The Lance Armstrong discussion has blown up on the OBRA email list. Fellow Muddy Iguana Chris Cortez shot me a thoughtful email about it, and I thought I’d paste in my reply here. You know, for posterity…
I am of two minds about it.
1: Assuming that the USADA has testimony from a number of riders with direct knowledge that he doped? That testimony overrides the blood and urine tests because they haven’t figured out how to use blood and urine tests for that manner of performance enhancing drugs or methods. Lance says he’s the most tested athlete on the planet, and if the USADA’s own tests don’t clear him, then what’s the point.
I think that’s a pretty thin argument.
The lack of a positive blood or urine test doesn’t mean it’s not cheating (unless there’s some crazy UCI rule that says a physiological test is the ONLY way to catch someone, and NOTHING WOULD SURPRISE ME LESS…).
I think it’s a good thing that the USADA is coming down so hard on Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel because they’re trying to not stop only the doping, but the omerta that protects it. USADA is changing the culture.
2: On the other hand, that list that Brett Luelling created (it shows how the top 5 racers in the Tour have all been involved in doping scandals) shows the farce that is stripping Lance of the titles. I mean, someone has to win, right? Did those races not exist? How far down the list of finishers do we go before we know someone didn’t cheat? And what’s the point of giving the title to them 10 years later? Do they get the prize money with interest? Can they sue ASO, UCI and Lance and Jan and Ivan for potential income lost?
Bob Costas (of all people) had a really good point talking* about the PEDs in baseball, and whether or not the home run records of McGwire and Bonds should stand. Whether the pitching records of Clemens should stand. And his point is that you put a foreword in the record book that says, “In the ’70s it was greenies. In the ’80s it was coke. In the ’90s and ’00s, it was testosterone, steroids, and human growth hormones. Was everyone doing it? Were some people doing it? Yes and yes. Baseball can never know with 100% certainty who used illegal methods to gain an advantage in the past, but it is trying to root it out in the future.”
There is a concept in psychology that means the intensity of the crime should match the intensity of the punishment. The side of me that’s all, “WHATEVER” annoys the hell out of the other side of me that feels the USADA needs to dig down and pull this shit up by the roots, and damn the consequences. “Can’t figure out who to give those seven Tours to? SHUT UP! WHO CARES! Fix this shit now or no one will know who won the NEXT seven Tours.”
I’m annoyed by the ongoing coverage of it, mostly due to my own internal conflict about where it’s headed. I believe Lance doped. I hope they can find some way of punishing him. I hope the peloton is cleaner today.
*That quote is from my memory, and probably not at all accurate. But I think it captures his point.