Armstrong squanders last shot at sympathy

The sticky point I could never get around with Lance Armstrong was this: in a dirty, dirty sport, where everyone cheats with performance enhancing drugs, how could he not only win races but beat everyone else out there like a drum?

I mean, Ben Johnson doped. But he didn't whip his opponents by 15 metres, never quite like Armstrong whipped his.p

Armstrong was Superman, and a cancer survivor to boot.

Sorry, just not possible.

After Wednesday's USADA detailed report used 26 different witnesses to carefully show all the ways in which Armstrong systematically cheated came out, we're now left with another even stickier point.

Could 100 per cent of this report be false and concocted in truly Stalin-esque style?

Could the conspiracy against Armstrong be that deep and pervasive, involve that emany people, and be complete and utter fiction down to the last detail in a spectacular attempt to nail an international cyclist?

Because here's the problem. Let's say among all the cheaters and liars involved in this tawdry sport, that some fibbed and some exaggerated. Wouldn't shock me.

Let's say only 60 per cent of the report is absolute truth.

That still makes Armstrong a liar and a cheat. Forget any and all good he may have done by raising funds for cancer. That has nothing to do with whether he cheated.

Hell, let's say for the sake of argument 30 per cent of the USADA findings are fact.

That still looks awful for the man who said he never, ever did ANYTHING against the rules.

See where I'm going here?

This would have to be one of the great conspiracies in the history of modern-man, one that would go to the core of government, for Armstrong to be telling the truth now, and it would have to be 100 per cent lies and fiction. But it's not, and he's not.

He never has. And now he never can. Can you imagine a mea culpa from Armstrong now? While Mark McGwire or Roger Clemens could have arguably won many supporters by coming absolutely clean on their baseball activities a long time ago, the same isn't the case for Armstrong now. He'd lose all those who refuse to see him as guilty, and nobody would come to his side in sympathy. A quarter-century after Seoul Johnson is a somewhat sympathetic character. Armstrong can never be.

So this is probably where this ends. A hero unmasked. Logic finally addressed. He did cheat to be that much better than the rest of a dirty sport. And they finally nailed him.

Damien Cox, Toronto Star, October 12, 2012

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