But he's in trouble, as this recent article in the NY Times explains. Cyclists are routinely tested for drug use, and his blood samples allegedly showed signs of blood doping (transfusions of extra blood to increase the red blood cell count and with it oxygen capacity). This finding would break a lot of hearts if it were true. And there are so many cyclists who do impermissible performance-enhancing things that at this point it's generally easy to believe such wrongful behavior plausible. But I still don't believe it is true of him.
A huge reason for my reluctance to rush to judge him is the shoddiness of the evidence at the root of the allegations. As I wrote to a friend:
I'm mostly concerned from an evidentiary standpoint. These samples are handled poorly, their results are little more then inferences yet they are regarded as absolute truths, and (and this is what really sets me off) they allow no opportunity for independent validation. Thinking about it from an American jurisprudential standpoint, I think there are huge due process problems with this testing regime, and these tests in particular. Even if they did just happen to be correctly conclusive of wrongful behavior on his part, I still couldn't believe him guilty based on what has been presented. It reeks of unfairness, and that horrible Kafka-esque nightmare that too often too easily innocent people can find themselves trapped in.
He's innocent until proven guilty, which these results in no way do.
The other reason for my doubt of their truthfulness is a greater confidence in his character. He's my favorite cyclist because of his maturity, sportsmanship, work ethic, and devotion to those close to him. While some cyclists have remained anonymous to me, perhaps seeming more mercenary, he always struck me as a guy I wouldn't mind having as my best friend. That hasn't changed.
In the final analysis I don't think his winning had anything to do with the blood coursing in his veins but rather the heart he rides with.
Backdated to 11/14, even though it wasn't posted until 11/17 and technically I didn't send that part to my friend until today. Although I meant to earlier.