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Old 10-17-2012, 01:37 PM   #1
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Lance Armstrong

Interesting to see that nobody has put up a thread regarding all of the evidence of doping that has now come to light . . . .

Armstrong has stepped down from his position with LiveStrong. His Tour victories will almost surely be stripped. He'll be banned from competing--even as an amateur, i.e., for no cash and not to get on the podium--in most of the larger endurance events, including cycling, triathlons, and marathons. Nike has dropped him.

Federal criminal charges are possible as well. The USPS team was in part funded with Federal funds, and if they went to illegal doping, the sky is the limit in terms of penalties.

All of this presents numerous ethical questions and dilemmas.

My take: As of now, I don't care.

Without more, I think Tour victories should probably be stripped, but that they should not be reallocated (and they, in fact, probably will not be reallocated). I think banning him from amateur competition, while no doubt written in the rules, is ridiculous and needlessly punitive. Federal prosecution (at this point) strikes me as unfair. I think tarnishing the LiveStrong foundation or all it has accomplished is absurd.

When one actually reads many of the affidavits in the USADA report that is being used to go after Armstrong, there are two thinigs that are painfully clear.

First, Armstrong doped. He was a team leader during the era in question, and he expected (demanded) those around him would dope as well. In the words of the USADA, he facilitated "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

Second--and here's the critical part--everyone else that mattered during that era was doping too. You can villify Armstrong all you like, but the fact remains (though almost nobody seems to care) that at least 20 of the 21 Tour de France podium finishers from 1998 through 2005 have been directly linked to credible doping allegations.

Indeed, noteworthy observation: How many stories have you read where Armstrong's competitors--who were often finishing just minutes behind him--are now speaking out, disgusted with the allegations and bitter that they competed clean and were always just out of reach of Armstrong's accomplishments? None, right? Yeah, I haven't seen any either. If his competitors were in fact clean, wouldn't this surprise you? Wouldn't you expect they'd be mad as hell right now? But yet . . . silence.

As every parent knows, the old adage of every teenager out there--"but EVERYBODY was doing it!!"--certainly doesn't make it right. But it does shed some light on what the appropriate response is.

Think the Tour de France victories should go to the next guy down the line? But he's a doper too. How about the next guy? Doper. Next? Doper. Eventually I guess you could award the titles to some cyclist nobody has ever heard of way down the line, but even then--are you sure he wasn't doping? It appears the issue was endemic at the time (maybe even today), so what resources have been put into investigating him? Reallocation is hopeless.

On top of that, just practically speaking, if everybody was doing it, what was the unfair advantage? It was the spectators and fans who were being cheated--tricked into believing they were watching mortal men perform feats that were in truth impossible. But as amongst the actual guys on the bikes, it appears at this point that nobody possessed any unnatural advantage not also held by the guy next to him.

And this brings me to the horns of a dilemma. What was the "right" thing to do?

If you were an elite cyclist--perhaps the best the world has ever scene in terms of your mix of natural gifts, talent, drive, and determination--what was the right thing to do around the turn of the last decade? Had Armstrong (or anyone else) competed clean, they wouldn't have succeeded. They'd always be just in the back of the pack . . . just out of reach . . . just not quite able (even if they were, in fact, the natural best) to keep up with the (doping) leaders and rest of the field.

So should Armstrong, Hincapie, Hamilton, or any of the others now implicated have just quit? Said that if they can't compete clean, they just won't compete? What would that have accomplished for them, exactly? They could finally have pursued that accounting degree I suppose . . . . Is that the choice you would've made? And would it have mattered, or would you still just had a sport full of dopers . . . the lone difference being that you weren't in it?

The REAL story here, in my view, is the utter, total, and complete failure of the regulatory bodies involved. Right under their noses, the ENTIRE SPORT was doping. I mean sweet Jesus, aside from a few guys sometimes popping hot, NOBODY SEEMED TO KNOW that AT LEAST everybody who mattered was full of EPO, testosterone, HGH, and who knows what else. That is an epic and astonishing failure. Just incredible.

And what does this say about our Olympic program? Or even our favorite sports teams--the NFL's testing for example is light at best. Where else is doping entrenched and universal, and yet we have no idea? How do we know those sports and programs are clean? Apparently, doping can be sophisticated, professionalized, successful, and universal, without anybody even noticing.

