Armstrong must face the music, for sport's sake
The Times Editorial: The net appears to be closing in on Lance Armstrong. The US Anti-Doping Agency says, in a report of more than 1000 pages to the International Cycling Union, that it has "conclusive proof" of the cyclist's doping conspiracy.
Two months ago, the agency banned Armstrong for life on the basis of the evidence of 11 of his former teammates.
For all our natural unwillingness to see a hero fall, it is unlikely that a body as reputable as the US Anti-Doping Agency would go public with an accusation such as the one against Armstrong if it were not sure of its case. There are also shades of Hansie Cronje here.
Just as many people today still regard the late cricket crook as a hero, so will others refuse to accept that Armstrong might have cheated his way to seven Tour de France victories through the most elaborate doping scheme ever in sport.
Having to accept that someone as admired as Armstrong is a villain destroys our faith - misplaced as it might often be - in our heroes. The sense of betrayal becomes massive because sport, too, often provides us with an escape from the depravity around us.
We should not be surprised. Sport has never been as pure as we often imagine it to be, and especially not today, with all the money involved.
For one's own sake, a healthy scepticism is advised rather than a descent into full-scale cynicism. There are, after all, many sports people who compete fairly. The image of our rowers, swimmers and runners at the London Olympic Games need not be soiled by doping, as widespread as it often appears to be.
This is why the Armstrong issue needs to be resolved properly (unlike the Hansie investigation, which was closed down too early).
If there is a case against Armstrong, it must be prosecuted to the full and in the open. Justice, one way or the other, must be seen to be done, for all our sakes.