Federal prosecutors are looking into cheating (read: doping) in professional cycling. As part of the investigation, they've just subpoenaed documents from a 2004 case in which a Texas company tried to prove Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.
Is anyone really all that shocked? Anyone?
If you didn't think Lance was doing drugs before all the whispering started, all signs certainly pointed to a big loud "uh, yeah" afterward, when it looks like he kicked the habit, and everything went downhill -- fast.
Here are 6 (unscientific) signs that Lance has probably stopped doping.
- He got his girlfriend Anna Hansen pregnant -- twice in two years. Lance clearly loved the single life and was dating every blonde celeb he could find. One reason he'd "slip up and settle down" -- he knew when he wasn't winning races anymore, he'd lose a lot of his "charm." And maybe he knew he'd stop winning because he stopped doping.
- Armstrong got super-peeved when Outside Magazine air-brushed his cover image. The editors changed his plain T-shirt to one that read BFD 38. Seemed like a pretty harmless change, considering celebs get their body parts digitally altered all the time. But Lance went a little ballistic. Could have been roid rage. Or maybe he thinks BFD stands for Big "Eff-in" Druggie.
- Floyd Landis, a former Tour de France winner, claims that Armstrong was a drug cheat. He told Nightline, "If I'm taking on Lance Armstrong, then that should be evidence enough that there's a problem with the system. At some point, people have to tell their kids that Santa Claus isn't real. I hate to be the guy to do it, but it's just not real." Landis sounds pretty confident -- and believable. The feds certainly think he's credible; it's his accusations that sparked the current probe.
- Lance crashed at the Tour of California in May. Lance ditched the race after a "big crash" and ended up in the hospital. Possibly a sign that super Lance was pedaling on his own power and his performance was no longer being "enhanced."
- He crashed again (and again and again) at the Tour de France in July. Armstrong got tangled up in three crashes (one of which brought him down) and he struggled to keep up during two tough climbs in Stage 8, the race's first foray into the Alps. In his heyday, whether by luck or quicker reflexes (or doping?), Armstrong almost never crashed.
- He hired a criminal attorney. This month, Armstrong hired Bryan Daly, a white-collar criminal defense attorney to represent him in connection with the federal criminal probe into doping. Of course you need an attorney if you're innocent, but you really need one when you're guilty.
So here's the deal. According to the Wall Street Journal, using performing-enhancing techniques in sports generally isn't against the law in the United States. But prosecutors could make the case that Armstrong defrauded investors by accepting sponsorship money with the understanding that he wouldn't dope.
Armstrong has not been subpoenaed, but cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who raced alongside him in the Tour de France in 1999, 2000 and 2001, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury. It makes sense that they'd be gathering evidence against Lance before they charge, uh, subpoena him.
If Armstrong does get charged with anything, it won't be doping, it will be fraud.
Hey Lance, how's your backpedaling?
Image via Peter Huys/Flickr