So what are we left with? I still believe Armstrong is probably the greatest cyclist in history. Everybody that mattered was doping, but none of them were able to dethrone him. So far, nothing I've seen indicates the results of his career would've been any different if nobody doped. He's accomplishments in terms of cancer research, and (frankly) Tour de France marketability have been tremendous.

So (at this point) I'm all for blowing the doors off of this and getting to the truth. I do think folks should know what happened, and everybody should be looking forward to how to prevent this in the future. I don't, however, think that Armstrong should be held up like a pariah and publicly executed. This is about the whole sport, not Armstrong.

My mind could change. If evidence were to come out that the doping overseen by Armstrong was consistently and materially much more sophisticated and effective that the doping used by his competitors, then I'd question whether Armstrong really did have an unfair advantage. Similarly, I read a week or so ago about a lower level employee with USPS who spoke out about the doping some years ago, and Armstrong brought the legal system down on her viciously. They settled confidentially, so it may have been very profitable for her and she candidly didn't seem too upset. But the details of that could change my opinion of Armstrong's relative ethical neutrality as well.

But for now, I'm disappointed in the whole affair, particularly in the regulatory agencies that were so badly duped. I think the Armstrong angle is a distraction from the larger failures at play.

What say you jeepers? Am I crazy? Right? Wrong? I cede the floor . . . .

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Old 10-17-2012, 01:42 PM   #2
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Precisely why I don't get into sports.

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Old 10-17-2012, 03:22 PM   #3
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Ban professional cycling, make them all race for a little plastic trophy. I don't watch it 'cuz it's corrupt. Now I won't watch the NHL either.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:30 PM   #4
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Lance Armstrong is the best thing that ever happened to cycling. If it weren't for him, would anyone even care? I agree that looking at this objectively, Lance did compete in a level playing field. All of his competitors were just as juiced. Yep, strip the titles, but not just his. Everyone wishing to keep a cycling title in the last 20 yrs should be prepared to face the same scrutiny that Lance has faced.
This reminds me of a friend of mine who played D1 football. We graduated high school together in '93. He had a couple of look-ats with nfl teams, and played a season in the cfl. In his words, probably 70% of his teammates were "on" and at the nfl level it was more like 98%.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:52 PM   #5
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Ban professional cycling, make them all race for a little plastic trophy. I don't watch it 'cuz it's corrupt. Now I won't watch the NHL either.
See though, that's sort of my point in the admittedly gigantic ball of FRAT that I posted to start this thread. How do you know what's corrupt?

Apparently, professional cycling was corrupt on what can only be described as an epic level. A huge infrastructure of medical professionals, substance suppliers, various enablers and handlers, coaches and other staff, and the athletes themselves were able to conduct a consistent, universal, sophisticated, widespread, and long-term doping practice despite being right under the nose of what would previously have been considered one of the staunchest PED testing programs out there. That's amazing.

And the NFL and MLB has nothing on the testing protocols that were in place in professional cycling then or now. So . . . .

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Lance Armstrong is the best thing that ever happened to cycling. If it weren't for him, would anyone even care? I agree that looking at this objectively, Lance did compete in a level playing field. All of his competitors were just as juiced. Yep, strip the titles, but not just his. Everyone wishing to keep a cycling title in the last 20 yrs should be prepared to face the same scrutiny that Lance has faced.
This reminds me of a friend of mine who played D1 football. We graduated high school together in '93. He had a couple of look-ats with nfl teams, and played a season in the cfl. In his words, probably 70% of his teammates were "on" and at the nfl level it was more like 98%.
Agreed on all counts.

Cycling owes a lot financially to Lance Armstrong. Even now, all of the coverage it's getting as a result of this scandal is enormously valuable. I bet this year's Tour de France gets the highest North American ratings since Armstrong left by a wide margin.

Bottomline is that EITHER Armstrong won those races, or NOBODY won those races. Either let everything stand, or take everything away, but any attempt at reallocating titles is hopeless.

As hyped up as I am about this, I'm really not advocating that "it's all okay" and that we should just ignore it. I'm fine blowing it all open and investigating everything. Cycling--if it ever wishes to have any legitimacy--really needs to expose both the athletes and the enablers that allowed all this to function (and may still be allowing this to function . . .).

My complaint is that it's being made to be "about" Lance Armstrong. The USADA has thoroughly enjoyed trotting out line after line about how bad he was. But based on what I've read so far, it seems as if he was a team captain during much of this, and so I'd expect he had a leadership role. That's simply not very surprising.

