Lance Armstrong vs. USADA Fails to Produce the Truth or a Winner

Jim OstermanContributor IAugust 24, 2012

ROUBAIX, FRANCE - APRIL 08:  Seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong attended the 2012 Paris Roubaix cycle race from Compiegne to Roubaix on April 8, 2012 in Paris, France. The 110th edition of the race is 257km long with 51.5km of cobbles spread over 27 sections.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

This week Lance Armstrong threw in the towel in his fight against the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The seven-time Tour de France champion said he will not fight USADA's assertion that he was not the drug-free warrior he claims to be. Some say this is Armstrong's fall from grace (h/t The Washington Post).

But there's a few things we also need to remember. First, if not for Armstrong most of us could give a flip about cycling. The sport exists so far out on the fringe it makes the WNBA look as mainstream at the NFL. We did get excited when Greg LeMond won the Tour years before Lance, but it was a momentary excitement. Like the tide it came in, then it went out. The average Armstrong fan probably only paid attention to the Tour when they heard Lance had won it again.

Second, USADA, which does oversee the drug testing in the cycling world, does not own, oversee or administrate the Tour de France. Thus it's with more than a dram of brass that it claims it will strip Lance of his Tour titles. And if you sniff around the world of cycling you'll find plenty of cyclists you've never heard of who have been made to jump through hoops by USADA. The agency doesn't have an untarnished record, either.

And finally there is truth in the part of Armstrong's story when it comes to overcoming late-stage testicular cancer. No one has ever claimed Lance cooked the books on that one. One result is that $500 million has been generated for cancer research. That's a lot of yellow bracelets.

Lance Armstrong is a survivor and a world-class athlete. He is also said to be self-centered and self-important. And he may even be a cheat. But I suspect there are any number of people living with that disease who don't care if Lance won his titles riding a Harley.