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Lance Armstrong Cheated to Win. Why is that Wrong? ^ | 17 Nov 2010 | Nick Gillespie

Posted on 11/20/2012 12:11:09 PM PST by Notary Sojac

After months of bad press, the greatest competitive cyclist of all time has officially hit rock bottom: The Lance Armstrong Foundation has dropped the name of its eponymous creator and will now be known as the Livestrong Foundation. Rest easy, Lance, it can’t get much – or is that any? – worse.

His story is unparalleled, Shakespearean in scope and breadth. A cocky, gum-flapping athlete battled insurmountable odds after a devastating cancer diagnosis, his greasy soul barely slipping the surly clutches of a certain dirt nap. Ultimately, he rehabilitated his battered body and morphed into a champion.

Not only did Lance Armstrong improbably return to the sport he loved, professional cycling, he used his unfailing narrative as a stick and beat to death his opponents by winning the most grueling sporting event on the planet of earth: The Tour De France. Seven motherloving times!

He must have had help, right? I mean, you can’t just win the Tour that many times without some aid and angels. Could all the old ladies’ prayers and good wishes really have propelled this flesh rocket up the Pyrenees and down the Alps? If they could, Robert Urich would have more Olympic medals than Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz combined. But he doesn’t. Because he’s dead. Sorry, grandma.

As much as everyone wanted to believe Lance’s performance was the result of clean living and hard training, there were whispers for years that he was dirtier than a bum’s ass. The French cycling daily L’Equipe published a long story in August 2005 accusing him of failing a 1999 drug test by using EPO, or erythropoietin, a blood booster commonly used by cyclists to aid in red blood-cell production. The French said he was a habitual doper who had enough money and support to insulate himself from the rules that sought to protect the sport from enhanced athletes who posed an unfair advantage to non-tainted riders. Lance said he didn’t trust the French testing system, probably because they detected those pesky drugs.

When Armstrong gave up the fight in August 2012 against the U.S. Anti Doping Agency (USADA), people’s love turned to sheer outrage and they took his declaration to fight the charges no more forever as an act of personal betrayal. How could cancer boy have put something in his pure body to get him up those hills faster, to knock over those time trials like Southern damsels fainting from the vapors?

But as backlash gripped Lance fans, there was a deeper question more important than simple outrage: Why are people so mad at Lance Armstrong when logic should have told them the guy was doing nothing short of spiking his veins, spinning his blood, and biting off chicken heads to achieve his inhuman feats?

To put it a little differently: The rules pushed by the USADA and the International Cycling Union (UCI) are so arbitrary and widely flouted that it shouldn’t be a big deal that Lance, like most of his comptetitors, broke the rules. You don’t have to have a doctorate in pharmacology to know Lance cheated, but why is it wrong?

The standard answer is simply: Drugs are bad, m’kay? Now this is the aspect that should make the libertarian in all of us wince. Why are drugs bad? Because they’re bad, that’s why. The circular argument is that putting bad things in your body is dangerous and unfair and thus immoral and dangerous. But plenty of things are dangerous and unfair. How about zooming down one-lane, winding mountain passes with eager teenagers ringing cowbells in your face, otherwise known as a typical stage in the Tour de France? That seems kind of dangerous.

It’s highly unlikely Amaury Sport Organization, the body that organizes the Tour, is going to ban enthusiastic spectation. But if they did, would you be outraged by someone ringing a cowbell simply because it’s now illegal? Cycling is by nature dangerous, especially when it’s done right, because a light, strong rider will be able to propel himself at great speeds, virtually unprotected from collision or calamity should he tumble from his steel steed. Professional cyclists may be idiots, but they’re not your children. Cycling is deadlier than the drugs you can consume to make yourself faster at it, so either way, you’re hastening your own death, or at least flirting with the Grim Reaper like a cheap, Charlie-soaked bar girl.

What about the idea that using drugs is unfair because not everyone uses them equally? In addition to taking performance-enhancing drugs like EPO and testosterone (and paying to cover up positive tests), Lance is accused by the USADA of blood doping. That is essentially harvesting your own oxygen-rich blood cells (or borrowing some from a friendly matching donor - thanks bro!) and later injecting them at a critical point (like before a bike race) to deliver more oxygen to working muscles so they can perform longer and stronger.

Of all the techniques and tools in the cycling arsenal, this one I find totally inoffensive. It’s your blood! If you want to make yourself all sickly and anemic and shiver like a hairless cat when the refrigerated sanguine smoothie glugs back into your body, then have at it. As far as I’m concerned, if drinking your own urine somehow made you faster in a time trial, then bottoms up. It’s gross, and it’s weird, but it’s yours.

