December 28, 2012

I was stunned to read in the Dec. 23 ombudsman column, “Lance Armstrong’s friend at The Post” [Sunday Opinion], that readers are criticizing Sally Jenkins for her sports column on Lance Armstrong. Such attacks are unjustified.

Jenkins’s column is still the only piece that I’ve read that puts the doping “scandal” into perspective. As she points out, professional cycling had become a sport where it was impossible to compete without doping. As the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s report poignantly reveals, those cyclists who didn’t dope weren’t fast enough to even make a Tour de France team, let alone compete for a podium finish. Blood doping works.

Armstrong didn’t win because he “cheated.” He won because he out-trained, out-worked and out-thought everyone else — all of whom also were doing some form of doping. Just look at how impossible it is to award any of Armstrong’s titles to those who finished the races behind him — all of them have been shown to have doped as well. And, in fact, for some of the years in question, some of the forms of doping weren’t even illegal.

I’m really tired of self-righteous readers and sports columnists (including others at The Post) who profess to be so shocked and outraged that Armstrong “cheated.” Let’s put them in a situation in which the only way they can achieve their dreams and compete with others in their chosen field is to take the same performance-enhancing steps that everyone else is using. The solution is not to attack Armstrong but to change the culture of professional cycling.

John Carey, Arlington