Armstrong gives up the fight – but serious doubts remain.
As a long time Armstrong admirer I'm disappointed that he has given up his fight against the charge that he participated in doping or took performance enhancing drugs. But I can totally understand the decision.
The only certain winners are the lawyers and there comes a point when you simply have to hold your hands up and say "do your worst".
There is so much wrong with this case that it would never stand up in a court of law in the UK. From giving riders guaranteed assurances that they will not be prosecuted if they finger Armstrong to not producing any hard evidence that a crime has been committed it stinks of persecution.
When Armstrong tried to sue USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) the judge threw out the case but commented that the relentless pursuit of the seven time tour de France winner was possibly not in the best interests of the sport and was being done for "other reasons".
This is a totally unsatisfactory situation. As sports fans and more specifically betting fans, we want to know that what we are seeing in front of us is the real deal. When athletes get stripped of titles retrospectively it nullifies the whole experience and cheating at sports in all of its forms is a hideous practice.
So what now for USADA?
They are likely to try and quickly strip Armstrong of his seven tour titles. It is farcical in the extreme.
Having been drug tested over five hundred times during his stellar career only now is he going to be punished for a crime that he has never been proved of committing.
In any case do USADA have the jurisdiction to hand out such a punishment? The UCI is the governing body of the cycling sport. If Armstrong is stripped of his titles then who do they put in his place? And what if the replacement has already been found guilty of doping?
It is well known that Armstrong used altitude training to gain a performance boost. Bradley Wiggins has used the same technique so it is a tried and tested method for gaining a competitive advantage. It is much more likely in my opinion that those who could not live with the pace would use alternative methods to increase their performance. Those same people who have stepped up to claim Armstrong is guilty in return for not being punished for their crime.
That reeks of double standards and hypocrisy.
The rules for being able to retrospectively ban an athlete for using performance enhancing drugs need to be changed and quickly otherwise how else would you stop a whispering campaign against any athlete from growing into a full scale investigation like this one with no new evidence being presented and with the prospect of coercing former athletes to testify against the victim in return for anonymity?