As someone who has been such a huge fan of Lance Armstrong for so many years, last night was a tough pill to swallow.
Lance Armstrong probably lost a lot of fans with the statement he decided to release yesterday. While there was no admission of guilt in the 800+ words, there was an admission of surrender. His decision to stop his fight against those who have long accused him of doping has opened the door for quite a bit of scrutiny.
This changes nothing for me, of course. In 1999 I cared little about what a bicycle did besides taking me from a-to-b. By the end of his seven-year run I actually cared about the Tour de France and held Armstrong as one of the athletes that I have a supreme admiration for. That admiration will remain, no matter what Travis Tygart says.
As nearly every commentary on Armstrong’s decision has indicated, his decision to quit or give up on something seems strange. As someone who has always fought back and persevered, It was safe to assume the word quit was not in his vocabulary.
It is very encouraging to see so many sports writers proclaiming his legacy will not be tarnished, regardless of the titles that are to be stripped from him. What Armstrong has done physically, mentally and for others is unparalleled and no lawyer or drug administration can take that away from him.
Of course nothing is just sunshine and daisies. By stepping off his defense a massive door has been opened to point at Armstrong and say “well this is all the proof we need”. That is extremely unfortunate simply because he has yet to come out to confirm any such rumor. In fact, in his statement from yesterday he continued to support his claim of being clean.
The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors. 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?
Those who believe he doped, cheated, whatever will not take this as truth and they didn’t accept his claims as truth previously. When I read Armstrong’s statement and look at the surrounding information, I am able to draw one conclusion. He wants it all to stop. Yes, my reading comprehension skills are top notch.
Think of it this way. You’re late to date night for whatever reason. Call it work, family, traffic. Whatever. Despite your explanations, clear examples that you are not at fault and further explanations, you remain in the dog house. At some point you will stop putting up a fight if the other side is unrelenting in their pursuit, no matter how off base.
Perhaps using a fight with your significant other isn’t the best example to the situation that Armstrong finds himself in. But the point remains the same. No matter what Armstrong does, he is continually accused, persecuted and insulted by doping agencies around the world. There is no winning this battle. Of course he is going to pull the chute eventually.
The question I have for Mr. Tygart and the USADA is what evidence are we running with at this point? Armstrong has tested clean over and over and over again since 1999. That is in the past. He won his titles, he proved his cleanliness and it is time to leave him to do what he truly does best, raise money for cancer research.
By the time this all settles I expect to see Armstrong stripped of his titles and accolades due to the assumption that he was doping. By no longer fighting the charges he all but lowers his hat and will allow the vultures to circle. This statement, while not an admission of guilt, is a withdrawal of his claim for innocence.
Maybe Armstrong did use some form of performance enhancing supplement or drug during his run. I’m sure that is entirely possible. But there was never proof. Without proof, one way or the other, you cannot find one guilty. Or at least that is the way it used to be in America.
Regardless of the final ruling by the USADA, nothing should change how Armstrong is viewed. He beat cancer, he has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for millions and has given back 50 times that in funding thanks to his foundation.
I watched those races, I saw him win. I’ve read the reports on his previous testing. I know that Armstrong is innocent. I couldn’t agree more with him that this is truly a witch hunt; a near 20-year goose chase for answers on a man that has unified so many. Lance Armstrong is still a hero.
Here is a great piece from ESPN on the subject. I highly recommend the read.