Let me start by saying I really don’t like cycling. I blame Lance Armstrong for a lot of cycling’s popularity. I think the skin tight bike clothes look ridiculous. I am sick of being blocked by packs of cyclists riding as a “team” in the middle of the road on an uphill stretch of two-lane highway with a double yellow line at 40mph below the speed limit. I am tired of the occasional (but still too frequent) cyclist darting out in front of my car from some alley or side-street without looking. I don’t mind people who ride their bikes to get where they’re going…but I despise cyclists. There is a difference. It is in the attitude, the gear, & the superiority complex they exude.
That all said, I also hate the way people in this country love to tear down the very people we build up.
Do you remember when Armstrong was winning all those titles he was later stripped of? Half the country was kissing his backside. Expensive bikes and yellow jerseys were flying off the shelves. Every overly patriotic redneck was talking about good ol’ ‘Merica & how we showed them French. It was enough to make one vomit in one’s mouth a little.
Then, thanks to Bob Costas turning every story about sports into a personal story of triumph over adversity (because, ratings), the media seized upon the fact that this champion was a cancer survivor. And so cancer survivors and fighters elevated him from the status of great athlete to hero. Lance created his foundation, everyone got those yellow rubber bracelets, & suddenly a guy who won a bike race was seriously being considered for important political positions, hanging out with movie stars, marrying famous musicians, getting his GTO restored on Overhaulin’.
The accusations of doping were already made, but it was just jealous riders and the French who couldn’t stand that an American dominated their race. You could almost hear the chants of, “USA! USA!” as no evidence was produced and the door was closed.
And later, more allegations arose. This time, a lab said they had found evidence of doping years later. Tests they couldn’t run at the time. And they were dismissed as planted. But the door was now cracked open.
Then the affidavits from the fellow former team members. Suddenly, public opinion turned. He was guilty. People were now streaming through the wide-open door.
Finally, the confession. The outrage. The betrayal. Lance Armstrong was no hero, he was a liar, & a cheat. He used all the hopes of these cancer survivors to increase his fame and he didn’t do anything remarkable or to give them hope.
Or did he? He did start his foundation (Livestrong) which has become a very good resource for people fighting cancer. That by itself is enough to make him not the evil bastard everyone has made him out to be. He also stepped down as the head of that foundation to save it. I view that website regularly for tips on my own continuing fight.
Now let’s get into the notion that he caused cancer fighters to have false hope. That by doping for the races he was portraying a false vision of recovery from this awful classification of diseases. That notion is, quite frankly, bullshit.
The guy almost died, then used his experience to win one of the most difficult events in sport AGAINST PEOPLE JUST AS DOPED AS HE WAS WHO NEVER HAD TO BEAT CANCER. If everyone in that race didn’t use drugs, would he have won? Who knows? I sure as hell don’t. But that wasn’t the case, and he knew that. He took a drug or drugs that almost every rider in those races were suspected of taking, and beat them all handily, AFTER recovering from cancer. I don’t care if someone in a race known for doping since its inception was doped.
And here is a newsflash: In any sport or athletic competition that you can watch on TV, there is cheating, and a lot of cheating using drugs.
So hate Lance Armstrong for his arrogance, his attacks on those who tried to tell the truth about him, but don’t hate him for being a juiced up guy who beat cancer and dominated a race against a bunch of other juiced up guys who did not have to beat cancer.
But by all means, go ahead and hate cyclists.