USADA vs. Lance Armstrong – The “Reasoned Decision”
Well, I’ve read the whole damn thing, all 202 pages last evening and, it is damning. It is virtually impossible to argue against the conclusion that Armstrong and his teams were using PEDs over a protracted period of successful racing. As a result, I find I must reevaluate my opinion of Armstrong and many other cyclists I have held in high esteem for years. Admittedly, that is a difficult thing to do.
However, it must also be said that the Reasoned Decision from USADA, while damning, is also thoroughly peppered with hearsay and editorial commentary as opposed to factual reporting; as well as a variety of self-serving statements and claims which are completely inappropriate to the purpose of the Decision. In many ways, the Decision reads more like an editorial than as a factual report, and I find this highly offensive.
Further, it must also be said that, while it is true that these men cheated, they were and are some of the most talented, dedicated, and committed athletes in the history of sport. No athlete works harder than a professional cyclist and, while their actions were reprehensible, the win-at-all-costs culture of the period in question had a powerful effect on virtually every rider at the top levels of the sport. As a result, it seems to me, there is plenty of blame to be shared throughout the world of professional cycling during this time.
If it is true, as Jonathan Vaughters has said, that doping was the most effective way to get that last 2% of performance out of each team member, then their natural talent was already beyond belief, and it is truly awful that these incredible athletes felt the need to cheat to achieve that little bit extra.
Many professionals, in all areas of human endeavor, have made the choice to go beyond what is reasonable and acceptable behavior in the pursuit of excellence and success. These men are not unique in this. The changing of the culture in professional cycling today is admirable, and I hope it will be successful.
Now, to help me process my disappointment and refocus my mind, I am going to go for a ride on my bike.