The bio passport would have kept tabs on Armstrong, too, when he returned to cycling for the 2009 and 2010 Tours. USADA's letter says its evidence of doping includes data from blood samples the UCI took from Armstrong in both those years.
Why drag up all this again now? Why spend taxpayer dollars to try to nail a rider from cycling's past?
Short answer: Because determining the truth about Armstrong's past is vital to the well-being of cycling's present. Even retired, he remains one of the sport's most widely recognized names. If he was dirty, his name needs to be expunged from the record books. If he was dirty, the cancer survivors his story inspires should be told he's a fraud. If he was dirty, kids need to know that cheats do get caught, even many years later.
USADA's letter to Armstrong said "numerous" riders will testify that team manager Bruyneel, Italian doctor Michele Ferrari and Spanish doctors Luis Garcia del Moral and Pedro Celaya pushed doping products and methods and worked to conceal rule-breaking. If they were dirty, they must be drummed out of cycling so other riders can't be corrupted.
If Armstrong and associates were dirty, we should be thankful that USADA is trying to do something about it because others who might haven't.
There's evidence that suggests cycling is no longer as dirty as it was, that the UCI bio passport is deterring cheats and that riders today are winning more on merit. The victory in May of Ryder Hesjedal at the Giro d'Italia was seen as a significant sign that cycling is progressing because the Canadian rides for a team, Garmin, widely praised for its toughness against doping.
Cycling is a beautiful sport. The individual effort, the teamwork, the fabulous backdrops of French chateaux make it so. To be able to appreciate all that to the full again, to believe in today's seemingly more honest generation, the dirty past needs to be exposed and then deleted. Go away. Vanish. Make way for a cleaner future.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester
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