x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Public enemy No 1

The scoundrel, Lance Armstrong, separated himself from other infamous cheats by orchestrating his team in a group effort to hide rampant drug use.

Lance Armstrong is worse than many cheats as he coerced teammates to also dope.
Lance Armstrong is worse than many cheats as he coerced teammates to also dope.

Lance Armstrong always was one for superlatives, so how about this one: the most villainous figure in the annals of American sports?

The US Anti-Doping Agency report must be read, reread and heard (when the audio book is available) to be believed.

The scoundrel separated himself from other infamous cheats by orchestrating his team in a group effort to hide rampant drug use. It is repulsive enough to "juice" privately, without involving your colleagues, as baseball players and sprinters and weightlifters have done. But wielding your power to make your teammates complicit, at substantial risk to their careers, sets the bar for sports selfishness at a new low.

Because Armstrong doped, his sidekicks felt compelled to join in. The message was unmistakable when team doctors, who surely took orders from him, schooled the riders into what substances to ingest and how to avoid detection. Object, and they could be replaced.

The team conspired, under Armstrong's guidance, to duck drug screenings. They alerted their leader to pending examinations. And, with his approval, they took masking agents to beat the tests.

For certain, these cyclists cannot pose as complete victims, having ultimately chosen the same duplicitous path as Armstrong. Much of America continues to shrug off this unmatched gall by weighing it against Armstrong's recovery from cancer and fund-raising for a cure. High-fives to him for such efforts. As a sportsman, though, the one-time, now no-time champion is the all-time chump.

sports@thenational.ae

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