In case you missed the news, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced that it was going to pull seven Tour de France titles from cyclist Lance Armstrong.
And it has no right to do so.
When the news broke on Thursday night, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, incredible athlete, inspirational figurehead, was not only being called a liar, but stripped of one of the greatest standing records in the sports world.
Oh, I forgot to mention one insignificant detail: the USADA has no physical evidence to accuse Lance of cheating.
The only case the accusers can make is the testimony of two former teammates who say they saw Lance dope up, but that’s another funny story: they were both busted for doping in a failed drug test, something Lance passed over 500 times. Oh, one was also busted for wire fraud on Friday. The organization also claims to have testimony from eight other people, but they refuse to name them and refuse to release their statements.
Translation: the USADA is riding a case of hope and prayer, banking solely on a biased arbitration process to bring down someone that is simply genetically engineered to be a world-class cyclist.
So why did Lance call it quits in the case? Why would he drop his case, and likely admit defeat for the first time in his life? Simple: he saw through the B.S.
Why would he enter a loaded arbitration process, practically guaranteed to humiliate him as much as possible, when he can do what he does best?
Lance is a defiant man. He was diagnosed in 1996 with a testicular cancer that had moved to his brains and lungs. He should be dead. Instead, after undergoing extensive chemotherapy and torturing his body, he rode, just two-and-a-half years later, to the first of seven Tour championships.
In the policy of full disclosure, I need to clarify that myself and my family hold Lance on a pedestal. My stepfather, Pat, was diagnosed with testicular cancer when I was 15. We all turned to Lance’s story for inspiration, but no more so than Pat. While he lost a drastic amount of weight due to the chemotherapy, he found Lance’s book, It’s Not About the Bike. A lot of the drive Pat had was intrinsic, but Lance’s story focused that drive.