2012-08-20

The Greatest Endurance Athlete In Human History?

In light of the anti-doping case against Lance Armstrong, I have been thinking a lot about what all this means for sports, Armstrong's legacy, and so on. (By the way, for the latest news about the case, try this WSJ article.)

I have previously discussed the idea that the case against Armstrong is a bit of a grey zone. Today, I'd like to briefly consider both possibilities: What does it mean if Armstrong doped, what does it mean if Armstrong did not dope?


What I have come to realize is that the question of whether or not he doped is actually entirely irrelevant. He is still the greatest endurance athlete in the history of the world, for the following reasons:
  • Assuming he doped, he is the only blood-doper in professional cycling history to ever have won seven consecutive Tours de France.
  • Assuming he did not dope, he is the only athlete in professional cycling history to ever have won seven consecutive Tours de France.
  • He is the only cancer survivor to ever have won seven consecutive Tours de France.
  • He is the only Tour de France winner to ever have undergone a severe chemotherapy regimen prior to his seven consecutive victories.
  • He is the only Tour de France winner to have devised what is perhaps the most successful non-profit fund-raising initiative of all time...
Get the picture? It would be a real shame if Armstrong's record were to be tarnished by a past history of blood doping. But even assuming the alleged doping occurred, no other athlete in history - including all blood-dopers - has ever accomplished what Lance Armstrong has accomplished.

I'm not simply trying to be a fanboy here. Considering the facts we all know for certain, it strikes me as undeniable that Lance Armstrong is the best endurance athlete of all time. Seven Tours de France are seven Tours de France. No other athlete has been able to do this, and perhaps none ever will - doping, or no doping.

So, yes, I do believe the case against Armstrong is a personal vendetta being waged by the head of the USADA. But no matter the outcome of the vendetta, facts are facts.

UPDATE: Looks like the courts ruled in the USADA's favor. Armstrong is probably headed to arbitration. Sad.