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Cycling
Armstrong calls charges 'a witch hunt'
After doping charges are brought against Lance Armstrong, the sport waits to hear on the fate of a cycling legend.
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2012 16:19
Armstrong believes there is 'a witch hunt' being conducted against him [AP]


New doping allegations being investigated against Lance Armstrong will hopefully bring to an end a long-running saga involving the seven-time Tour de France champion, US media said on Thursday.

Armstrong, whose career has been dogged by so far unproven allegations of doping, is the subject of fresh allegations by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which could see him stripped of his titles.

On Wednesday the American was denied entry to the Nice leg of the Ironman series due to the USADA doping investigation.

"The charges represent the latest chapter in a long-running saga over whether Armstrong used banned substances during a cycling career that, along with his successful battle against testicular cancer, made him a national hero," said The Washington Post.

"The charges represent the latest chapter in a long-running saga over whether Armstrong used banned substances during a cycling career that, along with his successful battle against testicular cancer, made him a national hero"

The Washington Post

The probe is his "most serious threat because of the anti-doping agency's unique position in the athletic drug-testing world," it said, hinting at a likely guilty verdict by noting that the agency "almost never loses cases."

The influential New York Times, meanwhile, noted that Armstrong's latest denial calling the charges "a witch hunt" is the same defence he used previously to fight off doping accusations, "including a two-year federal investigation into doping-related crimes that was dropped four months ago."

"Armstrong can whine and complain all he wants, but the organisation that alleged Wednesday that he engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2011 is just doing its job," said the national newspaper USA Today.

"The agency, with its well-documented procedures and series of checks and balances, is exactly the right place for us to find out if one of the great icons of US sport and culture is in fact a cheater," the paper's Christine Brennan wrote.

Brennan noted that Armstrong had tweeted after Sports Illustrated published a story in January 2011 alleging that the cycling champion used performance-enhancing drugs that he looked forward to being vindicated by the USADA.

"Armstrong should have been more careful what he wished for," she said.

'Secular jesus'

As to Armstrong's possible guilt, supporters and detractors held firm to long held views.

Forbes described Armstrong as a "secular Jesus" for overcoming cancer and his many cycling wins. "His suffering and ultimate triumph gives hope," the magazine explained, but added it is itself doubtful of his doping innocence.

"We do not want to hear that Lance Armstrong cheated to win. Millions of us have too much invested in Lance Armstrong to learn otherwise," Forbes said. But the "statistical probability" is that he did.

Sports lexicon The Bleacher Report, meanwhile, evoked the words of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in defending Armstrong, "If you tell a lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

"The anti-Armstrong propaganda campaign is the exact testament of this method," it said.

"I am inclined to believe Armstrong's spotless record over his detractors' far-fetched allegation.

"USADA going after Armstrong is just the latest example of a series of frivolous 'show trials' to scapegoat selected individuals over a systematic failure from the top-down."

Across the Pacific Ocean, the Sydney Morning Herald concluded that whatever the outcome, "This issue has been the elephant in the room for cycling" and "should once and for all be resolved."

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Source:
AFP
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