Sunday, July 04, 2010
The Wall Street Journal has given voice to the most serious allegations that Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team systematically doped to accomplish their extraordinary cycling victories. Yes, there are all sorts of credibility issues with the main witness, busted and embittered former Lance acolyte Floyd Landis, but the story at least rings true and I suspect the WSJ has enough more evidence that it was confident in publishing.
For my own part, if the charges turn out to be true it will depress me a lot more than the Tiger Woods scandal could possibly have done (if, in some bizarro alternate universe, I cared about golf), because it corrupts the athlete's championship run, the very accomplishment that made us adore him in the first place. And that's not the worst of it: Even if not true the story is depressing, because it tarnishes Lance forever. After all, how on earth will he ever be able to prove the negative?
In other cycling news, "little motors"?
Apart from Landis' utter lack of credibility, his story doesn't even hang together if you consider it in the context of the race. By the rest break in the Tour, Hincapie, a domestique who shepherded Lance on the flat stages, had already done all of his heavy lifting for the race. There is no reason why he would risk his career for a transfusion that would do him little or no good, as he isn't good in the mountains with or without doping or transfusions. Doesn't make any sense.
Since this is about the third or fourth version of Landis's story, I'm giving it about as much credibility as it deserves. Note that even the WSJ is fudging almost every utterance of Landis with "said" and "claimed".
On the plus side, with the pre-reqs of suspected drug use, womanizing, and criminal charges, he could always become a US Senator...
There is no reason why he would risk his career for a transfusion that would do him little or no good, as he isn't good in the mountains with or without doping or transfusions. Doesn't make any sense.
That same argument applies to showing Landis himself was innocent. In the race in which he was banned, he doesn't test positive (assuming the test was legitimate, seeing as how WADA ignored its own testing guidelines to convict him) until the day of his big push.
The stuff he was alleged to have used doesn't work for a one-day lift. He would have to have used it for months before.
a) As you say, doping for a day is useless so he surely wouldn't have done it.
b) If he was doping, how is it that the anti-screening regimen worked for every day before, *and* every day after, but fails only on that one day? Again, it makes no sense, as is suggesting he was so stupid as to have forgotten the anti-screening drugs. You can't have a string of 17 or 18 straight negatives, 1 positive, and then a string of 7 or 8 more negatives. Doping drugs don't work like that.
I am defaulting to "innocent until definitely proven guilty" in this case. Lance Armstrong is no ordinary athlete. I have read that his lung capacity is the greatest ever found and muscle composition is exceptional. He just may be the most aerobically efficient human ever.
The early allegations claimed that the drugs he used to overcome testicular cancer gave him an advantage. But that was what, ten years ago? And he is probably the most drug-tested athlete ever.
I suspect that this is just a campaign to get Lance kicked out of this year's Tour de France by his jealous European rivals. They will test him like never before if not stopped and they just can't stand having him win again in spite of it.
Rather than discredit him with what looks like a relentless campaign lies, they should limit their complaints to the fact that Lance trains exclusively for the Tour de France while his main competitors compete throughout Europe for months. At least that argument has merit.