If you’re a member of the cycling community you probably watched last night’s 60 Minutes that featured an interview with Tyler Hamilton, former teammate of seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. I won’t completely rehash the interview other than to say he admits to doping and accuses Armstrong of the same: EPO, blood doping, testosterone. CBS also states they have information that George Hincapie testified to grand jury stating the same. Hincapie, via Twitter, doesn’t deny the charges but rather states that he didn’t speak to 60 Minutes and said that we should look to the future.
As many of you have read here before, as my dad was dying of lung cancer that had spread to liver, brain, and bones leaving him confined to a chair, he wore a yellow LiveStrong bracelet. He had told my mom, “If Lance can beat this, so can I.” He died in December.
People have sent me messages from both home in Greenville and via the Internet asking what I think of Hincapie and what might happen to Armstrong’s legacy. If CBS’ allegations are true and Hincapie did testify to doping during the Postal Service days I don’t blame him. It is with much displeasure that I look at the results from that time to see who were the top riders and where they are now – dead, forcibly retired in shame, or suspended for doping offenses. I’m not condoning Hamilton’s or (if found to be true) Hincapie’s actions I’m just stating the truth. To race at that top level of professional cycling a rider needed to “prepare.” It’s not hard to picture new young riders being happy to receive those white “A Team” lunch bags.
What’s Armstrong’s legacy? It will be as an athlete who cheated in his sport, but took his fame and used it to inspire people to fight cancer, donate money and bring further awareness of cancer. Should he be prosecuted? Definitely. We can’t prop up the sport’s history on lies. Also, if the allegations are true, he broke some serious laws and that’s just the way a society works – you break the law and there are consequences, no exceptions.
As I write this it is being reported that the RadioShack’s team vehicles at the Giro were searched by the Italian NAS (anti-doping police) and nothing was found. Curiously, team director Johan Bruyneel had left the race the night before.
I’m sure more will be discovered or revealed as this house of cards slowly starts to tumble down.