I really reacted strongly to this column in the New York Times today about Lance Armstrong and the EPO scandal.
What I’m reacting to, I think, is the insistence that denial of guilt is in fact the worst thing that one can do; I can’t find my copy of “Darkness at Noon,” but that seems the appropriate source for a claim like this:
Armstrong has vehemently denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs. His problem is distinguishing his refutation amid the sports culture of deception and lies.
A firm denial has lost its credibility when every culprit claims innocence, when the sprinter Kelli White denies and then confesses, when Rafael Palmeiro shakes a finger at Congress to underscore his goody-goody stance on a steroid-free body, but his positive test is revealed a few months later.
Somehow, I keep hearing the voice saying, “only the guilty refuse to confess” throughout this piece.
There are real and significant issues around the ‘engineering’ of our athletes, and the culture that elevates them to the point that simple games become worth re-engineering our bodies.
But I have a simple view on accusations; they need to be proved. The accused has a right to rebut.
And the innocent have every right to assert their innocence.I don’t know if Lance used EPO – I tend to doubt it, since he continued to crush the opposition even after more-sensitive tests probably would have revealed such abuse (hat tip to the Demosophist for that point). But in a world where accusation somehow automatically becomes guilt, I really don’t need Cultural Revolution-style ‘self-criticism’ from Lance or anyone else.
And Tyler Hamilton, btw, is challenging the results of his test and ban.