The USADA has been on a witch hunt against world famous cyclist Lance Armstrong almost since the beginning of his reign as the sport’s best cyclist ever. Now that Armstrong has essentially given up the fight, the United States Anti-Doping Association thinks it has the authority to strip him of all titles he’s won since he made his amazing comeback from testicular cancer in the late 90s.
The International Cycling Union (UCI), on the other hand, is telling USADA’s Chief Executive Travis Tygart that before they’ll do anything of the sort, they first must prove that Armstrong had been doping. Hearsay from fellow cyclists caught doping don’t count. It’s a good call because not a single time has the legendary cyclist ever been proven to have doped up illegally before a race. The only time they found a questionable substance was back in 1999 when a trace amount of an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid was found in his sample. That, however, was traced to an approved medication to treat saddle sores.
The issue was far from over, though. Ever since, it seems as though allegations have followed him. First in 2000, when French officials investigated his US Postal Service Team for doping but came up with nothing. Allegations surfaced again in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but none were ever substantiated with solid, physical proof.
The whole debacle has been a major case of he said-she said, in that in not one single blood sample Armstrong submitted was he found to be doping. The USADA, however, says that it has solid evidence from ’09 and ’10 that he did. It’s interesting to note that a federal investigation into his alleged doping was closed by U.S. authorities back in February 2012, but the USADA plowed on like a pit bull, determined to find some evidence of blood doping in Armstrong. And now, they’re saying these samples are consistent with it.
Disregarding all of that, though, is the absurd assertion that the USADA has any authority whatsoever to strip Armstrong of his Tour de France titles. It isn’t up to a U.S. entity to do that. The Tour de France is an international sport, and as such, the USADA has no jurisdiction in the matter. All of its actions henceforth are merely symbolic. The UCI has the final say in the matter, and they are requiring absolute proof that Armstrong cheated before they will take any sort of action.
The UCI had supported Armstrong’s lawsuit against the USADA that was thrown out by an Austin judge, despite the judge’s doubts about the merit of the USADA’s claims. It is also following the World Anti-Doping Code by requiring proof that the cyclist broke the rules and injected himself with banned substances. It isn’t enough that Tygart and Armstrong’s former team mates are vigorously pointing fingers at him. They have to submit proof, physical evidence via an unadulterated test or sample, or some kind of other indisputable proof, before anything can be done.
The sport, many say, is lousy with doping, and even if Lance Armstrong doped, he was competing against other cyclists known to use banned substances, too. So, cries of unfair advantage were negated because, as they say, everybody did it. If that’s the case, then, the sport has some serious house cleaning to do.