Monday, August 27, 2012

Lance: A Lot

So, what's my take on the whole Lance Armstrong thing?

For starters, a person can never prove that they haven't doped. Failing a drug test is proof that one has doped but passing a drug test is not proof that one hasn't doped. Proving a negative and whatnot. However, given the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed, and given that he hasn't failed any of them, I'm going to have to give Lance the benefit of the doubt on this one. He has stated unequivocally that he has not doped (no weasel words) and I have no reason to disbelieve him.

Some would argue that winning the Tour de France seven times is proof enough that he doped. I would argue people forget that Lance Armstrong is an extraordinarily gifted athlete. A professional triathlete at age 16. Won the world cycling championship at age 21. Etc. He's just a freak.

As for the allegations, whenever international conspiracies get mentioned, I start rolling my eyes. USADA alleges that, not only did Lance's teams conspire to dope but that the UCI itself, cycling's governing body, was part of the conspiracy to cover up the doping. Really? The same UCI that stripped Floyd Landis and Alberto Contador of their Tour victories? The same UCI whose President has a huge beef with Lance's team manager, Johan Bruyneel? Why would the UCI cover-up for Lance Armstrong?

Okay, so say I believed that Lance doped during his Tour victories. USADA also allege that he doped during his 2008-2011 comeback. Why would he do that? He was already a multi-multi-millionaire, his Livestrong organization was really ramping up, he already had his Tour victories, and he had to have known that the chances of another victory at the Tour de France were really slim (though he did take 3rd). Then there's the matter of being under a huge microscope because of his stature, age, and lingering suspicion of prior doping amongst some in the cycling world. Given all that, why would he risk it by doping? He had so little to gain and everything to lose by doping during his comeback. He'd have to be nuts to dope in that environment. Lance is not nuts.

Then there are the allegations that his blood tests while with Astana, all of which he passed, look like he used EPO precisely because they don't look like he took EPO and, besides, USADA has (presumably immunized) witnesses. Then why even bother with the drug tests?

My take, in a nutshell: Lance says he never doped, he passed all his doping tests, and USADA's allegations don't pass the smell test.

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