Waking up to read that one of the greatest sportsmen and inspirational human beings of my lifetime has been found guilty for drug cheating was numbing. In my eyes, he is thee champion of all professional road cyclists who cannot be bettered for his personal and professional story. Brought up watching his seven Tour de France victories, wearing my Livestrong bracelet with pride and yes, jealous of my dad owning a US Postal cycling jersey I was gutted to say the least. In a sport which seems to constantly be scarred by drug cheating allegations I can't quite believe it could be him too. What are your opinions? Do you not quite get it? How can he be found guilty of anything when he has never provided a positive drug test? Or has he?
|Yellow is his favourite colour|
The United States Anti Doping Agency announced today that Armstrong has "received a lifetime period of ineligibility and disqualification of all competitive results from August 1, 1998 through the present." This including forfeiture of any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes.
To paint a clearer picture of why this is we shall start with the anti-doping rule violations for which he is being sanctioned for:
1. Use and/or attempted use of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.
2. Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfusion equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, corticosteroids and masking agents.
3. Trafficking of EPO, testosterone, and corticosteroids.
4. Administration and/or attempted administration to others of EPO, testosterone, and cortisone.
5. Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.
This evidence against Lance Armstrong arose from disclosures made to USADA by more than a dozen witnesses who agreed to testify and provide evidence about their firsthand experience and/or knowledge of the doping activity of those involved in the United States Postal Service Conspiracy as well as analytical data. So as part of the investigation Armstrong was invited to meet with USADA and be truthful about his time on the USPS team but he refused.
*It is useful to note that all the listed activities above are defined as anti-doping rule violations under the USADA Protocol for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Testing, the United States Olympic Committee National Anti-Doping Policies, USA Cycling rules and the International Cycling Union (UCI) Anti-Doping Rules (UCI ADR), all of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. * It really is astounding how serious anti-doping in sport has become!
BUT the twist in the tail is that Lance Armstrong has never tested positive in this time period or in fact ever for illegal drug use! So surely how can there be any case of rule violation when he has proven his innocence time after time? I will steer you towards reading this statement released by the man himself earlier today - his words are most definitely better than mine.
As things stand, following the dismissal of Armstrong's lawsuit on Monday, August 20, 2012, by the federal court in Austin, Texas, he had until midnight on Thursday, August 23, to contest the evidence against him in a full evidentiary hearing with neutral arbitrators as provided by US law. However, when given the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him, and with full knowledge of the consequences, he chose not to contest the fact that he engaged in doping violations from at least August 1, 1998 and participated in a conspiracy to cover up his actions. It makes me question why has he thrown in the towel and therefore live being called a doper and a cheat for the rest of his life? On the flipside it appears he is fighting against a brick wall so there is little point in him wasting the rest of his life, time and money on a lost cause.
On a lighter note, I will never forget the day I heard he was coming to Paisley for a surprise bike ride after tweeting "Hey Glasgow, Scotland! I'm coming your way tomorrow. Who wants to go for a bike ride? Over 300 folk turned up to join him on his bike ride although I am not too sure how many of them were there at the end!! Even the former Scottish world record cycling champion Graeme Obree turned up who Armstrong referred to as the "Flying Scotsman".
|Lance and the Paisley punters!|
He will remain an inspiration to so many over the world not only as an athlete but as a guy who was diagnosed with testicular cancer and won.