August 24, 2012

A Word on Lance

Considering this blog is called The Cyclist's Wife (although I might have to change the name to The Runner's Wife, but that is another story for another day), I felt compelled to put my two cents in regarding the current state of Lance Armstrong.

Let me preface this by saying, although I enjoy the sport of cycling, it is mostly because my husband (and parents) are cyclists.  Would I watch Le Tour if I wasn't married to The Cyclist?  Probably a little bit.  But here is the deal:  I don't claim to know all of the in's and out's of cycling, the rules, the strategies, the rumors, the truths.  I am a lady who observes from the sidelines and sometimes bothers to absorb nuggets of information.  I am by no means an expert or even a serious fan.  I'm not a Lance Armstrong fan either.  No offense Lance, I'm just basically, indifferent, when it comes to you.

That said, what I have to say about the Lance situation doesn't mean squat.  But, I'm going to share it with you anyway, because I have a platform to do it and a title to match.  So there.

In case you didn't know, Lance was being pursued by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) regarding his alleged doping throughout the course of his career.  Yesterday, he announced that he "would no longer challenge the USADA and declined to exercise his last option by entering arbitration" (via ABC).  What this means is Lance Armstrong's entire career was essentially erased.  No more 7 Tour wins and his bronze medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympic games may go away too.  

So what do I think of all this?  I think it's stupid.  Did Lance dope?  The only person who truly knows the answer to that question is Lance himself.  Do I think he doped?  I could answer that question but the bottom line is, it doesn't matter if I think he did or didn't.  I don't know and I will never have any real way to know.  Any answer I gave to that question would be pure speculation.

Here is what I do know.  After reading this article in Outside magazine two years ago my perspective on all of the doping incidences in the news of late, changed.  Additionally, I think Lance's official statement yesterday had some valid points, specifically, "The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of controls I have passed with flying colors.  I made myself available around the clock and around the world.  In-competition.  Out of competition.  Blood.  Urine.  Whatever they asked for I provided.  What is the point of all this testing if, in the end, USADA will not stand by it?"

Here is something else I know.  The Cyclist wrote a paper on the anti-doping agencies last year, which lead me to some reading about the process.  Let me just say the best way I can explain it is that the whole anti-doping agency situation is a giant cluster-F.  Seriously.  I can't begin to explain how it works, doesn't work or what they are trying to do.  The term "too many cooks in the kitchen" absolutely comes to mind.

So, from my little soapbox called The Cyclist's Wife, this is what I think.  Lance has a damn good point.  If the USADA can't even rely on their own testing, then what's the point?  If their only method of busting athletes for doping is not to prove that they actually are doping, but instead prove that they are lying to a grand jury, isn't their purpose a little misguided?  It is rumored cyclists do dope and "beat the test" because their doping is so far ahead of the testing.  Maybe the USADA should instead use the funds they are spending on all of these legal ventures and apply it to improving their science.  I would certainly be supportive of a USADA ousting of an athlete if they could actually prove, with scientific (not circumstantial) evidence that said athlete was doping.

Here is something else.  Maybe we should ask ourselves why so many athletes do dope.  I don't think we can deny that the general public wants things bigger, stronger and faster in all sports for a heightened entertainment value.  Does this put additional pressure on professional athletes to meet the public's desire?  Probably.

Maybe Lance got what he deserved.  Maybe he got screwed.  He has to live with himself and whatever decisions he made along with their outcome.  In the meantime, I hope the USADA changes their process to see the forest for the trees; to stop focusing on what might have been done and instead focus on what actually can be done, with real proof.

The end.




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