The bigger question is still what were the OTHER teams doing? If Armstrong's and USPS's actions were reflective of the "normal" doping culture (which is what sounds like was the case), then this all feels very much like an effort to villify Armstrong to just to deflect attention away from what was really the largest scale hood-winking of a government agency I've ever heard of.

Put another way, imagine if it came out that Usain Bolt is and has been a heavy doper, who has fooled test after test. And then--as part of unraveling that story--it also came out that in fact almost every (or maybe every) Olympian that mattered over the past 20 years from all over the world was likewise a heavy doper, who had each likewise fooled test after test. What story does the International Olympic Committee want you to focus on? That Bolt was really mean about his doping and told his teammates they had to do it, that Bolt is really bad, and that Bolt should be stripped of all his titles. You might agree with the IOC that Bolt was a problem and should lose his titles, but one would think that the IOC itself should get a pinch of scrutiny and a few raised eyebrows as well.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:57 PM   #6
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Basically, if you are a pro cyclist and you want to be competitive/win, you HAVE to dope. There has been some sort of doping in cycling for many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many years. Over the years they have gotten good at hiding it. The authorities are finally catching up at detecting it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:19 PM   #7
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Basically, if you are a pro cyclist and you want to be competitive/win, you HAVE to dope. There has been some sort of doping in cycling for many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many years. Over the years they have gotten good at hiding it. The authorities are finally catching up at detecting it.
Exactly.

And what, if anything, does that mean about the competitors of that (and perhaps this) era? Are they "disgraced," even if everybody did it? Does it really make sense to say the only way to not be a disgraced cyclist was either not to compete or to compete clean and lose? Is there ever a point where an athlete gets to choose (without "disgrace") to take PEDs to stay competitive because the regulatory bodies that are supposed to be protecting him and the integrity of the sport are simply too ineffective to allow him to stay competitive when he's clean?

And what should become of their titles? Truthfully, while I don't object to stripping everybody, there's a case to be made for just leaving it all as is. Once you conclude that everybody was doping, it's really no more arbitrary to conclude that the podiums would've looked more or less the same if nobody had been doping as it is to conclude that the podiums would've looked different.
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:24 PM   #8
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My take on it is people enjoy bring people down. Roger Clemmons, Lance Armstrong, etc. I just can't believe how much money is wasted that could go to creating jobs. Honestly I don't care...............
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Old 10-23-2012, 04:30 PM   #9
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Did he ever fail a drug test??
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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Did he ever fail a drug test??
Nope. But I understand the evidence at this point is more or less insurmountable.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:05 PM   #11
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Why are our tax dollars paying for this crap!? Let them dope, not dope - who really cares? I don't. Cycling is right up there with the PBA - if it's on at 3:00 a.m. and I'm completely loaded I might watch it.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:14 PM   #12
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I just find it infuriating that the man brought more attention to cycling in the US than it has ever had.

Who doesn't know who Lance Armstrong is? Seriously--have you even met anybody who hasn't heard of him? By contrast, can you name three other Tour de France winners without resorting to Wikipedia? Exactly.

That, my friends, equals dollars in the pocket of the cycling industry and a massive inroad to the lucrative North American market that had otherwise been almost non-existent. He's made millions from cycling because he BROUGHT millions to cycling.

He just happens to have done it in an era that was, we now know, full of dopers. Absolutely full of dopers. Twenty of the twenty-one podium finishers in the Tour de France from Armstrong's era have now been directly and credibly linked to doping.

And so now the story from the cycling world is that Armstrong should be forgotten, there's no place in cycling for Armstrong, he's "disgraced," etc. That's just nuts, IMO.

The reality is that he was apparently cheating, but so was everybody else. So it seems hard to draw any conclusions about what effect EVERYBODY's cheating had on any of the outcomes. And in any event, the only reason that everybody could cheat was because the regulatory bodies were either (at best) clueless beyond hope or (at worst) complicit.

And so the conclusion being pumped to the public is that he was a fraud. I just think that's crazy. His competitors had all the same advantages he had--but they couldn't beat him. His teammates still describe his drive, determination, focus, etc. as beyond their abilities to reach. I don't care how much testosterone, EPO, or anything else you pumped into me, I could never, ever, when the biggest race in cycling SEVEN TIMES. That's insane. I don't care what you're on.

The real story is that cycling's governing bodies despite their multi-million dollar budgets were failing their public function (either deliberately or through idiocy), and the riders--including Armstrong--took advantage.

