At what point do ends and means come into conflict with ones such as Lance Armstrong or his obsessive Ahab-like hunter, USADA? That question surfaced again this past week with the news that Lance Armstrong had decided to give up his legal fight against the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in light of USADA’s pending arbitration hearing against the seven-time Tour de France champion for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. In each case, neither side has emerged as a champion.
The undeniable good that Mr. Armstrong has done for the cancer community with his Livestrong Foundation was built on the publicity generated by his seven consecutive Tour de France wins following his recovery from testicular cancer. It is arguable whether the fame, and therefore fortune, behind the Livestrong movement would have been possible without those victories. Yet notwithstanding USADA’s continued obsession to harpoon what had become its white whale, Mr. Armstrong’s capitulation last week could only be seen as an admission of guilt, no matter how he framed it.
But at the same time, the Armstrong-USADA fight beggars the question, has the goodwill and cancer funding generated by his TDF titles been a worthy enough end to justify the performance-enhancing means that Armstrong all but certainly used to attain them? Which, in this case, is the lesser of two evils, especially in a culture awash in denial and deception?
We know that the Tour de France organizers will not be announcing newly named winners of those tainted Tours, because it has long been accepted that the vast majority of competitors were no different in their doping than Mr. Armstrong. What, then, is left as a final consequence? (more…)