Luke Graham

Luke Graham

Luke Graham: Lance’s positive effects

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Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

Things aren’t looking good for Lance Armstrong.

For years, there have been accusations that he doped en route to winning seven Tour de France titles.

First, it was former teammate Floyd Landis. Then, on a recent “60 Minutes” show, former teammate Tyler Hamilton also said Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.

“60 Minutes” also said that George Hincapie, the only rider on all of Armstrong’s winning Tour teams, told federal investigators that the two supplied each other with banned substances.

But should any of this matter?

I say, “no.”

It’s easy to look at Armstrong in a plethora of ways. You can take his story from battling back from cancer to become one of the world’s best athletes as amazingly inspirational. But he also can be looked at as the guy who, despite all the negative test results, might soon be the face of cheating.

He might have to give back all his Tour wins. He might get indicted. His once tight inner circle is already starting to crumble around him.

But too often, people forget that cycling is a sport. Just like steroids in baseball, doping in cycling was everywhere. It seems everyone was doing it. That doesn’t make it right, but then again, in a world where that was the only way to stay on top, most people would have done it.

Most have admitted it. Armstrong hasn’t, but the federal case against him and previous articles in Sports Illustrated are telling.

But again, does any of this matter considering what Armstrong has actually done, inside and outside of cycling?

The Lance Armstrong Foundation, Livestrong, has done as much or more for cancer and cancer research than any other organization.

Since its formation in 1997, the amount of money Livestrong has raised for cancer research is eye-popping. The inspiration it has provided for people with cancer and those who have survived cancer can’t be quantified.

Locally, proceeds from August’s inaugural Ride 4 Yellow cycling event amounted to more than $130,000.

With Armstrong as the face of Livestrong and nationwide efforts such as Ride 4 Yellow, is chasing a man who’s never tested positive really worth all this trouble? Does Armstrong’s impact on cancer research outweigh trying to prove he might have cheated?

The debate certainly isn’t that clear-cut, but those questions seem to be the basis of any discussion.

But given the fact that Armstrong never has had a positive test, the debate continues to revolve around public stories of the he-said, she-said variety.

And given what keeps coming out, such as the “60 Minutes” report and, eventually, the findings of a federal investigation, Armstrong likely is looking at being found guilty of cheating.

If that is the case — and Armstrong will likely never admit he doped — what happens to his organization?

If the face of it crumbles, will the organization follow?

Judging by the way Live­­strong has done things for the past 12-plus years, though, the organization likely will remain strong.

And through it all, it’s important thing to remember is that cycling is a sport — and that sports aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the be-all and end-all of someone’s contributions.

No matter how this ends, whether Armstrong is guilty or not, we should all remember him not as the cyclist, but as the man who has done so much for cancer research.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

freerider 3 years, 7 months ago

so I guess if a mob boss gives a lot of money to the church it's ok that he issue's a hit here and there ??

all is forgiven , a few hail Mary's and off we go to commit another crime

AFTER ALL CRIME DOES PAY BIG TIME

JUST ASK LANCE

FAIL !!!!!!! WRONG MESSAGE HERE BOZO

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greenwash 3 years, 7 months ago

Liar and a cheat quite simply.... Regardless of his fundraising .

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Kristopher Hammond 3 years, 7 months ago

If Lance cheated, isn't the money dirty?

If Bernie Madoff had given millions of his stolen money to charity, would you wrote the same article? what is the difference?

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Chad Fleischer 3 years, 7 months ago

As a former athlete who was tested non stop and had no knock drug testing I am going to say that Lance is clean. If it is proven otherwise fine but the guys on 60 minutes have a window in which they can capitalize on fame and fortune and having the luck of being with such a sporting icon to try and take advantage. If he gets busted and tests positive then all is lost and he is a total schmuck but why do we give Sosa, McGuire, Rodriquez and the other doping losers the benefit of the doubt? Rominnowski, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, MArion Jones, etc. What a joke. Let's not forget about Phelps smoking weed on you tube! If you are in the national spotlight you better be ready to endure the pain and punishment of those that are putting you down and better be legit. Imagine Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane and the boys getting busted for doping? How let down would we be and how lame would that be for our kids? Lance has not been busted and in a sport where everyone cheats and gets busted and he hasn't means he didn't or he has yet to be indicted but either way the jury is out and we shall see. If he was doping it is the largest mark on America since the Euro went to 1.47 on the USD. If they don't bust him I think the Euro will go to .85 on the USD. GO LAnce and Go USA! In America you are innocent until proven guilty and the French want his balls on the Champs like you read about even though all their riders have been busted. His "for a better cause" has nothing to do with this. You are either a poser or the real deal and for now and until proven otherwise he is the real deal. My question to all of you is: Why is the USA pursuing this case so diligently? Someone has a name to make for themselves when the French couldn't prove anything for years and years. It is a BS sham on the part of a prosecutor trying to prove how big his **** is and that is also the American way!

