Time to leave cyclist Armstrong alone

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong. (Reuters file photo)

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong. (Reuters file photo)

PETER WORTHINGTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 PM ET

They’re after Lance Armstrong again — arguably the most exceptional athlete alive, who won the Tour de France cycling marathon an unprecedented seven times.

This time it’s not the U.S. justice system trying to convict him for using drugs to win races, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that wants to strip him of his cycling awards and ban him from triathlon competitions which is his new speciality.

The Justice Department dropped its case against him: Insufficient evidence of doping.

That nicety doesn’t impress the USADA.

They insist he used performance enhancing drugs.

Such accusations have swirled around Armstrong ever since he won his first Tour de France in 1999. No athlete has undergone as many tests for doping as he has — some 500, he claims. And nothing ever found.

The USADA has some 10 former cyclists who claim knowledge that Armstrong was doping, or using blood enhancers, or whatever.

But such witnesses are suspect. If Armstrong was so devious and careful about hiding his doping, how would these guys know? And why now? Armstrong’s last Tour de France win was 2005. If they couldn’t nail him then, how can they now?

It’s true that doping techniques are ahead of detection techniques. But does anyone truly think that the French wouldn’t have been busting a gut to find something on this upstart American who was stealing their precious European prestige trophy for seven years?

No one knows if Armstrong was taking banned substances. What we do know is that there is no tangible evidence to convict him.

A newspaper rule is that journalists don’t print what they know is “truth,” unless they can prove it. The U.S. Justice Department practised that dictum when they dropped their case against Armstrong.

The USADA is persecuting this guy, and it stinks.

After surviving testicular cancer which should have killed him years ago, Armstrong wrote that ever after he resisted putting foreign substances in his body that might re-activate the cancer. That made sense, even though some doubted his assertion.

What is known, is that Armstrong, like other amazing athletes, seems not to produce lactic acid in normal amounts, that affect the muscles and produces pain and weariness.

Armstrong has uncanny stamina, as do all international cyclists.

Cycling is notorious for doping — hence the suspicions of Armstrong.

It could be argued — and I’d agree — that doping is so prevalent in elite sports, that at a certain level of professionalism, the playing field is level. For example, Ben Johnson was stripped of Olympic gold in 1988 because he tested positive, his medal awarded to Carl Lewis who came in second. We now know that Lewis was on substances — as were virtually all finalists in the 1988 100 metres.

So Ben Johnson became a victim — demonized because he was caught when, in fact, he was just doing what most of them did.

But at least there was evidence, or proof that Ben was taking stuff.

With Armstrong there is nothing — not a shred of proof in all the testing done on him that he was doped up.

Let’s face it. On substances or not, Armstrong is a gifted athlete and superior to all other cyclists who’ve been caught being illegally medicated.

So leave the guy alone — especially when the evidence is word of mouth from people who’ve heard reports and rumours, and may nurse envy and jealousy.


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