Tonight Lance Armstrong finally stopped fighting after years of denying doping charges stemming from his record seven Tour de France titles. The USADA has announced it will strip him of all of those titles (by the way, won in France, mind you), and will forever bar him from any competition in which the World Anti-Doping Association oversees the drug testing.
Does that feel pretty good, USADA? How bout you, Congress? You were the ones that gave the authority to this organization which pretty much answers to no one. If the USADA declares you guilty, you can admit it and face punishment or go through an arbitration process and still face punishment. There's no defense. Not really. No right to due process or a fair trial. But let's not get into technicalities like the "United States Constitution" or anything. That's just silly, right? I mean, look at how the U.S. Government tried to go through the "proper" legal processes and convict other heralded athletes like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Didn't go too well, did it?
Is it any wonder why the government then finally gave up their two-year investigation into Armstrong for these exact same charges earlier in the year? They probably realized (and confirmed by both of the bungled Clemens trials) that they probably were gonna lose this case, too. They're not good enough, and their case not strong enough to get a conviction in court. When that became apparent to the men in charge, they apparently decided to go in a different direction. At some point someone figured out that the USADA, who had officials working with the federal authorities on the government's case, was a far better group to go after Armstrong. They dropped their charges and stepped back to allow the USADA to work their magic.
I mean, how can you go wrong when you don't have to abide by any actual court of law, no messy civil procedure? The chances of "catching" this guy would be a lot greater if there wasn't the possibility of him actually being able to defend himself. What a brilliant strategy! Boy, it would sure save a lot of money on all those legal expenses if this was drawn out anymore, wouldn't it? I mean, the government's gotta be patting themselves on the back tonight that they nabbed this notorious cheater without having to spend any more of the public's money to do so! They must think we're all going to be so grateful to them for their hard work and diligence in this matter. Well, I know I'm not.
I wonder if they realize that, by the way this all went down with Armstrong finally just giving up knowing he couldn't win a fight this rigged, that they just made him a martyr. Better yet, he's a present-day Robin Hood. If the USADA is the "Sheriff of Nottingham," then Armstrong is certainly the hero of the masses. It's not like he arrogantly took all that money he made from his career and paraded around the world like a jerk. He's been the face of fighting cancer for 13 years. He's inspired millions of cancers survivors and victims, raised millions for cancer research, and probably saved countless lives by telling his story so that others found their own cancers much earlier than they otherwise would have.
I'm not here to argue Armstrong's guilt or innocence. I'm not calling him a nice guy or the biggest jerk in the world. I'm simply calling this process a travesty of justice. A back-door to getting what you want. Call it present-day American politics in action. I don't think the American people are going to be at all happy about this, and I think there will be an extreme backlash against USADA and Congress and anyone else who had a hand in this. My biggest question now is whether Lance's sponsors and the Tour de France organizers will sue Armstrong to get back the prize and sponsor money that they gave him for his victories. If they do, and Armstrong simply goes broke, then I have no doubt that the citizens of Sherwood Forest (namely, the world) will give back to a man who has given so much to them.
Julie is a featured sports contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She was an ardent fan of cycling during the years that Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France but has since become disenchanted with the sport because of the rampant cheating. She had been following Armstrong's career since before his cancer diagnosis. Her opinions are her own.
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