As a previous competitive cyclist (nothing like the level of competition discussed but competition nonetheless) and still a huge cycling fan, I feel driven to write this article. Please note, I was never a huge fan of Lance Armstrong and whether I like him or not, that doesn’t change my perspective on the case.
As you know, Armstrong has declined to continue the fight to prove that (he claims) never to have taken doping. The USADA claims he is guilty because he refuses to carry on with this legal fight.
Even though Lance Armstrong has never tested positive during his career, there are also a lot of stories, rumors and the USADA states that they have testimonies of previous team mates of Lance Armstrong, testifying they saw him use illegal performance enhancing products or procedures.
For me, the bottom of the line is: I don’t care! It’s not my place to tell whether he is guilty or not and I don’t know all the facts. When I was racing, I have seen and heard a lot of things and I have my own opinion about Lance Armstrong but that doesn’t matter.
What matters to me is that they are on a witch hunt prosecuting a retired athlete who is not competing at those high levels anymore. I don’t see any organization chasing after our other beloved athletes. What if they took away the medals and trophies of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eddy Merckx or even Babe Ruth or Michael Jordan? I am not saying they took PED’s for sure but it is very possible some of them did. What is the point of going back in time and ruining people’s lives?
There is a lot of doping in the professional athletic world and I am 100% for testing. I believe there should be no doping because it forces other athletes in doing it and putting their lives in danger. It is also a horrible example for our youth. However, it is there and that is a fact. That being said, if someone passed the tests and they could not detect it, that should be the end of it. Especially when the individual has already retired.
Nowadays, we are able to store blood samples and we do thorough testing. However, there is always a way to cheat the system. Doping is all about new products, cycling, timing and dosage. I have never taken anything and I also didn’t have the ambition to become a professional athlete so why would I?
If this event becomes the norm, different organizations will simply store the blood for years or decades, test the samples then and detect products they couldn’t detect before. Or when a team mate is 70 years old and has financial problems, he or she can sell stories for a lot of money. Is that really what we want to do? Do we really want to go back in time and take away victories and inspiration? My modest opinion says no, even though I am 100% for a clean sport.
By Sander Vanacker, owner, head instructor and personal trainer .
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