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.