It was to be a pretty straightforward article and blog post. Get some reactions to the “Lance Armstrong situation” from my friends in sport. Opinions mostly, as to what folks thought about him giving up the fight against Travis Tygart and USADA. I am not an investigative journalist but felt driven by some force of obligation to not just base this on my opinions and the emotional reactions of those I know and respect in the sport. No, in order to form an educated opinion, I would apply some due diligence and try and figure some of this out.
For those of you who don't know, Lance Armstrong released on August 23rd, this statement in response to a Texas judge's ruling that it would not stop the USADA ban and investigation due to not having jurisdiction. Armstrong, in the above statement, says that he will no longer fight USADA's (United States Anti Doping Agency) charges. While admitting no wrong doing, Armstrong says that he has grown tired of trying to defend his innocence for the last 17 years without any success, and he contends that this is a witch hunt led by Travis Tygart, the head of USADA.
At the time, the biggest non cycling questions related to Lance's decision not to fight were the following:
1. Would this decision not to fight be construed as an admission of some sort of guilt?
2. Would folks still wear LIVESTRONG bracelets and support this foundation?
3. Were Lance's self-reported “500 passed tests” enough to secure his innocence?
Armed with this idea of “see what peoples reactions are to this,” I headed to my fb page, did a little combining of the above and posited the following:
1. If you wear a LIVESTRONG bracelet, will this continue? Why or why not?
2. Are his 500 negative tests enough for you to believe he rode clean?
Over the course of 2-3 days over 57 comments were made on one thread in response. Everything from allegations of a media stunt, to full on support and or full on contempt were stated as well as some very articulated arguments. One thing remained clear through a majority of the statements as well as the national feedback on this story. People want to believe in Lance Armstrong and the support of LIVESTRONG and his battle of cancer seems to trump any and all allegations. In fact, the foundation saw a surge in donations as well as Lance has seen an outpouring of support. Here are a few of the responses from my thread:
"I sincerely believe Travis Tygart sees Lance as his Moby Dick. I agree with Melissa that it is not about cleaning up the sport. The fact that USADA resorted to conspiracy to circumvent the statute of limitations, and that bulk of their case relies on the testimony given in exchange for leniency calls the entire case into question. If I wore a LS bracelet, I would continue to do so. And, yes, 500 clean tests without a credible confession from a lab/physician that they were tampered with is more than enough for me. But I also believe that due to the pervasiveness of doping in professional cycling during those years that it was a level playing field at worst, and clean Lance still kicking the sh*t out of a bunch of dopers at best.” Devin Morris
“1. Don't wear one, but might start now.
2. Thought there were already enough investigations into this that turned up negative. Guess there's no such thing as double jeopardy in cycling. Good thing our court systems don't operate like this.” Brenton Day
“I would probably keep wearing the bracelet, since the meaning of the bracelet signifies living strong through cancer. It's pretty obvious to me that he was a doper. Why would his whole team turn against him? Why would the USADA pursue this if there was no evidence? Why would he quit fighting it? Because he has something to hide or he has information that doesn't want to come out. Why did Cheryl Crowe break up with him? It just doesn't make sense.” Matt Viguerie
And my favorite:
"1. I didn't wear those, but my opinion of Armstrong doesn't change. I still have a positive view of him. 2. No - absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It's very hard to prove a negative. But, that misses the point - the USADA suspended their own statute of limitations, jumped over the jurisdiction of other governing bodies, and harassed an individual until there was nothing left. If this were criminal court, the case would have been thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct and the prosecutor would have been disbarred. Regardless of whether or not Lance Armstrong actually doped, doesn't matter - USADA's actions were unseemly. They put Armstrong in a position where he had to prove a negative and when he couldn't do the impossible, they brought the hammer down. Classic witch hunt. "Prove to me, sir, there are not communists in the highest levels of this government!" -Joseph McCarthy" Nick Ritter
Much of what you see above was echoed over and over. First, the fight against cancer trumps all, second, people want to believe what Lance Armstrong was telling them and third, that cheating in cycling is almost accepted. Deep down, if I am honest, I want to believe he is clean. The idea of this super human guy, my age, who crushed everyone and has gone on to be the largest cancer philanthropist ever. But since we are being honest I also thought that I owed it to myself to get more information. That has led to what will be part 2 of this post. Stay tuned.
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