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The peloton of truth catches up with Armstrong

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'Armstrong controlled doping culture'

US Anti-Doping Agency concludes seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong controlled the most successful doping program cycling has ever seen.

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For those of who had aired doubts about the legitimacy of Lance Armstrong's success, it is tempting to say "I told you so". To wonder what those Armstrong supporters who flooded our in-boxes - sometimes with foul invective - think now. To ask if their brains have finally caught up with the peloton of truth.

So convincing is the evidence released by the US Anti-Doping Agency, surely only those who stay up on Christmas night hoping Santa will bring a new Malvern Star down the chimney retain any doubt Armstrong's seven Tour de France "victories" were tainted. That the compelling story of the cancer-stricken champion rising from his bed to conquer the world is a fractured fairytale. Discredited by the illegal drugs and blood transfusions systematically administered by Armstrong and his cohorts.

But, thumbing the lowlights of USADA's 200 page report, there is no more joy to be found than if it was revealed Rod Laver had more than just Brylcreem in his medicine cabinet. Only murky detail. Such as the money trail leading to the aptly named Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, whose peddling of illicit substances, it is claimed, was instrumental to the incredible manner in which Armstrong pedalled a pushbike.

Disgraced ... Lance Armstrong.

Disgraced ... Lance Armstrong. Photo: Neilson Barnard

USADA boasts it has exposed "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen". Perhaps so. Although such hyperbole plays, unnecessarily, into the hands of the dwindling band of true-believers clinging to the now unfathomable belief their hero is the victim of a bureaucratic witch hunt.

In the latest desperate act of denial, Armstrong's attorney, Tim Herman, launched a pre-emptive strike before the USADA evidence was released, describing the case as "a one-sided hatchet job - a taxpayer-funded tabloid piece rehashing old, disproved, unreliable allegations based largely on axe-grinders, serial perjurers, coerced testimony, sweetheart deals and threat-induced stories".

Of course, pressure would have been brought to bear on witnesses, such as George Hincapie, the US Postal Service team lieutenant who admitted his guilt while implicating Armstrong. Just as prosecutors in any investigation exert the full weight of their powers. But 25 witnesses colluding in a conspiracy to lay the blame on Armstrong? What would they have to gain if the strongest drug Armstrong had taken in the Alps was a headache tablet?

US Postal featuring Lance Armstrong, third from right.

US Postal featuring Lance Armstrong, third from right. Photo: AP

Inevitably, the more a cheat pushes back against the accusations, the greater the humiliation if they are proven. Armstrong and his lawyers have used every club in the bag. They have claimed victimisation of various kinds - including by French journalists supposedly jealous of American success. They have belittled government agencies and branded their accusers liars. Most shamefully, Armstrong has used his cancer charity, and his own story of cancer survival, to create confusion among the naive and the slavishly devoted who fail to distinguish the drug cheat from the great benefactor.

Now the time has come - and perhaps even gone - for Armstrong to own up. He should have faced the music came when his seven Tour de France titles were taken away. Then, you might still have considered his human frailty. Now, Armstrong would be considered a man only willing to tell the truth when clubbed over the head with 1000 pages of sworn testimony.

As USADA head Travis T. Tygart claimed, the 15 cyclists who provided sworn statements have the chance to be "forgiven and embraced". "Lance Armstrong was given the same opportunity to come forward and be part of the solution. He rejected it."

Travis T Tygart, chief executive of USADA.

Travis T Tygart, chief executive of USADA. Photo: Getty Images

If there is a public admission, don't expect it to reek of sincerity. As the likes of Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and Alan Jones have demonstrated, in the celebrity age you get plenty of mea, but rarely much culpa, when prominent people are forced to say sorry.

Coincidentally, this week, the spring carnival's main events begin. Over the new few weeks we will admire, and even ascribe human qualities, to the grandiosely titled "equine athletes". But, should it be revealed the Melbourne Cup winner was fuelled by something other than hay, at least we will know the competitor was not complicit.

As for Armstrong, the USADA report provides the gruesome bottom line. "Armstrong and his co-conspirators sought to achieve their ambitions through a massive fraud now more fully exposed. So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sports history."

124 comments so far

  • "Tell me it ain't so Joe"

    Commenter
    c1ee
    Date and time
    October 11, 2012, 2:36PM
    • c1ee - my exact thoughts this morning! Well... "Say it ain't so Joe" to be precise but the same sentiment.

      Commenter
      MJ
      Location
      Prahran
      Date and time
      October 11, 2012, 3:29PM
    • Apparently it is so and now the test is whether Lance can come out and make a public apology. For many that everyone else was doing it will be enough for them to say "what was he to do?". He owes the public an apology for his cheating and his lying. How he will look his children in the eye is a matter that he will also have to work out. Cheating is never justified and never right and his abuse of others that continues to this day must stop if he is to retain any shred of dignity.

      Commenter
      the Truth
      Location
      Melbourne via Paris
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 8:26AM
    • @MJ. It is so, Joe. And has been so for quite some time. And it's been very apparent for a lot longer than since this morning.

      Commenter
      Mark
      Location
      Elsternwick
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 11:25AM
    • Is it me or does Travis T Tygart look like Charlie Sheen?

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 11:37AM
  • From sport scientsts http://www.sportsscientists.com/2012/10/usada-reasoned-decision.html

    "So rather than condemn the (late) whistleblowers, let's celebrate even more those who DID speak BEFORE they had to. As some of those names above have already mentioned on Twitter, let's use this moment to celebrate those who were courageous and outspoken from the start. Those who had their reputations smeared by the bullying tactics of Armstrong PR because they dared to go against the grain of cycling's doping culture. Those who were slandered and marginalized for standing up to the dishonesty, and who often retired from their sport because their position in it became untenable, often at Armstrong's hand.

    Let's think then of Betsy and Frankie Andreu, David Walsh, Paul Kimmage, Emma O'Reilly, Andy Hampsten, Scott Mercier, Darren Baker, Christophe Bassons, and all the others who spoke first, or walked away. Theirs is the example to praise, and today is a day to celebrate them."

    A day of vindication for those who did the right thing. Bravo

    Commenter
    c1ee
    Date and time
    October 11, 2012, 2:42PM
    • Add Greg LeMond to that list.

      Commenter
      Andrew
      Date and time
      October 11, 2012, 3:30PM
    • Bravo Indeed.
      Here's an analogy for you.
      Remember every speeding camera that didn't catch speeding drivers who slowed down at those spots?
      Do you expect everyone one to come forward and admit to speeding when they are not caught ?
      No? Then why on earth does one expect Lance to do so ?
      He is still won 7 TdF in the competition with his peers.

      Commenter
      Bravo
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 11, 2012, 5:43PM
    • Poor and shallow analogy. With speeding drivers its the obvious symptom of the speeding that we want to get rid of. With the doping that leads to unfairness in sporting results (and that may lead our own kids to use chemical enhancement and wreck their bodies doing to to keep up) we want to get back to punishing the bad behaviour - the doping and the facilitation of that doping.

      Commenter
      andrew
      Location
      eltham
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 8:21AM
    • Filippo Simeoni, the humiliation suffered at the hands of Armstrong and the peloton must have been crushing.

      Commenter
      Juzep
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 9:20AM

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