Back in August of 2012 I wrote a blog piece called "The One Where USADA Gets It's Pound Of Flesh from Lance Armstrong". USADA had stripped Armstrong of his titles when he refused to continue fighting their charges that he had used performance enhancing drugs while racking up wins on the Tour De France.
In that piece I wrote the following:
Armstrong has been a long time target of many in the media, particularly in France where there are not a few people upset that Armstrong, an American, had won the famed Tour De France 7 years. There have long been accusations of blood doping, blood transfusions, and other various forms of cheating. He's been accused by former teammates with axes to grind, he's faced accusations by cycling officials, members of the media and of course USADA themselves.
His detractors keeps WANTING him to be guilty so they keep on coming after him, seemingly adopting the idea of if they want something bad enough, that it will magically be so. However despite over two dozen random unannounced blood and urine tests over the two year period when he returned to cycling in 2008, he tested negative in all of them. And still the accusations persist.
He's already done his part to prove his innocence with all of his passed drug tests over the years. If he was doping, he would have been caught. You can't get tested that many times and be under that much scrutiny and not get caught. I just don't believe that.
Whether or not Lance Armstrong is guilty of doping, I don't know for sure, and neither does any of these people insisting that he's guilty because he is tired of the rigged system. That said, while I don't know if he's guilty, in my eyes, USADA and his detractors definitely have not made their case. And until they do, then I stand by my assertion that this is a witch hunt and is a nationalistic attack on a man that has done a lot of good for this country.
I stand ready to be proven wrong, but until I am, I ride with Lance.
Well, I have been proven wrong. Yesterday Lance sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a two and a half hour interview in which, she confirmed, he confessed to doping.
People are saying that the reason he's coming clean now is because he's hoping to get some leniency from USADA and others and potentially get his lifetime ban shortened so he can compete again in sanctioned events. I find it ludicrous that considering how strongly he went after anyone who dared accuse him of doping, when in fact he WAS doping, that anyone would consider giving him a lesser sentence just because he's confessing now. He's doing it for selfish reasons, not because he cares about the sport.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
When I continued to insist that I felt he was innocent it based around a common perception that many people have when it comes to accusations of illicit or illegal behavior, and that is that if you didn't do it, you sue for defamation/slander/libel, etc. When Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, etc were accused of taking steroids, the common refrain from many sports fans that I talked to was "Well, if they don't sue, then you can assume that they are guilty."
That is because if you are innocent, and your name is being slandered and your money is being messed with (potentially due to sponsors not wanting to have their names associated with a cheater) then you sue to restore your name. But if you don't sue, then you must be afraid that they have proof that you did it, and you don't want to risk that. If you didn't do it, then there IS NO proof, and so you should sue.
That's why I lauded Manny Pacquiao for suing Floyd Mayweather Jr., when many boxing fans laughed at him and mocked him. If you didn't do it, you sue. Lance Armstrong completely annihilated that line of thinking for everyone in the future. No longer can you say "well, the dude sued him so he must be innocent. Why risk a lawsuit bringing it to light?".
Another reason that I steadfastly defended Lance, was because I've long been someone that loathes this society that we live in, where someone can be so easily accused of something and have their entire reputations ruined for life, no matter of the validity of the accusation. Even if exonerated, that will always be there.
A man gets accused of child molestation, and then the child recants and admits they made it up (which has happened many times in the past), even though that person is exonerated, that will forever follow him. He'll forever be "that guy that was accused of child molestation." not "the guy that was wrongly accused."
The lie lives on forever, the truth is often lost in the shuffle. The New York Times, in 1984, printed a quote from the Press Secretary to then Vice President George HW Bush on why politicians lie during the televised debates. Peter Teeley said, "You can say anything you want during a debate and 80 million people hear it. If reporters then document that a candidate spoke untruthfully, so what? Maybe 200 people read it or 2,000 or 20,000."
So that mentality was behind my train of thought. There are people who spent decades in prison based on nothing more than people who allegedly saw them do the crime, yet were later exonerated due to false testimony, or false evidence made up to get the conviction. So just because someone says they saw someone do something, I don't automatically accept that as fact. Due to his never having failed a test, and his adamant stance on suing those who accused him, I bought into his lies, hook line and sinker. And I was wrong for that.
As for his allegedly doing this to assist USADA and hopefully get his ban shortened so he can compete again, personally, I'd tell him to kick rocks, and then sue him into bankruptcy. Think of all the people he defamed over the years. Think of all the newspapers he bullied into settling out of court for money. Think of how viciously he went after anyone who dared oppose him. And now he wants to act like it's all good, just because he's doing something he shoulda done from jump street?
Man, I can't get behind that. I say USADA and the cycling organizations should accept his help and then say the ban stays. Or say "alright, we'll knock it down from life to 25 years. See you in 2038." But he shouldn't get to reap any type of benefits from what he's doing. Then I want to see every newspaper he bullied into settling, to sue him and recover every penny that they were forced to pay out, and maybe even more. This is just another calculated move by one of the biggest liars and cheats the sporting world has ever seen who's trying to turn a negative into a positive.
The man has done a lot of good for the world with his work with Cancer research. That can't be overstated. However that doesn't change what he did. And remember, it wasn't just that he cheated and lied about it. Lots of people have done that, that's nothing special unfortunately. But it takes a special brand of asshole, to lie and cheat and then sue the shit out of anyone that dares expose you.
Lance proved himself to be the most gangster cyclist the sport has ever seen. And gangsters don't deserve to be rewarded.