What are you on?

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Ever since his comeback from cancer, Lance has been one the most prolific riders of the pro circuit. He’s accomplished things, both on and off the bike, that no other human being ever has, and possibly ever will. Unfortunately, he’s also been dogged with relentless allegations of cheating via performance enhancing drugs. I think with that level success those accusations are almost to be expected. For some reason people just can’t believe that a human is capable of such things, but it’s now reached the ultimate point of absurdity, and the man has finally said that’s enough. Armstrong has beaten 3 types of cancer, and some of the world’s greatest athletes but even has had enough of fighting against USADA’s relentless and ridiculous witch hunt. I’m sure there will be those out there that will take this as an admission of guilt. If you are one of those I ask you to consider the following. Imagine bouncing back from a death sentence to accomplish monumental athletic feats, all while complying with over 500 drug control tests only to have your abilities called into question as being authentic for over ten years. At some point you would have enough as well.

Whatever USADA’s goal was here, the only thing they’ve really accomplished is hurting the sport of cycling. Look even if Lance did take some form of performance enhancing drug, you can’t as Phil Ligget said, “turn a donkey into a racehorse with EPO”. Pro cyclists are supreme examples of human fitness. Change your blood, pop some pills, it still isn’t going to make you a world-class athlete. These guys are have dedicated their lives to making themselves as fit as possible. They’re obsessive over every aspect of their training and to be at that level you had to be. If taking drugs could make you superman we wouldn’t continually be in awe every time a record is broken or a new height is reached. We would just simply point to the drugs and say, “big deal”.

I got into a lengthy debate with a co worker on the last film I was on this very subject. He too claimed that all the pro cyclists were doping and that it’s clearly the only way they’re able to do what they do. He cited his experience as bike courier in DC and New York as proof of understanding what it takes.

A few things.
One: I don’t think you give the human body its due credit. I’m sorry that you got a little tired riding around town, but just because you delivered mail on your fixie five days a week does not mean you understand what is necessary to ride over 3,00 kilometers over the course of six weeks over mountains in excess of 9,000 ft at average gradients of 8+ percent.

Two: Pro cyclists are riding on the most lightweight, efficient, and powerful machines ever built and are backed up by some of the best support in the world from the many people who comprise their teams including doctors, nutritionists, coaches, managers and their teammates. These guys know how to conserve and recover their energy over a three-week race.

Three: People have been racing bicycles for a very long time. In fact, next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Tour De France. So what of all the early riders of this race then? They didn’t have access to the drugs of today, and yet they still were able to cross the finish line. What’s more they were doing it without the advantage of modern technology and they were riding on far inferior machines when compared with today’s modern bikes.

And then there are the Johnny Hoogerlands of cycling. Guys who get hit by cars and thrown into barbed wire fences and then get back on their bikes to finish the race. That takes an extremely special type or person and drugs don’t do it.

So, where is the evidence? If Armstrong was involved a career long doping program shouldn’t there be a pile of evidence at this point? Or maybe even at least one or two positive tests. After over 12 years and hundreds of tests there has been little brought forward. A couple of disgraced former teammates have come spoken out against Lance saying that they witnessed him taking drugs. Personally, I think a couple of disgruntled athletes who got their hands caught in the cookie jar hardly constitutes evidence. And I’m not alone in this line of thought. The Federal Government had been pursuing a case against lance since 2010 when former teammates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton came forward to claim that they had witnessed Lance participate in doping. But then just a few months ago, and after millions of dollars and countless man hours, they dropped their case citing insufficient evidence. Basically chalking it up to two a personal petty vendetta.

But then USADA picked the case back up saying that they had clear evidence from samples from 2010 and also from testing stored frozen samples from nearly a decade ago that were consistent with EPO usage. So now we’re going back ten years after the fact to prove someone’s guilt? What happened to the statute of limitations?

Look, I’m biased, I admit it. I’m a big fan of Armstrong. He’s been an inspiration in my life and I personally attribute his successes to dedication, and well, a bigger desire to win. As a man who battled back from the edge of death, I think he wanted it more. All that said, even if USADA was able to prove that he doped at some point in some way, they accomplish nothing for themselves of the sport. Whatever the USADA were to present chances are that you have already made up your mind about Lance and there is probably nothing that could be presented to sway you either way. The USADA decision does not change what happened 13 years ago. It doesn’t help clean up cycling. It does little more than show that they are capable of making an example out of someone.

Ironically enough, Lance Armstrong has done more for the sport of cycling then USADA ever will. All they have done is tainted the reputation of a hero and an icon.

 

 

 

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~ by glennikin on September 4, 2012.

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