If any rider in a UCI-sanctioned race wanted to deliver more oxygen to their working systems by strapping on an oxygen tank like an octogenarian on the nickel slots at the Golden Nugget, they are free to do that, according to the World Doping Agency’s banned list. So you can have an oxygen tank on your back but not in your recycled blood, which only makes the means of transmission problematic. Hey wait a second, that’s not your air! You didn’t breathe that!

Imagine the unfair advantages a multi-millionaire celebrity like Lance Armstrong has over less-wealthy rivals: He can buy the best chefs, nutritionists, masseurs, physical therapists, movement specialists, physiologists, acupuncturists, chakra balancers, and ball tuggers. Lance could have a mountain chateau in Tourmalet, a climate-controlled bungalow in San Sebastian, a compound in Colorado for high-elevation training, and an oxygen-deprivation gym for cross training. He could have gadgets and gizmos to knead his sore calves when the servants retired for the evening, he could sleep in Michale Jackson’s old hyperbaric chamber (Bubbles is lonely!), he could extract the marrow of Heraclitus and spread it on toast points. With all the technology available in nutrition, medicine, components, bike frames, shoes, pointy, goofy-ass racing helmets, and every other element of cycling,everything could be deemed unfair, or unnatural!

Money is an advantage, technology is an advantage, genes are an advantage (or disadvantage, in many cases!). None of it is fair.

Here is a proposal for reform: Why not have two cycling leagues and see which one earns riders the most support from fans and sponsors? Let the market decide! TV ratings for the Tour De France doubled when Lance Armstrong was racing, and even now with wider cable distribution and a larger available audience the numbers were much smaller for the 2012 Tour than they were for Lance’s last victory in 2005. It could be like bodybuilding which has a “natural” non-juiced circuit. You could allow purists their riders who could conquer the great climbs of the world on diets of grass and coconut milk (because animal protein of any kind would be an unfair advantage). Then there would be a circuit for doping, manipulative assholes on another. Who do you think would attract a bigger crowd? A larger audience? More endorsements?

Lance Armstrong is guilty of a lot in the eyes of the UCI and USADA, two groups so profoundly mired in their mutual disdain it’s a miracle they can conjure charges and responses in between bouts of flinging feces at each other. USADA claims Lance paid UCI to cover up at least one positive drug test, and UCI claims USADA’s mama’s so big she straps buses to her feet to go roller skating. It’s that ugly. What is uglier still is the arbitrary nature with which substances and procedures are banned, wasting millions of tax dollars through USADA (which gets funding from the drug czar's office, of all places!) and the failed Department of Justice investigation against Armstrong, which should have never been launched in the first place. Policing sport is not the role of the government.

Remember your outrage and why you detest a guy who was doing the same thing his predecessors had done legally just a few years before, and that all his adversaries were doing concurrently. Save some of your bile to curse the name of Laurent Fignon, the guy who won the tour in 1983 and 1984, the years before blood doping was banned. He admitted to using amphetamines and cortisol, but no one is retroactively calling for him to give back his prize money, mostly because he is dead. Are you as angry with Laurent as you are at Lance? And if you are, how do you feel about Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour and a longtime critic of Armstrong? In the 1989 Tour, LeMond beat Fignon by a mere eight seconds(!), partly because LeMond wisely availed himself of all sorts of aerodynamically progressive equipment. Fignon, a Frenchman who disdained innovation that couldn't be shot directly into his ass, even refused to cut his ponytail, causing extra drag and precious lost seconds over the 21-stage race.

What if “science” deems blood-doping and injectables as innocuous (and generally useless) as the creams and supplements they sell at GNC? With falling viewership and global loss of interest in cycling, it’s more than likely that the powers that be will expand the list of accepted drugs and practices. If the day comes when cyclists can finally emerge from the shadows and party-hearty with their testosterone, their EPO, even an ELO mixed tape, make sure you know why you hate Lance Armstrong. It’s not because he made his former teammate and defrocked Tour winner Floyd Landis babysit a mini-fridge full of Lance blood for a long, hot, Austin summer, or because he shrunk his weenis with hormone injections, or had better oxygen-uptake than you.

No, it’s because in the end, Lance refused to admit what was as plain as the saddle sore on your butt after a 115-mile ride: that he cheated to win, and nobody did it better. No man is a hero to his former personal assistant, but Lance Armstrong was an asshole until the very end.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: armstrong; cycling; drugs; lance; lancearmstrong; tourdefrance; usada
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To: blueunicorn6
You want them to quit cheating? Quit watching.

