Should Armstrong be Allowed to Compete?

| 19/12/2015 | 0 Comments More

On Sunday 13th December disgraced tour de france cyclist Lance Armstrong not only entered, but won the Woodside Ramble 35km race, just outside Palo Alto, California.  This sparked an instant storm or outrage on social media, renewing the question of doping in sport.

should a proven cheat in professional sport be allowed to compete at any level of sport? Should your ban not just be for your sport, but ban you across all sport?

These above questions also highlight the face that a proven cheat can enter races to win where dope testing isn’t in place, such as in the place of Ultra Marathon Racing.  You have to question and ask did Armstrong cheat in this recent race, does he still partake in doping in sport to get ahead of honest hard training athletes?

as a former professional endurance athlete myself, if I was standing on the start line of a race of any kind next to a sporting cheat such as Armstrong I would pull out and protest of his race entry.  A ban in sport should be all sport at all levels!

Let’s Wander Photography

Disgraced athlete Lance Armstrong, yes! the Tour de France Armstrong not only entered but won the Woodside Ramble 35K, traversing 3,500 feet of elevation gain in 3:00:34

1 minute 52 seconds ahead of second-place Roger Montes.

The time is not remarkable! but you couldn’t be blamed to think and even ask out load, did Armstrong cheat? Should Roger Montes have been the true podium winner? We will never know as races such as these bo not test its podium runners for drugs.

I wouldn’t say a disgraced athlete banned for competing in sport for drug taking such as Armstrong shouldn’t be allowed to enter races of any kind, as entering races from marathons to adventure races etc are fun (yes I did say fun), just they shouldn’t be able to enter to compete and especially not be able to financially gain.  And especially where it is a race that doesn’t have drug testing.

“Race directors allowing Armstrong into racing need to understand that it’s not because of his doping alone that he is not welcome,” wrote Joe Gray, a nine-time U.S. Mountain Running national champion, on his Facebook Page.

Gray has been an outspoken voice on the issue of anti-doping in trail running. “It’s because of the things he did outside of doping and the fact that he could influence others to take the negative plunge he once took.”

Lance Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, is one of the most accomplished endurance athletes in history. However, it was done by cheating! Doping!  Even when the proof was out there Armstrong still denied he had ever cheated until his interview with Opra.

In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Administration ruled that Armstrong’s cycling team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” As a result, Armstrong is banned from all events that fall under the USADA umbrella—which excludes most trail races.

Tim and Tanya Stahler, the Woodside Ramble race directors, addressed the issue in a post by Tanya on Inside Trail Racing’s Facebook page “To us, Mr. Armstrong was just another paying registrant; a person visiting a friend”—Scott Dunlap, a member of Inside Trail Racing’s team of athletes—”who wanted to go for a long run. We did not publicize his presence or treat him any differently than we did other runners, nor did he receive any kind of cash prize—he didn’t even take a medal or T-shirt.”

The post continued, “Irrespective of his past, he is still a person with an appreciation for sports. I agree that he shouldn’t be allowed to race any event at the elite level in nationally sanctioned or qualifying events, but he should be granted the right to still have fun.”

In a follow-up interview with Trail Runner, Tim Stahler echoed those sentiments. “Armstrong has certainly engaged in despicable behavior that harmed his sport and people close to him. He failed miserably and betrayed many, if not all, of us.”

However, Stahler said, those failures shouldn’t preclude Armstrong’s participation in local races like Woodside Ramble. “Inside Trail Racing hosts local trail-running events for the purpose of helping people enhance and improve their lives through running and being out in nature. I think everyone”—including Armstrong—”can benefit from getting out on the trails and running with others.”

For his part, Armstrong emphasizes that he’s not out for glory. “I’m not running for money or trophies,” he told Trail Runner through his publicist. “I run for my own personal reasons and that’s to stay fit and to remain sane. Simply put, I love running.” He also said he planned to continue running trail races.

While the broad implications for doping and trail running are debatable, one thing is not—Armstrong did beat 48 racers, all of whom would have placed one spot higher had he not been allowed to race. That is part of the issue pointed out by Ethan Veneklasen, a longtime ultrarunner, the Chief of Heard Sports Marketing and another leading voice in the ongoing debate.

“Racers running for the best place possible were robbed by the most notorious doper in history,” he says.

Similarly, Gray, in an interview with Trail Runner, called on runners and fans (and, yes, magazines) to avoid acknowledging Armstrong, because it takes away from others’ achievements. (In July, Trail Runner published a feature article, by Jenn Shelton, about the author, Armstrong and ultrarunner Connie Gardner running in the Grand Canyon.)

Not all runners feel the same. “No, I do not feel cheated,” says Roger Montes, a cyclist transitioning to trail running who placed second to Armstrong. “Lance Armstrong never took anything from me. Instead I saw it as an opportunity to push myself hard and race against a strong athlete.”

Montes added that not much talking went on during the race, but, afterward, “I introduced myself, we shook hands and I made a joke about the irony of two cyclists with running problems. He laughed, agreed and replied, saying, ‘Hey, it takes less time.’ ”

Trail and Ultra Marathon racing is shifting dramatically, from a grassroots, community-oriented sport to one that is becoming increasingly professionalized, at least at the front of the pack. With larger amounts of money entering trail racing, lessons from other sports (like cycling, road running and track) indicate that doping will become an issue if it has not already.

While the debate has yet to be settled, Ian Sharman, an elite ultrarunner who owns Sharman Ultra Endurance Coaching and directs the US Skyrunner Series, sums up the position of many in the trail community: “Anti-doping is a contentious and complex area, but it’s important to have a clear stance that cheating in any form is unacceptable in trail running.”

At the point of writing this article, we contacted Lance Armstrong to comment, but he refused to do so.  If he had we would have been very happy to have expressed his views and comments.

by Mike Buss.

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