Reasoned Decision

Lance Armstrong blood doping

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.

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3 thoughts on “Reasoned Decision

  1. Although, to be fair, Armstrong didn’t cheat his way to success when it came to cancer. He suffered greatly and it took guts to return to professional cycling after surgery (including brain surgery) and chemotherapy. When it comes to that disease nobody can cheat, and he said himself that his recovery was partly due to luck, and partly due to having the money and connections to get good care. The sad thing about Armstrong he has a strong bullying streak, and unfortunately, people who are forceful and ruthless tend to be rewarded in highly competitive sports and in business – two areas that Armstrong has been very successful in. As long as winning is the most important thing, it will be hard to rid sports of ruthlessness, and people who are extremely tough and ruthless will continue to have an advantage.

  2. I guess I’m just reflecting on how it could be that the sport was so dirty for so long; that people who are that aggressive and single-minded about winning at all costs could be so successful. I know in Canada there has been some reflection on why it is that government sponsorship with regard to athletes destined for the Olympics is so heavily weighted in favour of winning medals, as opposed to excelling in a sport, whether that leads to medals or not.

    There is a kind of contradiction in highly competitive sports. The intense competition brings out the best athletes, and their best performances. But it also brings out, and encourages, our worst qualities sometimes – like we have seen with Armstrong. Maybe the shocking extent of the problems in cycling will push the organizations and corporations attached to this sport to rethink their values somewhat – that competing in sports should not be about winning at all costs, and that we (the fans) need to stop looking to these athletes to fulfill our cultural fantasies about heroism. After all, the Tour de France is not Braveheart. If a person needs a hero, why don’t they get on a bike, or put on some runners, maybe get out the skis, and become their own hero? Failing that, why not just go see a movie?

    I really enjoy your blog – I am not much of an athlete, but your posts inspire me to keep going! Thanks for it.

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