Armstrong Falls

Who didn’t see this coming?

After more than a decade of outrunning accusations that he had doped during his celebrated cycling career, Lance Armstrong, one of the best known and most accomplished athletes in recent history, surrendered on Thursday, ending his fight against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong, who won the Tour de France an unprecedented seven straight times, said that he would not continue to contest the charges levied against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which claimed that he doped and was one of the ringleaders of systematic doping on his Tour-winning teams.

He continued to deny ever doping, calling the antidoping agency’s case against him “an unconstitutional witch hunt” and saying the process it followed to deal with his matter was “one-sided and unfair.”

“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough,’ ” Armstrong said in a statement. “For me, that time is now.”

I have no idea if Lance Armstrong doped or not. He never failed a test and the US Attorney’s prosecution failed. But it seems like there was a lot of doping around him if not of him. If he was doping, he was also competing against a field that was doping like crazy.

I am certain, however, that this has little to do with the integrity of the sport and everything to do with the USADA making a big deal out of themselves. The pattern that they have followed — bringing in little fish, cutting deals to get them to testify against the big fish; leaking supposedly confidential information; getting a hungry media on their side; making wild allegations that exceed the evidence they have — is precisely the pattern used by ambitious prosecutors everywhere. It’s a pattern the anti-doping authorities have followed in every doping case they have pursued, whether it is based on reality or not.

Well, they have their white whale. For now. I just wish they’d chase down corrupt bankers and politicians with this kinds of zeal.

Update: To lighten the mood, here’s some Lee for you. Be sure to check out Nethicus’s quip.

Update: This SI article lays out the case against Armstrong. Keep in mind, this was published before the federal case against him was abandoned.

Comments are closed.

  1. richtaylor365

    I have no idea if Lance Armstrong doped or not

    I think it is clear by this abject surrender of his that he did dope and it was going to be found out and proven that he did dope.

    The last time I was on a bike was over 20 years ago (stationary bikes at the gym don’t count) and only showed passing interest in the TDF when an American was in the mix, but after reading Lance’s book, It’s Not About The Bike (an absolutely terrific read, btw) several years ago, my admiration and respect for Lance skyrocketed and from that point on I was a big fan. I have been following this story and although logic told me there was something “there” I was hoping that my hero worship would not be dashed on the rocks. This rolling over pretty much says it all.

    I am certain, however, that this has little to do with the integrity of the sport and everything to do with the USADA making a big deal out of themselves.

    Since I know little about the actual sport, I can’t say for sure whether this is true or not. I would think that since they are tasked with policing the integrity of the sport that they would take that oath seriously and go wherever the evidence takes them. Clearly evidence pointed to Lance so I would expect them to go after him hard.

    As of yesterday his integrity, reputation and honor was all that he had left, those are worth fighting for even if that fight was waged for the rest of his life. If he was clean he would stand up to the persecution and fight for his good name. I am really bummed by this whole story.

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  2. TxAg94

    Does ANYONE really care about cycling anyway? I know I don’t. Let them use all the PEDs they want as far as I’m concerned. I for one am tired of the Armstrong wannabes who run like packs through narrow canyon roads around here like they’re the next Lance Armstrong. To really generalize, everyone I meet who cycles with all the gear, skin-tight shorts, and “teams” is a self-absorbed wanker anyway. Armstrong probably surrendered because he, too, is sick of talk about the issue taking up precious air time and print space.

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  3. repmom

    Does ANYONE really care about cycling anyway?

    I guess all those “Armstrong wannabees” you mentioned do.

    I have been following this story and although logic told me there was something “there” I was hoping that my hero worship would not be dashed on the rocks

    It’s hard these days to have “heros”. They always seem to let you down in some way. Perhaps we expect too much of them. I don’t know.

    As of yesterday his integrity, reputation and honor was all that he had left, those are worth fighting for even if that fight was waged for the rest of his life. If he was clean he would stand up to the persecution and fight for his good name.

    I agree.

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  4. JimK

    As a huge cycling fan and a rider myself, I say this:

    1. Of course Lance doped. Fucking everyone doped since year two of the TDF and in Lance’s era it was incredibly prevalent. This is not to say that’s why he won. Take away the doping from all of them and he was still a better athlete than almost everyone. They were all in an arms race with each other though. PEDs were the universal standard.

    2. The proof is simple: look at what’s going on now. Times are increasing as technology gets better. Why? The pro peleton is cleaner this year than it’s been for the last 30 or 40.

    3. Lance HAS failed tests, those tests were disqualified for various and some say dirty reasons. Part of the whole mess here.. Legally, he’s never been slapped with a positive that survived challenge. Yes. That is true. But Lance’s blood and urine have failed doping control tests in the past. And he never would have survived if the biological passport system existed in the 90s. His levels would have been all over the place. The passport program is especially good at catching autologous doping, an act for which there is a MOUNTAIN of circumstantial evidence against him and everyone he ever rode with. WHich includes some dudes still riding today.

    4. I still don’t fucking care. Man had cancer. The entire pro peleton had access to the same shit he did, and he ran circles around these people for a decade. The guy was a cycling machine and a computer-fast strategist all at the same time. That means something, dope or no dope.

    5. I wish to fucking fuck he’d have owned up to it when he first retired and we could all be over it now. It casts such a negative light on so many guys that are working their asses off to ride clean and still perform at the top of the sport. Casual fans assume everyone is still doping. Who cares if Wiggo is having the season of his life, he’s probably on drugs. What? A 42 year old Jens Voight just won an incredibly difficult mountain stage in Colorado? Who cares, he’s probably high as a kite. TeeJay and Sagan and Hejedal are incredible up-and-comers? So what, they’re all on steroids and EPO and what have you.

