Monday, October 22, 2012

Lance Armstrong: both villain and scapegoat

Okay, so now Lance is on track to losing everything--all that reward money, endorsement money, all connections to bicycling. It's obvious now that he won by cheating. So he's getting what he deserves, right?

Yes and no. Consider the fact that no winner of those seven Tours de France will be named now. Because the rest of the leaders were doping too. Have they all been banned for life as well. Nope. One or two year suspensions mainly.

And compared to other sports--he never paid anyone to make another competitor crash and get injured. Yet the football coaches and players who paid for and did this have not received comparable opprobrium. Or how about the player/enforcers in ice hockey, whose job description is in reality "breaker of opposing players" ? Or the more thuggish NASCAR race car drivers with a rep for making other drivers crash?

Also consider the extreme likelihood that no one who didn't dope could have won those races. With or without doping Lance was one of the toughest, most skilled cyclists ever. Without doping he would not have won any Tour, however.

So for my money the greatest punishment should go to sportsmen who injure other sportsmen intentionally. And to the extent that Lance may have coerced other teammates into doping, I'd punish him more for that than for doping himself. For doping himself, he deserves the same punishment anyone else gets--not more, not less.

And doesn't it seem like he's getting more because he won all those races? How is it just to punish him for winning AND doping. Punish everyone in every sport who doped--and punish them the same. Don't single out Lance because he was the most adept at it. Or because he also won.

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