This week's Sports Illustrated has a pretty scathing article about cyclist golden boy, Lance Armstrong. In short, Armstrong is under federal investigation and could face charges against him of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering, drug trafficking and defrauding the US government.
Directing the government’s investigation is the Eliot Ness of Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) inquiries, Jeff Novitzky. Remember him? He famously brought down BALCO Labs and Olympian Marion Jones.
If you haven’t read the article it's worth a read. Lance Armstrong maintains that he will be vindicated. But after reading all of the allegations from so many people closely involved with US Cycling and Armstrong himself, it's easier to believe that from 1990 to 2009 US Cycling was a very dirty sport and everyone that was affiliated with the teams is guilty. Armstrong and his lawyer would rather throw around words like "discredited" in the direction of anyone who is cooperating with the investigation or who has made public statements regarding his alleged use of PEDs.
I know, I know…but, Armstrong is a cancer survivor and his foundation raises so much money for cancer research. If he cheated, surviving cancer doesn't make him any less of a cheater. Also, Floyd Landis is quoted in the SI article as saying: "Lance told me that [Dr. Michele] Ferrari had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that". File that quote under: things that make you go hmmm. Also, yes, I’m aware that no one believes anything uttered by the "discredited" Landis.
This article confirms my feeling that Lance Armstrong is the Barry Bonds of cycling. Speaking of Bonds, Barry Bonds he’s facing perjury charges (thanks to Novitzky's BALCO investigation). If Bonds was a cancer survivor would baseball fans feel any different about him? No. We wouldn’t.
As a lifelong Orioles fan (go ahead, laugh) I grew up watching Cal Ripken, Jr. play. If the Orioles had a game, Cal, Jr. played in it. In good seasons and in bad, like when the O’s started their season 0-21 and his father Cal, Sr. was fired as Skipper…Cal, Jr. continued to play. He played in 2,632 consecutive games, all with the Orioles. Cal, Jr. played in all those games during the so-called "steroid era" in baseball and was never associated with the use of any PED. If he had been, my heart would have shattered.
Remember how outraged we were during the 2008 Summer Olympics when the Chinese girl's gymnastics team beat our girl's team with their
toddler underage squad? They cheated. And while I do think that cheating is cheating, period; using PEDs in an endurance sport like cycling seems more beneficial than in a sport that also involves physics and hand-eye coordination like baseball. Seriously, anyone can ride a bike, including me. I've never tried hitting a home run out of Giants Stadium but I’m pretty sure that I couldn't even if I was on roids.
And while I understand that US Cycling isn't exactly Major League Baseball, Lance Armstrong has catapulted himself from US Cyclist to some kind of American hero. So while we as Americans may not care much about the ins and outs of cycling we should care about someone who may have duped us into thinking that he’s one of the good guys.
Cross-posted at Pundit League