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Posts Tagged ‘big stories’

End of an Era: Lance Armstrong ‘Won’t Fight’ Dope Charges

For once, we didn’t see this coming: In case you haven’t heard, cyclist, cancer survivor and one-man-brand Lance Armstrong has announced that he will ‘stop fighting’ the cheating charges leveled against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. This means that Armstrong may well be officially stripped of his record-setting seven Tour de France titles. Yes, it’s a bit of a shocker.

How to respond? From a PR perspective, it seems as if Armstrong has chosen the best available option: By refusing to endure the “arbitration process,” he can continue to claim–as he always has–that the longstanding doping charges leveled against him amount to a “witchhunt” and highlight the fact that he never tested positive on any official drug test (though any commentors who use this fact as evidence of his innocence should remember that Marion Jones and many other disgraced athletes never tested positive while competing). Unfortunately, his decision all but ensures that supporters will never have a satisfactory answer to the question: If he is truly innocent, why not endure the process to the end and prove it once and for all?

Armstrong may have avoided suffering a fate like that of Jones, Floyd Landis and Barry Bonds, but the fact remains: No matter how many fans post supportive messages on his Facebook page, his brand is forever tarnished–and it’s a big one. Read more

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Russian Punks Headed for Jail after Winning the Week

Yes, it’s true that a Russian “court” sentenced all three members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison today on hilariously trumped-up charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” (yeah, OK…), but we feel like they won the news cycle in their own way.

For one thing, very few people outside of Russia–and only a few more within it–had any interest in the group before this story broke a few weeks ago (and based on their music, we can see why), but their unfortunate name is now common knowledge in news rooms and living rooms around the globe.

Large-scale protests among the country’s cultural and intellectual elite couldn’t stop Vladamir Putin from reclaiming the presidency in a fairly blatant show of vote-fixing earlier this year, but these three ladies knew how to win the attention of both the government and the outside world: A couple of weeks before the election, they staged what can only be described as a publicity stunt in a Moscow Catholic church, dancing around in hoods that look like they came from American Apparel‘s fall line and chanting a song whose lyrics demand that the Virgin Mary “Drive away Putin.”

Sure, the move alienated some older, more traditional members of the body politic, but the way we see it, the whole ordeal was a big PR win for the band and its ideological allies…and a major loss for the Putin government. Read more