The SportingJournal

Armstrong Very Hard Done By

Lance Armstrong, Hard done by? Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty

In a sport characterised by gluttonous athletes and numerous little clear cups, cycling has had its moral compass well and truly thrown off course today after banning seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong , one who many consider to be the sport’s greatest ambassador, from competitive racing for life. The United States Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to strip Armstrong of his seven tour victories from 1999 to 2005 is deplorable and further undermines the sport’s political and ethical standards of administration.

Lance Armstrong’s Herculean efforts through the Alps and the Pyrenees will only rate third on the list of toughest things he has had to undergo in life. Without doubt, his battle with cancer trumps the list, but it can be said that having been the subject of countless drug accusations and law suits, he will view this as only slightly easier than undergoing his life-saving chemotherapy.

Although Armstrong has been tested for drugs on more occasions than Snoop Dogg has actually taken drugs, the nonsensical matter in this argument is that he has never tested positive. If there is no physical evidence whatsoever of a murderer taking one’s life, then surely a conviction cannot stand?

In analogical terms, let’s say a group of 10 people (which is the same number of people USADA supposedly have ready to testify against Armstrong) were watching a long-jumper and claimed he had broken a world record. Bear in mind, two of these onlookers have the middle name ‘Pinocchio’ (a reference to the two cyclists who ACTUALLY failed drug tests, in Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton). Do you think the world record should be changed and with it the history books rewritten based on the recollection of these people? Even if the long jumper remonstrated he had actually not achieved such a feat? Of course not, yet the USADA seem to be jumping to misguided conclusions in what Armstrong labelled today as an ‘unconstitutional witch-hunt’ by chief executive Travis Tygart.

There have been assumptions that Armstrong’s demolition of cycling pelotons in his illustrious career was too good to be true given the shameful urine results of many previous pedal pushers. But let us just sit back and fathom the severity of what Armstrong went through before being crowned arguably the greatest cyclist of all time. He was given a 50 per cent chance of survival and 20 per cent chance of a full recovery as a result of brain, lung and testicular cancer. This isn’t a game of Pacman we’re talking about here, this is life and death.

Armstrong didn’t cheat his way through cancer; he had to obtain more courage than the Wizard of Oz lion to beat it. The same goes for the Tours. Why would Armstrong take the easy option of performance enhancing drugs like so many of his cycling counterparts when he had already wrestled with tougher demons in his life? He has abided by all arbitrary processes, but this is seemingly not good enough. For all of the auspicious pursuits Armstrong has engaged himself in for the benefit of the sport of cycling, he is now being hit harder than a left hook from Joe Frazier.

How is it that a man, who has raised a casual $500 million towards cancer research through his foundation Livestrong, be so imprudent to take drugs in order to win a couple of races? One would think that Armstrong has been through enough torrid life experiences to be able to distinguish bad morals from good morals.

The sport of cycling is in severe jeopardy. What we will see ensue over the next few days will be irreparable for the sport. The USADA is a reproach to world cycling and to think that they are wasting millions of dollars of tax-payers’ money on shooting down the cycling equivalent of the US president even after Armstrong announced his retirement last year is questionable to say the least. Their self-serving motives are no more evident than now. It is depressing to think that physical evidence has taken a back-seat to speculation and allegations.

In a frightening world of sporting bureaucracies, it is disheartening to see Armstrong’s final proclamations of innocence fall upon deaf ears.

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  • Daniel

    Great opinion based article but you should uptake a factual style of writing.

27

Jun

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