News24

Lance fans believe he doped

2012-10-18 09:01

Austin - Even Lance Armstrong's most die-hard fans are beginning to accept that their hero cheated his way to seven Tour de France victories after he stepped down as head of his Livestrong foundation and was dropped by major sponsors.

Plenty of people in Armstrong's cycling-mad Texas hometown stood by their man after he announced in August that he was no longer going to fight allegations from the US Anti-Doping Association.

Some began to have doubts after the association's lengthy report came out last week, and the latest blows on Wednesday seem to have convinced even more.

Armstrong may have been stripped of his titles, but his seven yellow jerseys still hang on the wall of Mellow Johnny's, his Austin cycling shop.

Terry Burgess, who shops there regularly, said he is looking at them differently now.

"From what I've learned in the past week or so, I've come to the conclusion that he was over the top, with an elaborate and apparently great organisation to pull off a doping scheme," said Burgess, 57.

Even so, Burgess, who said he doesn't have a lot of faith that public figures won't lie and cheat, tried put the controversy into perspective.

"It's not like he killed Santa Claus," he said.

Many fans said the doping doesn't take away from Armstrong's inspirational triumph over testicular cancer, his impact on the sport and the legacy he created through his charitable work.

Armstrong's fall from grace "does make you think about what you take stock in and what you believe," Michael Salas, 38, said as he sat on the deck of an adjacent coffee shop, Juan Pelota, which is also owned by Armstrong.

"I don't care," said Salas, a pedicab bicyclist from New York who came to Austin to work at a music festival.

"He's still Lance and still a symbol of strength. I don't know the guy personally but I still think he's awesome."

Chef Daniel Olivella, 51, regularly goes out on group rides with Armstrong and Mellow Johnny's employees.

"I haven't lost faith in him. He's an extremely charismatic leader and he's done a lot for cycling," Olivella said as he left the bike shop.

"Nobody is pure in this world."

Olivella said he rode with the group on Friday, the same day the anti-doping association released its report with more than 1 000 pages of evidence alleging Armstrong was at the center of what it called the biggest doping conspiracy in sports history.

"He's all smiles and being just like a regular guy," Olivella said.

People riding and running the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a six-mile bike trail through the heart of Austin, had mixed opinions too.

Investment advisor Eric Davis, 50, said he "wanted to believe" that Armstrong was innocent, but with the recent reports "there's no escaping the fact that he did it."

The doping scandal -- and attempts by officials to clean up the sport - will probably result in slower times, Davis said. But they haven't dampened his enthusiasm for the sport.

Susan Manza, 35, said she hopes the scandal doesn't tarnish the good work of Armstrong's Livestrong foundation but she's worried people won't be able to separate the two.

"We all make mistakes. It would be great if the two could exist separately, but maybe that's naive," she said as she took her dog for a walk on the bike path.

"I wish there was a better ending."

There's no reason to strip Armstrong's name from the path, said Brian Jacobson, 33, an advertising salesman.

"He's cheated in a bunch of bike races. He's also done a lot of good things. The good outweighs the bad."

A spokesman for Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the city will continue to stand by Armstrong.

"I am proud of my friendship with Lance Armstrong," Leffingwell said in a statement.

"Lance is not only a friend to me, but also a friend to Austin, and a friend and hero to millions of cancer survivors and their families around the globe. His incredible generosity of spirit has been and remains an inspiration to me and countless others, and can never be taken away."

AFP

Comments
  • andrew.hendrikse - 2012-10-18 09:18

    It about time that these Armstrong fanatics face reality!!

      koos.vandermerwe.338 - 2012-10-18 09:35

      Not a fanatic but still disappointed.

  • Theo Ferreira - 2012-10-18 09:31

    Ironically it sounds like just about everyone took drugs on the TDF circuit... he was still the fastest among them.. So .. He still won the race .... Just sayin'...

      petrus.ngwenya.3 - 2012-10-18 09:47

      I agree with you Theo, sounds like all cyclists are druggies...

  • Jeremy - 2012-10-18 09:46

    If Lance Armstrong was doping - what about all the other top cyclists? I get the impression that doping, particularly in cycling, has been widespread - but that all the attention has been focused on Lance Armstrong. I can't help wondering whether all the other top performers were also guilty. And I hope, from now on that every single top performer in every sport is subject to dope tests, specifically if they've just won or been placed in an event.

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-10-18 09:49

    Everybody is on drugs... o0,

  • alfred.killian - 2012-10-18 10:07

    I am getting depressed from this, must go to the dr to get anti depressents (more drugs)

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-18 16:17

      We have many problems in SA, no wonder so many take Prozac or generics. Nowadays we call it "happy pills".

  • john.comyn.18 - 2012-10-18 10:19

    How have you been "cheated" by Lance Armstrong? Have you lost anything as a direct result of him doing something to you? If you are a cancer patient or know someone who is and Lance gave this person a glimmer of hope to fight the desease is that cheating? If you got onto your bycicle and got fit or have done The Argus Tour because you were inspired by Armstrong do you feel cheated? If you have contributed to his charity for cancer do you feel cheated? I'm tired of hearing people saying they have been cheated. Perhaps he cheated (still no positive test) to win the TDF tours then he cheated the other cyclists even though I suspect they were all doing it.

      christopher.collings.9 - 2012-10-19 02:15

      misleading the public into believing he's some kind of an iron-man & that even the sick have hope, mean time back @ the ranch he's a fake!

  • adriaan.olivier.589 - 2012-10-18 11:38

    I'm no big armstrong fan but maybe everyone should stop being naive and realise that doping has basically started becoming part of top level cycling like the TDF, so if one doper beats another doper he's still better and deserves the win......basically like body-building.....

      bruce.dexter.5 - 2012-10-18 22:41

      I agree, all the competitive riders dope, so Lance was still the best of the dopers. I spoke to an ex pro cyclist and he said it was impossible to keep up with the dopers on the flat sections let alone the climbs, so it would probably be safe to say that most if not all of the pelaton at the major events doped.

  • richard.knowles.1420 - 2012-10-18 12:47

    Cycling is for rubber people who don’t shave yet......please if drugs can’t even make the sport exciting then scrap it from the press list ....cycling is too doleful as it is let them use drugs, it seems to be the only thing keeping the pitiful abject sport alive…..huge yawn!!!

      alfred.killian - 2012-10-18 14:17

      If it is so boring, dont comment diek.

      christopher.collings.9 - 2012-10-19 02:15

      Give me rugby any time of the day!

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