The Armstrong Era
A reader sent me this interesting Lance Armstrong infographic that many of you in Australia might not get to see. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, but it visually puts into perspective what was going on in the 90’s and early 2000’s with the top riders in professional racing.
This graphic comes from Bicycling Magazine, May 2011. To put this into context, Bicycling Magazine prefaces this graphic by stating:
Here’s how the Tour de France would look during every year Armstrong podiumed if the top 10 were scrubbed of any finisher who at the time of his career was formally connected to performance enhancing drugs or blood doping (those riders appear in the shaded boxes). Because we had to draw a line somewhere to prevent unsubstantiated accusations from eliminating a rider, we defined “formally connected” as riders who:
– Admitted to doping or were banned or fully (not provisionally) suspended by a sanctioning group for doping in relation to it.
– Were fully (not provisionally ) suspended or fired by their teams or individually withdrawn from races by their teams for some connection to doping
– Were convicted of doping in a sporting, criminal, or civil hearing or trial, or paid a fine to settle charges related to it.
Our criteria leaves lots of room for argument, and frankly, allows some riders who inspire widespread public doubt to remain categorized as clean. But even through this somewhat constrained lens, the decimation of the general classification of the sport’s crown jewel is shocking.
As Bicycling Magazine states, there is lots of room for argument here. The mistake that’s easy to make when first looking at this chart is that there are varying degrees of guilt and conviction for many of the riders in shaded gray. It should no be interpreted that this as saying during a particular year all of the riders in gray boxes tested positive during the Tour. Not the case.
Isn’t it amazing how Lance Armstrong used his weightloss, high tolerance to lactic acid, increased cadence, strict diet, relentless training, wind tunnel testing and superior equipment to master the sport of cycling in a way that nobody else ever has without cheating?