Jeff Novitzky, is after Armstrong.  Novitzky’s tactics will sound familiar: he’s pressuring busted dopers and low income associates, w/out Armstrong’s celebrity or money, to admit doping and name Armstrong.  It’s exactly how Novitzky tried to get Barry Bonds.

Did Armstrong do it?  Who knows?  Obviously, Armstrong will mount a big money defense.  If he can hold off the FDA long enough, I’m guessing we’ll then see the same orchestrated public relations war against him (via people like Schmidt) that the government waged against Bonds.  Then, as the Bonds case crumbled, the 2009 leaks against A-Rod and Sosa and the rest appeared that were (imo) meant to vindicate the gov’t in the court of public opinion if not an actual court.  Read the following account of unnamed sources and losers and see if it all doesn’t sound familiar from Mssrs Schmidt and Novitzky:

In May, Armstrong™s former teammate Floyd Landis shook the cycling world by publicly accusing Armstrong and other team members of using performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions to gain an unfair advantage. Landis said that Armstrong ” the biggest name in the sport ” had encouraged doping and that the team had sold its bikes to help finance an expensive doping program.

Armstrong has denied any wrongdoing and has said that Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour title for doping and received a two-year ban from the sport, has no credibility.

But now, prosecutors and investigators have more than Landis™s account to go on, according to the two people with knowledge of the investigation. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to jeopardize their access to sensitive information.

A former teammate of Armstrong said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he had spoken with investigators. He said he detailed some of his own drug use, as well as the widespread cheating that he said went on as part of the Postal Service team ” all of which he said was done with Armstrong™s knowledge and encouragement.