Of course, Lance Armstrong said it ain’t so many times. Hundreds of times. Vehemently. Indignantly. As vigorously as the American cycling icon climbed the Alps and Pyrenees on his way to an unprecedented seven Tour de France titles, he denied charges that he blood doped, using the banned performance-enhancing substance known as EPO. There were also accusations of steroid use.
Thursday night, Armstrong quit fighting. Which is not to say he's no longer in denial.
Facing public arbitration with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Armstrong “declined” to participate in an upcoming hearing. Almost immediately he was stripped of his Tour de France titles, his bronze Olympic medal, and handed a lifetime ban from cycling.
In a statement released to the media, the 40-year-old said, “Enough is enough,” mentioning the “the toll this taken on my family.”
The problem for Armstrong, as those who have been following his case know, wasn’t test results — although the USADA claims to have two bad tests from 2009 and 2010 when Armstrong attempted his comeback — it was the testimony of his own racing team and former teammates, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton and Frankie Andreu.
Bicycling magazine editor in chief Peter Flax said on CBS This Morning Friday that he thinks Armstrong is "choosing the least worst option...it's a damage control move.” Flax added that he’s “absolutely convinced” that Armstrong cheated. However, Flax also noted that there’s tremendous support for Armstrong on the magazine’s online forums, "95 percent of them are pro-Lance people, communicating their support for him," he said. "He is guilty but in a lot of people's eyes, he's still an inspiration."
Someone I heard on television this morning compared Armstrong’s downfall to Pete Rose’s fall from grace. It’s a good analogy in one respect. Charlie Hustle was beloved for his competitive fire and take-no-prisoner’s approach to sport. Rose also vehemently professed his innocence (of gambling on his own team), numerous times in interviews and television, for years, despite damning evidence. In both cases, looking back, their incredible competitive spirit — and ego defense mechanisms — look more like pathological character flaws.
A cycling friend early this morning sent me a text, wondering if we will ever know the truth. Then she clarified. She meant she wondered if Armstrong would ever tell whole truth. You know, come clean.
Armstrong'a entire statement can be found here.