Much like the motto of the Canadian Mounties, the United States Anti-Doping Agency can claim they have finally “got their man.”
Yippee. The world is now a better place. Or is it?
When I walked into the office today, everyone was interested in my views on Armstrong’s decision not to pursue arbitration in the USADA’s case against him. Apparently, since I have been known to ride a bicycle with some regularity, I am supposed to opine on these things to the general populace, most of whom cannot name a cyclist without the last name of Armstrong. I told them to read my blog, specifically the February post where I discussed this issue at length.
For those who have not bookmarked that tour-de-force blog entry, you can reach it here. My opinion on doping in cycling really hasn’t changed. Performance enhancing drugs have been a part of cycling almost since its inception and stories of doping in cycling go back to the 19th Century – that’s right, the NINETEENTH Century. Every few months, we are treated to another positive test result. This year was no different, with Tour de France contender Frank Schleck bowing out after a positive test. Fun Fact: Frank’s brother, Andy, was awarded the 2010 Tour de France victory after that year’s winner, Alberto Contador, had his title stripped in yet another doping scandal.
But while all of these riders were big fish, Armstrong was the Moby Dick of cyclists. And the people who sought to investigate him played the role of Captain Ahab to perfection. Seven years after his last TdF victory and three years after he retired, they landed their whale. And just as Captain Ahab is hardly a sympathetic figure, neither is USADA, WADA, the TdF, or the others who relentlessly pursued Armstrong over the years, long after the alleged offenses and quite possibly beyond the statute of limitations for some of the titles he earned.
At the end of the day, one is not left with a sense of justice being done, nor of a man being wrongfully accused. After sifting through the questionable tactics employed by the investigators, the sullied backgrounds of the cyclists testifying against Armstrong, the incredible amount of effort/time/money used to build a case against a man no longer competing, and looking at the man himself, who clearly has a mountain of evidence against him (none of it of the smoking gun variety, I’ll grant you), it is hard to find a hero here. All you really feel is the sudden need to take a shower.
Will this really change anything? I think not. The chemists will continue to be one step ahead of the testers. Such is the nature of PED testing. Those who love Armstrong will continue to love him. His charity work will continue unabated. Those who do not care for him will continue to not care for him, but I suspect Armstrong rarely travels in their circles these days. As the saying goes, the dogs will bark and the circus will move on.
There are three days until the Reston Century when my wife and I will tackle the 34 mile route. I think there’s time for one more blood transfusion before we need to cycle off before the testing on race day.