The Lance Armstrong Ending

Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Bike | 4 Comments

Lance Armstrong Doper

I can imagine that the True Believers in Lance Armstrong, and the True Believers in the May 21, 2011 rapture are feeling exactly the same this morning. Bewildered. Confused. Disappointed. Angry. And in denial. I pity anyone who is both an Armstrong, and a rapture acolyte.

From a must read article in Cycle Sport Magazine:

Armstrong had been diagnosed with cancer. Not only did he beat that disease, one that touches so many people directly or indirectly and so strikes a very real chord with all of us, but he came back and won the Tour de France. Not once but seven times. In a row.


It was a miracle. The sporting story of not just this generation but any generation. A Hollywood tale that wasn’t projected onto a silver screen but took place on the road – and you could go and watch. You could be part of it. You could yell in his ear and contribute in a small way to the drama.


What wasn’t there to like?


It was hardly surprising the sport of cycling and its authorities also rallied behind Armstrong. They saw the commercial success he had created, marvelled at the riches he attracted, and wanted to bathe in the trickle down.


And together we all allowed one man to dominate the sport, to its detriment. The Tour de France became the Tour de Lance. It was just a moderately amusing pun at first but soon it stood for more. No man is bigger than the sport, you say? Well, Armstrong came closest of all to being just that, certainly in the eyes of people who do not follow the season from Het Nieuwsblad to Lombardy.

Some say that this entire investigation is a joke. In a way, I agree. But I also find it fascinating, entertaining, and sad. It has the potential to reveal the greatest deception in sports history. Any sport. Any history. Nobody has captivated an audience like Lance Armstrong did. Nobody has inspired more fat, unhealthy, couch guardians to get up, spend $5,000 on cycling gear, and ride a bike. Nobody won 7 Tours. Nobody used those Tours to promote the fight against cancer like Armstrong did. His victories were not merely the pursuit of athletic excellence. They were crusades. He was a missionary, a holy warrior. And that mission made him into a saint, beyond reproach, question, and suspicion.

I bought into it. A little.

But charity work is hardly justification for cheating and lying and deception.

Armstrong’s claim of cleanliness started to erode when his staunchest rivals all tested positive for EPO and other substances. And then so did many of his teammates. Even if Lance is clean, he was aided and abetted by men who were not. That alone is enough to cast a dark cloud of doubt over those 7 yellow jerseys.

And then people started pointing fingers at Lance.

“Where’s the evidence” Lance Armstrong has repeatedly asked, “where is there evidence of doping?”


The yellow jerseys themselves are the greatest damnation of all.

In those 7 Tours there were 8 different riders (other than Armstrong) who stood on the podium. 7 of them are confirmed cheaters.

How did Lance Armstrong beat men who were using EPO, testosterone, and growth hormones? Somehow, I don’t think Chris Carmichael’s Train Right System had anything to do with those victories.

I find it alarming how quickly Lance Armstrong will absolutely destroy anyone who suggests he is a liar and cheater. And I mean anyone. Including random Twitter users. Want to get Lance Armstrong’s (or at least one of his staffers) attention? It’s easy. Just suggest on Twitter that he isn’t who he says he is. You’ll be blocked within the hour.

But men like Landis and Hamilton are publicly derided, their motives questioned, and their character maligned. Perhaps that kind of reaction is justified. But it isn’t endearing. I’d suspect that an athlete less self-obsessed would express sadness or regret when a man once considered a friend becomes an enemy. But Armstrong immediately dismisses the accusations, and the men making them, as fraudulent. The Posties are, much to Armstrong’s chagrin, not Greg Anderson.

And now we watch. And ride. Lance Armstrong is learning that cycling is bigger than he is. A lot bigger. And cycling, regardless of the fate of Lance Armstrong, will be fine. After all, we control its fate. We are cycling. We are cyclists.




  1. Reed
    May 23, 2011

    I think Lance is missing a pretty big opportunity here. He’s been a leader and figurehead in the sport. This is his chance to stand up with his teammates again and say, “Yep. We were dopers. Everyone was. It was a different time then. And now it’s time to clean up the sport. And I’m going to lead the charge.”

    I think most people would rally behind that.

    • Grizzly Adam
      May 23, 2011

      You might be right. People are supporting Tyler and Floyd and George.

  2. keith
    May 23, 2011

    I don’t care who’s supporting, accusing, investigating, etc. defrocked pro riders or those who may still be in the closet. I support MY team members, bearded or not. Those are they people I care about. If some Pros are gonna cheat well then how is that different than other sports figures in any sport you can name? It’s not, sure there are some clean athletes out there, but they are probably more of the exception than the rule. Whether past infractions or current practice it’s simply a piece of the puzzle most spectators seem quite willing to overlook, except the overly self-righteous cyclists of course. Convict them or leave them alone, dragging this out for years and years is getting tedious at best. It’s the $$ that drives behavior and until PresO forces this highly compensated individuals to take a cut in salary you are going to have people gaming the system. Just like medicare cheaters, government waivers for special interest groups and unions and all the rest. Taking down Lance won’t do much for the rest of us, but taking down Pelosi would have a more direct impact on the quality of life for everyone. Let’s focus on the BIG problems!

    • Grizzly Adam
      May 23, 2011

      I think systemic doping in cycling is a big problem. Our teammates and friends are some of the people MOST effected. Doping trickles down. Look at some of the local racers, and how far they’ve come. Guys that, 5 years ago, I was beating, are now racing in the Tour of Utah or national-level XC races. It’s fantastic. And I think they are doing it cleanly. Think what Keegan or Noah or Joseph or Tanner (and so on) might accomplish in the next 10 years. The future is bright for them. They are part of the next generation of great US cyclists.

      But I’d rather they not ever have to make the choice to dope or go home.

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