A seven-time Tour de France winner, a cancer survivor, and an advocate of fundraising towards cancer research. These are the titles synonymous with cyclist and world-renowned philanthropist Lance Armstrong. Many people praise him for these accolades, however, he is hated and discriminated against by others for one simple word: Doping.
The issue of doping breached the cycling world in 2006, when Armstrong team member Floyd Landis was accused of using PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) after winning the Tour de France that year. Landis eventually admitted to the allegations, and it seemed as though he would be the only one to fall. However, like all sports, there is never just one victim.
This past May, Landis again shocked the cycling world, only this time it was with his words rather than his bike. Landis accused head team member Lance Armstrong of encouraging and using PEDs and blood transfusions before races. Armstrong returned fire immediately by denying the claims against him, and stating Landis had already lost all his credibility by admitting to using PEDs.
Three months later, and this time with federal prosecutors involved, Landis still stands by his allegations against Armstrong. Only this time, he is not alone. As reported on ESPN early Thursday morning, prosecutors now have two more sources against Armstrong, according to the Times.
With two more reported sources backing up the claims made by Landis, things are not looking good for Armstrong, right?
Well, hold on. According to Armstrong's attorneys, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is offering cyclists a "get out of jail free card" if they testify or provide evidence that Armstrong has cheated in the past.
While to some, this may seem like an all-out war against Armstrong, his defense team seems confident that everything will be fine. Attorney Bryan D. Daly, who is representing Armstrong, says cyclists who claim Armstrong cheated are just lying to protect their own careers and destroy his.
"They just want them to incriminate Lance Armstrong and that's my concern," Daly said. "To the extent that there's anyone besides Floyd Landis saying things, the bottom line is, if you take away the soap opera and look at the scientific evidence, there is nothing."
Lance Armstrong finds himself in a race against the biggest challengers of his career: Federal prosecutors, former team members, and jealous adversaries.
Only time will tell if Armstrong can once again come out on top, but even if he does, it could be too late to save his legacy.
(Information from ESPN and the Associated Press were used in this report.)
~James Cook Future Associated Press