Occasionally, the comments posted in a story are more interesting than the story itself, and this one, appearing on the NPR website, is an example of that phenomena.
As a result of his steroid use, cyclist star Lance Armstrong was banned from any competition that had anti-doping rules. This left him with very few choices. People don’t play tiddlywinks anymore, and hot ticket events such as the National Scrabble Championship require you to be an officially ranked player.
Undaunted, Armstrong entered a Masters swim meet in Austin, Texas…and was promptly shown the proverbial door after objections were raised by the international swimming federation.
What interests me though isn't the question of whether some cheating middle aged guy should be allowed back into the fold (think Mark Sanford) or even whether Masters competitions should drug test participants. What I find intriguing are the comments in this story.
Opinions on whether Armstrong should be allowed to compete are divided, but most favor kicking his butt squarely out of the water. Commenters are deeply angry and hostile, and their tone is suggestive of a mob rather than a group of NPR listeners.
To me, the controversy feels a bit like it’s been created by the media rather than organic. There is no prize money associated with Masters Swimming events and very little publicity. I’m convinced that if no news outlets had questioned Armstrong’s participation, FINA wouldn’t have either.