Lance Armstrong, the US cycling legend, maintains his innocence but gives up the fight against doping allegations. Is it time to re-examine the role of performance enhancement drugs in sport?
“This is hardly a sport where he is an outlier …. People watch cycling to see feats that human beings honestly can’t do. If you are going to get doping out of cycling, you are going to have a massive reformation in how the sports operates.”
– Dave Zirin, a sport writer for The Nation magazine
Armstrong defeated cancer and went on to win seven Tour de France titles. But Armstrong, who inspired cycling fans and cancer survivors around the world, has been labelled a cheat by the US anti-doping agency (USADA).
The USADA says “it’s a heartbreaking example of how the win-at-all-costs culture of sport, if left unchecked, will overtake fair, safe and honest competition.”
Armstrong, however, says he has never tested positive for performance enhancment drugs and called the agency’s investigation an “unconstitutional witchhunt.”
The sport of cycling has been marred by doping allegations several times in the past.
“I don’t think fans want it that pure, I think fans want their athletes to be superstars, they want them to act superhuman.”
– Alan Milstein, a sports attorney
Floyd Landis lost his 2006 Tour de France title to a doping conviction. He has also accused Armstrong of using drugs and of teaching others how to prevent detection.
When asked if he thought Armstrong was a fraud, Landis responded “if he didn’t win the Tour, someone else that was doped would have won the Tour. In every single one of those Tours.”
What is the impact of doping on sport? And how will Armstrong’s decision impact his legacy?
To discuss this we are joined Dave Zirin, a sports writer for The Nation magazine; Alan Milstein, a sports attorney who has represented a number of athelets in bioethics disputes; and Grant Wahl, a senior Sports Illustrated writer.
“There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say “Enough is enough.” For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witchhunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.”
Lance Armstrong, US cycling legend