This is day 6 of the A-Z challenge. Read other A-Z posts here.
I’m not going to write about Lance Armstrong.* I already did.
I’m not going to write about the cognitive dissonance and willing ignorance among his supporters.
I won’t mention the mindless partisanship, parrot-like repetition of talking points, or incomprehensible and twisted logic employed by Armstrong and his echo-chamber.
I am going to leave it alone.
I’ve written about Lance Armstrong, doping, and why I think the USADA investigation is important. My feelings haven’t changed. Yours probably haven’t either. And maybe that’s part of the problem. I’m not sure that a full confession from Armstrong would change the minds of his most ardent supporters. Indeed, if such a confession did happen, Lance’s supporters would claim that it was due to Travis Tygart’s coercion, bullying, and blackmail, no doubt.
And yet, here we are. Lance Armstrong is about to be entirely undone.
Like he never happened.
But he did happen.
And like the home run records of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa, Lance Armstrong’s fraudulent Tour victories can’t simply be erased from history. They happened. We ought to use them as reminders of how ridiculous we can be (as people, as cycling fans) when hero-worship, human-aggrandizement, and a total loss of perspective cloud our ability to see and hear.
As I watched the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge yesterday, I wondered if anything that had happend in the race was real. Was Jens Voigt’s solo break-away fueled by passion, agression, and the best legs in cycling? Or was something more sinister responsible? What about Rory Sutherland on Flagstaff? Or Christian Vande Velde’s race-winning time trial in Denver?
And no, I’m not accusing these men of cheating. But the culture of the sport is so sullied that it is impossible not to wonder about everyone. Every inspiring performance, every courageous attack, and every foolhardy breakaway is going to elicit suspicion as much as admiration. Is anyone clean?
I hope so.
But if they aren’t, the truth will out.
Lance Armstrong was a great bike racer. He is an amazing athlete. But he is also a fraud.
The sooner that we can all come to terms with that, the sooner we can move beyond him (and his gigantic self-absorbing ego) and into the future of cycling. I’m far more interested in the careers of Tejay van Garderen, Joe Dombrowski, Taylor Phinney, and Ian Boswell, than I am in the death of Lance Armstrong Inc. However, it is important that we root out the fetid details of the Lance Era. It’s important to purge the sport of its liars and crooks and cronies. Cycling has been overtaken by bureaucrats, corrupt to the core. It’s time we—cyclists—take it back.
The future of professional bike racing is salvageable. We can turn that future into the greatest triumph in sports history, if we are willing. Riders will have to be courageous and outspoken, team directors, candid and transparent, and nefarious doctors, banished. Those who have hindered the emergence of a clean peloton (like Lance Armstrong, and the leadership of the UCI) need to be dismissed from the sport without pomp or circumstance. They are no longer welcome. We can remake professional cycling. It does not have to be the drug-laden farce that it’s been for so long.
Which do we love more: cycling, or celebrity?
It’s our sport. So let’s start owning it.
*Damn it! I got pulled into doing it again!