Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Support Lance Armstrong

Good for Lance Armstrong.
Whether or not he doped, he ended the USADA's version of the Red Scare on his own terms. And so, if you're a Lance Armstrong hater, you've had your day. Congratulations. I hope you're very happy.
But I have a few questions:
Why Was It So Important to Take Away Armstrong's Tour Titles?
We sports fans hate cheaters. We've seen this in the dogged pursuits of baseball players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez. But Rodriguez and Andy Pettite are just two athletes who have admitted steroid use and are still playing. In his statement, Armstrong writes "USADA has allegedly made deals with other riders that circumvent their own rules as long as they said I cheated. Many of those riders continue to race today."
Armstrong has never admitted steroid use nor tested positive, and yet he is likely to be stripped of all of his Tour titles and banned for life from the sport. This because he finally decided he didn't feel like dealing with the USADA.
So, when you take away Armstrong's titles because of doping, does it bother you at all that the heirs to the Tour throne probably doped too? Remember that Armstrong has never failed a drug test despite being tested more than anyone else and that cyclists have alleged that everyone was doping at those times. If Armstrong doped despite years of testing to suggest otherwise, who's to say that the runners-up didn't either? Are you going to investigate them as thoroughly as you did Armstrong?
Isn't it problematic that the USADA is publicly breaking its own rules because there's a chance a retiree broke them 17 years ago?
I feel like I should let Lance take it away on this one:
I am a retired cyclist, yet USADA has lodged charges over 17 years old despite its own 8-year limitation.  As respected organizations such as UCI and USA Cycling have made clear, USADA lacks jurisdiction even to bring these charges.  The international bodies governing cycling have ordered USADA to stop, have given notice that no one should participate in USADA's improper proceedings, and have made it clear the pronouncements by USADA that it has banned people for life or stripped them of their accomplishments are made without authority.  And as many others, including USADA's own arbitrators, have found, there is nothing even remotely fair about its process.  USADA has broken the law, turned its back on its own rules, and stiff-armed those who have tried to persuade USADA to honor its obligations.  At every turn, USADA has played the role of a bully, threatening everyone in its way and challenging the good faith of anyone who questions its motives or its methods, all at U.S. taxpayers' expense.  For the last two months, USADA has endlessly repeated the mantra that there should be a single set of rules, applicable to all, but they have arrogantly refused to practice what they preach.
Do you really think people won't still revere Armstrong?
Armstrong writes that the people he rode with saw who won those Tours. So did everyone who watched them.
But more importantly, when you take away Armstrong's titles, you're left with a cancer survivor whose Foundation has raised nearly $500 million dollars. These achievements stand on their own. Do you think anyone who received that aid cares whether or not Lance Armstrong was doping? When it comes down to it, Armstrong has done far more good in this world than bad. Now, I know that there are "complicated" figures, whose charity work and personal life seem to be at odds. I have seen athletic heroes fall many times, and I've seen people rush to vilify or defend them. I would be the latter in this particular case. But Armstrong's alleged crime pales in comparison to the good work he has done. And he isn't falling from grace. He is voluntarily removing himself from the drama. He is letting it go. He is being the bigger man.

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