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September 9, 2012 3:44 pm

Lance Armstrong: Is He Guilty? And the Lesson We Can Learn

avatar by Yossi Goldstein

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Cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. Photo: wiki commons.

Retribution and Tragedy are words that often coincide.

As defined by thinkers, “tragedy” represents an exalted person’s fall from grace; “retribution” often is the reason for it.

The story of Lance Armstrong, too, may very well fit into this category.

His many professional racing feats, mostly came after his near-death battle with testicular cancer at the young age of 25, Lance gained notoriety and celebrity status as his professional cycling victories began to pile up. His rise to the top of the cycling world was completed after his unthinkable seventh victory in the Tour de France, cycling’s premier race.

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His aptitude during the most grueling portions of The Tour gave way to the moniker, “Tour de Lance.”

However, rubbing shoulders with everyone from former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to former NY Yankees manager Joe Torre, didn’t preclude Lance from constantly being harassed; having his victories, as they amounted, called into question.

From as far back as I heard the name “Lance Armstrong” – 1998 to be exact – I remember hearing whispering that Lance was tainted.

Possibly this was due to Lance’s sheer talent and work ethic which drove his teammates and competitors alike to jealousy. Or, perhaps, it was Lance’s brash Texan style that upset verbally-fragile souls who figured they could now take revenge on him by selling boats regarding his ‘doping.’

Either way, many believe what the United States Anti-Doping Agency did in the latter years of Armstrong’s career was nothing short of a witch hunt.

Having a big name, celebrity-status cyclist who didn’t get along with many to be the ‘fall guy’ in the USADA’s bid for stardom; I could certainly buy into that plausibility.

If you don’t believe me, try this out for a conspiracy theory.

The French Cycling Federation recently came out with these quotes on Lance’s Lot: “We welcome the perseverance of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency,” a statement from the FCF read. The remarks also included a proclamation that, “Armstrong’s refusal to contest USADA’s accusations sounds like an admission of his guilt.”

You need not be a rocket scientist to recall that the French, as a whole, were never really fond of Armstrong, or pleased to see ‘their race’ being constantly won by the same brash American, who couldn’t care for the ‘French way’.

There’s an old teaching to never judge someone’s actions – in this case, non-actions – until you are in his or her shoes.

Let’s try for a moment, and pretend we’re Lance Armstrong, winner of seven Tour’s, and the athlete being constantly accused of doping for what feels like since the beginning of time.

Remember, Armstrong has never failed a drug test in his life.

Nonetheless, the USADA says it has proof that Lance used performance-enhancing drugs during his wins to aid his victories.

If this is indeed true, it then is a sad day everywhere for children who look for heroes; adults who seek inspiration.

In my mind, a cheater must face the music if he or she tries to circumvent the natural order of things.

If Armstrong wanted everyone the world over to think he was actually victorious through his sweat, toil, and perseverance, yet, cheated his way through it all, I agree with stripping him of his titles and banning him from cycling for life.

What I cannot understand is if there is indeed proof to Lance’s illegitimate accomplishment pudding, then why hasn’t the USADA shown it.

The USADA this past week came out saying it will expound on its findings in the coming months.

Again, why wait. Do it now.
If, however, there isn’t any evidence to the alleged doping, shame then on the USADA for trying to blaspheme and blacken the living legend and hero to people around the world who suffer from life-threatening disease and look up to Armstrong for inspiration, and the power to live for a better tomorrow.

Nonetheless, no matter how this saga will end, there are lessons we can derive from the trial and tribulations of Armstrong.

In a word, it’s Karma.

Always be respectful, pleasant, and nice to those around you because you don’t want your brash and brazenness to come back to bite you where and when it most counts.

However it goes a bit deeper than just being mindful of your words and actions.

We find ourselves in a time near the Jewish High Holidays, where repentance for our misdeeds is encouraged. If Lance did indeed dope, he still has time to admit his guilt, and he likely will still find favor in the eyes of his many adoring fans.

Hey, they might say, he did something he shouldn’t have done. We all make mistakes.

The same applies to each of us, if we feel in our heart of hearts that we did something wrong in our own lives, it’s now high-time to admit guilt and mend our past ways for a better and brighter future.

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  • I listened to the interview with Lance Armstrong’s former teammate Tyler Hamilton on “BBC Hardtalk”. As he puts it, there was an endemic culture of testerone-derivatives in the culture of competive cycling for at least 12 years including the major events such as the Toure De France.
    It was encouraged by the coaches and team-physicians.
    As he puts it during that period one couldn’t even stay in the Pelathon without performance-enhancers.
    Sounds like a level playing-field to me.
    So why single out one cyclist when, according to Hamilton, Armstrong remains the greatest athlete he knows ?
    Where the repentent cyclist crosses the line (after admitting to lying for 15 years) is by making Lance the fall guy. Its one thing to expose oneself and point at the industry of competitive cycling…..

    • Sav

      Armstrong allegedly doped, encouraged others to dope, trafficked in doping products, distributed doping products, and lead a massive cover-up. That’s no fall guy, that’s a mafia don.

