Lance came out last week during a landmark interview with Oprah to reveal the truth: he doped. During each and every one of his 7 wins at the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong used some combination of blood doping, EPO, cortisone and testosterone to illegally boost his performance.
To anyone even casually following this saga over the past years, this news is shocking. Lance Armstrong spent the last decade systematically denying his use of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) which involved him lying under oath, suing his accusers and deceiving his friends, family and the world. After everything, he decides now is the time to set the record straight?
In the interview, Lance tries to sidesteps questions about others involved in this deep dark conspiracy but Oprah is relentless about digging out the details. Oprah repeatedly asks questions about Dr. Ferrari who was supposedly the mastermind behind the teams doping regiment, his teammates and how exactly everything went down: “Did you REALLY receive blood transfusions while staying overnight in hotels between stages of the race? shoot EPO in the tents along the course while your fans cheered outside and store the empty syringes in coke cans? ” “Yes, yes and I [Lance] take full responsibility.”
Yeah, it’s a big deal that Lance finally came clean(ish) about his doping, drug smuggling, deceiving habit. But is anyone really surprised? The evidence against him was piling up at an alarming rate. Virtually all of his teammates had testified against him. The walls of his defense were crumbling for years.
Here is my question, is what he did really as bad as everyone is saying it is? Obviously the lying is bad, as is the suing of innocent people for speaking out against him. But is the actual taking of these performance enhancing drugs bad? Should Lance Armstrong go directly to Jail??
If you look at the history of doping at the Tour, it is startling how prevalent the use of drugs seems to be. Is finding new ways to dope and beat the tests just part of the contest? I am starting to think so.
This is a direct quote from the USADA decision against Lance Armstrong:
Twenty of the twenty-one podium finishers in the Tour de France from 1999 through 2005 have been directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations or exceeding the UCI hematocrit threshold. Of the forty-five (45) podium finishes during the time period between 1996 and 2010, thirty-six(36) were by riders similarly tainted by doping.
That means that only 9 out of 45 riders that made it to the podium during the 15 year period were clean. There is a complete chart in the 200+ page report linked above.
The primary reason for disallowing the use of performance enhancing drugs is that they put people on an uneven playing field. They also can be abused to the short and long term detriment of the athlete. But if the Tour was as dirty as everyone is saying it was, who was Lance or any other rider, to think of PEDs as a leg up on the competition? One could make the case that it is the requirement of the race organization to maintain the standards they prescribe. They may not be able to catch the occasional outlier but surely if the majority of racers are breaking a specific rule, it is hardly a rule at all.
Lance is still at fault and should suffer the consequences. I don’t know what those consequences should be but luckily nobody cares about what I have to say anyway.
If nothing else, at least SNL got some good material