I think the objective records from this time period need to be considered with great scrutiny (i.e., who had the fastest time ever on certain courses), but overall standings among competing riders should be left as is. An alternative option would be to wipe out everybody's wins (which is what's happening), and that's fine, but I can't see why Armstrong deserves more scorn than any other rider from that time who's now been linked to doping (which includes just about every rider that mattered).

Though I can certainly see why the regulatory bodies involved want to make this all about Armstrong . . . and not about themselves or cycling generally. The more sophisticated they make Armstrong's (and apparently every other team's) doping sound, the less they look like raging fools for not catching on.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:35 PM   #13
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MTH I totally agree with you, he did more for that sport than any other single rider - ever. Is the public going to fall for the slight of hand that is going on here, absolutely. They are just making him the fall guy for this huge problem in hopes that their sport won't suffer too much. I for one hope that it does suffer, not for the athletes but all of the crooked suits that are getting paid by their elaborate scam.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:31 PM   #14
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Interesting to see that nobody has put up a thread regarding all of the evidence of doping that has now come to light . . . .

My take: As of now, I don't care.
That sums it up quite well.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:57 PM   #15
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MTH I totally agree with you. But why go after someone who retired years ago.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:39 PM   #16
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That is how we do things now , we let the media tell us all the facts, we believe them , then it snow balls and snow balls , and without ever failing a test even though he was the most tested athlete in history we assume guilt.BTW not ripping on what anyone else believes , i just dont believe everything i hear on the news.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:11 PM   #17
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Given the evidence, I almost can't believe he didn't do it. There's a tremendous amount of firsthand testimony and affidavits against him.

In my opinion as a lawyer, it looks to be way, way more than sufficient to obtain a criminal conviction for example. People have been executed on less compelling evidence.

But I just don't think it matters much given the context. When everybody's "cheating," is it even really "cheating" anymore? Or does it just become a cost of doing business? And, again, what does this say about the body enforcing the rules when a culture like this is able to develop--doping was apparently required to succeed.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:21 PM   #18
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Yes but some of this evidence, if not most is coming from some pretty shady characters, with past failed drug tests. One more thing to remember is training and nutrition are improving everyday , in every sport athletes are getting bigger faster and stronger and playing longer than ever before.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:22 PM   #19
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Meh I really do not care.

The fact is that pretty much at least the top 50+ cyclists were ALL doping. To me that sounds like a level playing field. I really don't get the issue about "performance enhancement" in professional sports anyways. Top 10 "singers" can freely use auto-tune, photographers/editors/models can use Photoshop and I have not seen any congressional oversight committees or anti-fake crap organizations springing up to fight it; yet no one seems to give a crap about that, why make a fuss over athletes? It is not like these guys are bums off the street, they are still the top 1% of their sport, if the entirety of professional cycling had been doping when Lance was winning the Tours, it is likely that he still would have been the one to win them.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:38 PM   #20
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I'm surprised, in a good way, based on most responses so far. This forum has a bunch of JoePa supporters even in spite of what we know about that situation. So I assumed most responses here would also be illogical.

Did he cheat? Probably. Did his opponents? Probably. So still an even playing field. All the drugs in the world and I still couldn't finish that race and I'm a decent athlete ha.

But just like baseball lets work to clean up the sport and then mark that as the steroids era. Pretty simple.

And with Lance he cheated (presumably) in a bike race. And he also helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer, almost single handedly boosted the economy by inspiring people to work out (and America needs the exercise) and inspired/motivated countless cancer patients. Yeah, I'll take that trade off.

Considering the crimes some NFL and NBA guys commit but are still stars I'm baffled how Lance is being vilified.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:43 PM   #21
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My take on it:

So what? So what if he doped? They ALL do it. Given the fact they ALL do it, and he was STILL winning, that STILL makes him the best.

I am so sick of the whole steroid issue, whether it be baseball, football, basketball, or ballet, I simply don't give a damn anymore. It's up there with movie stars getting plastic surgery. They've all had something done so they can stay in the game and stay competitive.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:44 PM   #22
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Meh I really do not care.