What's there to watch? Cycling is a spectator event that is huge in Europe where doping got it's start and the only cycling event that's televised here in the U.S. is the TDF and that only draws interest here when an American team is in contention.

Had it not been for LeMond and Armstrong, it's unlikely that ESPN would even be televising it..............

Armstrong has done more for the U.S. cycling industry and his respective charities than any politician could ever hope to achieve. To have a government sponsored entity launch this all assault effort to destroy him is a travesty.............

41 posted on 11/20/2012 2:48:37 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (Jab her with a harpoon.....)
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To: Notary Sojac

Question: If a huge percentage of the best competitors are cheating, over many years, and the event owners and sanctioning and enforcement authorities let it go, again over many years, is it, or any particular act of breaking the rules, really cheating? For practical purposes, I’d have to say it might as well not be.

The L’Equipe article in particular ought to tick you off. Not because their reporters are a bunch of bitter Frenchmen, well, at any rate not just because of that, but because L’Equipe and the Tour are owned by the same company. L’Equipe is a Groupe Amaury paper. Amaury Sport, the owner and organizer of the Tour, as you might have deduced from the name, is also part of Groupe Amaury. You know the prize money Lance got? That’s their money. You’d think they’d have a vested interest in not paying their money to cheats, in finding the cheats and punishing them before, not after, the cheats win seven Tours in a row and win lots of money, and Groupe Amaury makes even more money covering the winning streak. Is Lance a cheat? Yeah. The problem is, pretty much everybody else in the sport including the guys running the events, enforcing the rules, and gathering the news, are crooks.

42 posted on 11/20/2012 3:01:36 PM PST by RichInOC (Palin 2016: The Perfect Storm.)
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To: Hot Tabasco
I don't really feel sorry for Lance; but I do feel sorry for the millions of people that he inspired. Who are they going to look to now? Obama? I am not sure that using a quasi government agency and a lot of tax dollars to bring him down was appropriate. His career was basically over anyway; the only ones really benefiting are all of those people who wanted revenge after he trampled on them on his way to the top.
43 posted on 11/20/2012 3:04:43 PM PST by fireman15 (Check your facts before making ignorant statements.)
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To: fireman15
people who wanted revenge after he trampled on them on his way to the top.

Who were "those" people?

44 posted on 11/20/2012 3:22:27 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (Jab her with a harpoon.....)
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To: treetopsandroofs
Don't forget the people who flood these threads thinking that the government went after Armstrong, because the USADA has "US" in its name. Kool-Aid drinkers, all.
45 posted on 11/20/2012 3:43:12 PM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: gaijin


i’m against doping in sports, but our Congress critters have no interest in the serious issues that we are experiencing in this country. they want a little show now and then to make people think that they are doing something, but turn a blind eye to what’s most important.

where are the leaders this great country once had? “gone to graveyard everyone, when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn.”

46 posted on 11/20/2012 4:08:00 PM PST by IWONDR
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To: pepsionice

I participated in a sport for years involving horses which meant that a urine test for banned substances could be taken on my horse at any place or time during or immediately after the competition. I had 2 tests collected in those years. No problem.

I need someone to explain to me how Lance could undergo over 500 tests, sometimes EVERY day & not ever get a positive result.

That doesn’t make any logical sense to me.

If we can send a rover to Mars, can we NOT collect & properly test a person for doping?

I am inclined to think that he has been totally railroaded.

47 posted on 11/20/2012 4:18:41 PM PST by ridesthemiles
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To: Hot Tabasco
Who were “those” people?

It has never been a secret that Lance has treated a lot of those who have helped him the most... badly. His downfall is a result of the USADA being able to get many of his former closest allies to turn against him. "Those" people are Lance's former friends... he was able to beat the drug testing system, but being nasty eventually brought him down.

48 posted on 11/20/2012 8:40:25 PM PST by fireman15 (Check your facts before making ignorant statements.)
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To: Hot Tabasco
OK, so it doesn't matter if Armstrong lied since other people also used drugs but weren't asked about it? That's a child's argument. Armstrong is a liar. He profited from lying, bullied others into lying for him, and played the martyr as the evidence piled up.

I'm not surprised Armstrong is an atheist; he seems to think he himself is a god.

49 posted on 11/21/2012 4:39:50 AM PST by utahagen
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To: Notary Sojac

You may like this discussion:

Roger Noll of Stanford University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the economics of sports. Noll discusses the economic effects of stadium subsidies, the labor market for athletes, the business side of college sports, competitive balance in sports leagues, safety in sports, performance-enhancing drugs, and how the role of sports in the lives of children has changed.

50 posted on 11/21/2012 9:10:31 PM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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