Staff Editorial: Lance Armstrong doping scandal
Cycling legend Lance Armstrong was recently stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles after he chose to stop fighting the charges filed against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Although he was never actually caught doping, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) cited testimonials against Armstrong made by people who were close to him throughout his career and made the decision to take away his titles, his bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic games and all of the monetary awards he won during his pro cycling career. The American organization also banned him from the sport of cycling for life.
The editorial board feels as if this punishment is unfair and without basis. It is not an issue of whether or not Armstrong was actually doping, because it seems fairly obvious that he was no angel for his entire career. It is an issue of whether or not the USADA had any right to rescind his awards and ban him from his sport.
The board agreed that the lack of hard evidence is the main issue with this case. Although there were numerous testimonials from legitimate sources, they shouldn’t be given as much weight as cold hard facts.
One speaker considered the situation from a legal point of view. A court of law wouldn’t prosecute an individual of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol based solely on eyewitness testimonies, so how is it fair that the USADA doesn’t need any positive drug tests to do something as drastic as what they did to Armstrong?
Another speaker chose to assess the issue from the mindset of a USADA official and stated that fighting the issue of performance enhancing drugs is a positive idea, but choosing to fight Armstrong was a poor move. The board agreed that cheating is wrong, but it is a shame they chose to make cycling’s top performer into an example.
Special consideration was given to the high number of Armstrong’s competitors who have also been caught doping at some point in their career. It is no secret that many other athletes within the sport of cycling have taken performance enhancing drugs, so Armstrong would not have been the only elite performer to have used drugs if he ever did at all.
Another interesting point that was brought up was how the possible ramifications of the recent events could affect Armstrong’s relationship with the Livestrong foundation. It was agreed that Livestrong will continue to thrive because of how positive it is as an organization, and it would be unfortunate if something so good were affected negatively by the USADA ruling.
Armstrong’s actions outside of the cycling world were considered strongly by the editorial board, and it was agreed that he remains a heroic figure and one of the best athletes of our generation. The fact that he no longer technically has any awards doesn’t mean he can’t still do good things for the world.