Top American Marathoner Ryan Hall Supports Lance Armstrong, Comments on Doping
Ryan Hall said yesterday he thinks Lance Armstrong has been clean for each of seven Tour De France victories, citing the hundreds of tests Armstrong has passed throughout his career.
“Until a test says otherwise, I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt,” Hall said. “There’s always going to be talk about people using, but it’s just a lot of talk. I don’t get into the speculation.”
Hall also expressed disappointment at the way Floyd Landis, who’s private emails to cycling officials were leaked to the Wall Street Journal and set off a new round of widespread doping allegations in cycling, dragged Armstrong through the mud.
“If what Landis says is true, there should be tests or evidence to show for it,” Hall said.
Armstrong denied Landis’ allegations yesterday in a brief public statement.
Despite their differences, the running and cycling communities share a lot in common, including the physical demand of top aerobic fitness that is required for each endurance sport. More than any skill sport – where the lame argument that “steroids can’t help batters hit a 100 mph fast ball” persist – endurance sports are more simplistic for determining success.
So when doping news in one sport breaks, it inevitably draws attention from fans of the other. That’s why when news broke of Landis’ admissions yesterday, runners chirped their reactions to Facebook friends and Twitter followers. It’s why LetsRun’s homepage has been splashed with related headlines about the story for the last two days.
Professional runners followed it closely as well and they have opinions about it too. Hall’s reluctance to play into speculation is based partially on keeping a competitive edge. “Some people think that 90% of the [running] competition is dirty. To me, that’s basically like throwing in the towel because when you start thinking that, you start thinking they are superhumans.”
Since late 2006, when he burst onto the elite running scene by breaking two American records in four months – 20K in October 2006; Half Marathon in January 2007 – Hall has been one of the world’s best marathoners. He has six top-7 finishes at Marathon Majors, including two third places. His PR, 2:06:17 is the second fastest American time behind only Morocco-born Khalid Khannouchi.
Hall said that the higher he has risen in the national and world rankings, the more frequent testing has gotten for him.
Still, despite his benefit-of-the-doubt attitude towards Armstrong, Hall acknowledges a need for better testing procedures in his own sport.
“The testing still needs to improve. How they test needs to change.” The most important time to be testing is in the weeks before a race, he said, not immediately after.