While the cycling world is still reeling from the revelation that Lance Armstrong will make a comeback, several other high profile American riders are staging comebacks of their own. However, unlike Lance, who has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (PED's) both Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton did test positive. Hamilton served his two year suspension and returned to the pro peloton in 2007 with Rock Racing while Landis' suspension ends in January 2009; he has been linked to the Momentum Sports Group which has Health Net as it's title sponsor.
Tyler's comeback got off to a rocky start when he was initially excluded from the Tour of California then at the last minute given the green light to participate. He chose to support his other two excluded teammates Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla and not start as well. His form gradually increased throughout the season and peaked in mid-summer with a win at the Tour of Quinhai Lake a week-long UCI-rated stage race in China. However, his biggest win was undoubtedly the USPRO road championship in Greenville, South Carolina which will enable the 37-year old Boulder resident the privilege of wearing the so-called "Captain America" jersey next year.
Though there is no official verification, Floyd Landis has been linked to team Health Net-Maxxis' management company, Momentum Sports Group. Health Net is discontinuing its sponsorship at the end of 2008, the rumour is that Smith&Nephew, the company which makes Floyd's artificial hip will step in as title sponsor.
While just about everybody is hailing Lance's comeback, both Tyler's and Floyd's return to the pro peloton are being met with mixed reaction. Many are unhappy that two riders, who have never confessed to their doping positives, are back in the fold. Others feel that Floyd's and Tyler's positive results were fraught with enough doubt that they should never have had to be sanctioned in the first place.
Regardless of how one feels the facts are that both Tyler and Floyd will have served the entire length of their suspensions and by the regulations that govern professional cycling, they are now free and clear to return to racing. If the governing body of the sport is able to grant the riders a second chance shouldn't the fans be able to do the same? Even if you feel that they cheated, under the rules of the sport as they stand now, they are allowed to return. Can the fans forgive?
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