Wednesday, May 31, 2006

LANCE ARMSTRONG CLEARED OF DOPING

For anyone who cares about professional cycling or who has followed the story of accusations of doping by Lance Armstrong in the 1999 Tour de France (the first of seven consecutive wins for the American), news today that an independent investigator has cleared Armstrong is good. Read the full story online at USA Today.

SENSATIONAL ACCUSATIONS REFUTED. Armstrong was implicated in using performance enhancing EPO by French newspaper L'Equipe shortly after he won his seventh Tour de France championship last July. The newspaper claimed to have matched Armstrong's rider identification number to tests performed retroactively on blood samples he gave during the 1999 TdF and frozen since 1999. Today's 132-page report condemns the lab that did the faulty tests, the anti-coping body WADA that commissioned them, and those who conspired to attempt to discredit Armstrong.

LUSTER RESTORED. The report, commissioned by the UCI, effectively clears Armstrong and restores the luster to his unprecedented feat. After L'Equipe made its sensationalized accusations last summer, the head of the Tour de France, Jean Marie LeBlanc, bought into the newspaper's analysis and publicly cast a shadow of doubt on Armstrong's contributions to the Tour. Whether or not LeBlanc and the French press who tried to discredit Armstrong will recant remains to be seen--don't count on it. I am sure they will insist the report sidestepped issues.

PERSONAL RESPONSE. Me? I am relieved. I hope the cycling community and cancer community will be reassured by this report that Lance is the real deal, not a drug-enhanced cheater. It is good to know, also, that resolution can--and has--come to this issue that has lingered for nearly a year. Not sure the cycling community will see this as a done deal, but it is a step in the direction of closure.

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