Friday, August 26, 2005
USA CYCLING: FRENCH TESTS "PREPOSTEROUS"
COMPLETELY WITHOUT CREDIBILITY. Quoting from Vertuno's article: "'Lance Armstrong is one of the most tested athletes in the history of sport and he has come up clean every single time,' Bisceglia said. 'This kind of years-ago testing of a single sample with new technology is completely without credibility. What's worse is that Lance cannot defend himself because there is no mechanism for final resolution,' he added. Although Armstrong has not said if he'll pursue legal action, Bisceglia said USA Cycling will support him in whatever way he chooses to 'denounce these accusations.'"
ON NEW ALLEGATIONS OF LANCE ARMSTRONG DOPING
SUCKER PUNCH. Since 1999, the French sports daily tabloid L'Equipe has reported and/or fomented every possible story from every non-credible source in its long-standing accusation that the unlikely American has used banned performance enhancing drugs to aid his wins in the Tour de France. Up to now, none of L'Equipe's negative innuendos or unfounded accusations have stuck on Armstrong. The day after Armstrong won the 2005 Tour de France, L'Equipe effectively said "good riddance." But it appears their resentment of an American champion in Paris hasn't died down. Working with a French lab to test 1999 urine samples for EPO, this latest shot is L'Equipe's swan song...or sucker punch.
BAD SCIENCE, QUESTIONABLE ETHICS? From what I am reading, both from Armstrong's rebuttals and from the main World Anti-Doping Authority's lab director, it appears that all kinds of confidential and ethical protocols have been breached, the possibility of tainted samples is relatively high, and the science used on the testing is in question. Even at that, the fact that only 6 of 17 urine samples Armstrong gave Tour officials in 1999 have apparently tested positive for a substance that takes 3-4 weeks to disappear from one's blood calls the testing science into question.
RESPONDING TO A WITCH HUNT. This is a witch hunt and a smear job, at best. Still, Armstrong, amid his strident denials of ever having used performance enhancing drugs and seven years of negative drug tests, is on the hot seat. If he wants to leave his reputation in the hands of those who desire to discredit him, he can do just as he is doing--counterattack the attackers and try to win a public opinion battle. If he does that, a question of credibility will likely always hang over his head for many people. He will be the American who won an unprecedented 7 consecutive Tours de France. But there will be an asterisk attached to his name (like that of Major League Baseball players who, despite denials, appear to have used steroids) unless he pursues the accusations legally and with utmost professionalism.
ONE MORE MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB. Armstrong may be in an unwinable quandary. Bad science may be justified in court. If samples were tainted, a detective may never prove it or trace down the culprits. Those who have breached ethical standards may never be discredited or reprimanded. At the end of a long court battle Armstrong may have spent much to gain little. But the fact that he is willing to climb this one last mountain, to go through this post-race time trial--that will count in the hearts and minds of many of us who have admired, supported, and cheered madly as he has competed and won on the open roads.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
AN EXTRAORDINARY AMERICAN
"NO REGRETS." "The fourth oldest Tour de France winner at 33 years and 10 months, Armstrong said in his final Tour de France press conference, 'It's nice to finish your career on a high note. As a sportsman, I wanted to go out on top. I have absolutely no regrets. I've had an unbelievable career. I've been blessed to ride 14 years as a professional...I've been blessed with financial rewards that I never thought would be possible. There's no reason to continue. I don't need more. It's time for a new face...(I have) no regrets.'"