'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

23 October 2012

Ok, Lance Doped

It's been all the bicycle news for a while now. The USADA (US Anti Doping Agency) came out with it's report on Lance Armstrong and the US Postal/Discovery Channel bicycling teams and his 7 Tour De France wins. USADA said they found

 "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen" Here's the full text of the findings.

USADA banned Lance for life and stripped him of all his results from 1999 to 2005. Lance chose not to appeal the ruling. Caught up in the mess were many current or retired riders of some fame and accomplishment such as Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie.

Now the UCI has formally stripped Lance of his TDF victories.

The fallout is now getting ugly. Lance has stepped down as the head of the Livestrong Foundation and his sponsors, including Trek, Nike and Radioshack have dropped him like a spent nuclear fuel rod costing him an estimated 35 million dollars in endorsements. Some supporters are asking for their money back and there's talk that the race promoters of the races he won may sue him to get back their payouts. Millions more. Long time sponsors are dropping out.

The biggest hit may be the Cancer research work the Livestrong Foundation supports if donations fall off in light of the revelations on doping.

I am an avid cyclist. I love the sport and follow professional cycling. I know the players and the history and it's a very seedy history indeed. Doping has been an issue for decades. How bad has it been? The UCI, the governing body for the Tour De France, will vacate Lance's wins rather than awarding new winners. Why? Because virtually every other podium winner (Second and Third places) has also been either caught or suspected of doping. To say the UCI didn't know or couldn't have discovered what was happening is Ostrich thinking. The UCI needed Armstrong's wins because the sport was basically maxed out in Europe and the US was wide open and the only real way to grow the sport. That is exactly what happened by the way. A 7 time American winner caused the sport to explode on the North American continent.

There is nothing new in any of this. If you follow any professional sport you will see the same or at least similar. Hell, my own team, the SF Giants, felt the pain of this issue just this year when their number one hitter, Melki Cabrera, got caught juicing. Cycling doesn't have the Performance Enhancing Drugs market all to themselves. They're just in the spotlight at the moment. Not excusing anything, just providing a little perspective because where there's fame and lots and lots of money to be made there will be those who will do anything to get it. Including abject cheating.

What happens now? I watched this years TDF and what I saw strongly suggests that the sport is finally getting a hand on doping. The racing was close, tight and had multiple winners. Just the look on the riders faces was enough to convince me they were suffering mightily. There were no "Superhuman" efforts where a rider simply rode away from everyone else and won a hard stage easily. No one looked head and shoulders better than everyone else. Lots of crashes because the racing was NASCAR like in it's intensity and parity. Anyone could win on any day. An even playing field.

But that's not at the heart of this Lance Armstrong mess. The good work of the Livestrong Foundation is far, far more important than the sport and certainly anyone associated with it. Including a certain former 7 time champion. It's proper to castigate Armstrong personally and maybe even the sport generally but it's unfair to place that same taint on the foundation he helped create. They are raising money for the necessary work being done to find a cure for the scourge of Cancer and the actions by one deceitful and greedy man should not reflect on them. That's what pisses me off the most, that he would risk so much good for his own self aggrandizement.

Yes, I will put away my yellow bracelet. I have now lost any respect I ever had for Lance Armstrong and those who chose to follow him down that dark road. I will mourn for the loss of an American 7 time winner but will take heart that the next generation is coming on and they're racing clean and fast. And if not then I'm Ok with that. the world does not turn on the outcomes of professional sports. My Giants may win the World series and they may lose. Either way my life will go on as before. If the sport of professional cycling ended today I would be unaffected other than a sense of sadness when racing season comes around. We can live without it and them, any of them.

What some of us cannot live without is life saving cancer treatments and the doctors, nurses and researchers who make such a difference in so many lives. I urge you to remember that and forget those who do us all a dishonor by cheating, whatever the sport or pursuit. I promise you that those who raised money in Kilted To Kick Cancer did so without the slightest chemical enhancement. Adult beverages absolutely. Steroids no.

I will continue to ride and follow those teams and riders I like and respect and I will forget the name Lance Armstrong as if he had never existed. I will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation because of what they do, not who's name is on the stationary. I will fight like Susan. My mother's struggle was life and death and the actions of one man, or a host of men, will not mar what she endured.

Because life is so much more important than the cheaters.


                                             Steroids? Never heard of 'em.


agirlandhergun said...

I never really liked him. Something about him always gave me a slimy feeling, but I think all this stripping him of medals and dropping him as a spokesman is a tad bit hypocritical.

As you point out, all these people knew he was doping, turned a blind eye, profited etc. To now act outraged is too much for me to stomach. Especially those who want their donations back. He in no way misled anyone on cancer and your money should have been going to the cure and not because you worshipped a guy in a yellow shirt.

Six said...

Absolutely Girl. Perfectly said.