As I pore over the multitude of articles in the media, along with taking a look at the released USADA report (tabbed pdf link) on their evidence against Armstrong (which is extensively powerful in my mind), I can’t help but notice the continued support for Lance in the comment sections within many of these media pieces. Most remarks seem to follow this line of thinking:
“NOBODY can be doping through 700+ tests and pass all of them” [USADA indicates much less]
“…total SCAM by the USADA”
“All a bunch of BS…There is a conspiracy to take Lance down even farther”
Etc., etc., etc.
And even though I don’t have a quote handy, I have read many comments regarding the idea that Armstrong’s involvement in cancer research, and his foundation, trumps everything and he should be left alone (completely different issue to me).
Now I am not a cyclist, nor do I have anything personal against Lance Armstrong (albeit, I do have very strong feelings against “cheats” in sports—DOPERS). I am merely a teacher, a former athlete and coach, and a parent of athletes, who is looking to make a difference in the “winning at all costs” attitudes that seem pervasive in our current sports and youth sports culture. The kind of attitudes that create a loss of perspective regarding participation in competitive sports and help to destroy many of the life lessons that can and should come out of that experience.
In addition, I don’t claim to know everything about this case, nor do I have private information that would indicate (beyond any shadow of a doubt and with complete absoluteness) that Lance Armstrong is guilty. However, this piece, Lance Armstrong: Was He Using or Wasn’t He? (and, most importantly, Dr. Michael’s link in that piece), does indicate to me that he was a doper and should be treated as such.
Yet…when I take a step back from all the reading, attitudes, and evidence from both sides of the argument (USADA, Armstrong and his supporters), and even my own instincts, being a former competitive athlete and coach, I come away asking one question regarding the statements made (like what’s quoted above) by the supporters of Lance Armstrong. That question is…WHY???
Why would a government agency like the USADA go after someone, like Armstrong, so vehemently if there was not something there? An agency whose vision/mission is:
“To be the guardian of the values and life lessons learned through true sport. We hold the public trust to:
“•Preserve the Integrity of Competition — We preserve the value and integrity of athletic competition through just initiatives that prevent, deter and detect violations of true sport.
“•Inspire True Sport — We inspire present and future generations of U.S. athletes through initiatives that impart the core principles of true sport — fair play, respect for one’s competitor and respect for the fundamental fairness of competition.
“•Protect the Rights of U.S. Athletes — We protect the right of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes to compete healthy and clean — to achieve their own personal victories as a result of unwavering commitment and hard work — to be
celebrated as true heroes.”
I mean, for what…power, money, prestige, and/or to provide a need for their existence?
These reasons…I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. It doesn’t hold any logic for me, especially after reading and considering the very mission for which the USADA was created. There certainly is overwhelming evidence in competitive sports that the need for an agency like this DOES exist.
What they are doing here, with Lance…this is their job, their purpose. If there is strong evidence that poor character-driven, illegal doping behavior exists (and I do believe that in Armstrong’s case there is), then it is the USADA’s obligation to go after such.
From my perspective, if they truly did not believe that Lance was guilty, that he was telling the truth and all that they had uncovered was simply circumstantial, I don’t think they would contrive information, facts, just to take him down. To me it makes no sense, serves no real purpose. Heck, there are certainly other fish to fry in the many doping scandals that exist in sports today…plenty to go after, plenty for them to do.
So what’s the big deal, why is it so important, this taking down of Lance Armstrong and/or anyone else who travels the doping path?
Well…it is for people like Scott Mercier (please read his story, it is telling), along with any athlete, in any sport, whose dream might be to become the very best they can be. You see, the picture isn’t as simple as some might want to believe. There is a bigger, more comprehensive purpose behind cleaning up a sports culture that has lost its way, much bigger than you or I, even bigger than Lance Armstrong.