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Repeat performance: Suspicion mars Armstrong retirement

  • By Ben Delaney
  • Published Feb. 16, 2011
  • Updated Jun. 13, 2012 at 6:05 PM EST

A cloud of suspicion lingered over Lance Armstrong when he retired. Both times.

When Armstrong bowed out in 2005, L’Equipe didn’t write the commemorative legacy piece he might have hoped for. Instead, “Armstrong’s Lie,” claimed the seven-time Tour champ’s legacy began with doping.

On the 2005 podium, Armstrong was famously quoted regarding people who doubt impressive performances in cycling: “I feel sorry for you. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles.” Flanking him that day were Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, who were both prosecuted for doping soon thereafter.

But the 2005 Tour riders marred by doping was not limited to the podium, of course. An appraisal today of the top 20 riders in the final overall reveals the following:

In all, beating a field full of confirmed or alleged dopers wasn’t necessarily the legacy for which Armstrong had hoped.

When he announced his comeback in 2008, he mentioned a repeat performance — of Tour victory, not as the guy on the receiving end of doping questions.

This week Armstrong retired, again, with suspicions of doping still swirling around him. Only this time it’s not only journalists but federal investigators who are asking the questions.

But suspicions or no, on the final day of the 2005 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong was the winner of the world’s biggest race. With his three kids looking on, Armstrong’s narrative was intact.

“I wanted the last image of their father as a sportsman to be that of a champion, and that means being in the yellow jersey,” he said at the time.

This time, Armstrong steps down without that final image.

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