Lance Armstrong was my cycling hero. In fact he was a lot of people's hero... we all know the story... the cancer survivor cheats death and comes back to win the Tour De France seven times. However, we now know a lot more of the story: drugs, lies, cheating, besmirching and ruining people who became a threat to the empire... and in short he plummeted from grace. I have become a little hett-up about drugs in sport this week. And I have been wanting to write something about drugs in sport but this is purely my take on it! Oh and I need you to read the whole article before passing judgement... this is not just about Lance... its about ALL drugs cheats. Should Lance be allowed to compete again in any sport? If you just read the above it is a definitive: NO. However, perhaps we should consider some other factors... Lance inspired a generation to get on their bike - many of whom are still riding today... there are companies who made millions from Lance Armstrong's success. Trek would not be the bike company it is today without the publicity it got from Lance winning the Tours is just one example. Lance still holds massive power in the social media world... he is still one of the most popular sporting google searches... he did and still does a substantial amount of charity work... and perhaps cycling wouldn't be as popular today without some of his heroic performances... In August 2012, Lance, in addition to being stripped of all his results from August 1998, received a lifetime ban from ALL sport as he was seen as the mastermind of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." Normally there is something called the statute of limitations for doping offenses, which means anything which happened over eight years ago cannot be used to bring disciplinary action. The United States Anti Doping Authority (USADA) report which was published in October 2012 contended that the normal eight-year statute of limitations for doping offenses did not apply because of Armstrong's "fraudulent concealment" of his doping. So this morning I am reading the news that Anti-Doping Denmark has finally published its report into doping in Danish cycling between 1998 and 2015, revealing that former team manager Bjarne Riis was complicit in a wide-spread doping operation at Team CSC, that included riders’ relationships with Dr Fuentes and his blood doping programme based in Spain. The report says that Riis, Johnny Weltz, - now a directeur sportif at Cannondale-Garmin, former Riis Cycling Managing Director Alex Pedersen and a number of Danish former riders have all violated applicable anti-doping rules. However due to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s eight-year statute of limitation rule in force at the time, none will face disciplinary action. So there will be no action taken. Why the massive discrepancy? How many other high profile athletes from a variety of sports have not received a sanction or have received a similarly small sanction and continue in their sport? Alberto Contador just won the Giro D'Italia... everyone is gushing about how brilliant he was during the race... how he looks the complete article on a bike... but has everyone forgotten the drugs ban he received in February 2012 and was stripped of his Tour De France win in 2010? How are Astana even still racing... led by Alexander Vinokourov, who got thrown out of the Tour De France for testing positive in during the 2007 Tour... the whole Astana team then abandoned the race. Four riders received bans during the 2014 season! Did anyone else notice that most of the Astana team suddenly became really strong towards the end of this year's Giro? Can we really believe Vicenzo Niballi won the Tour De France last year clean... no matter how much we want to? I want to, I really really do. Lets look at The Beautiful Game - Football (that's soccer in this case) which has been openly criticised for not sanctioning players implicated in performance enhancing drug scandals. Operation Puerto (yep the one above) implicated approximately 50 cyclists and 150 sportspersons of other sporting codes, including several "high-profile football players". While the cyclists were named and pursued by the governing bodies of cycling, none of the football players were named or punished for their involvement. What about athletics? You have Alberto Salazar, coach to Mo Farah and Galen Rupp (Gold and Silver in 10,000m at London 2012), currently under investigation for doping his athletes... As a Brit who watched that race live on television - I really want to believe... but now there are doubts... Tyson Gay, cost five teammates — Justin Gatlin (who received a 4 year ban in 2006) among them — their relay silver medals from the London 2012 Olympics because Gay admitted having used before London the banned performance-enhancer for which he later tested positive. USA Track & Field appointed ex-doper Dennis Mitchell as a coach for one of its international teams. Mitchell and his wife, ex-doper Damu Cherry, coach Kaylin Whitney, 18, the apparent bright new light of U.S. sprinting. Mitchell also coaches Gatlin! Gatlin also had trained with Trevor Graham, the coach at the center of the Marion Jones doping affair. Seven years later, at 33, Gatlin has done his time and is running the fastest times of his life. Really? I want to believe... Two of the world's leading women's marathoners during the past decade, Liliya Shobukhova of Russia and Rita Jeptoo of Kenya, were busted for doping in 2014. Russia's track and field federation is becoming snowed under with doping allegations, implicated by a German TV network, the country's supposed anti-doping agency as complicit in the drug use. The list goes on! Rugby union - accroding to an article in the Daily Mail - has a doping problem, with one former international coach claiming that there has been ‘institutionalised drug-taking’ since the game turned professional.
- Nick Clancy became the 10th rugby union player in the UK this year to be suspended for doping offences
- Former coach says he walked away from the professional game in disgust at the scale of drug-taking
- Study of South African schoolboy players returned 12 positive tests for anabolic steroids out of just 52 undertaken