Thursday 14 November 2019

Lance Armstrong -- thief of dreams

Yesterday's decision by cyclist Lance Armstrong not to contest the case brought against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which will result in him being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from cycling, represents an overdue but unsatisfactory conclusion to this long-running controversy.

Persistent rumours of doping have followed Armstrong ever since he won the first of his seven Tours in 1999. Despite Armstrong's repeated denials and bullying tactics, a small minority of those who followed cycling refused to be either convinced or intimidated. Chief among those who refused to accept the Lance Armstrong story at face value were Irish sports journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage.

For years they ploughed a lonely furrow while the cycling establishment suppressed its doubts and allowed Armstrong to become the public face of their sport. The failure of the cycling authorities to face up to the scourge of doping sooner has largely destroyed the credibility of professional cycling -- in addition to that of Armstrong. The 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis and 2010 winner Roberto Contador have also been stripped of their titles for doping. It is now impossible for all but the most gullible to watch the Tour and not wonder about the integrity of many of the participants.

That was Armstrong's real crime. By being allowed to enjoy the benefits of doping for so long he robbed cycling fans everywhere of their dreams. And now, by choosing not to contest the USADA case, the evidence against him will not be made public until cases against five other cyclists and officials have been concluded.

When they are, USADA must publish all of the evidence against Armstrong without delay so that there is no doubt whatsoever about his guilt.

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