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Three years ago, I wrote a column defending Lance Armstrong from allegations that he was using performance-enhancing drugs.
Now, after he decided to drop his fight against those who claimed he was doping, I’m not sure where I stand.
While it appears there is a lot of evidence against him, it would be hard to argue that he’s been treated fairly or could expect a fair trial.
Last week, Armstrong made the decision to drop his fight over the allegations that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his career. As a result, he was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life from racing.
Whether he is innocent or not is something that I’ve thought a lot about recently. Given the current situation, I don’t think it possible to know for sure what the truth is. Teammates have come out and said they’d seen him doping, and the US Anti-Doping Agency has been after him for years, but there is no concrete proof. He’s never tested positive, and a few years ago, he was the most-tested athlete in the world.
I think when he announced he would no longer contest the charges, a lot of people took it as an admission of guilt, but, thinking about it, I couldn’t blame him for giving up. These charges have followed him for years. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have such a heavy charge hanging over my head for so long, thinking about how many hours he has sacrificed to answer questions about it, fighting charges, and how emotionally draining that must be.
It also seems that in many people’s minds, he has already been confirmed guilty. A lot of people I’ve talked to about Armstrong doubt that he could be innocent, despite the fact that there hasn’t been a failed drug test or anything concrete against him.
I honestly don’t know at this point who is right. There’s a part of me that has trouble believing he could be guilty since he’s been tested more than anyone else and has always come out clean. While some teammates have said they saw him doping, it’s hard to say he’s guilty for sure.
His act of ending his fight against the Anti-Doping Agency isn’t an admission of guilt. He said that it’s just become too much for him, and enough is enough. Armstrong also said that he feels there’s no way he could get a fair trial now, and I believe that is correct.
I’m honestly not sure if we’ll ever know the truth of whether or not he doped. The situation is messy, especially currently, when it seems most recent winners or top finishers of the Tour de France have in some way been linked with doping.
The thing I hope the most is that Lance finds some peace. If he did dope, I’d hope he would have the courage to come forward and admit it. If he is innocent, like he has so often claimed, I hope he can put this mess behind him now and enjoy retirement with a clear conscience.