Crowdsourced: Triathletes Welcome Armstrong After USADA Ban

Spectator support for Lance—racing in his first triathlon since being banned by USADA—was unanimous at the SuperFrog Triathlon.

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Spectator support for Lance—racing in his first triathlon since being banned by USADA—was unanimous at the SuperFrog Triathlon.

Twenty minutes before the start of the SuperFrog Triathlon, Lance Armstrong emerged from the RV that served as his early morning hideout. A swarm of videographers, fans, support staff and cameramen buzzed around the embattled former cycling star as he walked to his transition spot marked with the number he specifically requested for the event—seven. Dozens of spectators trying to catch a glimpse surrounded him with cell phones. Once the crowd realized Armstrong had arrived, all the clanking, buzzing and chattering of a typical transition area quickly came to a stop. The space around Armstrong was dead silent.

SuperFrog was Armstrong’s first triathlon since USADA banned him for life—because it isn’t USAT certified, SuperFrog don’t have to honor the ban—and his impact on the grassroots event was palpable. Whether you like him or not; believe his version of the story or USADA’s; support his right to race or want him out of sport, Armstrong’s presence is an undeniable force.

Ask someone’s opinion of Armstrong and you’re likely to get a polarized and passionate answer. Scanning cycling website comment sections and message boards shows that many people in his former sport have negative opinions of the Texan, but the triathlon community has largely reacted in the opposite way. We asked 10 age groupers spectating the SuperFrog Triathlon the same question, “What do you think about having Lance in the race?” The response was unanimous.

Here’s what they said:

I think it’s great for the sport, unfortunate that he’s not allowed to do the other ones, but this is pretty good. You see all the turnout…Look at all the people who are out there, people who don’t even know the sport are out here. It’s unfortunate he can’t race the Ironman in Kona and all the other ones. Hopefully they can lift that next year.

I don’t know, I don’t really have [an opinion]. He’s able to race, right or wrong. Whether he was doping or not, at least he can keep racing.

I love it. It’s good for the sport. More exposure. It got me up this morning.

That’s why we’re here. We came here to watch Lance.

It’s so cool, pretty awesome.

I love it. He should be in Ironman too. He should be in Kona in a couple weeks. That’s just my opinion I guess. He’s never failed a drug test, so it’s a bunch of people like Tyler Hamilton that are basically, what’s his name, Floyd Landis. He writes a book that says he doesn’t do anything, he writes a book that says he does do things. He’s a complete liar and USADA is taking the word of a liar over a person who’s never fail a drug test before, I don’t think that’s right.

It’s fine. You know, what he’s done or not done, I don’t know if it’s even been proven so I’m fine with it. I’m happy he’s here and able to race, that they’re allowing him to race.

It’s fine with me I think it’s great. It’s nice to see multi-sport athletes.

I think it’s great, I think it’s great for the sport to have him out here. I know more people signed up for this race because Lance was racing, so I think it’s great.

I think he’s done a lot of great things for his foundation and having him out here has a very positive effect.

Some of the people interviewed question USADA’s conclusions, others want the sport to grow on the back of Armstrong’s popularity and one mentioned the great work he has done to support cancer research, but regardless of their reasoning, every person shared the same opinion. They all enjoyed watching Armstrong in the sport of triathlon, banned or not.


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