Rumors of drug usage have always hounded Lance Armstrong, whose unheard-of seven victories in one of the most grueling physical competitions in the world, in a sport rife with drug use no less, naturally raised questions of how Armstrong had accomplished the seemingly impossible.
Yet, for the past decade the biker has weathered the storm; he has constantly denied any drug use (and even touted it in national advertisements), while federal prosecutors have come up short in finding any concrete evidence against the sports hero.
The pressure has risen in recent months, however, following accusations by former teammate and one-time Tour De France winner Floyd Landis, who accused the team captain of distributing and using various steroids. Jeff Novitisky, an agent for the FDA famous for his role in the BALCO scandal, has been investigating Landis' comments since the beginning of the summer.
It is now being reported that he has traveled to France itself in order to work with their national anti-doping agency. The agency in question is famous for its 2005 claim that it possessed urine samples from 1999 with traces of steroid usage, which were later cleared. Closer cooperation between the two agencies, however, could reveal new information in the comings month that could expose some of the darker sides of a sport that has seen its image steadily decline because of its inability to crack down on its own cheaters.
Like Nascar's recent equipment scandals, or the baseball scandals of the early decade, systemic cheating alienates fans and destroys the sports reputation. If one of the greatest figures in American sports is caught cheating, it could sound the death toll for cycling within the United States, if not in many other countries around the world.