Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong banned: Big Whoop.

So Lance Armstrong dropped his battle with the USADA last night, and as a result they intend to strip him of his Tour titles. All I can say to it at this point is: Big Freaking Deal. Maybe I'm a Lance apologist, but here's my take on it.

Armstrong was never caught during his career, despite years of testing. He won his last title in 2005. He competed in one of the dirtiest eras of the dirtiest professional sport, yet was never caught during his those years. He wound up retiring on his own terms, and after an investigation, the US Department of Justice dropped their case they were trying to build against him. On top of that, the USCF (cycling's governing body in the US), and the ICF all don't recognize the USADA's jurisdiction. Which pretty much invalidates their case, in my opinion.

Does that mean I think Lance Armstrong was clean? Hell no! He was probably just as dirty as virtually every other cyclist of that era. And most of today's pro cyclists are dirty, too - they just have better ways to hide it. That's the nature of what is an incredibly extreme sport. To survive a grueling 3-week race, they do what they have to do. Cyclists have been dirty forever. In my mildly competitive days (through my late teens up until I was about 20), I rode some races at the club level, and had a USCF Cat. 4 license. I was decent for my level, and it was incredibly hard work just to be competitive at that level.

I never did drugs (it wouldn't have helped me at that low level), but the guys ahead of me at the high amateur/low pro level? Most of them were on something or another. That's just what they did.

So the point I make here is pretty much this: There's no (as far as I know) direct, in-competition testing results that establish Armstrong's guilt. There is a bunch of testimony (that we now will not hear), from racers who were themselves dirty as well. There's no physical evidence. We all know he did it, but his last win was 8 years ago. The time to challenge it is over. He got away with it.

And regardless of whether the USADA states that Lance Armstrong is to be stripped of his titles or not (so the doper in 2nd would get the yellow jersey instead?), he won. Period. And that's what people will remember of his career. The only thing that he loses out of this in reality is the ability to compete in sanctioned mountain bike races and in masters' triathlons. Big deal.