Lance Armstrong is under increasing legal pressure (and increasing risk of bankruptcy), but the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf provides him one bright spot today. The paper surveyed the 25 other living Tour de France champions, and 12 of them said they believe Armstrong should have his seven Tour titles reinstated.
Take that with a grain of salt. As we've discussed many, many, many times, a significant chunk of past Tour de France champs have likely doped as well. In the midst of Armstrong's fiasco, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said in a statement that from 1999 to 2005, doping applied to all but one of the 21 TdF podium finishers. Irish cyclist Stephen Roche directly acknowledged this when he said, "Doping has been part of sport, not only for cycling, for decades." Roche—himself the subject of a handful of doping allegations—thinks it would be wrong to leave seven years of a 100-year history blank.
Other cyclists felt the same about preserving the history books, including more recent winner Andy Schleck. But overwhelmingly, Armstrong's supporters veer toward older generations. Recent champs such as Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins say those seven years should serve as a lesson for other riders. "Those seven empty places symbolize an era," Froome said. (We see the irony too.)
Armstrong's own reaction to the survey? He told De Telegraaf, "I'll keep it to myself for now."