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News Opinion

Lance Armstrong's greatest legacy

The day the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced it was stripping Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories and imposing a lifetime competition ban on him was a dramatic one in the world of sports and an even more dramatic one for cancer patients and survivors ("Armstrong backs off fight," Aug. 24).

It may be impossible to know whether Mr. Armstrong is innocent or guilty. But the whole "erasure" process seems to be happening a little too quickly.

Where have Mr. Armstrong's teammates on the U.S. Postal and Discovery Team who have agreed to testify against him been for the past eight years? And who is going believe guys like Floyd ("It was the Jack Daniels") Landis or Tyler ("I have the blood of my twin who died in utero") Hamilton anyway?

But none of that make any difference. Mr. Armstrong has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. The USADA has reduced an icon to just another con. And that's kind of sad.

During the past several years, I believed Mr. Armstrong when he said he'd never doped. He'd been tested more than 500 times — after races in France, at home in Austin, whenever, wherever. And he passed every single test. How could he have cheated?

I'm waiting for the evidence the USADA says it has before I pick up a stone.

I had hoped this day would never come. Not because of the cycling victories that will be taken away from Mr. Armstrong but because of his most important victory, the one over cancer.

He has become an inspiration to patients and their families who have had to cope with that horrific disease. I suppose some of them were very disappointed on hearing the news about him. He may have even lost the respect and admiration of a segment of the community who made him their hero.

Regardless of the USADA decision you cannot invalidate Mr. Armstrong's contribution to the fight against cancer. His foundation has raised almost $500 million to improve the lives of people affected by cancer, and the hope he has given thousands of people is incalculable.

The USADA can take away Mr. Armstrong's yellow jerseys, but they can't take away all that he's done for cancer patients and their families, and that is his greatest legacy.

Dennis Nugent, Severna Park

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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