Thursday, September 29, 2005


I put together an excellent post Sunday, mentioning the improving Buckeyes, the impressive Bengals, the growing Browns and the finger-crossing Indians, but it all was deleted because I let the post screen sit up for too long! The worst part is I can't recover anything I wrote! Not that it matters now. It's Thursday, and all those insights are obsolete. Additionally, I was slated to have my first print edition of "Keeping Score" run in The Chimes today, but a lack of room on the page kept it sitting on the sidelines. However, the great thing about this blog is that I can post it here. Enjoy!


Over the summer, a friend and I would periodically navigate the Columbus bicycle trails for about 20 miles, and I can remember thinking to myself when we finished, “Wow, my legs hurt. I’m glad we’re done.”

I cannot imagine riding four times that far at a much faster pace over significantly more rugged terrain every day for three weeks. But what really boggles my mind is that someone has not only done all that but has done it better than anyone else in the world for seven straight years.

Lance Armstrong added his seventh consecutive Tour de France title this summer and completed arguably the greatest individual athletic achievement in the history of sports. Not only did Armstrong do what no cyclist had ever done before, he did it after pushing cancer into remission. But as soon as Armstrong finished the tour and announced his official retirement, a writer from the French daily sports newspaper L’Equipe had to go and accuse him of cheating.

In an article titled “The Armstrong Lie,” the writer, alleged that Armstrong took the performance-enhancing drug Erythropoietin (EPO) in 1999 while he was training for his second Tour de France.

This is not the first time Armstrong has been the center of drug controversy. Also in 1999 he tested positive for a topical steroid that with a doctor’s prescription is legal in cycling, upon producing the prescription, Armstrong was cleared of wrongdoing and allowed to race.

The L’Equipe writer had a French laboratory, Châtenay-Malabry, supporting his claim, saying that cycling’s testing process before 1999 was flawed because many cyclists’ test samples, including some of Armstrong’s, sat long enough in the laboratory that the EPO proteins deteriorate, and that created a negative test. The lab claimed it was possible that the negative results regarding Armstrong are inaccurate.

It is also possible that O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife, but the criminal court found him not guilty because not enough proof existed against him. Similarly, what is missing in all of these Armstrong allegations is proof.

Another possibility is that the French media is jealous that an American has so thoroughly dominated “their sport” for seven years. I cannot prove that, but it is possible.

“Possible” is not enough for me to judge, and it is not enough for cycling, either. The sport has not discredited any of Armstrong’s accomplishments. Their official organization, UCI, released a statement September 9 saying neither Châtenay-Malabry nor the World Anti-Doping Agency has provided any conclusive data. Armstrong has vehemently denied the allegations throughout his career.

The best thing to come out of these allegations may be a possible comeback. Armstrong told The American Statesman in August that he might ride the tour in 2006 “just to piss the French off.” Armstrong, however, reported through his Web site September 15 that he does not intend to race another Tour de France.

Which Armstrong comment is the truth? Will he come back and try for an eighth title? I do not know how likely it is, but it is possible.



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