Gary attempts to offend everyone in the Armstrong debate…
Those of you who listened to Episode 15 will know we imposed a ban on talking about doping on the Pod. This will likely last until Episode 16 in a couple of weeks but, frankly, it’s become a little bit boring. Now, we’re not making ourselves complicit in the omertà, but what really is there to be added to the so-called debate?
However, we chatted to Ned Boulting on Sunday night and we did inevitably touch on le dopage (so much for the ban, huh?). Talking around and about the Federal Investigation into USPS, Armstrong et al, Ned said that he could foresee a headline photo of Armstrong in handcuffs some day. Of course, he’s spot on. But while it certainly would present probably the defining image of cycling’s fight against doping – and many would see it as a watershed – what would sticking a man in jail actually achieve?
Armstrong polarizes opinion. Fact. The “fanboys” cling dearly to the “most tested athlete in history” line or the Livestrong legacy (itself a divisive topic). Allegations of UCI-complicit cover-ups, the 1999 Tour samples, the bullying of those who speak out and let’s not forget the Rest Room Incident with Tyler Hamilton are all manna from cycling Heaven to the “haters”. But does the future of cycling really hinge on whether a man is convicted of a federal crime?
Should Ned’s prediction ring true, all of us will see it as closure. Metaphorical champagne corks will pop and the haters will be proved right, while the fanboys will cry out at the injustice (just as the haters will do should the Grand Jury find no evidence of wrong-doing, of course). But what will actually be closed? Are cycling fans deluded enough to think that Armstrong-in-cuffs will signal the end of the bad old days? Didn’t that happen after Festina, after all?
Or will the haters just go and find somebody else upon whom to pin their vitriol? I hear David Millar has a book out this week…
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