The United States Anti-Doping Agency's case against Lance Armstrong was strong, make no mistake about that. They are not inclined to taking down American sports heroes without cause and evidence. The agency was not created for headlines but for justice.
It was hardly an idle boast, the declaration the USADA made, that they had 10 former teammates of his that were willing to testify that he used performance enhancing drugs to help him win the Tour de France 7 times. Many were to testify they had been told directly by Armstrong he "used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone" from before 1998 until 2005, and at other times. Some of the witnesses were part of the doping Armstrong and the team he was a leader of, the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, openly encouraged.
Further, it was not grandstanding when the USADA promised they had the results of blood tests from Mr. Armstrong that confirm he had doped.
They charged Johan Bruyneel, coach of Armstrong teams, three medical staff and a consultant, of which three of those, two medical staff and the doctor who was a consultant, did not contest the charges and have now been banned from sport for life. The USADA claimed to have had enough evidence to convict each and it's not surprising the three walked away.
Lance Armstrong: denies doping charges again
Given all of that it's clear Armstrong could see that despite all the good he has done by setting an example of courage by beating cancer and creating a successful foundation for cancer research, he was not going to be let off the hook. So to prevent the world being exposed to all of that evidence against him, he announced he would not fight the charges.
But he did not do so honorably. All we needed was an "I'm sorry" and instead we got self-serving denials: "There is zero physical evidence to support (these) outlandish and heinous claims. The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of (doping) controls I have passed with flying colors," Armstrong said.
For years that's been his mantra, repeated over and over: that he never failed a test; but it has no real meaning and Armstrong knows it. He knows that the ability for testing to detect drugs has improved and that for a long time cheating was easy because the banned substances could not be detected. His denials are intended to bolster his case but when examined they take from it.
Shortly after Armstrong's announcement that he wouldn't fight the charges, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said they agree with the stripping of his titles and ban. “He had a right to contest the charges. He chose not to,” WADA president John Fahey said. “The simple fact is that his refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them. Under the rules, penalties can now be imposed.”
Stripped of Tour de France wins
Armstrong has been stripped of his wins and banned from sanctioned sport for life, though how other agencies, like the Tour de France, will react to that isn't yet known. But no athlete gives in to false charges and having wins earned legitimately taken away, so WADA is correct, his decision not to fight the charges are an admission of guilt, regardless of what he says.
It was a terrible period in sport, in particular in cycling, and he was not the only one and, given so many were cheating and yet he was consistently winning, some will still argue he was the best of his era. But we can't know what might have been had he not cheated so the USADA did the right thing and if Armstrong cannot admit it then it's hoped he will at least stop braying about an innocence that never was.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com