The fact is that pretty much at least the top 50+ cyclists were ALL doping. To me that sounds like a level playing field. I really don't get the issue about "performance enhancement" in professional sports anyways. Top 10 "singers" can freely use auto-tune, photographers/editors/models can use Photoshop and I have not seen any congressional oversight committees or anti-fake crap organizations springing up to fight it; yet no one seems to give a crap about that, why make a fuss over athletes? It is not like these guys are bums off the street, they are still the top 1% of their sport, if the entirety of professional cycling had been doping when Lance was winning the Tours, it is likely that he still would have been the one to win them.
Interesting comparison. Auto-tune is probably more rampant than doping these days , and as a musician i hate evreything about it.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:16 PM   #23
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Interesting comparison. Auto-tune is probably more rampant than doping these days , and as a musician i hate evreything about it.
+1 on the auto-tune!
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:11 PM   #24
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I do think that the public is entitled to a clean sport. That's part of what we as people tune in to see when we watch sports--genuine athletic performances by real people.

For that reason alone, I think PEDs should as a general rule be banned from organized sports. Some sports also have the added incentive of deliberate injury--MMA, football, boxing, etc., which plainly provides further reason to be hard on PED use. That's not so much the case with cycling of course.

In any event, none of that makes me inclined to agree with the current effort to skewer Armstrong. Take everyone's titles I suppose, but turn the eyes to the sport and its governance rather than just at him.

I'll also note that, at this point, I'm pretty surprised he's not made any real statement. Even through a lawyer or PR guy.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:13 PM   #25
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dang.... I wish I cared more.......
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:27 AM   #26
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I am not shocked that lance has not spoke out , he has been professing his innocence for years. In terms of ped's ,its to vague of a line, i take creatine , protein, and different vitamins, in actuality those could be considered ped's but perfectly legal, heck even caffeine could be considered a ped, so it would be almost impossible to draw the line on what is a legal ped or an illegal ped.
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:03 AM   #27
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The one thing I've seen so far that I do think Armstrong likely deserves to be villified for is becoming a de facto enforcer of the "omerta" in the cycling world. Especially (and convienently) when it involves him.

Articles like this suggest that Armstrong went after anybody who spoke out about his doping in a very, very aggressive way. Lawsuits, smear campaigns, ostracizing, etc. This, if true, was unnacceptable and immoral. (Presuming, of course, that he really did dope.)

In my view, it's one thing to "do what you have to do" in order to compete on an even playing field in an environment in which apparently everybody who mattered--literally everybody--was doping. This is what the sport's regulatory bodies are excoriating him for, and I think it's ridiculous.

But it's quite another thing to attack innocent folks who speak out. I can understand the doping on the front end, but on the back end when innocent folks start to talk the approach needs to be that "the jig is up." The truth was coming out. So be it. Attempting to bankrupt or publicly shame those who were simply telling the truth is not a viable strategy.
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:13 AM   #28
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Who gives a flyin flip about the sport.... what about all the funds that no one will be donating to cancer research now because you don't have a front man anymore? Didn't he do a lot to raise awareness and funding for research?
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:17 AM   #29
MTH
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Who gives a flyin flip about the sport.... what about all the funds that no one will be donating to cancer research now because you don't have a front man anymore? Didn't he do a lot to raise awareness and funding for research?
Enormous, yes. Millions upon millions.

And of course, he's being labeled a "fraud" in that regard as well. As if anybody could achieve what he did in terms of recovering from metastasized cancer, subsequent athletic achievement, and global awareness/funding if only they were given some EPO.

Hopefully Livestrong will be able to recuperate its image. Perhaps invoke new stories of recoveries by "ordinary people," such that the public face of the charity becomes more flexible.

But regardless, you better believe that if I ever get cancer, I'm reading Armstrong's books on his fight with it and anything else he wrote on the topic ASAP. Doping or not, jerk or not, the man's drive and will to win can't be denied. There are some lessons there for us regular folk.
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Old 10-24-2012, 12:42 PM   #30
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Enormous, yes. Millions upon millions.

And of course, he's being labeled a "fraud" in that regard as well. As if anybody could achieve what he did in terms of recovering from metastasized cancer, subsequent athletic achievement, and global awareness/funding if only they were given some EPO.

Hopefully Livestrong will be able to recuperate its image. Perhaps invoke new stories of recoveries by "ordinary people," such that the public face of the charity becomes more flexible.

But regardless, you better believe that if I ever get cancer, I'm reading Armstrong's books on his fight with it and anything else he wrote on the topic ASAP. Doping or not, jerk or not, the man's drive and will to win can't be denied. There are some lessons there for us regular folk.


If he's done all that for cancer and cancer patients... I say dope away sir, dope away!

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