Lance Armstrong has announced that he will no longer fight doping allegations, meaning that the Anti-US Doping Agency will effectively ban him from cycling and strip him of his titles. “If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and — once and for all — put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance,” Armstrong said in a statement. “But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.”
It’s a shrewd move. Now Armstrong fans and admirers who refuse to acknowledge what is overwhelmingly likely bordering on certain—that he is a cheat, a liar and a fraud—can argue that poor Lance is a victim, and never was “proven guilty.” Of course, poor Lance has made millions of dollars and lived the life of a celebrity and hero for more than a decade, and he not going to forfeit any of that, or his freedom, no matter what rational people think of him. Like Barry Bonds, baseball’s most successful steroid cheat, he pulled it off, exploiting his sport, deceiving the public and taking advantage of a “look the other way” culture that corrupted bicycle racing even more thoroughly than steroids corrupted baseball.
I wrote about Armstrong’s betrayal of his fans, his sport and sportsmanship over a year ago, and nothing has changed. [You can read it here.] His excuse-mongers still make the same arguments, that he is “innocent until proven guilty,” which is nonsense in a non-criminal law setting, that the inquiry into his doping is a “witch hunt” (Armstrong used the same phrase in his statement. I am trying to think of the last person to use “witch hunt” who wasn’t trying to get away with something…), and that Armstrong’s work on behalf of cancer research and other good causes excuses whatever he may have done, like Ted Kennedy’s achievements in the Senate excuse his getting a young girl killed. All rationalizations and delusion. The evidence against Armstrong lacks a smoking gun, but the sheer mass of it is damning.
Nike says it will continue to let Armstrong promote its brand, and if it sticks to that, shame on Nike. Then again, Nike has proven itself shame-proof, and ethics has never been one of its products. “This is a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition,” said Travis Tygart, chief executive of the USADA.
He is right, of course. The amazing and disturbing thing is how many Americans don’t care if it does.
Facts: Washington Post
Graphic: The Writers Coin
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