Whom does public believe: Armstrong or detractors?

May 25, 2011

Fans have moved on

Diane Pucin

Los Angeles Times

Crowds were five and six deep Sunday during the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Fan reaction — and these are cycling fans — was ambivalent at best about the ongoing federal grand jury investigation into Armstrong.

If the investigation is solely about doping, you know what? Most of that Sunday crowd thinks it's a waste. "I don't care," one man said. "Was the sport dirty for a long time? Yeah. So are a lot of sports."

If there is more to the investigation, if evidence turns up of financial shenanigans or drug trafficking or some sort of fraud, which has been reported, then some of Armstrong's supporters will feel differently.

But seems as if cycling fans have moved past Armstrong. An emailer wrote to chastise my Sunday story on the Tour of California because it included some of the "60 Minutes" testimony. "You missed a good race," he said. "Try writing about that from now on. Stop the doping stuff."

dpucin@tribune.com

Too much smoke

Philip Hersh

Chicago Tribune

Lance Armstrong's tweeted defense of "500 drug controls … Never a failed test. I rest my case'' is absolutely meaningless, as the case of Marion Jones and the confessions by Tyler Hamilton, Frankie Andreu and many other cyclists have shown.

But as damning as Hamilton's "60 Minutes'' interview was, it still did not provide the piece of evidence — a document, photo, video or audio — to convict Armstrong of doping. That leaves us with the "he said, he said'' situation that has existed for several years, even if the amount of circumstantial evidence against Armstrong threatens to crush his reputation.

But so much smoke, even without a smoking gun, makes it impossible to believe Armstrong.

phersh@tribune.com

PED fatigue

Paul Doyle

Hartford Courant

As heavy as the onslaught of allegations against Lance Armstrong might seem, there needs to be a smoking gun before the public turns against the seven-time Tour de France winner. The evidence seems strong — Armstrong's closest friends have said he doped and that he even made a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs go away.

If Armstrong still were competing, fans might believe the accusations. Maybe we'd see fewer Livestrong wristbands and perhaps the public would pay closer attention to Tyler Hamilton.

But Armstrong isn't cycling through the mountains of Europe this summer. The Lance brand seems pretty rock solid, even with the background noise from Hamilton. Plus, there seems to be a bit of a PED fatigue among sports fans. We sense less outrage, more disgust and a desire to simply move on.

The case against Armstrong might continue to mount, but we're not likely to see a decline in yellow wristbands soon.

pdoyle@tribune.com

Tide is turning

Gary R. Blockus

The Morning Call

Even in the wake of stories from Tyler Hamilton and, reportedly, George Hincapie, there is no hard evidence, no smoking gun or DNA-soaked syringe to prove Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs.

According to official records, he never has tested positive for using PEDs. According to eyewitnesses who have no corroborating evidence, he tested positive at least once and shared more than stage wins with his teammates by way of steroids, EPO and blood.

The tide is turning against Armstrong, and the riders who once protected him now are abandoning him. The public fallout will be revealed over the coming months with the number of fans who still buy or wear their Livestrong gear.

gblockus@tribune.com

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