The recent events brought back one name, who, apart from some real life streetfights in his early carreer, has very little to do with MMA: Lance Armstrong.
But are those comparisons with Anderson Silva really accurate? Who was Lance Armstrong, really? Let´s take a closer look:
Lance Armstrong was one of the greatest cycling talents the world has ever seen. True talent in this sport shows itself very early, and Lance Armstrongs talent was undeniable. He competed against the worlds elite in Triathlon as a 15 year old. Take a look at this Video:
He came from the plains of Texas, and never had much. He wasn´t a good student, sports was his only chance of success in life. So he moved to Europe, to start his professional cycling carreer. Unfortunately, he landed right in the EPO-Era, the drug that ended the carreers of the great Champions of the 80s, like Greg LeMond, and Laurent Fignon.
Greg LeMond was the first american Tour de France winner, and following the disqualifications of Armstrong and Landis, remains to be the only one. Deemed to be an extraordinary talent, when EPO hit the Peloton, he had no chance of winning again. It had become a different sport.
So Armstrong comes in, and he was forced to do, what everybody else did. Use EPO, Cortisone, Blood Transfusions Testosterone etc. There were no tests available to detect EPO at that time, and approximately 80 to 90 percent of the peloton was on it.
Armstrong settles in just fine, and becomes the youngest Cycling Road World Champion in the history of the Sport, which dates back to the 1800s. Again, he showed his unbeatable desire to win, as well as incredible talent. On the same weekend, Jan Ullrich became Junior Road World Champion.
His darkest time followed, he developed testicular cancer, and was on the brink of death. It´s a common belief, that his excessive testosterone doping could have played a role in his illness, Chael Sonnen stated this as well, (though he later denied this and claimed the guy had a hispanic accent). He went through chemo, ironically, this time EPO helped saving his life, as well as the life of many other chemo patients.
Many cyclists in this era died of EPO though, mostly in their sleep. The champion of 1996 used it to such an excess, that his blood got so thick, he couldn´t move his fingers properly anymore. Still, he won the race.
He came back from cancer a lot lighter than before, and became the strongest climber. He dominated the Tour de France 7 years in a row. His team US Postal Service was the the strongest team by far, it was ridiculous. Only 2003 Ullrich had him on the brink of defeat, but again, Armstrong showed what an incredible, unbeatable Champion he truly was, in one of the greates duels the sport had ever seen.
Since 1998 with the Festina Scandal, the world knew about EPO, the not so new wonderdrug, but there still wasn´t a test for it. Lance had a very cozy relationship with the UCI, the world cycling association. He was considered a hero, inspiraton and so on.
He used his power and influence to become untouchable, and destroyed everyone who dared telling the truth about him.
The suspicions never went away.
On his last Tour de France, he got booed and spit on by the french fans. The following year, Floyd Landis got disqualifed, and the sport suffered a huge hit. It had to adapt and react, by implementing a strong testing program, the biological passport, where all your testresults get used to build a unique profile. You can now be banned, even if you never test positive for a banned substance, just by having abnormal medical values.
Lance got away unblemished, with 7 victories in a row. That he decided to come back a few years later, only adds to his mystique. He wasn´t as strong as before, but he showed his championship mentality and achieved a third place.
Lance himself can´t answer the question, on why he came back. Was he bored? Did he want to try to compete clean(ish)? His comeback became his downfall, and cost him everything. The USADA built a case against him, solely based on witness reports of masseuses, teammates and former friends. They stripped him of all his seven victories, and banned him for life.
As a cycling expert, i know this: In a PED-free world, Lance Armstrong would have won a lot of races, but probably not the Tour de France. He would have been multiple World Champion, a Classics Champion. Maybe, he would never have gotten Cancer. Propably, he would be a happier man today.
So how does Silva compare to this?
Armstrong came into the sport in the 90s, in the golden era of PEDs. Most of his competitors of these times tested positive sooner or later, one even died of a cocaine overdose. He managed to stay undetected with intelligence, connections, and ruthlessness.
Cyclings golden age of PEDs ended with the biological Passport. There still are and always will be cheating teams and individuals, but you can literally feel, that it is not the same like in the 90s.
I think MMA absolutely is in its golden age of widespread PED usage, the random tests have only just begun. Unless we get a similar year round, random testing program with a biological passport in place it would be stupid to suggest otherwise.
Chael Sonnen tested positive for EPO as one of the first MMA Fighters ever, in the end of 2014, a powerful drug, that hit cycling in the beginning of the 1990s. There are a lot of other drugs and methods around, that aren´t tested for, or even detectable yet.
My conclusion is this: Anderson Silva cheated for a long time, and had the bad fortune, as well as some bad advice, to get caught.
GSP was and is right with everything he says. The only chance of cleaning this sport up is a cycling/olympics like testing program.
I don´t think it will happen.
Thank you for reading my first fanpost, and apologies for my bad english, it is not my first language.