By Anthony L Hall
The entire world seemed shocked a couple of weeks ago when the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripped Lance Armstrong of all cycling titles and prize money he had won since 1998 and banned him from the sport for life. Most notably this included stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles.
Anthony L. Hall is a descendant of the Turks & Caicos Islands, international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who publishes his own weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com offering commentaries on current events from a Caribbean perspective
But I was not – as this quote will attest:
The real tragedy here is not Lance falling from grace, but the disillusionment this is bound to cause among the millions of cancer survivors who derived life-sustaining inspiration from his ‘LIVESTRONG’ life story. That his life story is turning out to be a phenomenal fraud is devastating enough for me. I can only imagine the impact it’s having, and will have, on them
. (“Lance Armstrong: falling from grace,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 24, 2011)
And this one too:
I think USADA will (and should) strip Lance of his tour victories and ban him from professional sports, like triathlons, for life
. (“The Other Shoe Drops: USADA Files Doping Charges,” The iPINIONS Journal, June 13, 2012)
In fact, I’m on record declaring my belief that Armstrong doped his way to fame and fortune on an apothecary of drugs that make those he took to fight cancer seem like mere aspirin. So for me the only thing noteworthy about this development is the way he’s displaying the pathological nature of his mendacity and self-delusion.
For here, in part, is the statement he issued that triggered USADA’s decision:
There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now…
The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense…
If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest, I would jump at the chance. But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair.
USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles. I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours
… (Associated Press, August 24, 2012)
Except that the only reason Armstrong quit USADA’s process is that a federal court threw out his frivolous attempt to stop it. That process, of course, is the generally recognized and accepted way for athletes suspected of doping to plead their case. Therefore, Armstrong damning it in this fashion seems more self-righteous than principled.
More to the point, the only reason he quit is that the teammates he cites in support of his innocence are the very witnesses USADA had lined up to affirm his guilt. This makes his statement an unwitting confession. Never mind the mockery he makes of his notorious fight against cancer by claiming that it’s too much for him to stand and fight against USADA.
Frankly, the evidence against him is such that Lance Armstrong insisting he’s no doper is rather like O.J. Simpson insisting he’s no murderer. In any event, this development makes Armstrong easily the most notorious cheater in sports history. And I suppose calling it a “fall from grace” mistakenly assumes he had grace in the first place….
With that, I shall end by reiterating my long-standing plea:
I believe policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian, but utterly futile. After all … athletes have always, and will always, do or take anything that might give them a competitive advantage. And if what they do or take poses no harm to anyone except themselves, who cares?!
This enlightened attitude towards performance-enhancing drugs would have precluded the ‘scandals’ that now threaten the professional careers of Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis, and Olympic (100m) Champion Justin Gatlin; to say nothing of sparing them international ridicule as pathetic liars and cheaters
. (“Decriminalize Drugs…Especially in Sports,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 3, 2006)
And finally this:
Although Lance Armstrong never tested positive, practically every Frenchman believes the seven-time Tour de France Champion is nothing more than a cycling dope fiend. But similar clouds of suspicion hang over superstars in every sport these days – from those in baseball to swimming. And the only way to bring integrity to sports is to repeal the moral prohibition against drug use and allow athletes to do or take whatever they deem is necessary to be successful…. (“A plea for Landis… et al: decriminalize drugs
…,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 3, 2006)
Which constrains me to apologize to the French for casting aspersions on the suspicions they’ve held about Armstrong from the day he won his first Tour in 1999. I’m just waiting now for the breaking news about Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs….
USADA vs. Lance
[Clemens] Decriminalize drugs