When I finally reached Geoff Thomas by phone in the summer of 2005, he'd just come off Col du Galibier, the highest peak in that year's Tour de France, where he'd pedaled most of the day over 100 miles through rain, sleet, snow, plummeting temperature and gusting wind on his campaign to duplicate the feat of his hero, bicyclist Lance Armstrong.

But Thomas wasn't inspired by Armstrong's athleticism. wholesale nfl jerseys,cheap nhl jerseys,football jerseys,nba shop;winter cap,red bull cap,monster hat,new era hats,dc winter cap;asics running,asics gel shoes,running shoes asics;180 color eyeshadow,mac makeup,mac brush,Thomas was an athlete himself. Just a few years earlier, he'd retired from a 20-year soccer career in England where he captained Crystal Palace to the FA Cup final in 1990 and made nine appearances for the national team.

p90x, p90x dvd, p90x cheap, power 90;ghd hair, ghd styler, tai chi , bao chi;vibram running shoes , five toe shoes , vibram five finger;nike air , adidas shoes , ugg boots , moncler jackets , coach handbags , chanel handbagsInstead, Thomas was inspired by Armstrong's best-selling testimonial, "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life," written by Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins. It recounted what Armstrong went through as he was shoved to death's door by testicular cancer and then fended off the disease to not only return to the Tour de France but also to dominate it.

Thomas read the book in 2003, as he lay gravely ill with a particularly virulent strain of leukemia. Only a bone marrow donation could save him, and Thomas vowed then that if he beat cancer he'd ride the Tour route, as Armstrong had, to raise awareness about leukemia and money to fight it.

Who knows how many Thomases Armstrong has and continues to inspire? But since Armstrong started the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1998, he's sold 70 million of what seem to be those ubiquitous yellow rubber wristbands in support of cancer awareness and research.

The millions of Thomases are Armstrong's ultimate legacy. Armstrong's seven victories on the Tour de France are, as the title of his first book suggested, footnotes by comparison.

The latest allegations that Armstrong was a participant in cycling's doping culture, teased earlier this week by Sports Illustrated, threaten once again to damage Armstrong's reputation as one of the greatest endurance athletes we've ever witnessed. But this time, SI said it will report in its magazine next week, the threat is higher than ever before because the new evidence was derived from a U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation headed by famous federal gumshoe Jeff Novitzky.

The magazine said its report came after combing through years of documents in the investigation that revealed new details about Armstrong's employment of pharmacology. Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, defrocked of a Tour title after being busted for performance-enhancing drug use, prompted the federal investigation after accusing Armstrong and some others of using PEDs while funded by federal dollars.

Novitzky investigated Barry Bonds and Marion Jones. Novitzky's work on Bonds resulted last year in Bonds being ordered to stand trial starting March 21, 2011, on federal charges that he lied to a grand jury that he never knowingly used steroids on his way to setting baseball's home run record. Bonds originally testified eight years ago in the investigation of BALCO, the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. He pled not guilty.

Novitzky's investigation broke Jones, who eventually and famously confessed in a teary-eyed press conference that she, too, lied to investigators about using performance-enhancing drugs. She was sent to prison for six months.

Bonds could be ruined by a conviction. Jones nearly was. Armstrong would never come close to suffering complete or near ruination.

"I don't have anything to worry about on any level," Agence France Presse reported Armstrong said Wednesday at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia, after which he said he would announce his retirement.

That was Lance Armstrong, the cancer survivor, talking. He is the only Lance Armstrong that really matters.

I believe Armstrong, even if he gets to be proven a sports drug cheat.

I don't believe that a judge or jury in this country would send this man -- who had been dragged to death's door by cancer -- to jail for misappropriating federal funds on banned substances in order to win a bicycle race that, ultimately, inspired millions of people who faced, or are facing, the same despair he once did.

I think Armstrong is coated in Teflon because of what he's been through and what he's done since, and rightfully so. He isn't being accused, after all, of committing some heinous crime against his fellow man or humanity.