Is This Lance Armstrong’s Year?

The wheels seem to have come off the Tour de France. This year’s race, with a ceremonial start in London, is of course absent the retired Lance Armstrong, whom Americans learned to love and the French grew to hate in seemingly direct proportion. But the race this year is also missing Floyd Landis, last year’s disgraced winner, as well as Ivan Basso (suspended) and Jan Ulrich (implicated in doping, and then retired). Former champion Bjarne Riis admitted that he was doping when he won the Tour in 1996, but his admission came after the expiration of the 8-year statute of limitations for taking back the yellow jersey.

Yikes.

We’ve blogged in the past about doping and cycling (see here and here, among others), but by now it’s getting pretty hard to claim that you’re clean and keep a straight face doing so.

Here’s my question: given what we know and don’t know about Armstrong, and the many doping allegations made and disproved, will there come a time in the future when Armstrong either admits to doping or is proved beyond reasonable doubt to have doped?

David Walsh, a controversial cycling journalist, has just published a book on the subject in the U.S. (it came out a couple years ago in Europe) in which he argues forcefully that Armstrong is guilty. These are not new claims, and so far the issue doesn’t seem to have gained much traction here. But I would be very surprised if Armstrong were not subjected to at least one more round of hardcore scrutiny before he is allowed ride off into the sunset, his seven jerseys still pristine.

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  1. zbicyclist says:

    The evidence against Lance is circumstantial and probabilistic. From a probabilistic standpoint, it seems unlikely that he could be so much better than a bunch of other people who were cheating.

    But there’s no smoking gun, Lance didn’t fail any doping tests, and there’s the matter of that big bonus he got for winning so many TdF’s — which the insurer tried to avoid paying on doping grounds. If he admitted something later, would he have to give that money back?

    So, my guess is that he will admit nothing, ever.

    Likewise, I don’t think anything will be “proven beyond a reasonable doubt”.

    Complicating this is the whole chemotherapy thing — might we later find out that some portion of this regimen gave him a big advantage later? Unlikely, but possible.

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  2. zbicyclist says:

    The evidence against Lance is circumstantial and probabilistic. From a probabilistic standpoint, it seems unlikely that he could be so much better than a bunch of other people who were cheating.

    But there’s no smoking gun, Lance didn’t fail any doping tests, and there’s the matter of that big bonus he got for winning so many TdF’s — which the insurer tried to avoid paying on doping grounds. If he admitted something later, would he have to give that money back?

    So, my guess is that he will admit nothing, ever.

    Likewise, I don’t think anything will be “proven beyond a reasonable doubt”.

    Complicating this is the whole chemotherapy thing — might we later find out that some portion of this regimen gave him a big advantage later? Unlikely, but possible.

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  3. Donut says:

    Armstrong is a genetic freak. Biking against him is like playing hide and seek against Nightcrawler. Normal humans can’t compete.

    Read: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/07/0722_050722_armstrong_2.html

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  4. Donut says:

    Armstrong is a genetic freak. Biking against him is like playing hide and seek against Nightcrawler. Normal humans can’t compete.

    Read: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/07/0722_050722_armstrong_2.html

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  5. egretman says:

    Complicating this is the whole chemotherapy thing — might we later find out that some portion of this regimen gave him a big advantage later?

    It did but only in the sense that he lost upper body mass which is not needed and unwanted by competitors at the top level.

    Look here you yankee upstarts…after his third win, Lance was the most scrutinized, tested, and followed fellow in cycling. Why did everyone else test positive except for Lance?

    The real reason for his victories and dominance of the sport is perhaps much simpler. Let’s face it. The europeans are lay-abouts. That’s why we love them. That’s why we love their cities. That’s why we love their transportation systems.

    They are not dog-eat-dog, kill them all and let god sort them out kind of people. Oh…believe me…they were in their past. But after two world wars, they are taking it easy for a while.

    Now here comes the good ole US of A in the form of one Lance Armstrong with determination, desire, ability, training year round, expensive computer biometrics, new equipment, and the money from endorsements to buy the best back up team.

    Lance who trained 12 months a year was the right person at the right time to dominate a sport full of 6 month training european slackers.

    Why do you try to make this so hard?

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  6. egretman says:

    Complicating this is the whole chemotherapy thing – might we later find out that some portion of this regimen gave him a big advantage later?

    It did but only in the sense that he lost upper body mass which is not needed and unwanted by competitors at the top level.

    Look here you yankee upstarts…after his third win, Lance was the most scrutinized, tested, and followed fellow in cycling. Why did everyone else test positive except for Lance?

    The real reason for his victories and dominance of the sport is perhaps much simpler. Let’s face it. The europeans are lay-abouts. That’s why we love them. That’s why we love their cities. That’s why we love their transportation systems.

    They are not dog-eat-dog, kill them all and let god sort them out kind of people. Oh…believe me…they were in their past. But after two world wars, they are taking it easy for a while.

    Now here comes the good ole US of A in the form of one Lance Armstrong with determination, desire, ability, training year round, expensive computer biometrics, new equipment, and the money from endorsements to buy the best back up team.

    Lance who trained 12 months a year was the right person at the right time to dominate a sport full of 6 month training european slackers.

    Why do you try to make this so hard?

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  7. Bob Dowling says:

    Why is every one so obsessed with claims that Armstrong took drugs. There is no evidence tying him to drugs at all, and I think it is purely anti-American hysteria on the part of the French.

    Armstrong survived chemotherapy, a cocktail of the least pleasant medicines known to medical science. As he said himself, do you really think he’s going to mess with banned drugs after that?

    Landis’ positive test for testosterone is incredibly dubious as well, but that’s a different rant.

    Why do people have it in for American cyclists?

    (ps: I’m not an American.)

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  8. Bob Dowling says:

    Why is every one so obsessed with claims that Armstrong took drugs. There is no evidence tying him to drugs at all, and I think it is purely anti-American hysteria on the part of the French.

    Armstrong survived chemotherapy, a cocktail of the least pleasant medicines known to medical science. As he said himself, do you really think he’s going to mess with banned drugs after that?

    Landis’ positive test for testosterone is incredibly dubious as well, but that’s a different rant.

    Why do people have it in for American cyclists?

    (ps: I’m not an American.)

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