Almost a week ago, cycling's version of Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, finally announced he was giving up his long fought battle against the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) over alleged doping charges that have plagued the seven-time Tour de France winner for years.
Like the tattletale from elementary school playgrounds past, the USADA celebrated by stripping Armstrong of all seven of those Tour titles and banning him from the sport for life. The USADA immediately saw Armstrong's surrender as an admission of guilt, although Lance himself still proclaims his innocence.
Cycling, as we know it in America, is dead. Congratulations.
There are several ways people have looked at this over the last few days. Some have stated that he was finally dubbed as the cheater he was. Others meanwhile, including Armstrong, insist that the fight, which began in 1999, took too much of a toll on his family, his foundation and most likely, his wallet.
In the end, the real evil involved here is the use of taxpayers' money to once again attempt to expose a sport that is so marred in doping controversies that only two of the top-five finishers in each of the seven tour victories Lance has claimed, DID NOT test positive, or admit to using, some form of banned substance.
No, the USADA is not a government agency. However, it is an agency that is funded by the federal government. This means that taxpayers across the U.S. are once again wasting hard earned money to expose a person considered by many to be the voice against cancer in the world today.
Was this all worth it? Armstrong has NEVER failed an administered drug test, and some of the evidence stems from emails sent by Floyd Landis, a known and admitted cheater, who has resembled a sinking ship who got caught and is determined to bring everyone else down with him. A mountain of evidence against Armstrong? Hardly.
In addition, the last time I checked, we lived in a country that held to the principle: innocent until proven guilty. By dropping his fight against the relentless pursuit of the USADA, Armstrong admitted that he was tired of proving his innocence, something that sport-administered drug tests should have done. Make public a failed drug test and maybe I would be more on board with your findings.
The determination of these government or government funded programs, specifically this pursuit against Armstrong and the infamous Mitchell Report, raises major questions as to whether this is the best way to spend taxpayers' money in a struggling economy, rampant with unemployment and massive federal debt.
Besides, is either sport better now that the cheaters have been outed?
Like every other so-called "justice system" in the world, the "big fish" were prosecuted and lesser-known violators were left alone. Is anyone naive enough to think that Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens and the handful of other players pursued hard by Congress were the only users of PEDs? The same question could be posted in the sport of cycling. Which begs another question, was all of it worth it?
While baseball has the advantage of being America's pastime, and therefore the integrity of the game was supposedly at stake (although nothing ever came of the Congressional hearings or the Mitchell Report except a slap on the wrist), what was at stake for cycling?
Do you think Lance Armstrong is guilty?
Without Lance Armstrong, no one in America except the small percentage of cycling enthusiasts would have cared at all about the Tour de France or cycling in general. Now that the hero of the sport has been "disgraced," if that's how you want to label it, cycling will go back to being unimportant in this country.
Lance Armstrong has done more for cancer research (raising over $470 million) than he ever did for the sport of cycling. So attempting to ruin the career of a genuine philanthropist who fought the good fight against cancer and won, has done nothing but hurt the reputation of someone trying to do good in this world.
Congratulations again, USADA, but please excuse us if your wasteful spending, that simultaneously has proved nothing definitively, is not greeted with a standing ovation and a handshake. Frankly, I wish that same government funding would be spent on more useful things to the citizens of America than publicly destroying the reputation of their sports heroes.