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Ex-Cyclist Finds It Hard to Blame Armstrong

David Zalubowski/AP

My father, Rick Ball, was a serious amateur cyclist in the late 1960s and early 1970s who represented the U.S. in the 1971 Pan Am Games and the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. He raced while pursuing his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison; upon finishing his degree, he chose academia over racing, and last year he retired as chairman of the math department at the University of Denver.

Long before Lance Armstrong brought the sport to the American consciousness, I grew up in a family that watched the Tour de France religiously, at odd hours due to the time difference, on obscure satellite networks. My dad is also a bit of a libertarian where performance-enhancing substances are concerned, an avid consumer of non-F.D.A.-approved vitamin...

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