Big news, people: I am officially renouncing my fandom of Lance Armstrong. Ooh, yes, spread the word, reblog the story, and clasp your face in awe. Rumor has it that Mr. Armstrong himself is preparing to make a direct public appeal groveling for my appreciation back. Well, in anticipation of such a touching gesture, I will say Mr. Armstrong, just to save you even further public flak: nope. You’re not getting admiration back from me or anyone else.
Maybe it’s old news at this point and maybe people will still hold whatever preconception they had. But mine is a story of a longtime Lance Armstrong fan turned by the shameful information that has come to light… and it saddens me to say so.
I have admired Lance since I was nine. I reveled in every Tour de France victory he claimed. I was at serious odds with myself while pouring through the USADA report a couple weeks ago. Surely Lance still achieved a great deal, right? Even if the man was drugged, wasn’t the idea still there, that Armstrong brand of overcoming all odds to beat the impossible?
No. Think about it: Lance was indeed a very hard worker. But so were many of the men in the pelotons he challenged. What gave him the push? What was the extra boost that repeatedly put him above the others? What was the very pedestal he stood upon that exalted Lance into the fame that made him known? Drugs.
Drugs made the man and the idea. Thus, Lance Armstrong is a fraud in whole and in part.
Many have known of cycling’s dark side, that nearly every big name from Ulrich, Pantani, and Heras to Landis, Klöden, and Basso have all been caught up in doping scandals of one degree or another. But we could scarcely imagine it reached as high as the patron saint of the yellow jersey. If you want a genuine example of fortitude on a bicycle, Look
In the wake of this scandal, it is actually Greg LeMond who has called for the resignation of UCI leaders, even calling for a fundamental restructuring of the sport. If the corruption is as deep as LeMond indicates, maybe the sport is in need of a restart.
Some say that they knew all along or at least suspected. Of course they say this now; better that they had at least some kind of drop on the whole scandal than admit to being conned like everyone else. Even those who really did suspect him from the start were not actually wise to the scheme. That’s what made the doping program a “success”.
The cry of hypocrisy rings in our minds like a headache. Lance seemed an honest man who wanted to win by the rules. Then again, what better veneer to hide behind?
The USADA’s report is too extensive and scientifically thorough to ignore. Go ahead; pick your favorite part of Lance’s Tour de France career and read about it in the report (linked below.) Tyler Hamilton made a courageous appearance on 60 minutes wherein the former teammate exposed the Armstrong doping circle, revealing a shockingly treacherous side of professional cycling. Many have risked their careers and reputations to finally ensure that the world knows the case against this icon of athetics.
The evidence is mounting and creates a slope even Lance cannot tackle.
Maybe he became too seduced by the devilish promise of “an extra boost”, maybe he was a Faustian victim to the Mephistopheles of professional cycling demands, or maybe his belief in victory (to him, a justification for whatever means) was the true demon. The frustrating part is Lance sort of won. We can catch and punish him, strip him of his titles, and oust him for a fraud, but he still enjoyed over a decade of fairly unchallenged glory and fame.
The solution for us, Lance Armstrong’s former believers, is not to let his name be stricken from our minds. Do not even shackle it to his misdeeds but remember the man who survived cancer, provided charity to many other cancer patients, and worked very hard to be nevertheless a damn good cyclist. Think about the determination that motivated both his incredible cycling and unfortunate doping.
But let Lance Armstrong’s name be forever stained.
Let his legacy be seen only as clean as the body he drove through those seven tours. Let the drugs that boosted him above his competitors course virulently through the syllables of his once honored name. He could cheat the sport and lie about it, but he cannot cheat the truth.
USADA’s report on Lance Armstrong’s doping history in the Tour de France:
Washington Post coverage of Greg LeMond’s call for UCI leader resignation:
Tyler Hamilton’s appearance on 60 minutes revealing the Armstrong doping circle: