I like Chris Horner... as both a racer and a person. I don't know him well, but I've had the chance to spend some time with him socially and he impresses me as a really great guy who loves riding his bike.
I can't think of too many successful pros from the last 20 years whose names have not come up in the rumor mill of doping. But, to my knowledge, Horner has never been accused or implicated in any doping scandal. He seems to be the only of the PostalChannelStanaShack guys who wasn't busted (or admitted to) doping.
That said, I understand people being skeptical. But as a 42 year old guy, I am in far better shape than I was half my lifetime ago. I am wiser. I train more intelligently. I eat better. I understand recovery. And I know my body. I get the impression Horner is much the same. He knows what works for him and is in a unique position to follow his own plan.
I'm sure it helps that the dopers of his generation are pretty much gone from the peloton, along with the dopers of the generation that came after. I think his success is more of an indication that the field is riding cleaner than any suggestion that he is riding dirty.
Seriously, I will happily challenge any of you young doubters to a mano-a-mano torture test in the high mountains when I return to the real world. I may not win, but I'm pretty sure I can hold my own against all but the Cat 1s and pros among this audience. Some things get better with age. Horner is a great example. He's nearing the end of his career, with nothing to lose, and doing so with the exuberance of a kid. We should all be applauding him. I am!
As an aside, I am 5'10" or 178cm. Chris is a bit taller, though I was not standing straight in this photo.