Lance Armstrong has won the Tour de France – widely considered the top cycling event in the world – seven consecutive times. Now, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is pushing to erase this achievement from cycling history.
The USADA brought doping charges against Armstrong, who recently halted his efforts to counter these accusations. The agency considered Armstrong’s failure to contest the charges a sufficient reason to forfeit all awards and prizes that he earned after Aug. 1, 1998, including his seven Tour titles. In case that wasn’t enough, the agency also banned Armstrong from cycling for life.
Unfortunately for Armstrong, he knows this drill all too well. Authorities from the Tour de France as well as U.S. prosecutors have questioned him throughout his career and have subjected him to over 400 tests throughout his lifetime, none of which have been conclusive enough to prove performance-enhancing drug use.
The only reason Armstrong was banned from cycling is because he has failed to contest the USADA’s latest allegations, an action which the agency interprets as an admission to cheating. I would also be pretty tired of fighting for my cause had I been constantly harassed my entire cycling career.
Additionally, if everyone had been using performance-enhancing drugs, as some claim, then it was a level playing field. And had Armstrong been using performance-enhancing drugs at the time, he would have just been doing the same as everyone else. One of Armstrong’s titles will even go to the 24th-place finisher, as probably all 23 men before him will have been stripped of their cycling awards.
It is apparent that the USADA will strip Armstrong of his titles because he “gave up the fight,” only after living through stage three testicular cancer with less than a 50 percent chance of surviving. Just two years after his treatment and after his cancer went into remission, he was back to winning cycling events.
Whether you believe that Armstrong was doping or not, he did win the Tour de France seven times in a row, a historic effort that cannot be overlooked. Armstrong fought these allegations for as long as he could, but like any human, there comes a point when it is better to come out with whatever dignity you have left before an organization tries to strip you of that too.
What do you think? Did Lance deserve to get his titles stripped? Click here to read a differing opinion.