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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TOUR DE SHAME



Lance Armstrong is a man who came back from a cancer scare, one he had only a 40% chance of surviving and went on to win the Tour De France 7 times. That catapulted him into sporting folklore and the hearts of many, even people like me who could give a rats-ass about the Tour De Bore or cycling in general. America loved him, the world adored him and with that ammunition he went on to raise close to $500 million for the fight against cancer. What a man!!! He was virtually a saint walking amongst mere mortals.


Even as Lance continued to enjoy all this fan-fare and hero-worship in-audible voices constantly accused him of taking performance enhancing drugs, but never really proven to be true. It was easy to label his accusers as jealous and bitter since most were former competitors or teammate who had horrible records too. 

For the past few years the United States Anti-Doping Agency have claimed they have compiled a solid case against one of cycling’s greatest athletes. He labeled it as a witch-hunt and vowed to prove his innocence. They charged him and gave him time to reply to their charges; faced with a deadline Lance Armstrong shocked the whole world by releasing a statement saying he will not be fighting his accusers. This subsequently let to the USADA stripping him of all his 7 titles and banned him from the sport for life.

This development has now opened a huge debate in living rooms, television studios, bedrooms and god know what else on a lot of issues. Is he innocent or guilty? What does his backing down mean? Is he still the hero people looked up to? Do we now separate his cycling from his work for cancer?

In his statement he says:
‘There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999.Over the past three years I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart's unconstitutional witch hunt.The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense…If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA's process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair. Regardless of what Travis Tygart says, there is zero physical evidence to support his outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colours. I made myself available around the clock and around the world. In competition. Out of competition. Blood. Urine. Whatever they asked for I provided. What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?
Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities.’
Personally as a boy who has a grown up to regard Lance as a hero of sorts, an inspiration I would very much like to point out my disappointment. Yes the USADA’s conduct during this whole issue could be questioned but we as his fans, followers and admirers deserve better. His reasons are noble but can be a blanket for admitting he took performance enhancing drugs. He looks guilty, no two ways about it.

He claims to have took countless tests before and after races, but they all came out clean. He asks why the Anti-Doping Agency would then persecute him when their processes have cleared him of any wrong-doing. He never tested positive for any banned substance, surely this would mean he is innocent! But usually the beauty of being a cheat means you know when to take and how to fool tests, even Barry Bonds never tested positive for any banned substance and we all know how that went.

A wife of a former team-mate, Betsy Andreu, says Armstrong admitted to taking PED’s after his surgery to remove a brain tumour in 1996.
‘Betsy and her future husband, Frankie Andreu, Armstrong’s teammate and good friend at the time, stood near the bathroom door of a hospital room at the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. “Lance was at a kind of conference table,” she said by telephone from her home in the Detroit suburbs. “Frankie and I were ready to excuse ourselves when Lance said, ‘That’s all right, you can stay.’Frankie had lived and trained with Lance in Como, Italy, and trained with him in Austin. He traveled the world cycling right beside Armstrong. Their bond was strong.After a couple of banal questions by the doctors that day, Armstrong was asked whether he had used PEDs:“He said, ‘Steroids, testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone, EPO,’ Betsy recalled.’ – Mike Wise, Washington Post
A former masseuse, Emma O’ Reilly has claimed Lance Armstrong has tested positive for banned substances before, the team officials had then covered it up.
‘O'Reilly said that Armstrong told her: "Now, Emma, you know enough to bring me down." O'Reilly said on other occasions she was asked to dispose of used syringes for Armstrong and pick up strange parcels for the team.’- Conal Urquhart, Guardian UK
Even teammates have uttered such accusations before. If this whole thing had went before a tribunal its clear Lance Armstrong would have come out of it a battered and destroyed man. Giving up basically is a save-face move.

Whether he is still a hero is up to each individual who has always seen him as such. I for one will always be inspired by what he did for cancer, that’s the mark of a good man, but we cannot turn a blind eye to this cycling fiasco because cycling is what set his legacy in motion. Had he not been a miracle man riding a bicycle in the mountains of France, he would not have made such an impression on the public or the fight against cancer. To a small boy somewhere out there learning that the greatest cyclist to ever live is nothing but a drug cheat is going to hurt.
‘Armstrong’s first win did more than anything else in the Tour’s century-long history to make it a core event of the sporting calendar with a global audience and much more money. And then he won again the next year. And the year after that. Each win more incredible than the last, until he had notched up seven in all – a feat that has no equal in all of sport. But by then, the fairy-tale factor was starting to wear thin, and voices were asking if Lance the Miracle Man was all that he seemed.’ – William Langsley, Telegraph, UK
All I am saying after this rather long, boring and tedious article is: If at all Lance Armstrong is guilty he needs to publicly admit it, tell how he went about undetected and apologise to his fans, they deserve much better. We will then sing praises of his dignity and honour for we know every human makes mistakes, mistakes in turn can be forgiven. If he is innocent as he professes he needs to put his fighting gloves back on and get in the ring, prove his innocence and protect his legacy. USADA could also as well release a comprehensive report on all the findings they have on Lance just so his accusations of a witch-hunt are disproved.

To me he looks guilty. Guilty. As an athlete he no longer has my respect.

I agree that in all of this the biggest loser is Cycling as a sport… Lance Armstrong foundation on the other hand has seen donations increase 25-Fold ever since he announced he is not going to defend himself against accusations labeled against him. So clearly fight against cancer wins.

Read more about the drugs he is accused of taking here 

Read more about his whistle-blowers here

Full statement here 

Tweets on Armstrong

@anupamaas : Live long Lance Armstrong!! No matter what they say, u will be my hero!

@sickipediabot: So Lance Armstrong was banned for cheating.. I bet the lying bastard didn't really beat cancer either.

@tigandodge : Lance must be relieved that another #Armstrong is on the front page today

@A_Moose_I_Am : Lance Armstrong.... A man who can do more with one testicle than most could do with a pair.

@jaaymeetweets : So disappointed with Lance Armstrong. I'm gonna have to rip all my posters down now... #jk #stillloveyoulance

@nailove_ : Lance Armstrong still has all of his titles in my eyes.

@tomhaberstroh: Feel the same way about Lance Armstrong as I do Barry Bonds. If your sport is using and you still dominated? Greatness.

@GaryHarris_LLM: "I bet Lance Armstrong even used drugs to win in his fight against cancer. What a fucking cheat." - mark leggett

@soderf4: Lance Armstrong is banned from cycling for life. If you see him on a bike, please knock him off and then shout,

@Exhoopsmc: Lance Armstrong a cheater man that's very disappointing that dude is a icon

@csterlingmusic: I wonder what the back story is with Lance Armstrong? Seems like the authorities are trying suspiciously hard to pin doping on him.

@googiemerck: lance armstrong is still the man and he will always be a hero to us all

@mamtasaikia: Lance Armstrong -- Did u guys know that he has an asteroid named after him? Will they re-name it now?

@Espo: If USADA was really concerned with PEDs they should have hung around the set of the Expendables 2 rather than bothering LanceArmstrong.

@GSwaim: Screw the USADA, as it sounds like everyone doped more thanLance Armstrong anyway. I couldn't name one other cyclist before or after Lance.

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