Since Lance Armstrong announced his comeback to professional cycling there seems to be some daily drama surrounding him. First it was speculation on his team, and if he can get along with his teammates, then it was a rule that might prevent him from starting the Tour Down Under.
Now France's national anti-doping agency (AFLD) has offered Lance the chance to prove he was clean in his 1999 Tour de France victory by re-testing up to five urine samples they have saved from the now almost 10 year anniversary of his first Tour de France victory. The France newpaper L'Equipe has alledged in 2005 that five of Armstrong's samples from 1999 that were tested years after a test for EPO was devloped contained traces of synthetic EPO, a blood boosting hormone that was undetectable in 1999.
Yesterday is was also Jean Marie LeBlanc the retired director of the Tour de France who questioned why Armstrong was coming back because it would just bring back all the old questions about doping.
Here is a tip for the French. If you want people to stop bringing up doping, then maybe you should stop talking about it at every chance you get.
Should Lance agree to this "offer" from the French? No way! First of all there is a lot of debate about the accuracy of testing old samples. Second, in the Floyd Landis case we saw evidence of a lot of haphazard work by the French lab. And third, any finding will be debated. If they are clean, the haters will say the samples were old so it doesn't mean anything, and if the come up positive, Lance and his backers will say the samples were old so it doesn't mean anything.
On top of that, no punishment could be made retroactively since statute of limitations of 8 years has passed. Going back in time will prove nothing, and only keeps the sport from moving forward.
I am not one of the Lance followers who thinks he can do no wrong. In fact, I feel that there is a lot of evidence that he probably did do some things that were less than legal. Many of the people he was beating at the time have since been found to have been doping. This certainly doesn't mean Lance was too, but if you take the win away from Lance, who do you give it to? It was a time when there was no test for EPO. Riders knew that if they weren't taking it, then they were at a disadvantage.
It is time to move forward. Testing has improved greatly, and if he can come back now and passes all the tests, then that is all that should matter for 2009.