There’s something that doesn’t seem to fit concerning statements from the head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about the Lance Armstrong case.
The agency, you’ll recall, ordered a lifetime ban for the renowned and highly admired cyclist, and stripped him (or so it believes) of all his cycling titles, including seven wins in the fabled Tour de France.
Travis Tygart, who heads the USADA, says Armstrong might have retained some of his titles if he had cooperated with the agency. “Cooperate” translates into admitting he used banned drugs and blood transfusions to gain a competitive advantage.
Why would Armstrong, who famously has never failed a drug test in his career and who denies having used banned drugs, turn on himself in order to salvage some titles and assuage the anti-doping agency? Why, in effect, plead guilty if you maintain that you’re not?
Recent polls show that most Americans have not changed their opinion about the cyclist, who is known as a cancer survivor and established a foundation that has benefited cancer research. Perhaps the excesses of recent “doping” prosecutions of other high-profile athletes have painted a picture of over-zealous accusers. Or perhaps the public isn’t ready to accept as “proof” accusations by fellow cyclists who are perceived as trying to save themselves by targeting Armstrong.
At any rate, it’s disconcerting to see Tygart quoted as saying that Armstrong’s penalty is more severe because he continues to maintain his innocence, especially while the USADA acknowledges that the statute of limitations for its accusations is eight years and that most of Armstrong’s Tour de France titles are outside that time frame.
It would seem that Armstrong deserved a better fate, and that the USADA comes across as a petulant loser itself because Armstrong ultimately refused to fight it.