Sally Jenkins, I have lost all faith in you. This one is a little better: No we don’t know whether Lance is guilty or not and it is mildly curious why he never failed a drug test but is now being declared a violator.
I suspect there is rationality behind that, namely that individual tests do not constitute the whole of the evidence. Further, even more logical, drug testing and performance enhancing drugs is a new and dynamic field and it makes sense that testing procedures would improve. I confess that I don’t know all the facts of the USADA investigation–I don’t believe they have been made public–but there seems no reason to believe this was a witch hunt or an act of personal vengeance. Sometimes justice must work this way: go after the big guys and hope others will follow.
I do remember good things about Lance Armstrong. His career definitely helped promote cycling in the U.S., and for me it led to following the Tour de France and learning about the sport. I became especially fond of watching on television–I liked the pace, the scenery, and the opportunity for storytelling relating to the race and racers. I particularly like the cycling announcers Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin and I believe they are linked to the sport and responsible for the great telecasts.
No, I don’t know and this is not libel it is just my opinion. Here’s what I think. Lance Armstrong is a smart guy and a good manager. He is/was a gifted athlete and that meant he could earn a spot in the filed. He was absolutely involved in every single effort to gain every second, from bicycles to gear to clothing, plus training, team management, and everything else that went into the overall effort. Vitamins, medication, and yes, performance enhancers, are/were part of this regimen; in this ultra-grueling sport the were a part of the culture. They were the norm. One of the many challenges of being a champion was finding a way to do it better.
And I believe that is what Lance Armstrong did. He managed very, very effectively to do it better (seven straight wins), and how to not cross the line and get caught. Now, overall, the preponderance of the evidence is that he was guilty.
Now, back to the sport… Cycling had a huge, a massive problem. It was something that had the potential to kill the competitive side of the sport completely. The only solution was to make every conceivable effort to stop the doping. Survival depended on it. It had to be innovative, persistent, and fearless. And no one could be beyond its reach.