After more than 12 years of dogged pursuit by the USADA for accusations of success via performance enhancing drugs, Lance Armstrong has decided to close the books on his cycling career, at least the one overseen by the USADA. According to the USADA leadership, by failing to continue in the arbitration process, Armstrong effectively admitted to use of performance enhancing drugs and thus forfeits his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles.
The dark cloud of suspicion has been hanging over Armstrong and his remarkable career since 1999. Through his record seven-year run in which he won titles from 1999-2005, Armstrong faced hundreds of doping tests and apparently passed them all until a couple of tainted samples recently showed their ugly heads. He's faced accusations from former teammates, competitors and even some teammates' wives about the entire team's program for beating the system but only recently has there been enough evidence to make him throw in the towel.
It's kind of hard to blame him for running out of gas. I am in no way supporting, condemning or even making a comment about his guilt or innocence since I have not personally seen the results the USADA is basing their case on or even having witnessed any of "negative" results over the years. It's hard enough asking teenage girls to step on a scale or encourage them to look at the color of their urine to comply with the new Heat Acclimatization Law. I have no interest in Armstrong's bodily fluids or anyone else's for that matter.
One has to wonder why, more than seven years after his final Tour de France victory, the USADA continued to badger him until he's finally had enough. Even the judge in the case mentioned the "troubling aspects" of the case and the "perplexing" battle between Armstrong and the USADA before sending the case back to arbitration.
Why is it so important that this many years later they have to continue crucifying one of sports' greatest athletes, especially one that has used his platform to raise millions of dollars to fight the deadliest disease affecting our citizens? I'm not saying his charity work should give him a free pass, but what are they trying to accomplish by continuing their dogged pursuit?
Does it taint his reputation among his many followers? Maybe. Does it give satisfaction to the accusers and the USADA leadership that have finally received what they have pursued for so long? Certainly. Why is it so important we as a society feel the need to build up our heroes only to knock them down? Does it really matter whether or not Jack and Bobby slept with Marilyn?
Armstrong, his teammates and his competitors know who won the titles. Even when they strip him of his titles which I'm sure they'll undoubtedly do, they won't be able to erase the years of positive contributions he's made to cancer research.
Before we judge Armstrong or any of our heroes for their misgivings, let's make sure we consider their entire body of work as a human being. As Jesus told us all, believers or not, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone".
I'm dropping my rocks.