Lance Armstrong said bye today. No farewell ride, no more Vollebak, no more tight Texan jaw uncoiling into a grin as he crossed the finish line. Lance Armstrong did something today I’ve never seen him do in his entire career.
He gave up.
He was hounded out of a sport he dominated like no other. I don’t know if Armstrong doped but I’d have liked to see him given a fair chance to defend himself. As it was, the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) dredged up a probe that US federal prosecutors had shelved in Feb 2012 after a two-year investigation into alleged doping by Armstrong and his former teammates. The crux of the USADA’s argument was that many of Armstrong’s former teammates and associates had fingered him and so he must have doped.
He never failed a drug test, but has been persecuted by a vindictive and biased USADA driven by its hawk-like CEO Travis Tygart. ( A 1999 urine sample showed traces of corticosteroid in an amount that was not in the positive range. A medical certificate showed he used an approved cream for saddle sores which contained the substance*.)
After a US federal court had ruled against him on Aug 20 in a case challenging USADA’s jurisdiction to press doping charges against him, Armstrong had two choices: accept the sanctions imposed by the USADA or go for an arbitration, in which many of his former teammates could potentially have sang on him publicly.
“If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance,” Armstrong said in his statement today.
Armstrong alleges other riders have been offered “corrupt inducements” by USADA. Maybe, maybe not. But the real shame is, we’ll never know the truth.
Is Armstrong’s cop out an admission of guilt? If some of Travis Tygart’s former colleagues allege that he killed the Ethiopian Prime Minister, who died recently, but there is no real evidence to prove it, does it mean he really did it? If Tygart says he won’t contest a guilty verdict because the case was being handled by an agency bent on crucifying him, does it mean he’s afraid of the truth?
I don’t know if Armstrong doped. But I’d have liked to.
*Source: Wikipedia, which quoted: http://velonews.competitor.com/2005/08/tour-de-france/lequipe-alleges-armstrong-samples-show-epo-use-in-99-tour_8740