Thursday, May 26, 2011


I missed former Gold-medal-winning cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s tell-all on CBS’ Sixty Minutes last week (had to wash my hair) in which he ratted out his former United States Postal Service cycling team teammate, Lance Armstrong, for using performance-enhancing drugs in order to win at least a couple of the seven Tour de France titles he garnered.

Although it’s certain that Hamilton was lying about some things (How can I tell? His lips were moving!) it’s certain that Armstrong availed himself of one or more of the available doping strategies in pursuit of his Tour victories.

But did he cheat? That’s what I’m not so sure of.

By all reports, professional bike racers in the 1990s and early part of the 21st century took nearly as many drugs as Keith Richards and Lindsay Lohan combined. Everybody says “everybody was doing it,” and no doubt, they were.

So, if Lance took human growth hormone or engaged in autologous blood-doping, or even if he shot up speed, it’s hard for me to see how this would have given him an unfair advantage; rather, had he not, he’d have had an unfair disadvantage.

Not that I’m advocating drug use here (I save that for Thursday nights with my friends, and limit it to substances grown organically), but the point is, if Lance had artificial help when he crushed his competitors time after time, they did, too, so even if the overall results were synthetically enhanced, the relative results were spot on.

So what if everyone’s best was better than it should have been; Lance was still the best among them. Just because everyone’s riding with tailwind, doesn’t mean the winner cheated, does it?

And I’m not even a fan of Armstrong; I actually liked Hamilton best of all. But that was before I bought into his “Believe Tyler” campaign.

In the immortal words of George Bush, “Fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me, you can’t get fooled again.”


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