I did not come easily to liking Darth Lance. He rode with the wrong team, against my beloved Telekom team. And he used to beat my beloved Telekom boys. And I felt that he got more UK coverage than someone else doing just as well, purely because he was an Anglophone. So, rider riding for the wrong team, riding for the strongest team, and a rider that I didn’t particularly like for any other reason.
Now you’ll notice that I didn’t mention his doping or lack thereof. That’s mostly because Richard Virenque was my first cycling love and I never really stopped loving him, so I couldn’t really claim any moral high-ground on the doping front when it came to my favourites*. Either Armstrong was clean, in which case he was incredible, or he wasn’t, in which case he was doing better than everyone else who was also on stuff. It never made much of a matter to me.
So I couldn’t really join in the howls of indignation when d’affaire Armstrong happened. And I’d like to point out that he still has never failed a test, he only got caught because half his lieutenants failed tests and because they then ‘fessed up about exactly how systematic doping was in the US Postal/Discovery team.
Then after he got thoroughly stricken from the record, I found myself feeling really awkward because I agreed with Armstrong. Why was he the only one stricken, when pretty much every other winner around him was also caught doping? Okay, so Bjarne Riis confessed, so maybe he’s allowed to keep it for honesty (and, in the ASO’s defence, they want to strike him too but the UCI is not letting them), but my darling Jan wasn’t exactly clean (and has also admitted it) so why is he not being struck. And this is not me picking on people, I love Ullrich like crazy because he’s one of my beloved Telekom boys.
It just strikes me that only removing Armstrong from the record is unfair, since he was by no means the only winner to be on something, illogical, because see previous point, and it hides quite how systematic and complete the doping problem was (is?) in cycling.
*my other one, true and undying cycling love is Alexandre Vinokourov. I don’t half pick ’em.