Lance Armstrong will not be competing at the Ironman championship in Kailua-Kona this October. He won't be competing at Ironman France on June 24 either for that matter. It was reported Wednesday the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has brought doping charges against the seven-time Tour de France winner, threatening to strip his victories and ban him permanently from the sport. The new charges by the USADA immediately ban Armstrong from competing in triathlons.
The allegations, highlighted in excerpts from a 15-page USADA letter sent to Armstrong, printed by The Washington Post Wednesday outlined new allegations against Armstrong. You can read about the charges here, here, and here. (ESPN has a link to the formal letter here)
There's no doubt the fresh allegations will bring up heated discussions amongst cycling fans and non-cyclists alike. A finale to this ongoing saga doesn't look like it'll be arriving anytime soon, but this appears to be a necessary step towards an outcome. If Armstrong decides to contests the charges, he'll be entitled to a "trial" where the evidence would be presented and witnesses would testify under oath. If these latest allegations don't stick, we'll be able to finally move on. If on the other hand Armstrong is found guilty by a three person panel, he'll most likely be stripped of all his tour wins and banned from the sport for life.
What would such an action do to Armstrongs image to the American public? Not much.
Judging from early reactions to the new allegations, most of the public is done with the Armstrong case. For many Americans, there are just more important issues facing their everyday lives. Whether Armstrong is guilty or not will just be a side note that passes along the bottom ticker on the news. The reality of the times is that sports in general have been tainted by an era of doping. Many of Armstrong's contemporaries have already been caught, banned, and sanctioned. Whether the USADA has hard evidence and reliable witnesses backing their allegations is still to be seen. The public is tired of presumptions, hearsay, and lengthy fishing expeditions.
Still, at the end of the day, guilty or not, Armstrong's case will have little impact on everyday cyclists. We'll still get out there on our road bikes and ride. That local loop, climb, and group ride will still be as enjoyable as before. We ride for ourselves, for the love of the ride. Perhaps that's what sport really should be about.