Monday, September 17, 2012

The French v. the American Take on Armstrong's Doping

The general response in American academic circles to the Lance Armstrong doping denouement has been to criticize the US Anti-Doping Agency for too doggedly pursuing one man, making him their primary target (he began winning about the time USADA came into existence), and for violating his right to privacy. (1) In France, the articles have tended to be exposés of how he went about beating the tests and have featured testimony from his most ardent detractors.

In other words, in the US the response is to keep Armstrong on a pedestal and condemn USADA for overreaching, in France the response has been a cynical, "We knew this all along."

Given that Armstrong still has the benefit of the doubt in the US, it is not at all surprising that he gave up the fight when he did. A protracted legal battle would have definitively turned even his most faithful fans into doubters as testimony of his doping would have become a regular feature in the press. By bowing out now, Armstrong can still deny testing positive and cast dispersions on USADA while maintaining a good reputation with US fans who see the good he has done in the fight against cancer.

As with all Armstrong's decisions, this one makes good economic sense.

(1) I am speaking specifically about the Sports Literature Association here but have seen similar comments in other American news venues.

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