The French were right about Iraq, and now they're right about one of our great American heroes, Lance Armstrong.
Don't you hate it?
The French never bought Lance's claims of drug-free victories in the Tour de France.
Now a federal investigation may prove them right. I didn't need the feds to make me suspicious, because I understand the sport of cycling.
That a clean Lance could have beaten the world's best racers when they were juiced up on extra red blood cells seems to defy the laws of physical reality. These cells supply oxygen to the legs and fuel muscle combustion. More cells mean more oxygen, which means more power and more endurance.
EPO, which is the drug of choice for endurance athletes, makes your body produce more cells.
When EPO hit the Tour de France, the speeds rose sharply and you either grabbed a syringe or got left behind.
I found it difficult to believe that Lance not only survived — he dominated.
But as my daughter once said about Santa Claus: "I don't think he's real but I choose to believe in him."
So can we choose to believe in Lance even if he's not real?
Can we not agree that if Lance cheated and lied, the world is a better place because of it?
Scott Thomson, a Disney employee who was diagnosed with testicular cancer more than 10 years ago, wants to keep believing.
We featured Scott in a sports column back in 2001, when Lance was going for his third Tour de France title after recovering from testicular cancer.
Scott bought a bike before his diagnosis because he wanted to be like Lance. Then he became more like Lance than he had ever planned.
"It was good to read about someone who had gone through a case more severe than mine, who overcame the challenge," says Scott. "My opinion is that I like to believe he wasn't taking any drugs … but it sure seems the evidence is pointing in the other direction."
Does it take the luster off?
"No, I don't think it will for me," he says. "Maybe I follow sports so much and hear so much about performance-enhancing drugs I'm just numb to it."
Former WESH-Channel 2 news anchor Wendy Chioji took the Lance road to recovery, competing in marathons, cycling events and triathlons after treatment for breast cancer. She has ridden with Lance and has raised $200,000 for his Livestrong cancer foundation.
"I don't see any good going after a retired racer who has moved on to something bigger and better," she says.
Barry Bonds' cheating benefited only him.
Lance's alleged cheating benefited millions.
If Lance only had done well in the Tour, or if he had won only one Tour, his story would have been quickly forgotten, as are so many feel-good stories. But winning seven times, all the while calling himself a "cancer survivor," made him an inspirational symbol to cancer survivors worldwide.
His Livestrong cancer foundation has raised more than $400 million. More than 70 million plastic bracelets have been sold.
Last year, donations from Livestrong went toward two programs at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando.
One is the Artists-in-Residence program, in which artists give lessons in photography, painting and writing to patients undergoing chemotherapy. It takes their minds off the stress.
"The feedback has been awesome," says Cory Warren, from United Arts of Central Florida.
In two months, the program has handled about 600 patients.
The other program is Cancer Transitions, a six-week series of support groups for cancer patients after their treatment is up. It teaches them about nutrition, exercise and stress reduction.
There are all kinds of Livestrong programs, including fertility services for cancer patients.
None of this would have been possible if Lance hadn't won all those races, and I don't see how winning them was possible without EPO.
Does being a noble fraud count for anything?
Is there some compelling reason to investigate someone for cheating and lying against other guys who were cheating and lying in a bike race in France?
Aren't there more pressing crimes?
Is putting Livestrong at risk worth it?
"He is so much bigger than his bike racing anymore," says Chioji. "He used that as a platform to do something humongous that is reaching millions of people. I don't really know why they go after him anymore."
email@example.com or 407-420-5525