I had always hoped that Lance Armstrong was innocent. He has successfully fought numerous forms of cancer, undergone brain surgery and chemotherapy and subsequently gone on to win seven consecutive Tour de France titles.
His quote epitomises his battles:
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
His feats are monstrous and his story is akin to that of fairytales; too good to be true.
L’equipe, the French newspaper, and USADA, the US anti-doping authority, have taken this literally and continually tried to find him guilty of drug taking during a period in which the sport was plagued by such corruption.
Lance has protested his innocence throughout, and been supported by the UCI (International Cycling Union) and USA Cycling, while USADA have broken their own rules and have arguably acted corruptly themselves (see here and here for some detail). However, he was given until 0600 this morning to decide whether or not to continue fighting USADA’s charges, and he declined. His statement (here) details the reasons – referring to “the toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our [cancer fighting] foundation”.
Following this announcement, the UCI and WADA* (the World anti-doping authority) are to monitor the situation. This is the same WADA whom the BOA (British Olympic authority) had to conform to in order to allow Dwain Chambers, David Millar and Carls Myerscough among other convicted drugs cheats to partake in future Olympic Games. The fact that the USADA can inflict a lifetime ban, yet the BOA cannot bemuses me.
I maintain that I hope that Lance is innocent. Drugs cause corruption throughout sport and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to keep sport entirely clean. His achievements are still enormous, regardless of the ‘truth’ – he still suffered seriously from cancer and, in the aftermath, cycled faster than anybody else in seven consecutive tours; these are facts.
All of this leaves me with one thing playing on my mind. That is why has he decided “enough is enough”? Referring back to his own quote, above, this is quitting. He will have to endure this pain forever, leaving me to assume one thing: that he must be guilty. I hope to be proved wrong.