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Chad Fleischer 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh, and by the way...Luke you couldn't have been more naive on the point of doping. That is BS...you either respect your sport and go legit or you suck and deal with it. There is a reason there isn't category in the Olympics for biggest steroid baby. It's BS and you sum up why MLB and the NFL and Cycling and the others slap the wrist vs a test posiitve... once banned for life.
I was there when 4 Austrians caught a private jet out of Canada for an illness when Hans Knauss got busted for steroids. (some illness) If you are not clean you are a liar and a cheat and a scumbag. What you say and your take on this is simply not acceptable and quite frankly I am impressed someone would even print such garbage!

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jerry carlton 3 years, 7 months ago

If Lance did dope, how did he pass the 500 tests over the 7 years? Will his accusers be writing a book or looking for a movie deal?

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Kerrie Cooper 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think doping is okay either, but I don't get why the road bikers are being held to such high standards when it seems to be a general okay that if you play in the NFL you are on steroids. Why aren't the football players being tested like the bikers?

Also, if you have to take drugs to compete in a race (or rather the whole peloton does) such as the Tour De France, shouldn't the race be shortened or set up for a non drugged person to finish it successfully, even it it means a longer race time?

It's a sad statement when you have to be drugged up to compete in any sport (but it sure seems like money & sponsorship reign in priority in pro sports)

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mtroach 3 years, 7 months ago

"If he gets busted and tests positive then all is lost and he is a total schmuck "

"Imagine Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane and the boys getting busted for doping? How let down would we be and how lame would that be for our kids?"

Think how let down LA's fans(and cycling as a sport) would be if he turned out to be doped.

"Lance has not been busted and in a sport where everyone cheats and gets busted and he hasn't means he didn't or he has yet to be indicted but either way the jury is out and we shall see."

LA was very slick at not testing positive, no non-negitive tests were returned, but that dosen't mean he was clean, just not testing postitve. Ask any recreational drug user how easy it is to not test positive, and if a non-positive test means you are clean..

"If you are not clean you are a liar and a cheat and a scumbag. "

Remember this statement when the Grand Jury returns it's findings.

"If Lance did dope, how did he pass the 500 tests over the 7 years?"

Testing figures are exagetated by the LA spin camp. UCI records show that LA wasn't the most tested athelete in cycling, nor did he pass (or take) 500 tests. 1 or 2 out of competition per year, plus the testing done during the Tour. 500 tests over 7 years is almost 6 tests per month year round, no way that happened. LA limited his racing, and his exposure to in-competition testing. There were many racers winning races and being tested far more often than LA. Mario Cipollini won hundreds of races during this time and was tested after every win, LA really only won a couple of stages at the Tour. Keep in mind that LA Tweeted after the 60min story came out that he never tested positive, his spin camp's statements don't refute that he doped, just maintain that he never tested positive.

"Also, if you have to take drugs to compete in a race (or rather the whole peloton does) such as the Tour De France, shouldn't the race be shortened or set up for a non drugged person to finish it successfully,"

The Tour has been run for 100+years, that's like asking to shorten the Indy 500 so they use less fuel.

"even it it means a longer race time?"

A longer race time makes you a looser, a winning time makes you a millionare. If i came to your workplace and told you flat out that others in your field were making millions while you were making thousands, and the way to millions was to take PED's, would you not be interested? What if I told you that in order to do your job, PED's were required? What if the choice came down to using PED's or not having a job at all? That was the reality of Pro cycling in Europe, and I would argue it's the reality in the NFL, NHL, NBA, and most other professional sports where size, strength, and speed make the difference between being a star or a dud.

It's time that LA's supporters take off the blinders, and It's time for Lance to come clean before the Grand Jury drops a bomb on his legacy.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 7 months ago

It appears that Lance may have used EPO before it could be detected and later switched to using hyperbaric chambers to get the same effect at greater cost, but legally.

Lance was also famous for being on a carefully monitored year round training program while his main competitors were often noted as being 15+ pounds overweight and in frantic last minute training to get fit for the Tour. So it is not pure coincidence that he was not caught while others were caught.

The length of the race is largely irrelevant because it changes based upon the chosen route and it is easy enough for the riders to simply ride at an easier pace to cover the distance. The difference over time has become the average speed of the race and how much of the race is ridden fast and hard. A short criterium is often the physically hardest race because it is like a constant sprint while a long road race can be comfortable ride in a peloton with short periods of intense effort that split or consolidate the field.

Also, Lance was tested far more often that just the days he won a race stage. The leaders of the race are tested daily as are the top few finishers in each stage and a few random riders in the peloton.

The difference of cycling and other sports is that cycling is much more of a contest of transporting oxygen to the muscles. Other sports require more specialized skills. The best athlete is not necessarily the best jump shooter. Gretsky was hardly the best athlete on the ice. Jerry Rice was not the fastest or biggest, Football is as much about recognition and reacting properly as it is about physical superiority. Hockey is about skating and stick skills. So a player with superior skills can compete and even be a star without having a natural or created by PEDs physical advantage.

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