If you’ve been following the saga of Lance Armstrong, there are a few facts which the media has vastly under-reported that should make every American taxpayer very, very uneasy.
For those who do not follow professional cycling—and that includes me—Lance Armstrong was “stripped” of his seven Tour De France wins because he got tired of fencing with something called the United States Anti-Doping Agency and finally told them to go to hell (my words, not his).
The seven titles were won in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.
He passed hundreds of blood tests during those years, and the USADA actually has not found one shred of legitimate evidence that, in fact, he took performance-enhancing drugs.
But, according to a front page story in the Wall Street Journal, the USADA went after Armstrong for the past five years with the same glee that the Los Angeles Police Department pursued O.J. Simpson.
They did have a guy who Armstrong beat who said he transfused his own blood. The LAPD had lying cops in the OJ case.
But, you know what should really make you uneasy about all of this?
You paid for it.
While they like to say that the USADA is a private, non-government agency, in fact, the taxpayers fork over between $9 and $10-million dollars a year to support this nonsense. And you know where that money comes from? The White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy.
This is an example of the government giving a bunch of out-of-control bureaucrats a checkbook and allowing them to run over someone for no apparent reason other than he was really good.
What’s next? Investigating Richard Petty’s seven Winston Cup championships? How about Michael Jordan’s run with the Chicago Bulls? Why not prosecute Roger Clemons? (Sorry, I’ll have to remove irony from my diet.)
With all of the problems that the government of the United States of America faces, what is this big fat camel’s nose doing under this tent?
From a purely practical standpoint, do you realize how little an advantage any sort of drug (of which none were ever detected) would have given Armstrong? The Tour de France is a 23 day, 2,172 mile race.
It involves knowing the course, properly maintained equipment, and being ready for almost anything including sudden changes in the weather. A performance-enhancing drug (which, again, was never detected) might have helped him, but a flat tire could have wiped out that advantage in a heartbeat.
My favorite story along those lines comes from the legendary Parnelli Jones who, along with the equally legendary Andy Granatelli, brought a turbine engine car to the 1967 Indy 500 and had a 50 second lead with about three laps to go when a six dollar bearing blew up in the gearbox and ended his race. So much for performance-enhancing advantages.
The point is that you don’t win seven 23-day, 2,172 mile long races in a row because you took some drugs. Maybe one. Maybe two, where everything else went right. But, again, no drugs were ever detected (did I forget to tell you that?)
This was a guy at the top of his game. And, I’m just guessing here, but there was probably a support operation—a team—at the top of its game as well. Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Cal Ripkin, Joe DiMaggio, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Nolan Ryan were all superb athletes who all had incredible streaks during their careers.
Thank the good Lord that the United States Government didn’t hand some feckless agency $10,000,000 a year so they could persecute those guys.
The Government—at all levels—should NOT have ANY involvement in professional sports. NONE, ZERO, ZIP, NADA!
We should not be funding stadiums, arenas, or teams.
We should not be sponsoring teams with public money. And let me be clear. That includes the Postal Service’s sponsorship of Armstrong, the National Guard’s sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 88 car, ANYTHING!
Because the minute public money does get involved, it provides a very thin excuse for the Government to start doing things it should not be involved in. Like handing out checks for $10-million a year so some silly bureaucrats can persecute an athlete they deem to be too good.
They can take all the titles they want away from Lance Armstrong, but the fact is he won the damn races, and nobody can change that. He is well within his rights to tell the USADA to go screw themselves, and I have to wonder why the media seems to automatically report whatever these morons say about Armstrong.
I’ve always said that there’s a very thin line between sports writing and political writing. What I should have said is that most sports writers and most political writers are equally dumb.
Photo credit: Cain and Todd Benson (Creative Commons)
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