Armstrong's fall from grace
Grahan Dunbar summarised the views of many this morning with this directly worded piece:
Forget the seven Tour de France victories. Forget the yellow jersey celebrations on the Champs Elysees. Forget the name that dominated the sport of cycling for so many years. As far as cycling's governing body is concerned, Lance Armstrong never existed. Once considered the greatest rider in Tour history, the American was cast out on Monday by his own sport, formally stripped of his seven titles and banned for life for his involvement in a massive doping programme that tainted all of cycling and his own reputation. "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," said Pat McQuaid, the president of cycling's governing body. "This is a landmark day for cycling."
Initially, I sidled with those who were slow to condemn Lance Armstrong, primarily because no direct evidence (a positive drugs test) had ever been reported. Other drugs cheats had either been caught red-handed (blooded!) with a positive test, or admitted their guilt. Not Armstrong. Either he was clean throughout, or dirty but one step ahead of the testers. I wanted to give the man the benefit of the doubt. However, on the weight of much evidence, including many affidavits from teammates who broke the code (of silence), USADA and UCI have determined Armstrong cheated. I too am now convinced. Irrespective of the politics and personal motivations (and payments?) to speak out, the circumstantial evidence provided is compelling. Armstrong cheated. Now he must face the consequences.
But tomorrow will dawn a new day. We must move on. My hope and prayer is that professional cyclists, their minders and the sport's administrators learn from this sorry case. There is no room in any sport for cheats. Man has much to gain from competing, but only when the competition is clean and fair.
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