So here we are.
After 7 Tour de France titles, a World Championship and a universal “crusade against cancer” Lance Armstrong has abandoned the fight to clear his name from the doping charges that have hounded him since the late 90’s and will forfeit his Yellow Jerseys, Rainbow Jersey and open himself to a barrage of lawsuits from former sponsors including the United States government.
Not to mention a lifetime ban from any sporting event.
It’s about time.
I have to admit. For a time I bought into it. Yellow wristband and all.
I was witnessing a story like I’d never seen before and suspended disbelief to buy into the myth that someone could come back from “life threatening” cancer and perform at the top level of human performance.
I bought the books, supported companies that sponsored him and praised Big Tex as a super hero who could come back from the brink of death and conquer cancer and the sport of cycling to my cycling and non-cycling friends alike.
What a great story. What a pile of shit.
Call me gullible but I wanted to believe it was true. Especially when somebody very close to me was fighting his own futile battle against cancer. “Look at Lance, you can do it.”
Reality started to hit me when I was at a home medical supplies trade show and a triathlete who also happened to be a cancer specialist was taking me to task for my praise of Lance Armstrong. She explained that the cancer he was diagnosed with and at the stage he was diagnosed with had a success rate in the 90’s. An easily treatable cancer when caught when it was.
She also reminded me of positive B-Samples from the 1999 Tour de France that Armstrong’s powerful defense team had tossed on a technicality.
I continued to watch Armstrong win Tour after Tour in a manner that revolutionized racing Grand Tours and made it hopelessly boring at the same time: command a team of bullies to ride at the front at such a furious pace that eliminates the excitement of attacking a bike race. Effective and dull. Yet I watched the subsequent victories that would come.
Eventually my suspicions began to grow. He never had a jour sans. While he stood atop the podium, others in the top 5 had been revealed as dopers in each and every Tour he won. Was he that much better an athlete or simply better at hiding an ugly truth?
When questioned about doping his retort was the standard “I’m the most tested athlete alive and never tested positive.”
Fact is, he had. In 1999.
He had also admitted to running on hot sauce when he was diagnosed with cancer as was revealed when Team mate Frankie Andrieu testified under sworn oath.
Now, with the noose tightening and 10 of his former team mates on record including his faithful lieutenant George Hincapie it looks like Lance Armstrongs’ luck has run out. He’s run out of people to lie to and those to whom he’d included in his lies are now speaking out.
He’s got nowhere to run and has given up fighting the charges against him that will prove to be his downfall. What will follow will be a pathetic fall from grace resulting in the demise of his public persona and his financial empire.
It’s the end of both an era and a charade.
As cyclists what can we do?
Go to your local weekend race and race for baked goods and homemade medals.
Go ride a local century or get a kid, a new cyclist excited about riding a bike.
Racing bicycles for sums of money has always resulted in cheating and has built a culture of cheating in the sport but it looks like we may be at a turning point. For that, I am hopeful.
Maybe Lance Armstrong giving up the fight against him (face it, if the 10 who testified had the opportunity to speak, he’d be done) is a turning point for cycling.
The worst doper in history has folded his cards.
Maybe we can just move on now.