Lance Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour De France titles on Monday. He also received a lifetime ban from competitive cycling. Armstrong still denies using performance-enhancing drugs, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency presented a report with damning evidence, much of which came from his former teammates, including the well-respected George Hincapie and the disgraced former-champion Floyd Landis. Both have admitted to doping themselves, and both cooperated in bringing Armstrong down.
For a great recap of how Armstrong’s veil of innocence slowly evaporated, check out this piece in the New York Times.
People understandably have mixed feelings about this. Many feel betrayed by an alleged bullying cheat, and many are upset that an inspiration to millions of people — especially cancer patients — is being humiliated.
Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Federation (UCI), is in the “bullying cheat” camp.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” said McQuaid, a former competitive cyclist himself, at a news conference.
This is a sad day for America, and it’s easy to understand where McQuaid is coming from. Though as the head of a sport that makes steroid-era baseball look squeaky-clean, maybe he shouldn’t talk. Then again, with a 1,000-page report including statements from 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates, as well as reports that Armstrong is a bullying, bribing asshole, again, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from.
Saying that a guy who inspired millions of people should be “forgotten” in the sport that made that possible is probably a bit much, especially when said sport incentivizes dirty behavior, and is soiled with it. Lance Armstrong did a ton of good whether he’s the honest, good guy everyone thought he was, the complete opposite, or somewhere in between.
Anyway, it’s still not all over, even though Armstrong isn’t fighting the ban or the loss of his titles. He will likely face more penalties, including losing a lot of money.
Meet your new most-decorated Tour De France Riders of All-Time, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Eddy Merckx, each tied with five. Lance Armstrong now has as many titles as Barry Bonds, Cher, and Kermit the Frog, combined.