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Is Lance Armstrong innocent or a liar?

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John wrote about the seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's recent troubles with rumors of doping. As he said, I love cycling and I've been following professional cycling since the days of the greatest US cycling champion, Greg LeMond. For years I argued with the French locals who suggested that Armstrong was doping and I used to believe that he was unique and innocent and that the French were jealous of his skills.

Some have pointed out his partnership with the highly controversial trainer Michele Ferrari as well as his strange financial contribution to the testing lab that initially revealed that Armstrong failed a doping test, where the results later changed. Others have pointed out how strange it was for Armstrong to shift his training out of France (where testing is rigorous) across the border to Spain, which is where many cyclists went to avoid strict testings. (Cyclists do have to tell authorities where they are for spot tests, but Spain had a strong reputation as the place to go for dopers.)

On top of that, there has been considerable talk about the extraordinary odds of Lance Armstrong being the only guy on the podium during his seven years who has not either admitted to doping or been found guilty of doping. Long odds, indeed. Then there's the troubling stories of countless teammates who have either admitted to doping or admitted to doping. And now today, four of his former teammates have backed out of the summer Olympics, which has surprised many. Why now?

So no, Lance Armstrong has not been found guilty of doping though there are many athletes that have been suspected but not been found guilty. Maybe he really is telling the truth and the haters are jealous. It's certainly possible that he stands alone as one of the rare (only?) riders in modern cycling history that has never doped. It's certainly possible, but the odds are slim of such a person existing. It wouldn't make it right, but everyone was doing it.

In the big picture, there are plenty of other issues that are more important than yet another obnoxious jerk like Armstrong. To his credit, he does help raise money for a good cause though there are suspicions that he does that more for his own protection than for any other reason. (As someone in a recent Bloomberg article mentioned, to criticize Armstrong is to criticize cancer research.) But if you like cycling as I do, it would be nice to hear the last few suspected dopers admit that they doped like everyone else and put that chapter in the past.

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