FILE -- Lance Armstrong in New York, Oct. 2, 2007.

Beatrice De Gea, New York Times

Case closed: Lance Armstrong doped

  • Article by: DALE McFEATTERS
  • Scripps Howard News Service
  • October 12, 2012 - 7:40 PM
Lance Armstrong turns out to be not just a world-class cyclist, but a world-class doper as well. And he was also, it appears, a world-class master at concealing his doping.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart said that Armstrong and his fellow cyclists, many of whom he is said to have bullied into doping along with him, were part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

That Armstrong and other cyclists -- especially riders from countries where doping isn't considered quite the heinous crime it is in America -- got away with it this long suggests that previous antidoping crackdowns were ineffective and so slow in coming that they all but telegraphed the "random" tests.

Armstrong, pending further and likely unsuccessful appeals, has been banned for life from the sport he long dominated and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Even with the dope, that was an astounding feat in a brutal sport.

Armstrong, his proponents never tire of pointing out, never failed a drug test -- by one count, 500 to 600 of them -- he took in his long career. It is incumbent on the USADA to explain how this could be so.

Despite heated and repeated denials by Armstrong and his camp, the USADA released a detailed 202-page report, containing 26 affidavits, 15 of them from riders, including 11 former teammates, who testified against him. The report was backed by 1,000 pages of supporting material that seems conclusive: Armstrong doped.

But that has to be seen against the casual ethos of a sport where it seemed a given that if you don't dope, you don't win. And one would have had to be truly oblivious not to notice the Damon Runyonesque army of doping doctors, smugglers, runners and other enablers that followed the tour.

The USADA is harsh and personal in its condemnation of Armstrong, perhaps in retribution for the long and no-holds-barred fight he put up against the agency. And that fight apparently isn't over.

Armstrong has a path of redemption denied to most disgraced athletes. A cancer survivor, he founded the cancer-fighting Lance Armstrong Foundation that has raised millions and helped millions. He's now free to concentrate on that work without the distraction of pedaling up and down the Alps.


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