Hmmm... with all due respect, you are either clueless, or very regionally centric - cycling, and specifically the tour de france is the world largest sporting event in regards to public spectators, over 10 million a year attend the tour...
True, I was speaking of the US - which is where the majority of his sponsorship and fanbase was. In the US the Tour's TV coverage had a record year last year at an average of 409,000 viewers. The average NFL game has 17.5 million viewers in the US, and the average F1 race has just over one million, for comparison. 10 million Frenchmen might step outside of their homes to watch the bicyclists ride by, but that's not pertinent to my statement if I clarify the context as "the public in the U.S.".
...its not a scam... so you are right, i don't get that - the media is telling you its a scam and so you are eating that up. but its not - its the system at work.
Do you agree that Lance Armstrong (personally) pushed a story that he had beaten cancer and then gone on to train so hard and so smart that he was able to beat the world in the toughest test of skill and ability in his chosen sport without using any drugs? Was that story true, or false? Did he profit from it, both in fame and fortune? In that regard, isn't it correct to see that aspect of this situation as being a scam?
I'm not saying that the fact that he won those races was a scam. Or that he did or didn't deserve to win them or that they were or weren't a major accomplishment given what we now know about them. I do disagree with your thesis that he had to because everyone was and thus it wasn't wrong or that he had to lie about it or they would have found out, so it isn't wrong - but that isn't the point that I was making.
My point was that he put it out there as a statement of what the human being is capable of to profit from it both personally and for his charity. No one was inspired by wearing a Livestrong bracelet because it reminded them that someone simply beat cancer or an adversity in their life. People do that every day so it isn't inspirational on it's own. They wore it because it reminded them that someone not only beat cancer/the adversity but went on to push himself to being even better than before. If the story was "you can beat cancer and then accomplish more if you take a bunch of weird drugs and lie and cheat and intimidate", the understanding and reception would have been a lot different. People know that is possible too, but they don't celebrate it or donate to foundations inspired by it. The media may have latched onto this story, but he was the one putting it out there for his own benefit and it is an established fact that it was a fabrication - or a scam, if you will.
If your point is that he pushed the boundaries of the grey areas of the rules and used every technique available to him within the letter of the law, then that I can understand. Who doesn't love Smokey Yunick's shenanigans or celebrate every technological advance in F1 that takes the most advantage of the rule-set as it is spelled out? But don't you think that there is a difference between maximizing the rules and cheating? "It isn't cheating if you don't get caught" is a funny saying, but it isn't true.
The rules, as I understand them, aren't "don't register x drug levels when tested", they are "don't take them whatsoever". Thus, he was clearly cheating. He acknowledges that. People cheat all the time, and no one cares unless it's against them. This is only noteworthy because he cheated and maintained a following based on showing others what they were capable of. He traded in inspiration, and did so fraudulently.
I should also note that "the media" isn't telling me that it's a scam and I'm not "eating anything up" from anyone. Correlation does not equal causation. FWIW, I've seen the media following the story but surprisingly little commentary on it from them. I have shown that I have my own reasoning behind my statement, and I feel that assuming that I am "clueless" and eating something up from the media is not showing me any due respect.