Lance. The one word household name that everyone recognizes still holds some powerful substance (pun intended) on and off the road, is about to tell all on Oprah; or almost all.
Monday, Lance Armstrong gave Oprah 21/2 hours to answer some of the most burning questions with a somewhat contrite heart, inwhich he hopes will rebuild his “brand”. Forget competing again at a professional level, this one is as they say, for all the marbles.
For those of us who were his fans for years before he rode for US Postal, to those cancer survivors that are around today because of the work he did with Livestrong, Thursday and Friday’s airings of the interview leave us little more than 72 hours to speculate on what he is really going to say, and of that, what he will actually mean.
But does it matter? Has drug testing in sports done enough damage that once people fall from the pedestal we put them on we irrevocably break what little contact we have had with them? Did we have any in the first place or was he just a figment of a much larger collaborative imagination because of the war he won against Cancer?
I put money on the fact that most of the people that are so drawn to this perturbed outcome probably never watched the Tour before Lance won his first and stopped watching when he retired. Face it World, we are the reason athletes cheat. We are the reason why the NFL hires 300+lb lineman that can crush in a side of a car and we are the reason why people can hit 600 homers in a season. Without these highlights, our lives would surely miss out on these games men play because we have better things to do: play our Modern Warfare 3 on the X-box, drink a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue while simultaneously buying cigars and ammunition for our assault rifles on the fastest internet money in the Western world can buy. Why watch a man pedal a bike up a hill over and over again when most of us can’t even pedal to the corner store to get a loaf of bread. It’s not even a sport, right Ron Borges?
He has been the most drug tested athlete of all time, and we still haven’t seen a positive sample. We have seen authorities in the European Cycling Union and Foreign journalists try to catch a sample of his piss so they can contaminate it and regain their beloved race from the brash American.
Hero to some, villain to others; but most of us see him as a normal guy with a given talent that he developed through years of hard work, overcame his own adversity, and conquered the world. Loved for years, i find it unrelentingly stupid that we automatically slam someone for something he hasn’t been found guilty of. USADA has no right taking away international titles from the man, that should be left up to the governing body.
Until Lance fesses up or is proven a cheat, my outlook on the man and his situation remain unchanged. Many want to emulate him on the bike; he helped reinvigorate cycling in the States all by his lonesome. He has helped raise over $470 Million since 1997 through Livestrong in the fight against cancer. In his book, he says he wants to be remembered not as a superhuman cyclist, but someone that helped slow down the death rate due to cancer. He did. No amount of apologizing should be accepted because of our inability to separate sport from real life. Sport is a part of life, but it’s not the whole kit and caboodle.
We are the ones that should be apologizing to people like Lance and Barry Bonds. Our indiscriminate appetite for performance has caused this car wreck. Now as the nation slows down to rubberneck at the crash site, only Lance alone really knows what happened (unless you believe this was a well coordinated doping program). If he wants to perjure himself, that is up to him but remember to give him a break. He is only human, but he still beat cancer and the French.
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