What amazes me about Lance Armstrong is the amount of support he still has from his fan base.
In spite of all the overwhelming evidence that Armstrong doped; there are still those who point to “He never failed a drug test,” and refuse to accept the obvious conclusion.
There are others who say “Okay he doped, but then so did everyone else in that era, therefore the playing field was level and Lance is still the greatest cyclist ever."
There has been doping in professional cycling probably as long as there has been professional cycling. However, never at the level we are now finding occurred during Armstrong’s era; with EPO, human growth hormones, and testosterone. Doping went from simple stimulants like amphetamines, to body altering super drugs.
The playing field was by no means level; Armstrong’s organization was a huge money making machine. And the wealth it generated bought the best doctors and the most sophisticated modern dope that money could buy.
Dope that was undetectable, or if it was detected, plan B was organized corruption to pay off those doing the testing. This is why there was never a previous failed dope test.
I can’t help but notice many riders who left Armstrong’s team, were later caught doping on other teams who didn’t have the same system set up to pay off the testers. Floyd Landis didn't get caught until Armstrong had retired.
There is yet another group of Lance Fans who point to the Livestrong Foundation and forgive Armstrong for what he did arguing that more good has come out of the affair than bad. These are the people who are donating even more money to the Livestrong Foundation since the USADA report was released.
Don’t get me wrong, people are free to do with their money as they please, but if I were donating my hard earned money to a charity, it would not be one that was founded on a gigantic fraud and a lie.
Evidence is now out that LA is not only a liar and a cheat; he is a bully who has intimidated witnesses and even tried to destroy people who in the past have spoken out against him. Cyclists who refused to dope were thrown off teams.
This is a character flaw that I find hard to accept, and if I had been donating money to Livestrong in the past, I would now be looking for another cancer charity, that doesn’t have a mafia type boss as its leader.
What I find disturbing is that Armstrong’s following has the feel of a religious cult; with Lance like some Cancer Fighting Messiah as its leader.
These followers have drunk the Armstrong PR Koolade and are coming back for more.
Many of these followers a not cyclists, but people who have either had, or know someone who has had cancer in their family; although ill-informed their intentions are possibly well intended.
This is probably the thinking behind Nike’s decision not to drop Armstrong; they figure he still has a large enough fan base to make it worth their while.
Trek Bicycle company said it would stand behind Armstrong, but that was before the full USADA report was released; since its release Trek has been noticeably quiet. I would love to be a fly on the wall of Trek’s boardroom this last week.
It is only those interested in the sport of cycling who have taken the time to read though the mountain of evidence that the USADA has released, who can see the larger picture.
Lance Armstrong and his associates, along with the UCI have almost destroyed professional cycling as a sport. They have not done so yet, but if the UCI and more importantly the riders themselves and their team management do not get their act together soon, it will be the sport’s demise. The sport will not withstand another scandal of this magnitude.
The worrying part is that if Armstrong keeps this large faithful following and even grows it; in a few years when this has all died down, we could see Lance emerge as a politician. A run as Governor of Texas, followed by a run for the Whitehouse.
Don’t laugh; if he is able to replicate the money making machine, and the level of corruption he showed he is capable of in cycling, it is all very possible. A Presidential Candidate on dope… Who can stop that?