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The crusade to destroy Lance Armstrong can only be bad for cycling
Another year, another drug scandal at the Tour de France.
But this time it’s the shadow of long-concluded races hanging over the peloton.
There’s clearly a great deal of politics and mind games going on with the latest attempt to prove Lance Armstrong was cheating when he won his record seven tours.
It can’t be a coincidence that the US Anti-Doping Agency charged him and several others on the eve of this year’s Tour – ensuring maximum publicity.
And it can’t be a coincidence that names of people connected with this year's race and who have allegedly made a deal with the prosecutors have been leaked.
It all leaves me wondering what USADA wants to achieve by destroying Armstrong’s reputation.
He won the Tour every year from 1999 to 2005.
On three of those years Jan Ullrich – himself discredited for his use of performance-enhancing drugs – came second.
So if Armstrong is stripped of his titles, who will they be awarded to? The destruction of Armstrong's reputation will leave a decade of cycling history in tatters.
And remember, Armstrong has never failed a doping control despite being the most tested athlete in sport.
Bjarne Riis has admitted he cheated the year he won the Tour.
And there’s strong evidence that Marco Pantani was cheating in 1998, the year he won his historic Giro-Tour double.
IF Armstrong was doping, it seems clear the many of his main rivals were cheating too.
And cheating or not, you don't win the Tour without a huge amount of training, immense skill and an unimaginable level of pain and suffering.
The case goes beyond Armstrong himself. To ruin him on some puritanical crusade will be to ruin the credibility of the Tour de France and cycling as a whole.
The sport has worked hard to repair the mistakes of the past.
Some say it's become too strict – the absence of Alberto Contador from this year’s Tour is aguably down to overly rigid enforcement of the rules in the new clean world of cycling.
Proven dopers have taken their punishment and some (like Britain’s David Millar) have been able to rebuild their reputations.
It’s time to move on and concentrate on the future of cycling – before the past is allowed to destroy it.
- It would be sad if historic drugs scandals were allowed to overshadow the racing at this year’s Tour.
Although to be fair, it’s been a fairly unremarkable day.
Suffering after yesterday's crash, Mark Cavendish wasn't able to mount a real challenge for the win today.
But it's interesting to note the change of tactics at Team Sky. They're working harder to protect him after yesterday's crash, and his fortunes may improve as the race progresses.
It's another sprint finish tomorrow . . .