I’ve been fascinated by cyclist Lance Armstrong for the last nine years. As I stated in the interview for my Normblog profile: ‘I read the memoir of cancer-beating cyclist Lance Armstrong, called It’s Not About The Bike, when I had lost my way a bit in life. When I look back at the wonderful things that have happened to me – both personally and professionally – in the years since, I can trace a lot of them back to that book.’
I’m fairly sure, for instance I’d never have run two marathons had I not been aware of Lance’s story. Beating cancer, winning the Tour de France seven times and raising fortunes for his cancer charity: he’s an inspiration to all, not least millions of cancer sufferers.
Allegations of doping have followed him for years. He has always fiercely denied them. Some of his millions of fans had their faith shaken yesterday, when he announced he would not contest charges from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He explained that he is tired of fighting the allegations, but on the face of it, this seemed a damning development. Why would someone, particularly a born fighter like Lance, decide not to fight to the bitter end if they are innocent?
The answer can perhaps be found in the spectacular corruption of the USADA, whose notorious CEO Travis Tygart has an obsessive vendetta against Lance, to the extent that he has offered immunity to real dopers in exchange for them providing anonymous allegations against Lance.
Tim Dockery summed-up the hearing that Lance would have faced at the USADA here: Imagine walking into a courtroom as the defendant in a lawsuit. The prosecuting attorney reads the charges against you citing nothing more than the testimony of anonymous witnesses as evidence. You object, claiming this is unjust! To your surprise the prosecutor walks to the judge’s bench, puts on a judge’s robe and denies your motion. The prosecutor, still wearing his judge’s robe, then takes out his cell phone and calls three of his friends to serve on your “independent” jury.
Sally Jenkins, who knows Lance well having ghosted his inspirational book, shines further light on the corruption of the authorities who have accused Lance, demonstrating how similar charges have been made in the past in the name of “big-game hunting, not justice… careerist investigators trying to put athletes’ antlers on their walls”.
So what, if not the drugs, might have given him such an edge in a competition that is undoubtedly blighted by cheats and dopers? Cancer is part of the answer. What better motivation to win, what better way to develop the confidence to consistently get the edge on your rivals, than the knowledge that you’ve beaten cancer? There is also the fact that Lance has always been a genetic freak. When he was a teenager he was examined by physicians who found that, to put it in layman’s terms, oxygen moves from Lance’s mouth to his legs at an extraordinarily fast pace.
Lance continues to deny doping and the simple fact is that he has passed every single one of the 500+ drug tests that have been conducted on him. Meanwhile, the corruption of the organisation accusing him and the unjust hearing it had in store for Lance speak for themselves. No wonder he did not want to enter such a kangaroo court. I wouldn’t either.
So, after giving it much thought over the past 24 hours, I still believe in Lance.
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