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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

November 9, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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Lance Armstrong: Our readers speak out

Readers have weighed in all week on Take 2 about Lance Armstrong. Many are disappointed or angry after the recent accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles. Others defend him and his Livestrong cause. Others are as conflicted as Susan Moberg Hopkins, a Seattle reader who wrote a heart-wrenching Take 2 posted Monday about how her late husband, Marty, idolized Armstrong and drew strength from his example. Marty died in 2005, well before the whispers about his hero grew too loud to ignore.

A poll published Thursday asked readers how they feel about Armstrong, and the answers show how polarizing he has become. While 39 percent of the 4,300-plus readers who voted by Friday afternoon picked "Lying cheat who got caught," 61 percent were more sympathetic or still sorting out their feelings.

I've been inundated by emails and comments about Armstrong, and like the voting, it's all over the map. Here are a few of the emails from you. They are raw, unfiltered statements that say a lot about our feelings about what some will do to reach the top, how risky it is to have heros and how fast they can fall from grace.

Not passing judgment

I'm not going to pass judgment on whether or not he did it. The evidence, however, both circumstantial and by direct testimony, is certainly damning though. It is notable that while close to a dozen former teammates have testified that the team systematically used PED's, and many have tested positive themselves, not one has come out and said unequivocally that Armstrong did not do it.

While I certainly admired his accomplishments early in his Tour de France career, I always had a hard time warming up to him as a personality, and as a long time cycling fan, hoped he would not pass the five titles held by Eddie Merckx and Miguel Indurain. Now he has been revealed as probably a cheat and certainly a threatening, arrogant bully. I hope we've heard the last from him, at least as a sports figure.

- Rich Fong, Sebastopol Calif.

Hearsay, innuendo

Two words - PROVE IT!! hearsay, innuendo, he said, she said. They still haven't proven anything. ONLY then should they levy the penalties they have. However, so far, it looks like they are trying to make an example out of him even though all evidence is circumstantial,

- Wade Stephens

One good liar

I’m a sports fan in general. I became interested in bike racing just a few years ago, when the Tour of California came through my little town along the California Coast. Lance Armstrong was making a comeback. I had read his books. It’s pretty impressive to have a pro athlete get cancer, and make a comeback and do so well.

As you can see I don’t have the history of following Lance for any of his wins back in the 1990’s. I add this because I think I’m pretty objective. I see facts as facts and I’m not caught up in the emotions of the “hero” people want him to be.

Over the past 6 months, I have read and watched every piece of news I can get my hands on. I read Tyler Hamilton’s book, I watched Levi’s documentary, etc.

Facts:

- Countless high profile athletes have come out (usually after they retire) and tell the same story. Everyone doped. EPO, Testosterone, Blood Transfusions was the menu of options.

- There wasn’t a test to detect EPO prior to 2000 so not getting caught was easy. Maintaining your Hemotocrit below 50 just took some guidance from your doctor on how much to take and/or how much water to drink to dilute it quickly

- Most people close to Lance during this time all tell the same story. They took, he took it. It is what was required to compete.

- Lance’s advantage in his seven Tour wins was that he had the money to have a DEDICATED team of doctors to work a system that was better then what other teams could finance. (Flying private jets to Africa to have transfusions done?)

- He wields great power and influence and has crushed people with it. It’s actually pretty scary.

If Lance wants us to believe that everyone else is lying, that his U.S. Postal team all used drugs and he was the only one that didn’t - he must think we are stupid.

He is lying because he loses everything if he comes clean. Other athletes lose less.

- He loses money.

- He loses respect.

- Most important, he loses power.

When he tells the truth (if he ever does), we will look back on the 2005 deposition and say “he was one damn good liar.”

- Stephanie Roberts

What's this really about?

While reading the Take 2 article about Marty Hopkins at home in Magalia, Calif., I suddenly realized that I would never know a thing about Marty or his wife Susan without Lance Armstrong - a great athlete, a great competitor, and a doper among dopers in an era of doping.

Just maybe its time to start talking about the Marty's in this story. I believe that this life has a way of making things right. I tell my boys every day to tell the truth and life goes smoother. While I to struggle to sort my feelings about this issue with Lance and the truth. Deep inside this was never really a surprise, not the doping or the lying. I wonder what comes of all this and now after the great Take 2 post, I know: It's learning about people like Marty and Susan.

- Jeff Gould

Cheating others out of careers

I am a sixth-grade teacher, and if I ask my kids if it's wrong to cheat, all will answer yes. If I ask the kids if the ends justify the means, they will answer no.
I am glad that cancer survivors are being given hope by the Lance Armstrong's Livestrong foundation but it doesn't change the fact that the foundation exists due to blood money from cycling. He cheated in a sophisticated criminal way. He cheated companies and races out of winnings, and worse of all, he cheated other men out of careers.
This is where I think the travesty lies and I have read the articles that say everyone was doping. I disagree. Some athletes with numbers just as high did not. Instead they became framers of houses and managers of local bike shops and chose the moral high road of not stealing money and time from others.
The Tour de France is the hardest sporting event on the planet. Many boys worldwide grow up with the dream of racing in it. Most boys do not. This is OK. This is life. Life goes on.
The last thing I will say is this.Seven tours with no winner. What stinks so much is that Eddie Merckx is the best ever and most people don't know his name. He won five Tours without big teams, monies and radios. Let's make this revelation about restoring his legacy and the legacy of the Tour and let Lance Armstrong fade.
- Dylan Netter

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