To any readers who might follow me on the Twitters (@erikajohnsen, hint hint!), I feel the need to issue fair warning and apologize in advance: I am a huge cycling fan, and the Tour de France is just around the corner. Really, I am just absolutely nuts about cycling — it is the one sport I have followed almost religiously year-round since I was a teenager. So, while I usually try to restrict my tweets to at least generally political topics, cycling’s greatest race starts in less than a week, and I just might not be able to contain myself.
There are occasional instances, however, when the realms of politics and cycling intersect, affording me the perfect excuse to blog about it — and to a lot of us tifosi, this relentless persecution of Lance Armstrong is about as annoying as it gets.
I’m no Lance Armstrong devotee myself (although, that’s nothing against him, more just that I always found it irksome when the English cycling coverage often turned into the Tour de Lance instead of focusing on the many great cyclists out there), but the continued inquisition has got to stop. Some people just can’t stand a champion, and Armstrong has been the target of especially high-profile attention ever since his first Tour de France victory — even though he’s never once failed a doping test.
After a two-year, multi-continent, federal grand jury criminal investigation failed to convict Armstrong earlier this year, you’d think they’d finally just let it go and let the man enjoy his retirement, but alas:
Lance Armstrong filed a scathing response Friday to the latest doping allegations against him, accusing the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of violating its own rules and possibly breaking federal law during its investigation.
The agency said Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs and other improper methods to win cycling’s premiere event, the Tour de France, from 1999-2005. Friday was the deadline for Armstrong to respond to USADA’s warning that charges were pending before his case moves to the next stage. …
The letter said USADA’s case is “long on stale allegations disproved long ago and short on evidence” and “offensive to any notions of due process.” …
Armstrong’s attorneys say they believe USADA investigators coerced false testimony from witnesses by promising not to charge them with doping; they argue this could violate bribery laws. …
Armstrong’s letter also challenged the 2009-2010 blood tests, which were taken during his two-year comeback from retirement. Armstrong passed all his drug tests during that period and posted his testing results on his website, Livestrong.com, and no charges were brought, the letter said.
While everybody would love it if the greatest sport in the history of sports (in my humble opinion) were perfectly clean, and of course the responsible organizations need to conduct thorough investigations in order to deter doping — enough already. A lot of people have had it out for Lance Armstrong for years, and maybe he deserves the extra scrutiny, but they’ve failed to incriminate him every single time.
These extended witch hunts get the media to only focus on the negative aspects of cycling, and don’t do much to bring in new fans. Please, it’s time to let it go and move on. Lay off Lance and focus on the active members of the sport, instead of continually dredging up old news and wasting resources — the USADA is mostly funded by your tax dollars, by the way.