I don’t. I think he’s guilty as sin.
I don’t know that he doped (especially since I’m not an expert nor am I even remotely connected to the issue), but I very strongly suspect it, as a lay observer of professional cycling. I believe that when you take most of the facts together in this case, and apply just a wee slice or two from good Mr Ockham’s Razor, it’s almost certain that Armstrong doped, at least a few times in those 7 seasons in which he won the Tour de France. (And when the truth finally does come out, which I think it will, people are going to act all shocked and crestfallen.)
Think about it:
Armstrong was most likely competing against riders who WERE doping, at the very least. And he was able to beat all of them, at least 7 times on the Tour! Does it make sense that a clean rider could do that, even one exceptionally talented with natural endurance and stamina? Does it make sense that someone recently recovering from cancer could do this, without massive assistance from performance enhancing sustances? How do you beat the superhuman performance of the cheaters, without cheating, yourself?
Ex-Armstrong-teammate Floyd Landis, once he admitted to his own doping, also accused Armstrong of doping. Yes, I know that Landis is a “liar” and I know that the timing of his accusations is pretty suspicious, but still, his allegations about Armstrong are at the very least consistent with what many people suspected, all along. If Landis rode for Team USPS and doped, are we really to believe that Armstrong stayed clean? “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas”, as the saying goes.
The explanations, counter-arguments, and Armstrong apologetics just fall flat:
-“But Armstrong never failed a test for banned substances!” Yeah, so? Lots of athletes pass drug screens all the time, so much so that testing clean has become an inside joke in many sports. Marion Jones tested clean, too. And we all know the epilogue of that Olympic dream. Plus, some French cycling figures and journalists (the French are admittedly NOT a neutral party here!) say that on at least one occasion, Armstrong DIDN’T pass. But that allegation has also proved inconclusive and IIRC, follow-up tests on those disputed samples can’t be performed.
-Armstrong’s lungs are much larger/more voluminous/stronger than the average rider’s. Really? So much so that he can beat other riders who ARE doping? And after his body suffered through cancer, no less? Sorry. Just don’t buy it.
-“Well, I’m sorry that you can’t believe in miracles.” This is a paraphrasing of one of Armstrong’s more asinine, puerile responses to those skeptical of his drug-free claims. I for one find it insulting, because it impugns the intellectual integrity of those who (epistemically correctly, IMHO) don’t buy his apologetics, and it posits supernatural woo-woo (“miracles”) instead of being a substantive, rational response to the allegations.
I believe, until further data is forthcoming, that the simplest, most rational explanatory theory for Armstrong’s phenomenal cycling successes is usage of illicit performance enhancers. Atheist Richard Dawkins was once asked what he would say if, upon dying, he found himself before the Pearly Gates. He replied that he would proclaim, “So I was wrong. But I was wrong for the right reasons.” If it were somehow possible to prove conclusively that Armstrong didn’tdope, I would similarly feel fully justified in believing that he had.
I WANT to believe Lance. I really, really do. But I can’t help but be convinced, on an intellectual level, that his victories are at least partially fraudulent, and the world is being greatly hoodwinked.