      If you read Hamilton’s book, or admitted doper Jonathan Vaughter’s recent interview in Bicycling Magazine, you’d see that the notion of any level playing field is a myth.

  • Ira

    Who cares? If he cheated, everyone cheated. But he still won. Hence he’s still the best man. You try doping and race 150 miles in the mountains. Won’t make a bit of difference. He won, and won over and over again. As long as he didn’t bribe anyone to win he won fair and square. People hate winners, especially American winners. And I hate whiners. Go get a bike and race.

  • Yossi, Its too bad you got this assignment and didn’t inform yourself about the facts. Firstly, it won’t be months before the USADA gives information, but before Sept 19th is the date the USADA will provide its reasoning to the UCI. So many doubters will be eating their hats !

    Lance not only doped, was caught doping several times (posthumously as later tests found earlier doping) and as recently as 2009 and 2010. But team-mates who rode “for” and with him and remember team leaders are the “boss” testified that he insisted on their doping to be able to clear the path for him in Races.

    Also important to note, that some testimony comes from non riders, and riders without an axe to grind and no convictions.

    Tests were not performed between 10pm ad 7am according with french law, and if you doped at 10pm the epo would be unidentifiable by 7am. Hemocrit levels had to be below 50 so everyone goes 49. Its not normal, and it continues today in sports

  • LOL ot Yossi Goldstein. Another delusional American who refuses to accept “overwhelming evidence” of a doping conspiracy by their hero, Lance Armstrong. When Lance refused to go to arbitration, it was an admission of the guilt because his lawyers new that the evidence was overwhelming. Wake up and get yourself a strong coffee.

  • Brian

    Yossi, you’re not going to enjoy reading Tyler Hamilton’s book, I think…

  • joe

    Cheated? Cheated who. Perhaps “Nike” who had made millions of dollars off of his endeavors, or perhaps the media who had everyone on the edge of their seats watching the Tour, then reaped the benefits of companies lining up to advertise with them. No, maybe it was Joe citizen who ulitimately paid both of these by purchasing products although for Lances reign he inspires a nation to be active, healthy and fit. I’m not saying he doped or did’nt as we don’t know, but we do know that if we strip him of his wins, almost everyone who finished 2nd to him in those Tour’s did dope. We’re going to give his wins to them…Come on…

  • Sara M

    The “proof” in any criminal case is the sum of the evidence. The “proof” in any civil case is the sum of the evidence, just to a lower evidenciary threshold (preponderance of the evidence rather than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt). Why should it be any different in a sport doping case? It is, after all, just sport! No one is going to jail in this country because they doped. What is the “proof” that Jerry Sandusky was raping kids? A bunch of people claiming he did! And he’s in jail for the rest of his life, without a shred of physical evidence. There is overwhelming evidence of LA’s doping, including many witnesses who never said a word against him until they were faced with a subpoena. So they’re the ‘bad guys’ because they refused to perjure themselves on his behalf?

    It is also known to be false that he “never failed a drug test.” He tested positive in the ’99 TdF and it was covered up. That’s part of the evidence that forms the “proof.” Anyone familiar with the rules of sport knows that what was done was against the rules, aka a coverup. Sports federations do this stuff all the time, that is WHY USADA et al. were created in the first place! This is exactly what they are supposed to be doing.

    • Laszlo

      you make statements about proof but have no proof to back those statements up. ironic isn t it ?

  • ben j

    Yet another naive and uninformed and biased arricle about the real Lance Armstrong. You are correct, however, that karma is a major player here. Had Lance not ruimed/attempted to ruim anyone that dare out his great facade, i most certainly agree he would be left alone to keep his 7 yellows and keep furrhering Livestrongs’ goals. But hes a vengeful, deceiptful prick and is now gerting what he deserves.

    • Laszlo

      you sound like a pretty vengeful prick- livestrong does help those with cancer- what do you do ?

      • Lornce Kahn

        Laszlo

        It can be seen in your writings that you believe strongly in Lance Armstrong…. his transgressions should give you pause. False idols and gods have brought terrible and atrocious events to our world, and continue to do so. Please pray for him as he is in his darkest hours, that he should walk with God and cleanse his soul.

  • Lornce Khan

    Yossi,

    While it is true one should not judge, one should also recongnize a soul in despair and denial. Assuredly this is the case as many have first hand knowledge of the choice that were made, and the subsequent actions to defend and deny. Also, he has failed several drug tests. Pray for the souls he has destroyed, rather than allowing himself to be seen as he truly is.

  • Laszlo

    And if he is indeed innocent; and he has never doped, not unlike those convicted, sent to the gallows and afterwards exonerated due to new evidence or such, what will the authorities say then ? oops ? Who can convict without evidence ? Innocent until PROVEN guilty. Wheres the proof ?

    • paul j

      was marion jones PROVEN you absolute tool!
      where do you get 500 tests from? LA u idoit
      even the author got this right
      A CHEATER MUST FACE THE MUSIC

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