The world is set to cave in on Lance Armstrong.
The seven-time winner of the Tour de France has long been suspected by many of having cheated his way to those famous victories, but he has managed to avoid being proven as a performance-enhancing drug user—until now.
The story behind USADA’s charges against Armstrong has started to come to light.
While there is still no positive test that has become public knowledge, the code of silence that exists amongst the riders has been cracked, with no less than four of Armstrong’s former teammates allegedly lining up to testify against him.
Even more damning is that the riders are current competitors and not previously disgraced former riders, such as Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, who have made allegations in the past
Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf had named Hincapie (BMC), Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) as the riders according to The Age.
These are men who have been intimately involved with Armstrong’s campaigns, and their testimony will be very hard to refute. Adding to the gravitas of their testimony is the fact that all have allegedly confessed to doping alongside Armstrong.
The Age goes on to report that the four have been given six-month suspensions in return for their testimony, which now helps explain why they each made themselves unavailable for Olympic selection.
What will hit Armstrong particularly hard is the testimony by Hincapie, the only rider to have been with him through all seven Tour victories and once his most trusted lieutenant. It will be on the back of that testimony that the move to strip Armstrong of his Tour victories will rest.
While Armstrong will need to bear the consequences of his actions—whatever they were—the pity will be damage done to his charitable work and to the institution of the Tour de France.
Whatever people may think of Armstrong the cyclist, it is difficult to overlook the tremendous contribution he has made to cancer awareness and the resources he has obtained for cancer research.
It is heartbreaking to believe that it may have all been built on a lie.
While it is difficult to compare cancer work with a bike race, the damage that an Armstrong conviction will do to the institution that is the Tour de France is difficult to gauge.
While the race is bigger than the reputation of any individual, it is sad that one of the planet’s great sporting events may again be sullied by having a winner stripped of his victories.
To make matters worse, it is difficult to imagine that USADA’s actions haven’t been timed to inflict the greatest possible damage on the race itself.
The presentation of formal charges on the day the race started, the announcement of the charges in the days leading up to the race and now the evidence being leaked during the race seems to be intended to overshadow the race.
As if this news isn’t bad enough of its own accord.