Please convey my thanks to Bill Strickland for his nuanced and complex analysis of the Armstrong case in the October issue (gasp--where did the summer go??) As usual, Bill gets the yellow jersey for journalism.
Those expecting a black or white outcome of the doping vs. Armstrong investigation have long suffered from naivete. Doping has been part of the sport since as far back as the six-day races of a century ago. How far back should we censure and strip riders of their wins and fame? Shall we take down Tom Simpson's granite memorial on Mount Ventoux? Tom was, after all, a doper!
One also has to ask how modern, high tech doping could be so well established if it is only the riders who are complicit. The riders are not sinless, but "performance enhancement" has been as integral to modern pro cycling as high tech frames and big corporate money. Which riders do we throw under the bus to offer penance for the pro race industry as a whole?
As Bill so clearly points out, the problems of doping will only become more complex in a modern age of nanotechnology and genetic engineering. I have no idea how we will manage such technologies or what we, in the future, will call "clean racing". Meanwhile, I agree with Bill: Lance was the best Tour de France rider in his era; even the most negative outcome of this case will not erase the memories of him riding away from his adversaries to win those jerseys. Giving his jerseys to anyone else, or even just taking them away, would result in a cure worse than the doping disease, which will take more than sanctioning Armstrong to cure.
Later addenum: Thank you, Anon, for pointing out Padraig's carefully and comprehensively written essay ("Keeping Score") in Red Kite Prayer.
And yet a later addenum from the excellent Red Kite Prayer:
"...Could it ever have been any other way, with the fall of Armstrong? It seems cycling has been on a collision course with this moment for the better part of its history. From riders dosing up with brandy in the early days, to the scourge of amphetamines, to modern day blood doping, top level racers have always pushed beyond the rules in search of an advantage...."
|Granite Memorial to Tom Simpson on Mount Ventoux|