Armstrong evidence too thin to condemn a great champion

Posted: Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has performed miraculous feats both on and off the bicycle. But it may be beyond the ability of this incredible athlete to disprove a negative — that he didn't cheat by using a red blood-cell booster in 1999.

Never mind that the charges against him are being made by a French sporting tabloid that has never hidden its dislike of Armstrong. Or that its evidence of doping is contained in coded tests of 6-year-old frozen urine samples by a lab whose testing procedures and chain of custody can't be authenticated. Or that the lab's testing procedures for the banned substance, which sometimes generates false positives, were experimental.

The seeds of doubt have been sown. One of the world's most tested and scrutinized athletes is being judged guilty until proven innocent, although no other test has shown he cheated in any other competition, including six other Tours.

But until far firmer evidence is produced against Armstrong than what the French sports daily L'Equipe is pedaling, we'll continue believing in what millions of fans have seen and celebrated — a gifted athlete overcoming deadly cancer and torturous mountains to reach the top of his sport.

— The Indianapolis Star

Aug. 29

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