Lance Armstrong says “Enough is Enough”
Lance Armstrong has been in the news a lot during his career. Sometimes for his athletic career, his heroic battle with cancer, his inspiring charity work through the Livestrong foundation, his legal battles over doping allegations, and even his love life with Cheryl Crow. But never has Lance Armstrong been in the news for quitting, until now.
This weekend the United States Anti Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his record breaking seven Tour de France titles and gave him a lifetime ban from competition. These sanctions came after Armstrong announced he would no longer be fighting the allegations. He made it clear, however, that this was by no means an admission of guilt. Despite the releasing of his sever Tour titles, Armstrong has stood firm on his claim he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
A claim defended by the fact that Armstrong has been drug tested more than any other athlete in history; and not once has he had either an A or B sample test positive for performance enhancing drugs. For years, doping officials have wanted nothing more than to bust the biggest name in cycling. Finally, after a 17-year investigation Armstrong throws up the white flag and says “enough is enough.”
If the USADA doesn’t have a single positive test result to use as evidence against Armstrong, how can they create a case against the cycling champion? What the USADA lacks in physical evidence they make up for teammates and fellow cyclists willing to testify that Armstrong doped. Teamates’ of Armstrong were willing to disclose emails that revealed Armstrong’s doping policies. They were willing to testify, under oath, that not only did Armstrong dope, but also he encouraged his teammates to do the same. The cyclists willing to testify against Armstrong include American teammates Alexander Hamilton and Floyd Landis. Landis notably had his own Tour victory stripped when he failed his drug test after his heroic stages win to reclaim the yellow jersey. After swearing his innocence, much like Armstrong, Landis later admitted to doping and shamelessly decided to accuse Lance simultaneously.
An accusation from Landis, and even Hamilton, I understand. Landis had nothing to loose and was looking for a spin on his own descent to irrelevance. However, one teammate’s word I hold above the others. Only one teammate had been with Lance for all 7 of his Tour de France wins, George Hincapie. When the self proclaimed “best bud” of Armstrong, and perhaps the most likeable rider on the Tour decided he was willing to testify against Armstrong in his case against the USADA, the game changed. Around the same time, Johan Bruyneel, Lance Amrstrong’s long time coach was banned, along with his entire team, from competition for use and trafficking of performance enhancing drugs. Suddenly, the saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” come to mind.
Here we are left with the premise that somehow, while all the cyclists Armstrong was competing against were doping, all the cyclists on Armstrong’s team were doping, and his coach has been suspected of trafficking prohibited substances, that Lance remained clean. A tough, but plausible case while standing on a 100% record of passed drugs tests through American events, Grand Tours, and Olympic games.
Until we take a look at Marion Jones. The (in)famous American sprinter won three gold medals and two bonze medals in the Sydney Olympic games. She was later stripped of these medals after admitting she used performance enhancing drugs. The catch is, Marion Jones never failed a single drug test. As methods of testing for performance enhancing drugs continue to improve, so do methods of masking the use of performance enhancing drugs. Is it is possible that, like Jones, Armstrong had been able to dope his entire career without failing a test? Yes. Will we ever know for sure? No. While this puts a major question mark next to Lance’s career I do not think it overshadows it. With news of the stripping of Lance’s seven titles the Livestrong foundation’s daily donations went from $3,200 on Thursday to $78,000 the next day. Now Lance moves forward attempting to put the USADA in his review mirror, and focus on his true passion: fighting cancer. Leaving us to only speculate on how much sleep Lance looses every night.