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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • MARTIN COLUMN: Armstrong ruined cycling, Tour de France

  • I will never, however, watch the Tour de France again in my lifetime.
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  • As a fan of sports I will watch any sport if it is an important moment.
    I rarely miss a Triple Crown horse race, I will even take in a meaningful World Cup soccer game from time to time. I get into the Olympics, watching curling for hours, though understanding curling is a whole other story.
    I will never, however, watch the Tour de France again in my lifetime.
    What person would, after Lance Armstrong became bigger than the sport of cycling, winning the Tour de France seven consecutive times, and emphatically denying he has ever used performance enhancing drugs?
    Lance Armstrong was a living legend. He was the Babe Ruth of cycling.
    Then the rumblings of him doping started and snowballed until he couldn't contain them any longer. In January of this year Armstrong admitted to Oprah that he used performance enhancing drugs.
    What if word never got out that Armstrong doped while doing what no other human being has ever done? Would he have come clean? Highly unlikely, because "clean" and "Lance Armstrong" are words that don't belong in the same sentence.
    Armstrong recently told a French newspaper that the Tour de France can't be won without doping and that he still considers himself a seven-time Tour de France winner, even though his titles have been stripped by officials.
    Suddenly Armstrong has gone from one of the most beloved athletes in American history to being in the same boat as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez.
    So, how come I will never watch cycling again but I still follow Major League Baseball? Well, it's simple, because no baseball player accused of doping was ever bigger than the game.
    Barry Bonds wasn't bigger than baseball. Mark McGwire was never bigger than baseball. If it comes out that Babe Ruth was juicing, the entire baseball lore would be crushed.
    Lance Armstrong's fame and popularity after winning seven Tour de France's were beyond cycling. It was massive. He was a national hero.
    And its not only Armstrong that doped. Every cycler that was successful in Armstrong's era is linked to doping.
    Now, I'd rather watch professional croquet than one second of the Tour de France.

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