>Commentary – Lance Armstrong, Twitter, and Doping Controls

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A little background to start with: Lance Armstrong is, well, LA. He was the Great Driving Force behind Cycling in the last 10 years. Now he is back and being very open about his life via Twitter. Twitter, for those out of the loop, is a micro-blogging platform which makes blogging as simple as sending a text message. (If you can’t send a text – how’d you manage get here?) The kicker with Twitter is that not only does that little blog snippet get posted to your Twitter page but gets forwarded to all the folks who are following you.

In Lance’s case, that is 8,629 people who most likely receive every random thought that Lance Twitters. He also Twitters photos, like the most recent one of his view of the press corps http://twitpic.com/q61k

Not only does Lance Twitter about the press, he Twitters about training, his kids, about Chris Horner being a redneck, and anything else that comes up. He is a BlackBerry addict so this, if he is anything like the rest of us CrackBerry addicts, helps feed the addiction.

Which leads us to the last topic: Doping controls. Armstrong’s comeback platform was that he was returning to cycling to promote cancer research. In doing so, he would be completely transparent posting information about his training and life, and doing his own doping controls which would be made public. This was all in an effort to prove he is clean now and to quash any rumors of his possible doping in the past.

The UCI also does their own doping controls, travelling to wherever an athlete is, unannounced, to get a blood sample for testing in and out of season. So far, according to Armstrong’s Twitters, he has had eight blood tests since he returned to training.

Understandably, Armstrong gets a little frustrated by these. But, he is also quick to point out that he has no reason to dodge them, and welcomes them as a means to promote his good intentions and his clean training.

Are eight tests in the last couple months excessive? Maybe. But, if Armstrong can pass each and every test with flying colors, he may be the savior of cycling. To many Lance WAS cycling and, like it or not, cycling lost some of its popularity when he retired. With Lance back, using Twitter, getting tested, we can all have a figure to follow again. Someone we all WANT to like and trust, and believe in. Heck, Nike has even resurrected its cycling shoe division to support him.

If he doesn’t let us down, Lance may bring cycling back to what it should be: Clean, healthy, exciting, and competitive. And, hopefully, marketable again. It was hard to market cycling as a sport when things started going south with doping scandals but when Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis were caught, cycling in the US almost died on the side of the road.

Hopefully Lance can breathe some life into cycling again and drag our sport out of the mud.

 

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