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I’ve sat back and watched this Lance Armstrong saga play out over the past three days and refuse to join in on the lynch mob that’s taking place in the media. Although I shouldn’t be surprised, I find it astonishing the same media who were blowing sunshine up Lance’s backside all those years are the same ones pumping out as many negative headlines as they can now that he can’t hurt them.
No, I’m not delusional and I’m convinced that Lance did whatever he needed to do behind the scenes to win seven tours (doping, corruption, intimidation). He needed to be exposed even though it’s “bad for business”. Just as all of his Tours were won with smart tactics and a good team around him, taking the advice not to contest the charges was the wisest strategic decision he could have made for his own legacy.
This will have been all for nothing if the investigation and media circus ends with Lance. Lance has nothing to do with cycling anymore but there are a lot of people still deeply involved in cycling who were part of corruption which goes far beyond the doping that took place. Unless the UCI demonstrates their accountability towards the situation they need to be exposed as as a body unfit to govern professional cycling.
Because of the relentlessness of USADA, Lance Armstrong is being made an example of which I hope will make the pros today think twice before sticking a needle in their arm. The more I read about doping incidents and witness unbelievable performances, the closer I come to becoming one of those jaded cycling fans who overwhelm my twitter feed.
While I comfortably sit here with the luxury of being a fan and riding my bike for fun, I applaud the efforts of USADA and everyone else sitting behind the scenes who does the dirty work to make cycling as clean as it can be. Including those jaded fans who now have a voice thanks to social media.
What it means to me
We can talk until we’re blue in the face about if he doped or not, the ethical dilemma of Livestrong raising $500M under a false pretenses (is it really such a bad charity?), and who should be awarded his Tour titles. Those are all complex topics that nobody has answers to. From my perspective, I ask myself these simple questions: Am I angry at Lance for being the one who inspired me to get into road cycling which has rewarded me with such an incredible life? Do I regret giving my mother an inspiring story to read when she was dying of cancer? Does any of this diminish my memories of all the times I was jumping off the couch in excitement while watching the Tour de France from 1999-2005? No, no and no.
There’s a lot more to cycling than professional racing, but it does play an important role. It fuels the passion for my own cycling and enriches the sport itself with stories and emotions that makes cycling so incredible. This is why it’s important that professional cycling stays healthy and credible, and I’d like to believe it’s in a better spot than it was a few years ago. But I’ve said that before…
Over the past few days I’ve had some brief chats with my mates during rides about everything that’s going on with Lance Armstrong. Shoulders are shrugged and the conversation quickly moves on to more positive things. The inspiration that Lance once provided isn’t the end of cycling and there are lots of exciting things happening at the grassroots and professional level. Cyclocross is BOOMING in Australia, Amy’s Gran Fondo is around the corner (there are still a few spots left), the Vuelta is giving us the awesome racing action that we missed at the TdF, Jay McCarthy won the prologue of the Tour de ‘Avenir, the Baby Cyclones topped the medal table at the Junior World Track champs in New Zealand last week. I could go on and on…
The future is bright for cycling and while this Lance Armstrong saga provides an interesting soap opera to follow, I can only say that he’s brought positive things to my life and I won’t lose sight of that, even if it’s not the popular position at the moment. As someone said to me the other day, “now that we all know that Santa Clause is not for real, we can all get back to enjoying Christmas.”