Lance Armstrong’s defence team have found themselves in another challenging position following the release of a chillingly detailed report of the alleged doping that was the backbone of Armstrong’s now dubiously successful cycling career. The USDA issued the report which conclusively pinpoints Armstrong as the leader of the pack on and off the roads, enforcing a systematic doping programme during his time with the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams during the 1990s and 2000s.
This isn’t the first occasion Armstrong’s name has featured on the doping scene, the last decade has been peppered with investigations and accusations amid a sport that has seen six out of the nine Tour De France winners since 1996 implicated in drug scandals, resulting in bans spanning from two years to life, an embarrassing association with a sport that may never shed its warranted reputation for being governed by drugs.
…overcome testicular cancer…
The fall of a champion is always food for the naysayers, especially one who has overcome testicular cancer in his ride to the top, and a win for the pessimists is never a satiating one. But if there is a defence for seven time champion Armstrong, cancer isn’t it, and those he inspired on false pretences are naïve in dismissing the claims based on some karmic levelling.
Armstrong’s defence weakened considerably when he chose not to fight the charges being brought against him by the USDA back in August, following the dismissal of a lawsuit filed in the federal courts from his defence team to block the agency’s proposed penalties. The result of this meant a lifetime ban from the sport which has been nothing but his life until now and the stripping of all seven of his Tour de France titles – an undoubtedly heart wrenching outcome for a man proclaiming innocence. But the resignation in which Armstrong has accepted the report speaks volumes and it finally appears that, as is usually the case with drug cheats, he can’t outride the inevitability of being caught.
…a watertight case…
And while we’ve been well informed of what this report contains, including the testimony of 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates on the US Postal Service team, we’ve barely, and quite understandably, heard boo from Armstrong and his defence team who are merely calling it a “hatchet job”. Sounds like the defence needs a bit more time, which won’t make the slightest difference in what appears to be a watertight case being brought against Armstrong, as we can safely assume by the comprehensive investigation, solid witness testimony and the embarrassing repercussions of falsely accusing the king of cycling.
As we all let out a collectively exhaustive sigh in the face of another drug scandal, it is still a raw and saddening, but not remotely surprising, disappointment from Armstrong, a man whose inspiration reached millions, and his army of enablers who willingly and methodically stole championships from not just more worthy athletes, but ultimately more worthy men.