Wednesday, October 10, 2012

USADA's Reasoned Decision Against Lance Armstrong

So it appears as though the house of cards is collapsing.

Download the full ~200 page .pdf document here...

I've written some about doping in the past on my blog (here, here, here, and here) but have stayed away from it as a topic for quite a while now as it is a very polarizing topic due to the names associated with the various scandals. While I may have come down on the wrong side a time or two with certain riders; the fact still remains that cheating is cheating whomever you are, whatever you have been through, and whatever you have accomplished.

In the scope of many of the drugs, methods, and masking agents; the side effects are often quite harmful to your health. (Let's just toss this out on the table for consideration now: One of the potential results of EPO use is Testicular Cancer...)

While I love and enjoy the spectacle of the sports encompassed under the umbrella of professional cycling; for the sake of the riders' health and the legacy they leave to the young aspiring cyclists following in their footsteps, I am a major advocate of clean competition.

I'll be honest - the tours of the 1990's and into the early 2000's; before WADA took over the anti-doping effort in pro cycling, were some of the most entertaining and dramatic stage races we may have ever seen. I own the 12-hour DVD set of Lance's 2003 Tour victory and it sees heavy rotation for the spectacle. But, most all of those racers have confessed and/or served suspensions already. While Lance and his contemporaries are not the only guilty parties, it seems as though the final domino is falling.

Cheating is rampant in other sports. "Pushing the limits" and "interpreting the terms" of what is legal is part of the game in Formula 1 racing and let's not fool ourselves about NFL football. I lived in an NFL town and had clients who were players - some of that just isn't natural.

Will cycling weather this storm? Did Major League Baseball survive Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Roger Clemens? It was on life support there for a while; but many would say it's back now. We all enjoyed the drama of Barry and Mark's drive to the home run record; sure - just as much as we liked watching Lance and Jan duke it out in the Alps and Pyrenees. But part of the appeal and attraction for many of us to cycling is the thought that what the athletes are doing is not that far removed from what I could do on any given Saturday and that I can relate a little to their pain, agony, accomplishment, and exhilaration. I think we'll make it.

As for my feelings toward cancer survivors' support and admiration for Lance and the LIVESTRONG organization? Lance could not have come back to pro cycling after cancer without being an exceptional athlete - doping or not. His accomplishment in returning to the elite levels of an endurance sport is significant and inspiring whether his victories have an asterisk or are removed entirely.

Wherever you fall on the topic; my advice is this: nothing clears the head, soothes frustration, or puts things back in perspective like a good bike ride. So go get your bike and get out there! This won't change how you feel when you ride your bike.

Have a great ride!

What do you think? Do you have more appetite for my writing about doping or shall I leave it alone? How do you feel about the athletes? Leave a comment.

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