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Lance analysis.

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The last few months have been pleasantly doping-news-free since Contador got sentenced and frankly I was quite enjoying watching the sport on TV in an innocent way. It's a way to which I am not accustomed but it was fun nevertheless, it was a simpler, better time...

Anyway, thats all gone for now and whether we like it or not doping (and Lance Armstrong) are going to be in the news again for a good long while. There is no choice about it, it's all happening again.

Those that haven't heard yet Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel (his DS), three doctors (one of them the infamous Dr. Ferrari) and some other guy have all been accused by the US anti-doping agency of some pretty heinous crimes against cycling, it's all here in this letter:

There are loads more articles about it if you care to look.

There seems to be no subject more divisive in cycling than Lance Armstrong. The way I see it we split ourselves roughly into 3 camps: those that believe he never doped (1), those that believe he doped but shouldn't be punished(2) and those who believe he doped and should be punished(3).

Firstly I should say that I can no longer deal with people in group one, I'm sorry but it's like talking to creationists, it blows my mind and I just can't deal with it anymore - so I'm just not going to talk about it. I'm sorry, it's a failing in me. Like creationists they seem to all be in America anyway, so I doubt they'll read this blog. This just leaves the rational people in group two or three, In fact from the sound of Lance Armstrong's very own defence these days he is verging on being in the second group himself.

The argument for all of this USADA hoopla going away is a compelling one:
  • It was a long time ago.
  • Everyone else was doing it.
  • "It's a waste of taxpayer's money".
  • "It's a witch-hunt".
  • He passed 500 tests.
  • His punishment would drag the sport down (again).
  • His cancer story is inspirational and his charity is worthwhile.
  • He is no longer involved in cycling anyway.

Despite many of these points being true and quite compelling I am still in group three, LA needs to be punished for his misdemeanours. Let me give you a disgusting analogy, the sport of cycling is constipated with Lance Armstrong's secrets - and we all know that these sorts of things are far better out than in, and the sooner the better. Every few years the truth tries and tries to come out but it never does, and so we are just left here, sitting on the bog and wanting to get up and on with our lives. Even though Lance no longer dabbles in pro cycling he is still a role model to many, he is proof to green starry eyed amateurs that you can dope to win and never get caught. His legacy perpetuates the culture of doping in professional cycling, he is the head of the snake (or turtle, *snigger*). Forget the poo analogy, here's a better one about unexploded bombs:

The thing is we have no choice as to whether Armstrong get's punished or not, all I do know is that until he is punished his legacy will hang over the sport, causing sponsors to get nervous and quit every few years. It's an endless cycle that prevents growth, he is too big to just quietly go away like Ullrich and the others. Cycling weathers doping storms all the time, it's used to it like how some people are used to a persistent cold. Everyone is scared of him being punished because obviously it will make sponsors quit, the sport will shrink and no one will trust it anymore - again. The difference being this time that once it is done it is done, the spectre will be gone and he won't be punished again, the sport will finally have a chance to truly recover and start all over again. LA can recover too, he can do a teary eyed confession on Oprah, we'll respect him again and we can all get on with our lives. Unless all of this happens we'll just remain in an endless constipated cycle whilst more and more of us slowly and inevitably transfer from group one to group two to group three.

Look how quick and relatively painless admission was for Bjaarne Riis (and Jimmy Carr, in record time). For what it's worth I don't think LA would have his tours taken away from him, they would just have an asterisk next to the result like with Bjaarne's. Indeed there should probably be an asterisk against most of the top 10s of the last 20 years.

As for Lance's cancer story and charity being more important than the well-being of the sport of cycling, well, there are other cancer charities and there are other inspiring stories. This isn't cancer vs cycling. His legacy is impressive nonetheless, drugs included, people will get over it.

Armstrong and his five associates are being pursued because they were involved with the mechanics of doping, the management. He is being singled out by twitter and the press (and me) because he is the famous one of the 6. Pro cycling remains rotten to the core with anonymous doping doctors and management with a doping past. The sport can't make steps forward until it has taken a few steps back, they all need to go so that we can start again. It'll be tough but it'll be worth it. One final (diaphramatic) push and we can make it.

Although saying that Armstrong's PR campaign against the USADA is so effective and crushing it is likely that even if he is banned he will manage to convince many that it doesn't really mean anything.

Here are two personal articles from former fans who have steadily moved from group one to two to three:


That's hopefully the last long piece I'll write about Lance. I'm becoming bored and tired of him.

Updated 29-06-2012 at 08:50 PM by David Mclean

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