The news broke last night: Lance Armstrong will no longer fight the United States Anti-Doping Agency and will be stripped of all his awards. This is the ending of a battle that's been going on for so long that you've probably forgotten about it several times already. There's still appeals and lawsuits to come, but this is a definitive breaking point: Lance Armstrong, despite his big Texan denials, is going to go down in history as a doper. Anytime PEDs come up in any context, everything turns into a black-and-white issue. But that doesn't have to be the case. Humans are able to hold seemingly contrasting thoughts in their heads. Here are ten you might be having this morning, ten takeaways from last night's news that are okay for you to feel.
1. It is disappointing that Lance Armstrong appears to have used blood doping to help him win the Tour de France so many times.
2. Winning the Tour de France so many times is still incredibly impressive, especially considering the sport of cycling is so rampant with blood doping that there's little reason to believe all the people Armstrong beat weren't doping too.
3. The USADA has pursued Armstrong with such zeal — even years after he had retired from the sport — that it's little wonder he finally just said, "Jeez, just forget it. Leave me alone."
4. The USADA has never pursued any other suspected blood doper with anything close to the vigor they have Armstrong to the point that there's a certain Kenneth Starr vibe to them.
5. Despite having never failed a test — a line of argument that says more about the ineptitude of testing for years and years than any sort of inherent innocence — there is so much smoke around Armstrong, and always has been, that presuming his innocence is nearly impossible to do, particularly now that he has dropped his challenge. (Which has less to do with exhaustion and more to do with a judge throwing out a lawsuit Armstrong had filed against the USADA on Monday.)
6. Armstrong has revealed himself over the last few years of his career to be what countless cycling observers and journalists have been saying for years: He's a bit of strutting, unctuous ass.
7. The only reason you ever cared about cycling in the first place was Lance Armstrong, so regardless of any of this, you won't care about it again, particularly now that it's clear that everyone in the sport is cheating in some way, shape, or form.
8. The good that Armstrong has done through his Livestrong foundation, and the number of people he has inspired, the number of victims of cancer who saw him and did feel strong, knowing that someone had beaten it, that someone could still thrive ... this is going to be perhaps the central aspect of Armstrong's legacy, whether or not he was a blood doper, whether or not he was a strutting, unctuous ass.
9. This central fact is more important than arcane and complicated PED rules, or who-won-what-race win, or medals, or championships, or even the sport of cycling itself. Armstrong might not have deserved to be the guy to have inspired so many people, but he nevertheless was the one who did: That matters. That matters more than this.
10. You can go ahead and keep wearing the bracelet.