NEW YORK—Calling the recent scandal nothing more than a witch hunt, famed athletes Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez issued a joint statement Tuesday vehemently defending the New England Patriots against accusations that the team cheated by using deflated footballs in last week’s AFC Championship Game. “First and foremost, it is irresponsible for anyone to lobby accusations such as these without indisputable proof,” read the statement, which echoed the official stances of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Marion Jones, Ryan Braun, Luis Suarez, Ben Johnson, Tim Donaghy, and the entire roster of the 1972 U.S.S.R. Olympic basketball team, all of whom have also staunchly come out in support of the Patriots this week. “It could have been the cold weather, or it easily could have been the result of breaking the balls in during warmups. Plus, what advantage could it have possibly provided? They were heavy favorites to win in the first place. Regardless, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady gave us their word that they had no knowledge of any tampering and, quite frankly, that should be enough.” The statement concluded that, should the Patriots be found guilty, one black mark would certainly not invalidate all of their past achievements.