As a cyclist I am both relieved yet wary that Lance Armstrong is finally being sanctioned for having systematically doped during his career. I feel this way because drawing on my best moral and ethical high ground, I see the only way forward for the cleanest cycling imaginable is that penance and compromise affecting all levels of competitive cyclists must be paid now.
I try to present the most objective opinion on matters, therefore it’s worth raising Armstrong’s perspective as he still has plenty of supporters. One such perspective is the concept pertaining to the ‘tall poppy syndrome.’ In Lance’s words he has been subject to a “witch hunt”, initiated by the French when the outspoken American started winning their national race.
Cycling hadn’t seen an individual as methodical and calculating as Armstrong in his quest not only for victory but to crush his adversaries at any expense. I still feel that I unfairly judge him because of his success – something worth acknowledging.
However, because of his success and standing it is important that his head does roll to set a precedent and for the future of cycling. What’s more, several Armstrong supporters purport that those guilty cyclists who have sworn affidavits key to USADAs case have lied to protect themselves and gain shorter doping bans, forget that at least those guilty have confessed. Cycling fans know too well the pain of being dragged through a campaign of (guilty) denial, most notably of now self-confessed doper Floyd Landis.
Finally, on a positive note at least, I’ve found current professional David Millars’ opinion to be most encouraging. Convicted for possession of EPO and admitting to doping, Millar came back after a 2-year ban and in the last 6 years has done nothing short of great job not only continuing to animate professional racing but advocate the best practices against doping. While doping sentences have bordered on comical (should some dopers be banned for life?), those with a past, if they demonstrate willingness to change, can contribute to a more positive future.