So, does he get the titles back?

When in 2012 disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong finally confessed to the most “sophisticated, professionalised and successful” doping programme the world had ever seen, he became sport’s ultimate bogeyman.

His admission that for years he took a suite of supposedly performance-enhancing drugs, most prominently erythropoietin (EPO), saw him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and Olympic medals, his career and reputation in tatters.

So it may be with a certain queasiness that he learns today about the results of ground-breaking new research which suggests his prolonged campaign of abuse was pointless – because EPO confers no advantage at all.

If this is true then he did it all himself, thus gets the titles back, no?

Well, no, obviously not. He attempted to cheat which is enough. But logically, if EPO doesn’t work, then those wins are legit as efforts at least, even if not by the rules.

Although, umm, look, let’s think of something we really know doesn’t work. The St. Christopher medal. Kissing it, not uncommon among a certain level of religiosity in Catholics when partaking in a journey, could be said to be an attempt to cheat, asking for divine intervention. That it doesn’t help is obvious, that it’s an attempt to cheat is at least arguable, so, should anyone who does that be disqualified?


There are quite obviously things which don’t work and we allow them, things we think at least might work and we don’t, we call that cheating. Thus when we prove that something doesn’t work does it stop being cheating?

21 thoughts on “So, does he get the titles back?”

  1. ‘for years he took a suite of supposedly performance-enhancing drugs, most prominently erythropoietin (EPO)’

    What about the rest of the ‘suite’?

  2. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    “As well as EPO, Armstrong admitted to using testosterone, human growth hormone and the steroid cortisode during his seven back-to-back Tour victories from 1999 to 2005”

    So, no.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    What about those footballers who run on to the pitch, cross these,GEs and look up, presumably offering a prayer. Perhaps they should be disqualified for cheating as well?

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    If you think you are raping a girl who is actually consenting, is it rape?

    I would say so. The crime is caused by the mental state of the accused. Armstrong *thought* he was cheating. Even if he was mainlining pure water, he is still breaking the rules in his own mind.

  5. BiG, don’t we already take intention into account when deciding if a killing is murder or manslaughter?

  6. Is it fair to say “religiosity” when you mean “gullibility” or even “superstition”? I suppose it is, in context.

  7. He broke the rules and must pay the penalty, so he doesn’t get the titles back. Many sporting rules are somewhat arbitrary – such as the size of the penalty box in football – and many are changed – such as lifting in the line-out in rugby union – but breaking the applicable rules is a no-no and subject to whatever penalty is laid down by the rules.

    Deliberately breaking the rules with the intention of gaining an unfair advantage is unacceptable, even if no advantage accrues.

  8. A Catholic should know that the Will of God is what it is and np prayer can turn the Plan in his/her direction unless the Almighty wills it. Favours can be asked for but it is widely recognised that God is not a short-order cook.

  9. Hmm, scratching my chin at that article. Epo is supposed to confer advantages from training at higher intensity for longer periods with better recovery rates. At most this article might be correct that Armstrong’s habit of doping prior to the first mountain stage was pointless but it doesn’t challenge its efficacy in training blocks.

    And as others have said, what about the rest of the dope?

  10. Hugh- good points. However amateur you are there is a massive difference between an amateur and a pro cyclist good enough to go on the tour. The difference is the sheer amount and intensity of cycling that they do.

    Wouldn’t it be fun if there were pre-race go faster drugs available that were so helpful that amateur non tested races would have faster times than pro ones?

  11. The study doesn’t replicate what armstrong did so any analytical finds from it are at best limited.

    The authors are also considered to be borderline trolls in the sports doping community…

  12. I can testify that it works as intended for anaemia patients. I started EPO about a month ago, About a week after the first injection I cycled the same route as I’d done before. I was 10% faster with the same average and maximum heart rate. Either EPO works or that’s one Hell of a placebo effect.

  13. The Inimitable Steve

    The crime is caused by the mental state of the accused.

    Generally no, it’s the mental state of the accused, and whether their actions were criminal. Mens rea and actus reus.

    In rape, the victim must not have consented and the perpetrator must not have had reasonable belief that she consented.

  14. If they manage to prove that *all* of the stuff he was taking and doing has zero effect then, yes, I would say he should regain his titles. But there’s the small issue of regular blood transfusions which were explicitly against the rules. There’s also the rather uncomfortable truth that despite significant advances in sports science, no current rider can generate the same power output that the entire field managed a decade ago.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Germany – “so there is crimethink then?”

    There are two stories in today’s mail. Two Christians were arrested and convicted for saying that Muhammed was a liar and that homosexuality is immoral. Two commonsense positions most people who have thought about it would agree with. Looks a lot like crimethink to me.

    The other story is about a disabled man who has got an absurdly long jail sentence for a long-term fantasy about kidnapping, raping and murdering a woman. A plan he did not carry out, but they allege he attempted to do so. Lamely. Comes pretty close to crimethink as well.

    So yes, in Britain you can be put in prison for thinking bad thoughts. Especially if, like Nick Whatshisname from the BNP, they are true.

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    I wonder what the status of “stool doping” is?

    “Petersen—who says the procedure was “not fun” but “pretty basic”—says she started collecting stool samples from top racers and found that a microorganism called Prevotella was found in almost all top racers but less than 10% of the general population. She is now doing more research into Prevotella, which is believed to help muscle recovery.”

    Umm, asking for a friend. Honest.

    You can find the entire link at Instapundit.

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