Sunday December 21, 2014
What sort of country do we live in? UKIP, immigration & poison
Reasons to divorce the Mrs – Giving money to Simon bloody Cowell of X-Factor
Weekly Video Postcard #94 - Christmas & why West Ham needs to send me to Greece (urgent plea) edition

PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH

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Lance Armstrong – Jan Ullrich: Go figure

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- Tom Winnifrith

it has never been proved that cyclist and 7 times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong took drugs. Fellow cyclists accused him of cheating but he never failed any of 200 blood or urine tests. But he is to be stripped of all of his titles and banned for life. Germany’s Jan Ullrich won the tour in 1997 and was a runner up in 2002…to Armstrong.

In February this year Ullrich did fail a doping test and received a two year ban. But he was not stripped of any titles. And so the history book will show that a proven drugs cheat now won two (not one) Tours while a non-proven one now won zero (not seven) Tours. Go figure.

For what it is worth, like everyone else I am naturally incredibly suspicious of any athlete who is clearly far better than any other athlete at that time. Especially if they are recovering from cancer. East German female sprinters of the 1970s and 1980s, Chinese swimmers today, Kazakh female shot-putters who look like men all fall into that category. As, I am afraid, does Armstrong.

I would love to believe him because his story offers hope to so many but I am so utterly cynical about professional sport (and cycling is a sport where cheating via drug use has been endemic for years) that I cannot bring myself to believe him. A man who has battled cancer, battled to win 7 Tours could and should have been able to fight a couple more legal battles to finally clear his name. He opted out. I think the extra Judicial way in which he has been treated is unappealing but, despite trying as hard as I can to give him the benefit of the doubt, I fear that I cannot.

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