The Tour de France has been pretty clean for the last couple of years. Mostly since the whole doping thing got so out of hand that at one point the active yellow jersey holder and his entire team were kicked out of the epic 3 week race. This year, the old trend of breaking doping news happening either in the days leading up to, or the first few days of, the tour continue.
This time we have a Dutch newspaper called De Telegraaf has printed a story claiming that 4 riders and a team manager (George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vandevelde, David Zabriske, Jonathan Vaughters) are going to testify against 7 time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in exchange for lenient sentences. The lenient sentences they are hoping to get a 6 month delayed sentence. This means that while on probation for their "crime," as long as they are clean, they will not be banned from the sport. Team Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters went on Twitter to immediately cast doubt onto this story:
Regarding the Dutch media report: No 6mos suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date.
These supposed delayed sentences are obviously because the United States Anti Doping Agency and the World Anti Doping Agency have had it out for Armstrong for years. He has never failed a drug test, not even been cast in the shadow, and he has been tested more than any athlete in the world the past 15 years. Yet they still assume that he had to be doping because he won that epic race so many times.
In my opinion, if he was cheating, so what. So was every other rider in those tours that he won. No question. From Bjarne Riis, to Marco Pantani, to Jan Ullrich. Nearly every rider was doping at one point in time. in the late 90's the doping technology far outweighed the anti-doping technology, so it was easy. If anything you could call it a level playing field. This is the same way a lot of people feel about baseball during the 90's.
The fact is that He has passed every single doping test he has ever taken. Every single one, even the B samples. Part of me feels that these doping agencies have it out against him. If you ever wondered why professional sports in America stay away from these agencies, this is why. They have the tendency to not care about the sport as a whole and push forward. I'm sorry, but it is in cycling's best interest to have Lance Armstrong be on the pedestal he is so that Americans watch their precious tour.
SInce the start of this whole fiasco with Floyd Landis losing his spot due to failing a drug test, and this whole thing coming out against Armstrong, I have always maintained that as long as big George Hincapie doesn't say he did it, then he didn't. Do not ask me why I trust this rider, but I really do. He is routinely considered the most caring and trustworthy man on the tour by his teammates and will ride to hell and back for the leader of his team. When I read that he was part of this deal, my heart sank because maybe Lance actually did do the crimes he is accused of committing.