It is tempting to mock Lance Armstrong now that he has given up trying to deny persistent rumors that he is a cheat. Doping authorities have been chasing him for years convinced that he won all of his many cycling championships by using banned performance enhancing drugs.
That temptation ought to be resisted. The case of Shirley Babashoff explains why.
Babashoff was the innocent 19 year-old U.S. swimmer who had an extraordinary Olympics in Montreal in 1976. She came away though with four silver medals and only one gold. Babashoff claimed for years after that the East German women, who won all but two of the swimming gold medals in 1976, were the products of performance enhancing drugs. No one would listen. She was scorned as "a poor loser" until the wall came down and the facts came about East German shenanigans came pouring out.
Armstrong stripped of Tour titles
And how good is the case against him? It now hinges on an old degraded test sample and statements of supposed conspirators —a case so weak any novice criminal defense attorney — fresh out of a Legal Aid stint could destroy it.
Ask yourself what has been proven. The answer is nothing.
Despite simplistic and erroneous media reports, Armstrong has not admitted anything. There has been no open hearing, no testimony under oath, no cross-examination, let alone the deliberations of an impartial jury. Perhaps before rendering judgment we should not forget concepts of fairness that find their roots in our Constitution — due process, equal protection, a jury of one's peers. That, by the way, also applies to the NCAA's reaction (or possibly overreaction) to Louis Freeh's report on Penn State, as well as Penn State's mind-numbingly precipitous rollover to the NCAA.
Pillorying Lance Armstrong now, after his competitive cycling career is long over and only his name remains, seems to smack of, at best revisionist history and at worst the bureaucratic destruction of a positive role model. Stripping him of all honors and awards, and holding him in contempt seems far off the offense, if there really was one in a sport where the line between cheating and competing has long been hard to find.
PARIS (Reuters) - An analysis of Sylvain Georges's B sample has confirmed his failed drugs test during the Giro d'Italia, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Tuesday.
The road to Paris
The best images from the 2012 Tour de France.
Fans of the Tour de France
Cycling fans show their love for the Tour in many creative ways.
Crashes of the Tour de France
Check out some of the nasty crashes from the 2012 Tour de France.