Friday, August 24, 2012

Red Whines: It's Not About the Bike Anymore

Funny enough, I think he wrote a book with almost the same exact title several years ago...

Over the course of several years, biking legend Lance Armstrong has fought through many hardships in life. Famously, he had overcome cancer and began his Livestrong movement to raise money for cancer research following his bout with the illness.  Following his cancer battle, he had competed in numerous events and won many international biking titles, including seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Some people could say he is the most influential athlete in the world...until the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency comes along.

You may be familiar with this Agency. These are the guys that administer a drug test whenever there's an international event just to make sure that you don't decide to take a banned substance during that time period. Numerous athletes and cyclists during the 2000's had allegedly (keep this word in mind) stated that Armstrong had doped on several occasions. Many of the blood and urine samples that Armstrong had apparently given to officials were stored and later tested for additional performance-enhancing drugs. Finally, Armstrong was charged with drug trafficking (what?) and doping during 2009 and 2010. Because there has been so much of a fight between the USADA and Lance Armstrong, suspensions were handed down, banning Armstrong from competition in cycling and triathlons.

Following the numerous throwing out of lawsuits filed by Armstrong over the past year, he had decided to end his fight against the USADA while maintaining innocence on Thursday.
Their response:
Lance Armstrong will been banned from cycling for life. Also, his seven Tour de France titles will be stripped from him.

Although the USADA would have to state their case to the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Friday, this sentence is the most unprecedented sentencing in cycling history. 

Commence worldwide uproar.

It's understandable that there are allegations behind Lance Armstrong and how he was in such great physical form when he was. For example, it's incredible how he managed to win a Tour de France title in 1999 when he was declared in remission just a year prior to that. Sure, he was one of the best cyclists in the country before his cancer diagnosis after the 1996 Atlanta Games, but I guess there are just some Negative Nancy's out there that believe that his comeback was practically superhuman.

The USADA's response to Armstrong's ending of his court battle was treacherous. In Lance's case, he didn't stop fighting because he knew he was guilty and didn't want to fight a losing battle; he stopped fighting because it was incredibly one-sided (from what I've read) and nobody is willing to accept his claims or the lawsuits that he had filed in the past year.

"USADA reacted quickly and treated Armstrong's decision as an admission of guilt, hanging the label of drug cheat on an athlete who was a hero to thousands for overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer and for his foundation's support for cancer research." 

My thoughts exactly. It's truly as if they had eliminated the whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing and just added a "guilty until proven innocent, and you're not allowed to defend your case" because of the turmoil that he, his family, and everyone else around him was going through.

From the same article:
"Foundation chairman Jeffery C. Garvey issued a statement, saying, 'Faced with a biased process whose outcome seems predetermined, Lance chose to put his family and his foundation first. The leadership of the Lance Armstrong Foundation remain incredibly proud of our founder's achievements, both on and off the bike.'"

Of course, there are other people that state otherwise...

Kathy LeMond (wife of Greg LeMond, Tour winner 1986, 1989, 1990): "Finally."

Oh, and that's not cold of you to say. You were obviously there when he did something.

Apparently, the USADA had other evidence against Armstrong that would certainly bury him, but because of his decline to fight any longer, this evidence may not see the light of day until, of course, when the man dies or something like that. When you think about it, it's like the USADA was like, "OOH! OOH! Look at what we found," and they didn't want any outside rebuttal in fear that their evidence might be tarnished. However, if they do want to state their case with the UCI, some of this will have to be released.

There are probably people out there that would say that an innocent man would fight this case against the USADA to the grave. However, what Lance did might have been the right thing. In one case, arguing about false allegations would be interesting psychology in making an accused person seem more guilty. Bickering about something in such detail could actually cause more allegations to be made toward one's performance-enhancing measures. If he talks any more, things he would say could be greatly taken out of context and could still be used against him.
Secondly, this whole case could go over the course of several months to possibly a few years because not only would he be in the spotlight, but there could also be a chance that other cyclists and athletes could be thrown into the mix to either testify or be accused themselves. Because our court system likes to take forever with even the biggest of federal and international cases, he wouldn't want to put his family and friends through more painstaking turmoil.
Thirdly, he could possibly be accused for medical practices that were strictly used for cancer treatment over 15 years ago. Think about it: they're considering him guilty due to illegal doping by way of blood transfusion. The first thing that comes to mind is that even though he's in remission, some of the treatment he received is wrecking his body in the fitness aspect and he actually needs some of the treatment to remain healthy. I may not be a doctor, but why haven't the USADA talked to Armstrong's specialists?

From what I have seen, it seems like self-defense and any other form of fighting against a juggernaut of an agency takes away freedom. Lance fought the law, but I don't think the law will win the way they want to. This truly isn't about the bike anymore. It's about his family and his dignity.


(Referenced articles from: 1, 2)