Lance Armstrong: A Quick Word on the Latest Cycling Scandal

Josh McCainSenior Writer IMay 24, 2011

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  Lance Armstrong of the USA and Team Radio Shack competes during Stage Five of the 2011 Tour Down Under on January 22, 2011 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)
Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

By now many of have either seen, heard or read about Tyler Hamilton's interview with 60 Minutes.  You know the one where he says that not only Lance Armstrong was using performance-enhancing drugs (as well as blood doping), but everyone in the sport was doing something of a similar nature.

Now, I've always had the mindset that you are innocent until proven guilty. 

Though there have been several accusations against Armstrong from former teammates like Hamilton and Floyd Landis, Armstrong has yet to fail a drug test.

Does that mean he's clean? 

No, it certainly does not, but at the same time I'm not going to join the witch-hunt against the man based on he-said she-said arguments.

However, I'm going to play devil's advocate here.  For a moment let's say Lance Armstrong did use some sort of performance-enhancer—it doesn't really matter which one.  At the same time let's take Hamilton's word that everyone in the sport was/is using some sort of PED.

If that's the case is it really cheating?

After all if Armstrong wants to stay competitive he'd have to use similar cocktails as the other cyclists.

In a sport where everyone is dirty it doesn't pay the bills to be clean.

I'm not trying to say using these drugs is right, after all many of them can cause heart, liver and kidney failure, but at the same time we all make choices in life that can do us harm.

We justify these choices by weighing the risk vs. the reward.

In an allegedly dirty sport such as cycling, each athlete must weigh the risk vs. the reward when it comes to using PEDs.

If Armstrong did indeed use drugs, then to him the reward was far greater than the risks.

After all, look what he has accomplished.

He's the only cyclist to win seven consecutive Tour de Frances (that he's competed in).  He's become a multi-millionaire thanks to Nike, and most importantly, he's raised millions of dollars for cancer research.

That last part (and the fact that everyone dopes in cycling) is why I won't join any such witch-hunt against Armstrong.

If he doped or didn't, the fact that he came back from cancer and won allowed him to sell so many of those yellow rubber "Live Strong" bracelets and secure millions of dollars for cancer research.

It's a case where I feel the ends justify the means.

After all, would anyone want to buy a bracelet from a guy who survived cancer, got back on his bike and got his butt spanked in a race, then retired and became a used car salesman?

I highly doubt it.

I may seem hypocritical on the subject, but in the end, Armstrong didn't hurt anyone.  If the sport is as dirty as guys like Hamilton and Landis claim, then Lance had no real advantage.