    That’s what people think when all we hear in the cycling and sports media is “Lance Lance Lance, dope dope dope.”

    His time is over. I tip my hat to an incredible rider, dope or no dope. I’m glad he’s shutting up. That’s good for the sport. Maybe he sees the damage he’s doing, and how much worse it would be to be proven a cheat when they finally find that one piece of evidence he and his team forgot existed.

    6. Yes. 100% yes that this was an insane witch hunt. The man was gone, the sport is cleaner every year, and they really did a lot of damage to everyone, both in reputation and financially, by keeping dope and Lance at the forefront of the sports media. Do we all believe Miguel Indurain did those things without any chemical assistance? Or that Bernard Hinault was really that much of a superhuman? Or, dare I say it, the God himself…Eddie Merckx? Let’s go back and take their victories away too.

    If I were second place at any of Lance’s wins and they tried to give me the jersey 12 years later, I’d tell ‘em to fuck off. 20 bucks says Jan Ullrich accepts them all.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    Jim, that was an awesome comment. I had not realized until I read the SI piece that his testosterone levels were way off but they didn’t have a B sample to confirm.

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  6. Seattle Outcast

    Some years back I read a little statistical analysis about Armstrong’s testicular cancer. Normally this is something that you don’t worry about getting because the odds are literally millions to one against it.

    However, if you start taking high doses of specific steroids that were the doper’s choice at the time he lost a nut, then the odds suddenly become only double-digit against. Throw in a few hundred doping cyclists and at least ONE of them was going to come down with cancer in his balls.

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  7. Section8

    I say he should be stripped of his titles, if it’s obvious he’s doping, which it seems to be to everyone. The argument is everyone else does it, that doesn’t work with me, especially in international competition where he’s representing the US. Do we really want to win and then have to use the argument everyone else does it? What happens when we bitch because someone else won that was doping or we think they were doping and we complain? Is it a legitimate complaint at that point or just the US whining because the competition doped up better, because as everyone knows we do it? There was a US swimming coach or head of the swimming doping control or whatever they call it complaining about a Chinese swimmer during the Olympics due to her unusual performance, saying it reminded him of the East German cheating setup. Now people can say when they see a cheater it reminds them of US dopers and cheaters. I don’t want that. Let everyone else be assholes if they want, but it shouldn’t be us. Win or no win, eventually this behavior exposes itself, and all the glory and pride goes to shit and you’re left with nothing but shame.

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  8. salinger

    The argument is everyone else does it, that doesn’t work with me,

    I admire this sentiment.

    I also wonder then – how does this work when a very great number of the comments and posts here are grounded in the – but the other does it too, or is worse argument. i.e. Akins turns into JFK was a rapist.

    If we don’t try to exhibit these standards in our daily discourse about things that may really matter do we have the right to expect a bunch of athletes playing games to live up to them?

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  9. Section8

    I also wonder then – how does this work when a very great number of the comments and posts here are grounded in the – but the other does it too, or is worse argument. i.e. Akins turns into JFK was a rapist.

    Really? So you are completely unaware of the discourse in the country oh how any criticism of the left is met with you guys did it too, or you to it too? Please do recall your history. Prior to the Messiah, anything Republican was stupid in every way, now the argument is well you guys did it or do it. Please do remember, it was the left that set some high standards of perfection that they have failed to live up to repeatedly. There is hypocrisy on both sides. Please be honest.

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  10. salinger

    There is hypocrisy on both sides.

    Of course there is I’m sick of hearing – but they did it too – from both sides.

    I was talking about comments and posts here though. There is no dishonesty with that – one cannot include every instance of an action with every observation. I think this is another area discourse breaks down. People can’t seem to focus on a single issue or instance anymore. Maybe it is a result of the bombardment of info from so many sources that has us too disjointed to actually look at a single instance of anything with a sharp focus.

    I find it funny how folks expect athletes to adhere to these high moral standards – as if making a living by playing a game – by being an entertainer somehow requires them to be beatific.

    I saw it here with the crocodile tears and hand wringing when LeBron lefty Cleveland. Shit – we raise our kids on traveling leagues – cart their asses across state lines to play soccer or softball – pay for extra coaching – just so they can play with the best team cobbled from a hundred mile radius – and then when they grow up and have no loyalty to school or city we are surprised?

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  11. Section8

    I find it funny how folks expect athletes to adhere to these high moral standards – as if making a living by playing a game – by being an entertainer somehow requires them to be beatific.

    I’m just asking them not to cheat in the competition. I don’t care what they do on their off time as long as it doesn’t involve setting themselves up to cheating in the competition. Just as I don’t think any employee or business person should be committing fraud, which this basically is.

    I do agree we idolize our celebrities and athletes too much. Who cares who is banging who, or who they hang out with, or any other of that stuff.

    As for conduct in politics, I don’t think that will change, and at this point in life I don’t expect much regarding dignity. It’s the bottom of the barrel for all standards. Always has been, likely always will. Sucks, but I don’t see that changing.

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  12. Iconoclast

    As some may recall from days of yore, I personally couldn’t give a bucket of spit about sports, but I am a bit curious: If Lance loses his titles because of doping, and if “everybody does it anyway”, then to whom should Lance’s titles go? Is there some lone non-doper out there who consistently came in 196th every year who should get them? Or do we go the Monty Python route and give them to the girl with the biggest tits?

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  13. Mississippi Yankee

    As of yesterday his integrity, reputation and honor was all that he had left, those are worth fighting for even if that fight was waged for the rest of his life. If he was clean he would stand up to the persecution and fight for his good name.

    Of course Lance doped.

    August 25, 2012
    The day the presumption of innocence died in America.

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