Lance Armstrong’s ban: Was the cyclist treated unfairly?
It has been almost a decade since Lance Armstrong was banned for life from cycling. Once a poster boy for the sport, Armstrong’s life turned topsy-turvy when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, and was stripped of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles after getting convicted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
His previous teammate – Floyd Landis, too, was ripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. Cases and petitions have been made in favor of Lance Armstrong ever since, with many fellow cyclists receiving a lesser punishment for somewhat similar abuse. Armstrong was banned for life after his doping scandal came to light. It was a sustained effort by the USADA to nab the serial cheat.
Lance Armstrong, who beat testicular cancer back in 1997, feels that he was singled out and made an example by the anti-doping agency. Lance had said at that time, quite controversially, that he was able to compete with others at a similar level because his fellow mates were also on dope!
Lance Armstrong feels that he was hard done by the USADA
Lance speaking about his side of the story to journalist David Walsh said – “At the time I did not appreciate the cruelty with which USADA exposed Armstrong as a cheat nor did I understand the severity of the punishment.” The American exclaimed that he wasn’t looking for redemption or trying to pedal his way to get some sympathy, but merely stating what was true. As a matter of fact, other cyclists got a ‘get-out-of-jail’ card while Lance was to serve a life sentence.
As per several reports, many of Lance’s colleagues who accepted that they used performance-enhancing drugs, made a deal of a 6-month ban from the cycling world body for testifying in favor of the USADA case against Armstrong. USADA seemed to have made Lance a scapegoat and got his head as a trophy. Whether Lance Armstrong is a Tour de France legend or not, is still being debated.
Johan Bruyneel, the Belgian cyclist, in an interview earlier with the Spanish outlet MARCA, made his opinion clear about the USADA trying every trick in the book to frame Lance Armstrong. Bruyneel said – “Already in its day it seemed to us a too harsh sanction, but now it is seen as something disproportionate.”
Lance Armstrong had it coming for years. There are no two ways about it. What was more damning was his interview to Oprah Winfrey, where he admitted to doping/cheating. Perhaps, that was most defining. A decade hence, the justice debate rages whether Lance Armstrong was “victimized.” He has been ploughing a lone battle since then. Life has never been the same since that day for Lance when he was banned. The debate can rage on, endlessly. Sport has seen cheats come and go. Some were caught and some got away, literally.