By Doug Halberstadt
Several days have passed since Lance Armstrong made the announcement he would no longer defend himself against doping allegations. That decision cost him seven Tour de France titles, and he is banned from competitive cycling for life. This was the penalty handed down by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
In deciding to give up his fight, Armstrong still maintained his innocence, saying the wins were legitimate and within the rules.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong called the USADA investigation an “unconstitutional witch hunt” and said he saw no reason to participate in any further proceedings that might clear his name.
The only conclusion I can derive from his decision is, we may never know the definitive answer to this issue. I contend that the only one who will ever really know is Armstrong. He’s always said he didn’t do it.
I also believe there isn’t any reason for the USADA to fabricate these allegations. It’s the old “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” theory. They obviously feel they have enough evidence to continue to move forward and pursue this issue.
I would never condone the use of illegal or banned substances by any athlete, amateur or professional. Nor would I knowingly be a fan of any athlete who was found guilty of using those substances.
I’m still not certain I’ve come to a final decision about how I feel about Armstrong. The number of positive things he’s done for millions of people all over the globe can’t be ignored. He’s served as an inspiration for countless people diagnosed with cancer and their families. His foundation has served more than 2.5 million people with free patient navigation services.
Vice Chairman and Founding Chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation Jeffery C. Garvey issued the following statement in support of Armstrong’s decision: “Faced with a biased process whose outcome seems predetermined, Lance chose to put his family and his foundation first, and we support his decision.”
Armstrong made the following statement concerning his decision and his intentions to continue serving the foundation: “Today, I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do, and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission.”
For right now, that, in and of itself, secures a spot in the good guy column in my book. I really hope, as he has continually proclaimed, he’s innocent.
This issue is far from over, and the jury of public opinion will probably continue to sway to and fro when it comes to Armstrong. To be continued.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2012, issue