Lance Armstrong: Victim of Anti-doping Turf War?
Folks, I’m unhappy that seven-time Tour de France winner and noted cyclist Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his titles by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA for short). There are many stories about this right now; here’s one about a federal judge tossing Lance Armstrong’s suit against the USADA, and here’s another regarding what the USADA did after the lawsuit was tossed.
In addition, the USADA has banned Armstrong, who is a retired American cyclist, for life from all cycling events under its jurisdiction.
However, there’s a bit of a turf war going on. The International Cycling Union says that it’s the organization that has jurisdiction, not the USADA. And the ICU wants to know why, exactly, Armstrong should give up his seven Tour de France titles; apparently the USADA has not made its case to them.
My take on this is simple: Armstrong may well have used blood transfusions, but he was and is a cancer survivor. This may have been a part of his treatment; if so, the USADA should’ve left this alone. As for the whole notion of Armstrong using EPO, a banned substance, I think it’s been sixteen years since Armstrong first won a title. He’s a retired competitor. The USADA should’ve left this alone, too.
See, right now, sports seems to want to tear down its heroes. Whether it’s Ryan Braun in baseball or Lance Armstrong in cycling, the various anti-doping agencies seem to be on a crusade. This isn’t necessary. Worse yet, it causes immense damage that is incredibly hard to fight, even if you’ve made millions upon millions of dollars like Armstrong, had an exceptionally good and lengthy career like Armstrong, and even if you’re able to hire the best lawyers possible.
This is why Armstrong ended up ending his fight against the USADA — it’s incredibly difficult to prove that you are innocent, especially sixteen years after the fact. Then when you add in the fact that the ICU doesn’t believe the USADA has the proper jurisdiction anyway, it’s obvious why Armstrong decided to end his fight.
To me, the fact that Armstrong has stopped arguing with the USADA does not prove that he used banned substances. All it proves is that the USADA is on a witch hunt. And by besmirching Armstrong and his legacy, it apparently feels like it’s doing the right thing — even though 99 out of 100 people would’ve told the USADA to back off years ago, especially considering the fact that Armstrong is a symbol to millions and that Armstrong has retired from competitive cycling.
This is what should be at the bottom of every serious story about Armstrong — the fact that there’s an anti-doping turf war going on — yet because this fact hasn’t been brought up nearly as much as it should, we’re getting all sorts of stories on the Internet about how Armstrong’s legacy has been completely ruined.
Once again — the only ruination that’s occurred here is to those fanatics at the USADA, who really should’ve butted out of this one. Even if they’re right about what Armstrong did (something I find very hard to believe), they’re wrong about how they did it. And that wrongness is something that needs to end, here and now, before it ends up hurting another competitor who has far less money, energy, or time to fight than Armstrong did — ’cause as bad as these things are for Armstrong, at least he did fight and that shows that he believes himself to be innocent.
All the hand-wringing from well-known sports columnists aside, the fact of the matter is that the ICU thus far has refused to strip Armstrong of his titles just because the USADA threw what amounts to a huge hissy fit. People need to know this and realize that the way the media has slanted this story has got to end. (In other words, the narrative framing here is biased against Armstrong and is prejudiced instead in favor of the USADA.)
And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m far more concerned with what a sports star does on the field — or on the track, as in the case of Armstrong — than whatever little turf war the USADA wants to win at the moment. (Aren’t you?)