So, it’s ten in the morning. I really have other things that I need to be doing, but something had to be said about the UCI stripping Lance Armstrong of all of his victories. Really, though, this is not about Lance.
The UCI, ultimately, did what they had to (and should) do. The criticism mounting against them was huge and anything but severely censuring Armstrong would have been seen as more evidence that their first priority was in promoting cycling, doping be damned. Within their announcement is at least a little bit of concession that they did not do all that they could have done to prevent doping:
Their testimony confirms that the anti-doping infrastructure that existed at that time was, by itself, insufficient and inadequate to detect the practices taking place within the team. The UCI has always been the first international sporting federation to embrace new developments in the fight against doping and it regrets that the anti-doping infrastructure that exists today was not available at that time so as to render such evasion impossible.
That said, I think that it would be fair to question whether the anti-doping infrastructure (the means and methods) was insufficient or whether the actual execution of those means and methods were used to their fullest extent.
At this point, yes, we need to look to the future and what we as cyclists and the UCI as the governing body need to do to restore the image of cycling in the eyes of the public. The UCI says that “…today’s young riders do not deserve to be branded or tarnished by the past or to pay the price for the Armstrong era. Cycling has a future and those who will define that future can be found among the young generation of riders who have chosen to prove that you can compete and win clean.”, but the departure of long time sponsors like Rabobank show that the public, and those that might provide financial backing for cycling, are still looking for a stronger sign that the sport has moved beyond the dark days that were hinted at in the Festina scandal and confirmed by the USPS era.
While the UCI’s biological passport program is getting better and stronger, I think that it is still possible to dope and win in this era. I’m a doubter by nature. Whether it’s cycling or religion, I need something more to go on than “you just need to have faith”. I’m not an atheist, and I’m still a cycling fan, but absence of a positive does not prove the negative; it may show that you’re not looking in the right place for the positive. In the spectrum from “they’re all great athletes” to “they’re all doping!” to “they used to dope, but now they’re seemingly clean” to “I trust that they are racing clean”, I still need more to go on.
“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. Lance Armstrong deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” McQuaid said at the press conference announcing the UCI’s decision. And he outlined how cycling would have to start all over again. They have work to do, and we as fans and cyclists have work to do as well.