Lance Armstrong And Roman Versus Napoleonic Law

She trusts people who are trustworthy.

She also trusts people who aren’t trustworthy.
This is true trust.

Tao te Ching, Lao-tzu, translation by Steven Mitchell

In America, a person is presumed innocent until proved guilty. Unless, that is, he plays college sports.” [or competes in triathlons, it would appear]

Joe Nocera, The New York Times

Hi folks,

Lance Armstrong, triathlon, banned, doping charges,

Lance Armstrong has been banned from triathlons due to doping charges (not doping convictions!).

Ayn Rand sure got it right, for all her weird but understandable ‘right-wingness,’ when she gave that lecture at West Point in 1974, entitled “Philosophy, Who Needs It?” The thesis of this short essay is that we each have an underlying philosophy of life (as do certain groups of people), so it had better be a conscious, consistent, defensible and effective philosophy. But you will have a philosophy, whether you think it through or just base your actions on a bunch of random feelings and preferences, combined with unthinking familial and societal conditioning. This is also true of the underlying philosophy of any nation, and as such it will determine the nature of the laws of that nation and their application to the daily lives of its citizens.

A legal system can place the burden of proof of innocence on the accused, or make it the responsibility of the accuser to prove the truth of their accusation. This is a critical distinction, which I understand to have a long and complicated history, being reflected in a major difference between Roman law (innocent until proven guilty) and the Napoleonic Code (de facto presumption of guilt), which was largely based upon these Roman laws, but with this important distinction.

The Napoleonic Code—or Code Napoléon,

The Napoleonic Code—or Code Napoléon declares a person guilty until proven innocent.

But think of the implications. If you are falsely accused and you have to prove your innocence, until which time you are assumed to be guilty, anyone could destroy your life with an essentially effortless but false accusation.

Upon reading of Lance Armstrong having been banned from triathlons, I was saddened to realize that the triathlon authorities appear to have lost their way on this issue. Years have been spent trying to pin a doping charge on Lance Armstrong, with no apparent success beyond rumor and innuendo. I went on line to some forums on the issue, finding comments such as “He must have juiced in a sport where all the winners are doing it.” This is just guilt by association, and it runs contrary to the underlying philosophy of most Western countries, including that of the USA, where fairness and justice are purportedly held in high esteem (with the flagrant and embarrassing exception of Guantanamo Bay!).

Until the proof comes in, I will judge my hero, Lance Armstrong, to be innocent. And even if the man turns out to have done years ago what his accusers say he did, I will still judge Lance Armstrong, the legend, to be innocent. It's Not About The Bike, Book, Lance Armstrong,His book, ‘It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back To Life,’ was one of the few things that really helped me through my post-surgical depression following abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery in 2010. It also gave me the courage to work my way back to Ironman training, and the 2011 Lake Placid race. My first commercial product, the ‘FitOldDog’s Quick Start Guide to Aortic Surgery Recovery,‘ which was based on considerable thought and reflection, recommends a very small number of books as essential reading because they have the power to inspire the reader to take charge of their post-surgical life, and one of my key reading choices was the book by Lance Armstrong.

I hope that the triathlon ‘courts of justice,’ and the NCAA for that matter, will return to innocent unless proven guilty, because Lance Armstrong was busy doing for older triathletes, such as myself, what he did for American cycling, ‘put us on the map.’

Man or legend, I sure appreciate what Lance Armstrong did for me.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. John Mitchell says

    Yea totally unfair

    Scary country. American citizens can be arrested, detained indefinitely, tortured and interrogated — without charge or trial.

    • The English have done worse. “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.” At least we can express our opinion without a van coming for us in the night, right now, anyway. -k

  3. What van?

  4. Read the history of prewar Germany, and other countries I am sure. -k

  5. Not sure which period you refer to in “the English have done worse…” I do not think we have a base in Cuba where people can be disappeared.
    Also you ought note the size of America’s prison population. Today there is a higher percentage of Americans in clink than the proportion of the population of the USSR under Stalin. A quarter of all prisoners in the world today are in American jails…
    Not a good picture all in all.
    So as I have not jailed anyone I cast thses stones.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.