Originally Posted by Jay_The_Nomad
After having read some of that 200+ pages report and a few of the affidavits, I really do think Armstrong doped. I was on the fence previously.
But I think labeling Armstrong a cheat is only half the story and a tragic one as well. Let's not forget the entire pelothon (or very close to it) was also doped up.
This is one of the biggest pro-Lance arguments: if everyone was doping, then it was a level playing field, and Armstrong really did deserve to win after all.
But the USADA report argues that the playing field wasn't level, even if doping was widespread. The culture of doping favored those with more money and resources. Armstrong hired Ferrari, the acknowledged top man with respect to cutting edge doping, and paid him over a million dollars; this gave him a distinct advantage over other riders, even the ones already taking EPO. Armstrong helped, encouraged, and bullied his teammates to dope in the same manner as himself, again giving him an advantage over other riders, even the ones already doping. Armstrong also donated large amounts of money to the UCI, effectively putting that organization in his pocket--something that less wealthy riders from other teams would not have been able to do.
I read many of the comments to the Times articles, and person after person writes that everyone was doping at the time and therefore we should leave Armstrong alone. The point isn't that doping equalized all the riders in the peloton, and Lance won because he was the fittest and most skilled of those doped riders. The point is that Lance was wealthy, famous, and strong-willed enough to hire the best doctors and put in place the most sophisticated doping program, and this, in effect, allowed him to win WITHOUT being the fittest or most skilled rider.