As a man who survived testicular cancer that spread to his brain and lungs in 1996, Amstrong deserves the benefit of the doubt. As a man who passed every drug test the Tour de France gave him during his unprecedented seven-year championship streak (1999-2005), Armstrong deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Almost a year after his last Tour de France, Armstrong is still under fire for allegations that he took or admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs like EPO, steroids and human growth hormone. French media outlets, perhaps fueled by anti-American sentiments, are at the center of the speculation, but Armstrong has been hit by stories that get major play on the cover of U.S. sports sections as well.

And then there's Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, who is out to make the sports world a better place by ridding it of drug cheats -- even when there's no verifiable evidence they cheated. He's been quick to express his opinion whenever an anti-Armstrong story has surfaced, but slow to say anything when Armstrong is later vindicated.

The French newspaper L'Equipe published a story last summer that claimed it had "indisputable proof" Armstrong used EPO, an endurance-enhancing drug, while winning his first Tour de France in 1999. The "proof," it turned out, was a highly suspicious leak from a study done on long-frozen urine specimens that was never supposed to target individual cyclists in the race.

The story and the test results, allegedly shaky at best by current standards, were lauded by Pound, among others, as proving EPO use was prevalent at the 1999 Tour de France. When a later study commissioned by a prominent cycling organization cleared Armstrong, Pound ridiculed that study rather than admit Armstrong might be clean.

This past week, even shakier "evidence" against Armstrong got surprisingly big play in the U.S. Testimony from a legal hearing involving Armstrong and an insurance company was leaked to the French newspaper Le Monde that alleged he admitted to doctors treating him for cancer that he had taken EPO, steroids, growth hormone, testosterone and cortisone.

Betsy Andreu, the wife of a former cycling teammate of Armstrong, testified that doctors came into his hospital room and asked him if he'd ever done performance-enhancing drugs. According to Andreu, Armstrong said "yes," and then listed the drugs.

Is this a story, once the leaks have become public? Of course it is. But it's nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations and not worthy of an attack on a world-class athlete once you factor in other testimony and a little common sense.

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