Just like with the scientific method, you can't prove a hypothesis, but numerous (and sometimes unethical) tests have utterly failed to prove its inverse.
I like Armstrong, but personally I think he cheated. Why? Because as one cyclist put it (can't remember his name, but I think it was that great guy from Spain who kept barely losing to him)
The guy has to be cheating, because we're all cheating and he's beating us.
Like all sports, cyclists played within the framework of the rules, enforcement mechanisms and the punishment for breaking those rules. As others have opined, it really doesn't matter what Armstrong or Hincappie, or Indurain took or didn't take. They weren't caught. End of story.
In basketball, is the "hack-a-Shaq" defense unethical because you are purposely breaking a rule? No, it is a calculated act within a framework. If you don't want players intentionally fouling someone, you change the rule (3 freethrows instead of 2, free-throw plus ball out of bounds).
In cycling and baseball the same thing happened. The solution isn't a witch-hunt. The solution is to tighten testing and increase punishments. To the extent that this has occured, both sports are now cleaner.
In a doping case you are hoping not to get caught. You are not breaking a rule (fouling the offensive player) and accepting the penalty - you are breaking a rule and doing everything possible to hide it.
I give Lance the benefit of the doubt because he's never been caught, but if I had to bet money on what the real answer is I would bet that he had cheated at least once.
Either way, his story is inspirational and his work with Livestrong has been great.
In all sports players do what they can get away within the context of the game. PEDs are done outside of the game, while hiding (and sometimes involve not just violations of rules, but violations of law - there are many medications used for doping that are only legally allowed to be administered by or under the supervision of a phsycian).
I don't know whether or not to believe that Lance Armstrong cheated or not -- but I do know that I will never believe a word out of the mouth of Floyd Landis.
When I saw this thread and saw the 2007 posts defending him, it makes me ill (although all those posts represent is our natural inclination to give people the benefit of the doubt).
But check out this article by Dan Wenzel:
Just to summarize: Floyd Landis knew a dark secret about anti-doping activist Greg LeMond -- that LaMond had been sexually abused by his uncle when he was a boy. Landis told his agent that secret and just before LeMond was to testify against Landis, the agent called LeMond and pretended to be the uncle who abused him and threatened to be at the hearing it LeMond appeared.
Landis knew about the attempt at intimidation and did noting -- until LeMond responded by revealing the secret ... and vowing to testify.
Frankly, the evidence is that Landis will do anything and say anything to protect himself. There may be reasons to believe Armstrong is a doper, but as far as I'm concerned, Landis' self-serving statements are not among those reasons.
Last edited by hughgs; 05-20-2010 at 07:35 PM. Reason: Clarification
As I responded to you before:
"I have no feelings either way about Landis. If he's guilty I'm not going to stop riding my bike, and if he's innocent then I'm not going to buy a ton Phonak stuff. His guilt or innocence has no bearing on my life other than it's in a sport I follow."
I'm not ducking whether Landis doped or not, I simply don't care if he's guilty or innocent.
Duke University Marching Band 07-11
Alex Massie has more on the issue, although it's not as interesting as his estimation of where Armstrong would rank in terms of the all-time cyclists. (The tl;dr version: good but not the greatest.)
My personal take is that he almost certainly did dope, but then everybody else was at the time as well and he still managed to beat them consistently.
I used to not think very much of Armstrong, but I admit my opinion of him has softened with his relatively graceful support of Contador in last year's race.
"You cannot compete in the Tour de France on mineral water alone" -Jacques Anquetil