When the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that they were charging cycling legend Lance Armstrong with taking performance-enhancing drugs, I honestly wondered if they had found something new.
After all, Armstrong has never failed a drug test. Considering how long the rumors have been floating around about him, you know that he was tested. A lot. During his run of seven consecutive wins in the Tour de France, I'm sure he couldn't even look at a bathroom without some guy in a lab coat trying to hand him a plastic cup.
That changed when I read the letter the USADA sent to Armstrong, his lawyer, the RadioShack cycling team and the governing body of cycling (reproduced here).
The letter starts out by talking about the agency wanting to talk to cyclists about doping in the sport. They indicated they had wanted to speak with them face-to-face and have them be truthful about their experience with doping in cycling.
The key, for me, was the fourth paragraph of the letter. It says:
With the exception of Mr. Armstrong, every other U.S. rider contacted by USADA regarding doping in cycling agreed to meet with USADA and to truthfully and fully describe their involvement in doping and all doping by others of which they were aware. Mr. Armstrong was likewise contacted through his legal counsel and given the opportunity to meet with USADA to fully and truthfully disclose all knowledge of anti-doping rule violations committed in the sport of cycling. However, Mr. Armstrong declined USADA's offer.
Basically, the USADA was going hunting. They were looking for people to rat out others in the sport and when Armstrong declined to participate, they decided he was guilty.
You may be wondering what this has to do with Sporting Kansas City. Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports tried to make a connection with this tweet:
— Martin Rogers (@mrogersyahoo) August 24, 2012
The "now-tainted" stadium in question is Livestrong Sporting Park. The club has an agreement with the Lance Armstrong Foundation to donate $7.5 million in revenue to the fight against cancer over a six-year period. A portion of every dollar spent at the facility, regardless of whether or not it's during a Sporting KC game or some other event, goes to the foundation to end cancer once and for all.
Evidently, Rogers doesn't think the club should be associated with trying to cure cancer.
In a statement released to the media on Friday, club president Robb Heineman said:
The naming rights partnership between our stadium and Livestrong provides an opportunity to spread health and wellness messages that emphasizes the spirit of cancer survivorship. Livestrong’s focus is the fight against cancer and the support of 28 million people around the world affected by this disease, and we believe strongly in this mission. The statements made last night by the Lance Armstrong Foundation speak for themselves: moving forward and continuing the fight against this horrible disease.
Using Rogers' logic, Nike and Anheuser-Busch must also be tainted because they're not disassociating themselves from Armstrong.
When Armstrong announced Thursday that he would not be agreeing to arbitration of the USADA's accusations against him, he didn't admit guilt. He pointed out that he has never flunked a drug test.
Evidently, Rogers has never had a taxpayer-funded agency coming after him with a pre-determined outcome in its mind and the patience to wait as long as it takes to break him down.
Armstrong deciding not to fight against the USADA is not an admission of guilt. All it is, is Armstrong not wanting to put himself, his family or his foundation through a protracted battle. If Rogers could tell me with a straight face that he wouldn't do the same thing under the circumstances, he's a better liar than I am.
Even if they share a name, the foundation is much bigger than any one man, even a man of Armstrong's stature. The foundation has raised more than $400 million to try to find a cure for cancer, as well as helping people suffering from the disease. A witch hunt in which the target decides not to fight can't change that, nor should it.
I applaud Sporting KC, Nike and Anheuser-Busch for keeping their priorities straight on the issue. I would hope Rogers can get his straight soon.