Photo: AP Images
Last night, Lance Armstrong announced that he will not fight the doping charges brought against him by the US Anti-Doping Agency.This will likely lead to Armstrong being banned for life from competitive sports and stripped of all his Tour de France titles.
(As Tony Manfred observes, the great irony is that those titles will now likely be given to cyclists who doped but who didn’t get as aggressively investigated as Armstrong. So it is not as though all justice is being served).
Unfortunately for those who were hoping to finally hear the full story from Lance Armstrong about what did and didn’t happen in the years in which he dominated cycling—including why, if he is telling the truth, he didn’t dope when pretty much everyone he rode with did—the decision also made it less likely that we will ever hear that story.
But the head of the USADA, Travis Tygart, has some encouraging news on that front.
In an interview with Velonation, Tygart says that the evidence the agency has collected against Armstrong will eventually be released.
This will allow everyone who just wants to figure out what happened to examine the evidence themselves.
Although Armstrong’s statement yesterday said that he will never address this issue publicly again, the release of the evidence might also give Armstrong an opportunity and incentive to tell his full story outside of a legal context—in an arena in which he does not face the risk of losing both his Tour De France titles and, perhaps, much of the money he earned from cycling if the arbitration ruling goes against him.
(Some of Armstrong’s earnings were predicated on his racing clean. If he were to fight the doping charges and lose, he might be more exposed to future clawback lawsuits than if he merely declared the charges ridiculous and elected not to fight them, which is what he has done.)
I, personally, would like to review all the evidence the USADA has collected against Armstrong.
I would also like to hear his full story on what happened.
I want to do this not because I want to “tear down” a hero—Armstrong has been hugely inspiring to me—but because I just want to understand what happened.
Doping rules may not have been enforced in the years in which Armstrong raced, but I have to believe that many aspiring cyclists in that era chose not to dope and that this decision cost them their careers. Many of those who raced around Armstrong, meanwhile, have taken the brave and difficult step of admitting that they broke the rules. It would be unfair to both of these groups, as well as to competitive athletes everywhere, to suggest that it simply doesn’t matter whether or not Armstrong doped. It does matter. And it’s time the world got what appears to be the best answer to this question it is ever going to get.
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