Lance is too a hero: Expatica readers

2nd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

NANTES, Sept 2 -- The completely unscientific, but interesting, results are in: Expatica readers say Lance Armstrong is not a cheat -- as the French sporting daily L'Equipe recently reported again after a long series of allegations -- but a hero who deserves all the glory he has reaped for winning the Tour de France seven times in a row.

NANTES, Sept 2 -- The completely unscientific, but interesting, results are in: Expatica readers say Lance Armstrong is not a cheat -- as the French sporting daily L'Equipe recently reported again after a long series of allegations -- but a hero who deserves all the glory he has reaped for winning the Tour de France seven times in a row.

The results of the Expatica poll, while not statistically valid in any way, do mirror that widespread sceptism among Americans and the US press about L'Equipe's charges, which Armstrong and his supporters have dismissed as part of a "witch hunt".

Of 111 votes cast answering the question "Do you agree with L'Equipe that Lance Armstrong doped?", 65 Expatica readers, or 59 percent, responded in the negative, that Armstrong is a genuine hero.

Only eight agreed with L'Equipe's accusation that he did indeed cheat by taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs during at least the 1999 Tour de France, the first that he would win.

An additional 14, however, said they thought he probably did use some kind of banned substance but that all the big cycling competitors do that so he still deserves his place at the head of 'le peloton' of all-time cycling champions.

Twenty-four readers said they weren't sure.

With a headline splashing 'Armstrong's Lie' on its front page, L'Equipe reported August 23 that Armstrong used the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoeitin) to secure his first Tour triumph. The newspaper based the report on the results of tests by a French laboratory of frozen urine samples taken in 1999.

The 33-year-old American, who recovered from cancer of the testicles and has now retired from cycling, has always denied taking drugs to boost his performance.

"He is the best!!!!!" seemed to sum up the viewpoint of the majority of Expatica readers judging from comments submitted to the site.

"Lance lives strong and kicks ass because of all his hard work!!!!! Not dope!" said another reader, referring to the LiveStrong motto of Armstrong's foundation for cancer survivors.

Other readers more generally bemoaned L'Equipe's and other press outlets efforts to undermine the achievements of both Armstrong and other sports heros; several others pointed out that, although other urine samples taken at the same time were also found to be contaminated with EPO, only Armstrong was publicly named by L'Equipe's sources. 

The US press has been quite explicit about saying that the accusations are merely 'sour grapes' from a French press and public disappointed by France's own ability to either win the tour or produce a champion of Armstrong's stature. In fact, some of the editorials have veered towards blatant French-bashing.

But while a few Expatica readers who participated in the poll agreed that the French are piling on Armstrong out of pure spite, referring to the French as "poor losers", most declined to steer clear of characterising the debate as a symptom of wider Franco-American conflict.   

"This issue does not have to be a French versus American thing. It is an issue that exists between the Tour de France organizers and Lance Armstrong. It does appear to be a plot by a selected few to discredit an American, because the French has not won this race for a long time," commented one reader.

Another reader did write in, however, to say that he'd performed his own unscientific poll: of his French acquiantences.

"They listened politely to an opposing point of view although obviously not convinced. Myself, I do not believe that he was guilty, partly because there is no proof," reported American Expatica reader John Derek Snaith.

He added: "I think that the way in which he has overcome his illness shows him to be an exceptional person quite capable of achieving his seven wins without drug assistance. It should also be borne in mind that he has dedicated himself to the Tour de France. Other great riders have spread their efforts more widely."

There you have it: the French, unlike the Americans, are unseduced by the Armstrong as cancer survivor subtext. They tend to see all the references to Armstrong's personal story as mere US-style marketing and Armstrong's specialization in the Tour as another example of how an American's superior financial resources allow them to dominate a field, with or without drugs.

Armstrong himself both denies the charges and has directed his lawyers to fight the publications that disseminated them. His legal team has filed a libel case against London's The Sunday Times scheduled to go to trial in November.

Armstrong is suing the British newspaper for printing a review of the book 'LA Confidential, The Secrets of Lance Armstrong', co-written by a former L'Equipe writer and which likewise details circumstantial evidence that Armstrong has used banned substances.

The Expatica poll, by the way, doesn't allow cheating; it prohibits users from voting more than once on the same poll question.

Copyright Expatica

Subject: French news, Lance Armstrong, Expatica, poll, Tour de France, cycling, EPO

0 Comments To This Article