I’ve been slowly making my way through USADA’s “Reasoned Decision” in the Lance Armstrong and US Postal Service doping case. So far, there is nothing “new” here, save an increased level of detail and credibility to stories that have been public for over a decade. Even so, it’s still unsettling. It seems everybody in the cycling world is writing someting about this and most will have more or better things to say than I. My comments will be brief.
1. I was extremely pleased to see USADA publicly release their dossier and all the supporting data when transmitting it to WADA and the UCI. I had feared that it might have been communicated confidentially and that the UCI would find some pretext, however slim, to discard the recommendation out-of-hand and bury the truth for a while longer yet. Now, if nothing else, the public can form an informed opinion on whether or not Armstrong doped. Frankly, there should be little doubt left.
2. It DOES matter that Armstrong doped, cheated and cajoled his way to unprecedented victories. It is no longer sufficient to claim ignorance, or that Armstrong is a scapegoat, or that “everybody was doing it” at the time. It matters to me, in large part, because Armstrong was the face of the sport for much of the world. And I don’t want him as the face of my sport.
It matters because he did not do it alone. At long last, the teammates, the drug purveyors, the doctors, trainers and directeurs sportif are being held accountable for creating and promoting a culture of doping.
It matters because companies like Nike, Oakley and Trek made millions from their sponsorship relationships with Lance Armstrong (while making him rich, too) and they are now complicit in his abuse and fraud.
3. Lastly, I think the real victims of Lance Armstrong and his drug-fueled doping crew aren’t all the clean riders, but rather the cancer patients who were offered a false idol in the form of Armstrong. They were not able to cheat their way to success the way he did. Maybe they don’t care and maybe, for them, especially the ones who have passed, it doesn’t matter that he doped. While Livestrong may get credit for all they’ve done for cancer research, they are not exactly the organization they claim to be. Just as Armstrong is not the athlete he claimed to be.
I’d like to see Lance step up and own the truth. Now.