The Last of Lance

The Lance Armstrong Fan Club writes to the US Anti-Doping Agency to protest its witch hunt.

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. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The American Cancer Society

According to the Foundation Beyond Belief, a secular charity “funded by atheists, freethinkers, and humanists,” the American Cancer Society has rejected its offer to raise up to a half million dollars for cancer research through the American Cancer Society‘s Relay for Life program. The ACS declined to allow the Foundation to field a national relay team, though every other non-profit that has applied has been allowed to participate.

Talk about “beyond belief”: I have a hard time accepting this story as true, though it is being reported by respectable sources. Why wouldn’t the Society, whose mission is to help those with cancer, including helping them by finding a cure, turn down any group’s generosity, as long as its donation wasn’t going to be raised through illegal means? Bank of America, CitiBank, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart and other companies whose reputation is hardly without tarnish are among the ACS’s listed donors…and as we know, a lot of the people who run these companies worship Mammon, not God. Continue reading

No Excuses and No Mercy For Lance Armstrong

Sorry, Lance…good guys don’t cheat.

Back when Barry Bonds was still playing baseball, a sportswriter mused about why it was that everyone assumed  Bonds was a performance-enhancing drug cheater despite his protestations to the contrary, while most Americans and sports journalists brushed away similar allegations regarding Lance Armstrong. Both competed in sports with acknowledged steroid abuse problems; indeed, the problem in bicycle racing was presumed to be more pervasive than in baseball. (A few years later, with the banning of multiple Tour winners, the presumption became a certainty.) Both athletes had improbable late career improvements in their performance to reach previously unimaginable dominance in their respective sports. Both had to explain or deflect multiple credible accusations of cheating and circumstantial evidence that suggested that they were doping. Both claimed they had never failed drug tests, and there were good reasons to doubt the denials.

So why was Bonds a villain by consensus and Lance an untouchable hero? The sportswriter explored many theories (Apologies: I cannot locate the article. If someone can, please send it), among them the greater popularity of baseball over cycling, Bond’s startling physical transformation into a behemoth while Armstrong remained cyclist-sinewy,  Armstrong’s inspiring story as a cancer survivor, Armstrong’s philanthropic work,and the fact that Bonds, unlike Armstrong, was black. The biggest difference, however, and to the writer the key one, was that Armstrong acted the role of a hero, while Bonds refused to. Armstrong was friendly and accommodating, while Bonds was angry, intimidating and antagonistic. Armstrong seemed like someone who played by the rules, and who lived his ethical values. Bonds seemed like a rebel, one who wouldn’t hesitate to break the rules for his own benefit. In short, the public wanted Armstrong to be the hero he seemed to be, so they ignored the evidence linking him to performance-enhancing drugs.

After last Sunday, the disparate public perception of Bonds and Armstrong, always illogical, became unsustainable. Continue reading

Dr. James Watson: There, But For Red Tape, Goes Dr. Mengele

Dr. James D. Watson, Nobel Prize winner, will always have a place among the highest echelons of scientific achievement, no matter what thoughtless and dangerous things he says. Still, the co-discoverer of the double helix is slowly tarnishing his reputation by a series of gaffes. A few years ago, he opined that there was no way to avoid the conclusion that African-Americans just weren’t as intelligent, on average, as whites: the predictable uproar sent him into retirement. Now, as Watson reaps the well-deserved bounty of career honors in his eighties, he is endorsing the retreat from the standards of medical research ethics originally inspired by the diabolical human experimentation performed on helpless adults and children by nightmarish Nazi researcher, Dr. Josef  Mengele. Mengele believed that human beings could be reasonably sacrificed if the benefits to society and humanity generally were great enough, in his estimation, of course. Apparently, so does Watson. Continue reading