Lance Armstrong and King Sisyphus
Last Thursday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency decided, without a single credible shred of evidence, that since professional cyclist Lance Armstrong did not prove himself to be innocent, he is guilty and could not have been successful in his storied career without the use of drugs.
Before Mr. Armstrong retired from professional cycling in February 2010, he had passed approximately 500 drug tests in his long, celebrated, and distinguished athletic career. It is believed that there has never-ever been a single positive test…
It has not been said better than this by a blogger: “There’s something very much of the feel of a witch hunt to this. If Armstrong was doping, then by God take away his awards and give him a medal for being the smartest damn athlete on the planet.”
In the case of Mr. Armstrong, who won his first Tour de France title in 1999; U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief executive Travis Tygart stripped him of his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles and banned him from cycling competition for life.
For the USADA, a taxpayer-funded non-profit, it is a hollow victory which will eventually help turn all but the most hateful anti-Armstrong zealot, against the agency and the important task of getting the scourge of performance enhancing drugs out of sports.
Last Thursday, Mr. Armstrong said, in a written statement, enough is enough. “The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense…”
Said better by numerous commentators including Steven Birn: “Armstrong has been fighting this battle since 2005 and decided he had enough yesterday. Rather than continuing his appeal, he’s giving up. He isn’t admitting guilt… He’s tired of fighting bureaucrats and he’s tired of paying lawyers for an appeal in a system stacked against him.
“Armstrong isn’t the only person to do this. Countless Americans are attacked by government bureaucrats. They fight unjust charges for a while then run out of patience or money. The bureaucrats have endless resources and can play games for years; ordinary individuals don’t have these luxuries. Of course, when any of us gives up, not out of guilt but out of lack of money or patience, the bureaucrat spikes the ball and does a touchdown dance declaring us guilty as charged…”
More than ever, we live in an era where the purpose of government is to criminalize the successful. Whether you are successful in business, art, professional sports – or whatever, the basic tenant of government is that you simply must be guilty of something. The purpose of bureaucracy is to prove it.
Whether you are guilty or not is unimportant. For the government, what is critical is that you be accused. That’s all that is necessary. The media will take care of the rest – by suggestion, innuendo, and nefarious association.
Your job is to endeavor to prove that you are innocent. It is a task that makes the myth of Sisyphus look easy.
You remember Sisyphus. There are many interpretations and versions of the story – including my favorite, “The Myth of Sisyphus” by Albert Camus.
According to Greek mythology, King Sisyphus was the founder of Corinth. Upon his death he was punished for various nebulous or otherwise (Kafkaesque) offenses, or crimes against the gods, and condemned to a life of hard labor. For all of eternity he was assigned to roll a huge boulder to the top of a hill. Upon reaching the top, the boulder would roll back to the bottom of the hill and it was the task of Sisyphus to repeat this task forever.
Anyone who has faced a federal, state, or local bureaucracy in an acute adversarial situation will quickly and easily recognize a Sisyphean “witch hunt,” the likes of which Mr. Armstrong currently finds himself.
It is like an investigation by a bureaucracy in search of a ham sandwich; as in the analogy that a particularly manipulative state’s attorney is capable of getting a ham sandwich indicted by a grand jury, if it is deemed expedient.
Last June, according to one of several Washington Post articles, the “USADA announced it had assembled 10 former Armstrong teammates who were willing to testify that Armstrong cheated…Armstrong … responded by suing the agency, hoping to block the case from going forward…”
The Washington Post reports: “On Monday, (August 20,) U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks threw out Armstrong’s case but noted that USADA’s ‘conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives.’”
Moreover, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles investigated doping allegations against Armstrong for nearly two years, ending its probe in February without filing any criminal charges,” reports The Post.
A column by Tracee Hamilton in The Post, speaks for many. “Armstrong never failed a drug test… We know this because if he had, Travis T. Tygart, the head of USADA, would have personally delivered the results to every home in America, like a grim little Santa Claus…”
Ms. Hamilton goes on to say: “There has been no trial, no due process, but in the minds of many, that testimony outweighs the results of hundreds of drug tests.
“People lie. Blood and urine usually don’t. And if they do, they don’t lie 500 times. People do. Some lie that many times in a week...
“No one should feel good about what’s happened here. This isn’t quite the American system of justice of which we are so very proud… There were no winners here, and a lot of losers.”
In the end we all look like a giant ham sandwich that Sisyphus carts up to the top of the hill. There, the government applies the mustard, eats the sandwich, and sends you back to the bottom of the hill to bring another ham sandwich to the top.
. . . . .I’m just saying. . . .