I HAVE never really been a Lance Armstrong fan, but with the recent revelations, I am ready to acknowledge him as my hero ("Lance: all the dirty details, October 12). In years to come, the whole world will thank this man for exposing the blatant inefficiency and hypocrisy of the anti-doping agencies.
The fact that Armstrong was able to string them along for a decade without detection proves their incompetence, with nearly all their evidence coming from interrogation and not from scientific testing. Not only can he think on his feet, but he can do it for his whole team while negotiating a downhill in the Alps at 120km/h.
We have now got to the ridiculous situation where every winner of the Tour de France over a 10-year period has been branded for "cheating". If we think that Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins are safely out of the woods, well hold on to your seats, bearing in mind that anti-doping agencies are always a few years behind.
The most ludicrous decision in recent years was the removal of Rabobank rider Michael Rassmussen from the tour on the very day that he moved into the yellow jersey position, not for a drug offence, but for failing to make himself available for testing some six months before.
Why did they have to use such cruel, pre-planned timing?
Was it to make an impact to try to show that they were still in control, which, in reality, they are not?
Let's face it, for years now, the tour has been controlled by sports doctors, who administer drugs covertly, safely and according to their teams' aspirations, leaving anti-doping agents in their wake. Any rider who does not take performance- enhancing drugs will not be at the back of the field, he won't even be in the race.
These are professional sportsmen and if they don't compete, they don't eat.
It therefore stands to reason that if every rider on the tour is "cheating", then no rider is cheating.
The fault does not lie with the sportsmen, it lies with the authorities, for failing to test competitors thoroughly, failing to identify and declare banned substances before team doctors discover them, and especially for failing to single out culprits during the event and not two, three or 10 years down the line.
If authorities cannot police the rules they have created, then what is the point of having rules at all?
These officials can't even exercise common sense.
One of their most illogical decisions was to expel Shane Warne from the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa, for taking tainted cough mixture.
What would a spin bowler gain from using banned drugs? He uses his brain and his fingers to perform, which requires finesse, not stamina or strength.
Can anyone explain what is so bad about performance-enhancing drugs, anyway? Their very name belies the notion that they are dangerous – after all, they are not called performance- hampering drugs.
The last time I saw photos of Armstrong, Marion Jones and Justin Gatland, they all looked in good health.
In the 1930s, prohibition in the United States drove the production and marketing of alcohol underground, and actually helped to increase national consumption. Any author will tell you that having a book banned will turn it into a best seller and it is common knowledge that when peace negotiations begin, that is when a war really hots up.
When officials interfere with the natural flow of things to achieve an objective, the opposite normally results and this is exactly what is happening with drugs in sport today.
Therefore, the only way out of this maze for the anti-doping agencies is to unban all performance-enhancing drugs, thereby making it fair for all sportsmen and sportswomen. Everyone who is anyone in professional sport today is on some form of banned supplement anyway.
Unbanning will also enable them to eliminate the misleading and offensive title of "cheat".
The 1988 Seoul Olympics should have served as an indicator to authorities that drug testing would always be lopsided and unfair. Ben Johnson was stripped of his 100m track title within hours of the race. Yet, the next day in the very same women's event, Florence Griffiths-Joyner went undetected or untested, and in fact, her 100 and 200m world records still stand to this day, 24 years later.
The same Olympic Games, the same event, the same drug testers using the same equipment produced a result where one athlete leaves the Games as a pariah and one leaves as a heroine. Why?
It could have been because they were of different nationalities and therefore under the supervision of different doctors.
One could mask the ingestion of drugs and the other could not.
This is why controls are so unfair unless they are done by blanket testing and not by random selection. This also begs the question: who are the real cheats, the anti-doping authorities, who are selective in their testing, or the competitors?
So, what becomes of Armstrong?
If it were up to me, I would let him run against Barack Obama. He has the intellect, the courage and the organisational skills to run America.
Bob McChlery, Kenton on Sea