Well done, anti-doping agency.
You know, its too bad if Lance Armsotrong did dope. It certainly left a lot of questions around his 7 Tour victories. But here's kind of what I think:
It's a bicycle race.
Cycling is not a particularly popular sport, especially in the US. Americans didn't ever care about it except as something Europeans and the occasional nutty American participated in. And, yes, Armstrong's 7 victories look suspect. It's an unbelievable feat. Apparently TOO unbelievable.
But what I think we all learned from watching the fiasco of Armstrong's doping accusations over the past decade, and especially this most recent go-round, is that Lance Armstrong, a well known jerk/ philanthropist, must have made somebody really, really mad who had absolutely nothing better to do than worry about bicycle races that occurred about 10 years ago.
I guess if your whole job is going after people you suspect took steroids, then you'd feel obligated to prove this guy was totally doing steroids. But when you're the third organization that's tried to make a go of demonstrating something that happened a long time ago... well, it makes everybody involved look a little sad. I guess part of what I'm thinking is:
I'm betting folks who work for the tour looked at Lance and even at their own results (which maybe were positive and maybe which weren't) and said "he's the only interesting thing that's happened with this race in 100 years. He got TV viewership in the states and general interest in the sport. This is a bad spot we're in." They may have made a very complex decision that the American group pursuing Armstrong's doping career - did not .
Lance isn't admitting he doped. He's giving up and, I'm betting, is going to wind up something of a martyr as a lot of people start to question why someone was still hounding him years after he won his last race.
In the pragmatic world of @#$%- that-actually-matters, Armstrong has raised an insane amount of money for cancer research, which is a whole lot more than the organizers of the bike ride or the anti-doping groups can say. So, hey, kudos for chasing that one to the end.
One of the things I find interesting about particularly sprawling books or movies is that they so seldom come to a pat conclusion that you'd expect from a quick and dirty action movie. Sometimes the guy you're pursuing relentlessly is a genuine jerk who lied and cheated his way to the top, but when he got there, he started helping out sick kids and orphans.
Again, Lance didn't steal an election or from a kids charity. He won a bicycle race.
And just as he went to all kinds of extremes to win those races, I sort of have to wonder about the determination of the anti-doping folks and their focus on winning.
I guess I'm saying this more or less confirms everything I find ridiculous about adults playing sports as a profession and how we look at it as a life and death situation.
It's a bicycle race.