Has USADA’s case against Lance really changed anything?
I’m not going to argue with the facts. I’m not going to argue about doping. I’m not going to argue about the fairness of the USADA process.
Such conflicts have become so contrived and overworked that I cannot come to any logical conclusion over who is right or wrong.
I’m merely going to ask, after all of the information that has been released in the past 48 hours, whether anything has actually changed?
In fact, even classing this as right or wrong is unfair.
How do you define right or wrong in this case? From Lance’s perspective, USADA are in the wrong, seemingly having stacked the deck of cards that the US Cycling Federation, the UCI, hell, even the US courts were going to play with. From USADA’s perspective, given the testimony against Armstrong by his former teammates, he is in the wrong for systematic doping for over a decade and a half.
Lance has been fervent in pointing out that he hasn’t ever failed a drugs test, despite being the most tested athlete in the world. One can argue about the legitimacy of this until one is blue in the face, but I’m inclined to say this is true.
(I should point out that while Lance has never failed a test, this doesn’t mean he’s returned all negatives. Back in 1999, Lance returned a positive test for corticosteroids. However, the charges against him were dropped as he had a medical certificate to use a cortisone cream to treat saddle sores.)
There are thousands of people involved in doping control and testing processes throughout the world. It is impossible to pay them all to keep their mouth shut.
Of course, if you’re smart enough, you can probably figure out ways of cheating the tests, in the same way that there are techniques for fooling polygraph tests.
One thing I would like to point out is that USADA does not have the authority to strip him of his cycling titles. They are there merely to test athletes and investigate doping allegations. They hand any findings down to the US Cycling Federation who imposes any sanctions, if necessary.
So with that in mind, have the events of the past 24 hours actually changed anything? This is not the first time that Lance has said that he’s done with defending himself. He made a similar statement earlier this year in the face of the US Federal Investigation. He hasn’t actually had anything stripped from him, nor has he been banned.
All of his sponsors, Nike, Anheuser-Busch and American Century Investments, are all standing by him. His foundation, which has raised nearly half a billion dollars since the late-90′s, is still raising money for cancer.
In an era of cycling where so many were dirty, where the lines between champ and cheat were so blurred, Lance’s feat still stands on its own. Nearly all of those around him who challenged during his seven year reign have had some connection with doping: Ullrich, Basso, Zulle, Beloki, Mayo, Pantani, Kloden, Vinokourov.
I have no doubt that Lance doped. He had to to beat those guys listed above. To beat the tests, one simply needs to know the process and come up with a way to hide. But, most people had come to this conclusion long ago.
So, I ask, in the face of recent news, has this actually changed anything?
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