Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, on Thursday announced he would no longer contest charges that he doped his way to victory. The 40-year-old legendary cyclist still maintains he's innocent.
That moment when you first learn to balance on a bike has to be similar to how a bird feels learning to fly. When you're four or five years old and the training wheels come off, fear has been replaced by possibility.
Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has been stripped of his 2010 title and retroactively banned from cycling for two years following Monday's ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Now that those awful soccer horns have finally stopped blowing, could we please maybe all quiet down and perhaps just have some nice, subdued games? Good grief, has sports ever endured such a summer of excess? Everything has been overdone, over-long, over-emphasized, over the top. And, of course, most of it has been foisted on us, relentlessly, by the television network of which sports is now a wholly-owned subsidiary: ESPN ... or, more accurately: ExcessPN.
Aging athletes don't have the agility they had in their youth. Minor injuries accumulate and become major ones. And by the time they hit their mid-30s and 40s, they're considered geriatric -- that's the conventional wisdom.
Alberto Contador is a 26-year-old professional bike racer from Spain who in two seasons has won the Tours of France, Italy and his homeland. It's a feat matched by only four other riders in history, and by last fall Contador's performances had depleted the European press of its supply of superlatives. Then, in March, wearing the yellow leader's jersey one week into the Paris-Nice stage race, he did what even the finest racers are occasionally known to do, but Contador since his rise to prominence had not yet done. During a mountain stage, he cracked.
Since the first American cyclist made his way to the European pro circuit in the mid-'70s, enough gaffes, misunderstandings and flashpoints have taken place to keep a U.N. peacekeeping force busy -- from Greg LeMond's spending the Tour de France rest day playing golf, to the conversion of La Taverne Zimmer, the Montmartre bar in which the Tour was hatched at the turn of the century, into a TGI Friday's. Among the lowlights:
Just because he's lean and ripped and far more fit than he's ever been at this time of year, Lance Armstrong won't necessarily regain the form that won him seven Tours de France. Just because those questions about his past have faded from the foreground, they haven't necessarily gone away. And while none of them care to be quoted, there are plenty of cycling people who wish he'd leave and not come back. He is a magnet for attention that might otherwise redound to more deserving riders -- guys like his Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer, who on Sunday clinched his third straight victory in the Amgen Tour of California, but whose next mention in this story is more than a thousand words away. But give Armstrong this: Three-and-a-half years after his retirement, two races into his comeback, he has plunged an IV full of Red Bull into the arm of a sport sorely in need of a pick-me-up. By his mere presence in the peloton, the 37-year-old Texan makes pro cycling an infinitely more interesting
On the one hand, there was J.P. Hayes, plumb-bobbing a putt on page B13 of yesterday's New York Times. Last November, upon realizing that he'd inadvertently played a prototype ball not yet approved by the USGA, the journeyman from Appleton, Wisc., phoned officials from his hotel room between rounds at Qualifying school to turn himself in. He was disqualified, dashing his chances of earning his Tour card this year.