In 1994 Janet and I met Lance Armstrong at the Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh. Janet was six months pregnant with Courtney when this picture was taken. We were very happy to get to talk to him a bit. Lance was a charming gentleman, asking us if we had enjoyed the race, and inquiring about Janet’s due date. Two years later Lance was diagnosed with cancer.
We’re all familiar with the story of his remarkable fight with Cancer. His work with Livestrong has helped many, many people. Janet and I were very inspired after reading his books. Sadly, with today’s news about USDA stripping him of all results since 1998 I’m afraid his legacy won’t be of Livestrong. It will be of doping.
Many of his critic fail to acknowledge his natural gifts. Armstrong has recorded an aerobic capacity of 83.8 mL/kg/min (VO2 max), much higher than the average person (40–50). There is also the fact that Lance has tested negatively in over 500 tests, more than any other athlete in any sport. He advanced scientific training methods, and bought a F-1 type relationship to his team, sponsors and eqiupment suppliers to advance the science. There is no doubt in my mind Lance put in a tremendous amount of training to win his seven tours.
I don’t understand what USDA is doing by stripping away his Tour wins. Who are they going to hand the trophy to? Beloki? Ulrich? Virenque? Basso? ALL of those riders got caught, or admitted to doping. Is Justice served here? Almost everybody that got results from the late 90’s until several years ago blood boosted. Why the witch hunt for Lance? Lance bought it on himself.
Remember Kevin Livingston? He was a promising young rider who was on the early Postal teams. He put in some tremendous rides in the mountains in support of Lance in ‘99, 2000 and 2001. Rumor has it that he didn’t agree to blood dope, thus he wasn’t selected for the next Tour. He abruptly resigned in 2002. He knew his career was basically kaput, because he didn’t acquiesce to Lance’s doping demands.
Who can forget the feud with Filippo Simeoni (who was testifying in a case against Michael Ferrari), chasing him down in a break in the Tour and publicly chastising him. Lance called Simeoni a liar in the press. Or how about his very public spat with Christophe Bassons, another out-spoken anti-doping rider?
I am convinced today that cycling is very clean. Riders are by far the most tested group of athletes on the planet. When you think about football, with 350lb men having a body fat ratio of 2%, I have to laugh when people tell me there are no steroids in football. I do think the UCI needs serious reform. I do think there needs to be a stronger rider’s union. I do think the idea of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” can exorcise the remaining demons in the sport. I do feel bad for Lance because he’s a target of a witch hunt. But I also do think he bought this upon himself with his arrogant attitude towards his team-mates and any rider who spoke out against doping.