Lance Armstrong is one step closer to being officially stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles now that the US Anti-Doping Agency has been officially allowed to proceed with its case. He’s decided to stop his fight because the process isn’t fair. Which is disturbingly true.
Since the earliest days of his first wins there have been allegations of cheating. Doping has been a huge problem in the sport and many cyclists that have been caught have admitted to it. But Lance has never been caught in all the dozens perhaps hundreds of tests over the years. Most of the evidence seems to be coming from other cyclists. These cyclists have agreed to testify against Lance saying he doped. But the alleged witnesses all seem to have been caught themselves. So in exchange for testimony they get to keep riding and get reduced punishments from the sport.
The allegations this time are coming from the US Anti-Doping Agency which is not a government agency but a non-profit that has some authority from Congress in the doping in sports area. The cycling sport’s governing body has pursued Armstrong over the years but no longer does, they will however consider the USADA’s recommendation to strip him of his titles. The US tried to pursue him criminally in a two-year investigation. But last year they stopped and charges were never filed. This means prosecuters didn’t think they could prove beyond reasonable doubt that Armstrong was guilty. Beyond reasonable doubt is a higher threshold than the USADA needs to make their accusations because their charges aren’t criminal, just a violation of the sport’s rules.
This became big news this week because Armstrong challenged in court whether or not the USADA could do what they are doing. The judge ruled in favor of the USADA however openly questioned their motives:
“”USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives,” such as politics or publicity, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.”
That’s been Armstrong’s case as well. He says it’s selective persecution and pursuent of a vendetta. Lance decided to stop fighting because the process is heavily weighted in favor of the USADA (being prosecuter, judge, and jury) and that body can only technically recommend he be stripped of his titles.
Even after all that here’s where I’m the most confused:
- Why is the USADA so relentlessly pursuing a guy who (if he cheated) never got caught and numerous governing bodies and REAL government agencies couldn’t prove?
- The agency claims to be cleaning up the sport of cycling. First of all, why would an AMERICAN agency be trying to clean up a sport that few people in the US care about? Second, if it still isn’t clean then focus those resources on cleaning it up on those currently in the sport. If it is clean, then I’m still confused.
- Even if Lance is stripped of his wins, who will actually get them. Nurmourous runner-ups to his wins have tested positive and been caught. Does it go to #3? #4? Will the USADA pursue them with as much vigor?
- AND FINALLY: YOU’RE PAYING FOR THIS INDEPENDENT AGENCY TO PURSUE ARMSTRONG. Your tax dollars provide as much as 2/3 of the budget for this agency through a federal grant. That’s right, all this mess is funded by us. We’re paying an organization to persecute SPORTS! Should we also have the FCC or some ”independing governing body that doesn’t have the same burden of proof as an actual prosecutor” investigate Jon Stewart? Because that man has clearly said on many occassions on his own show that he loves pot. So have the Family Guy team. Cut that from the budget now. If a sport can’t or won’t support its own anti-doping measures without government help, then f*ck that sport. This is the single most bothersom thing about this. Not that a sports god may have cheated. But that our tax-payer money has been paying to pursue whether someone cheated at a game!
I don’t care if Lance cheated. If he did, he beat other cheaters in a sport where it was rampant. Put an astrisk on the season(s) because it will be impossible to find the best cyclist that didn’t cheat. At this point in the man’s career whether he’s stripped of his titles or not won’t matter much. Armstrong has his defenders and they likely number in the millions; Armstrong has put a great deal of effort into building a credible story where he was sold out by other cyclists trying to save their careers. And there’s that little matter of him still being a hero to pretty much everyone in the cancer community. Good luck stripping that.