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As the sheet begins to be removed form Lance Armstrong and his decade-long tornado of deceit and narcissistic, arrogant life, I have had literally 20-30 different people ask me my opinion. I have been involved in cycling for the bulk of my life and it is still very close to my heart. I am no expert but simply love the competition, training and the simple elegance of a bicycle. So, here it is...my thought(s) of the whole mess.
First, yes, cycling culture has a LONG history of PED's (performance enhancing drugs - primarily blood transfusions, and amphetamines. Add to that testosterone, cortisone, and EPO and we come full circle. Any time sickening sums of money are involved, legitimacy and honor are out the door. Any advantage that can be gained, legaly or otherwise, will be exploited. Yes, most (not all) professional cyclists use drugs to either gain an advantage or simply, keep up with everyone else. The practice is so common, it is accepted as part of the "game"...no questions asked. While this does not make the practice right or even border on fairness, cycling culture dictates...if you want to keep your job, you have to be good and that means doing whatever it takes to keep youself at the top of the game. Most of these athletes will justify using drugs by virtue of leveling the playing field.
Lance Armstrong has done fabulous things with his rise to fame and fortune. The Livestrong Foundation, no question, has benefitted hundreds of thousands so far and potentially untold millions in the future with its support of reaserch and inspiration. Additionally, he has brought a historically European sport to America. For this, he is to be applauded. But at what cost has he done this? He has trampled and ruined multitudes of lives in has drive to be at the top. With fame and the means to augment his agenda, he has destroyed ANYONE in HIS way...no matter what. He wants to frame the narrative of his past and future. I do not feel he is at all remorseful. He now comes forward, again, for emapthy and a chance to compete again. Self-serving at best.
I have NEVER been a fan of his. I knew early that he is a sociopath. His start was in triathlon and he gained a reputation then as a ruthless tyrant that will stop at NOTHING to get what he wants. The veil has been lifted and now everyone sees the true side of him so many have touted for so long. In this path, he has trodded over people that told the truth when all along he was the one that lied. He just had more money and influence by which to navigate the obsticles. Any clear thinking cyclist knows the pain and suffering that accompany this beautiful sport. Noone with the type of cancer that destroyed his lungs could perform at this level without "help". Even his most staunch allies have to now recognize their folly in supporting him.
If nothing else, we now hopefully have a cleaner sport. There will always be those who cheat the system and never get caught. But only now can there be serious dialogue in bringing fair play back to its proper positioning on the field of bicycle racing (and all sports). As an ameteur, we are tested as well in bicycle races. Perhaps it is that I know too much about the possible side effects that makes me question the desire to use these drugs. After all, I have, by the nature of my job, EPO, testosterone, cortisone, etc. easily available at any time. I guess the desire has to be there too. I like to win, but not at that cost to my consciousness and body.
Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. ~Mark Twain
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame. -B.F
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