Two comments seem to pop up regularly when it comes to the Lance case:
- “Lance is hounded so much more than his contemporaries.”
- “What does it matter, it’s in the past” sometimes combined with “If not Lance, then who are we giving the wins to, Ullrich?”
As for #1, I don’t think that’s really the case. Of course the Novitsky investigation involved heavy artillery, but a lot of that was not about “Lance the rider” doping. Rather it was about fraud, trafficking, suspicions of that nature. Furthermore, his contemporaries can largely be separated into two camps, those who admitted guilt fairly quickly and those who did not. Obviously the first group wasn’t hounded as much, but plenty of riders in the latter group have been hunted down with a vigor not dissimilar to what Lance is experiencing.
Take Ullrich, who has had Spanish, Swiss and German authorities (both sporting and regular) chase him for six years. Valverde was tag-teamed by an army of entities until the puzzle was complete and his suspension globally enforced. Not even the Spanish king could save him. I’m not suggesting they all get together to sing Kumbayah and start a self-help group, but there is definitely no reason for any of them to feel singled out.
As for #2, I don’t think “cleaning up” the results from the past would be a worthwhile benefit. Showing athletes that no matter how sophisticated you are, in the end the cheating will catch up with you and therefore it’s not worth it, that would be a bit more worthwhile. But I think the real benefit would have little to do with Lance, and rather would be to keep certain other individuals (mostly doctors) away from sports in the future. THAT could be the real benefit of sorting out the past.
To me, that would be worth the costs of these investigations. It seems yesterday a first step was made in this regard, with life-long bans for three doctors. Not that these bans will stop these individuals, but at least it will make it much easier to go after the athletes who continue to use their services.