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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Lance Armstrong; The Saga Continues

Before I go any further, this blog is my thoughts, feelings and suspicions about the Lance Armstrong saga based on my own research and stories told by others on the radio, TV or in print which are all on the record.

Finally it has happened. Arguably sports biggest cheat has revealed himself. Truth be told it was the worst revelation in sporting history, all but the totally blinkered knew Armstrong was a cheat, but now we have proof. Lance Armstrong winner of a record 7 Tour De France titles and an Olympic Bronze medal cheated to win the lot.

But in keeping with the massive ego of the man these details were not revealed under oath (he lied under oath in the past) but in a 2 part interview with renowned sports journalist Oprah Winfrey. In keeping with the surroundings the whole thing seemed more like a platform for Armstrong to try and save face than a real interview. For example he was asked how the doping procedure worked, what he did, and he didn’t go into it at all. But then Oprah didn’t press him on it, she just moved on. This happened a couple of times, now he may not have been able to answer the questions for legal reasons but there was no explanation given by her or by him, and the fact she very obviously let him off the hook leads me to believe that at least parts of this interview were set up.
After all the man is a control freak. He showed this throughout his career and with his lies ever since. One telling quote here was where he said he took more pleasure from the process of trying to win the Tour than actually winning it. With what he was taking and with the procedures that he and his team had in place he knew he would win, the competition was with the authorities and with himself and not other riders. He was in total control.

In my eyes the man is a cheat and you can’t defend what he did, but this doesn’t stop people trying. Even after all this I still hear people saying that it doesn’t matter if he was doping, everyone was doing it so it didn’t matter. Wrong! Before I go into why, it’s also interesting to note that at the time Armstrong didn’t believe he was cheating and in the interview he said that at the time he justified doping himself because everyone else was doing it. This matches up with accounts given by Tyler Hamilton who is also an ex doper and former teammate of Armstrong. I will now explain why the ‘levelling the playing field’ defence is complete crap.  To do so I will use quotes an examples from the book ‘The secret Race’ by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.
‘Every drug effects different people differently.’ I haven’t just made this up; there is scientific proof for that statement. I will now explain this using the drug EPO. When Armstrong was competing the main test for EPO was to see if a rider’s hematocrit level was over 50. (Hematocrit is the percentage of blood that carries blood cells) The higher the percentage the more red blood cells there are and the more oxygen can be carried in the blood. A big advantage to endurance athletes like cyclists. Now the UCI set the legal limit at 50, anything over that would result in a short ban as, you would have been using EPO. All this did was mean people would still use EPO but only up to the point where their hematocrit level was 50. For Tyler Hamilton his natural level was 42 meaning he could raise it by 8 points or 19%. In other words he had 19% more oxygen carrying red blood cells. That is a far bigger boost than someone with a natural level of 48. Hamilton got more benefit from EPO than a rider with a natural hematocrit level of 48. And even without taking this into account, some people just respond to some drugs better than others. So Lance and every other doper was in no way shape or form levelling the playing field.
The only other talking point from part 1 of the interview was that Armstrong said that he didn’t dope on his comeback. From what I have seen and heard from various governing bodies and people talking in the media this is very much open to debate. His denials of a failed test in 2001 and subsequent payoffs are also a little shaky.

In all honesty part 2 of the interview was a bit of a waste of time. He said sorry a lot talked about his family, how he should be punished, you know the drill. But he did say that he doesn’t think that he should have a life ban from competition.  The idea that a man who doped to win every major honour he ever won and then lied about it not deserving a lifetime ban is frankly laughable. The only other point from part 2 is that he reserved praise for his ex-wife Kristin.  This again, is slightly amusing. He talks about her being spiritual and honest. He says a little saying of hers is ‘the truth will set you free.’ The funny part being that while he was competing and cheating she helped to keep it secret.
The result of all this is that we finally have an admission, but there could and should have been so much more. Lance Armstrong destroyed lives and destroyed careers so that he could stay on top and make sure his lies went undetected. Saying sorry in front of Oprah Winfrey just isn’t enough.

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