Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lance Armstrong: Living strong, or living a lie?

Surprisingly, dating a 21 year old Olsen twin when he was 36 wasn't even Lance Armstrong's most questionable relationship

According to USA Today Game On! bloggers Reid Cherner and Tom Weir, American cyclists Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis co-ranked as the #30 Sports Personalities of 2010:
"We long for the days when our cycling news was dominated by great performances. But it was hard to ignore the back and forth between our greatest cyclist ever and one of our most disgraced."

While Landis won a tainted Tour de France in 2006, it's a bit of a stretch to call him "our greatest cyclist ever." On the other hand, Armstrong should certainly be one of our nation's most disgraced athletes. Instead, he is glorified and widely revered for those hypocritical yellow rubber "LIVESTRONG" bracelets given the plethora of independent sources who have implicated him as one of the most biggest cheaters in the history of sports.

You would think that any self proclaimed "clean" champion in a sport as dirty as professional cycling would steer clear of an questionable associations. Yet dating back to 1996 Armstrong has "consulted" with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, who just so happens to be notorious for having trained numerous cyclists who have tested positive for doping and performance enhancing drugs. Dr. Ferrari was even convicted in 2004 by an Italian court for malpractice and sporting fraud for showing cyclists how to use performance-enhancing drugs.

While Dr. Ferrari's convictions were ultimately overturned by an Appeals Court, the sports-fraud verdict was only thrown out because of a legal technicality based upon a determination that the applicable statute of limitations had expired. Armstrong himself has said of his relationship with Dr. Ferrari:
"Is it questionable? Perhaps. Has Lance Armstrong ever tested positive? No. Has Lance Armstrong been tested? A lot."

No, Armstrong has never publicly tested positive for doping or performance enhancing drugs, but isn't that Dr. Ferrari's specialty, being one step of the testing curve so the athletes that he trains don't get caught? I'm sorry, but whenever an athlete accused of using performance enhancing drugs refers to him/herself in the third person and employs the, "I've never tested positive" defense, it only makes me even more skeptical. Let's count his relationship with Dr. Ferrari as "strike one" against Armstrong.

In addition to Armstrong's questionable relationship with Dr. Ferrari, Floyd Landis, Armstrong's former teammate who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win after a positive doping test, accused Armstrong and other members of the U.S. Postal Service Team of doping and using performance enhancing drugs.

While Armstrong simply brushed aside Landis' allegations by saying, "Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago," Chad Gerlach, who rode with the U.S. Postal team while Armstrong and Landis were on it said he's inclined to believe Landis's account of widespread doping based on what he saw during his own career:
"I believe it because I have seen it personally. I am not ready to out my friends or provide names. I just saw it. It's just a systematic thing."

While Gerlach was not willing to name names, Armstrong has also been accused of doping by American cycling legend Greg LeMond, a three time former winner of the Tour de France who is an outspoken anti-doping advocate. LeMond has publicly expressed his disdain for Armstrong's failure to admit that he engaged in doping. LeMond voiced has skepticism as to whether or not Armstrong was a clean rider when he was quoted as saying:
"When Lance won the prologue to the 1999 Tour I was close to tears, but when I heard he was working with Michele Ferrari I was devastated. In the light of Lance's relationship with Ferrari, I just don't want to comment on this year's Tour. This is not sour grapes. I'm disappointed in Lance, that's all it is."

Let's consider a credible attack from a legend and mentor like LeMond as "strike two" against Armstrong.

If that isn't enough, Armstrong's former teammate, Frankie Andreu, testified that he overheard Armstrong tell his oncologist that he had used “steroids, testosterone, cortisone, growth hormone and EPO" while visiting him in the hospital as he treated for testicular cancer.

And before we rush to judgement and say that these other riders were out for vengeance or to bring Armstrong down, I've never really heard any other cyclists criticize his personality (actually, Landis was the one they all seemed to hate). Rather, they seemed to simply be standing up for their sport and/or coming clean. Let's call Andreu's testimony in a court of law where he was not personally the one on trial as "strike three" against Armstrong.

As mentioned above, it is well known that Lance Armstrong was diagnosed as having and treated for testicular cancer, which was the inspiration behind his very public and popular LIVESTRONG campaign. I'm not saying that doping or the use of performance enhancing drugs caused Armstrong's cancer, but I will say that IF he did use PED's as the circumstantial evidence suggests (which are known to cause other types, but have never been linked to testicular cancer), his "LIVESTRONG" anti-cancer campaign is hypocritical.

This post is not meant to diminsih Armstrong's charitable work for cancer, just his motives behind it. I've donated money to cancer research, but I'll never feed Armstrong's ego by buying one of his stupid yellow rubber bracelets, at least not until he comes clean about how he came about his success in order to become a public figure and promises that 100% of his LIVESTRONG foundation proceeds go to cancer research with all the administrative costs of running his charity coming from his own pocket. Until then, I'll just look at him as any other semi-talented joe who only  made a name for himself because he was willing to illegally enhance his body, which puts him even lower than someone like Snooki, who at least whored her way to fame au naturel.

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