When I heard the Armstrong news last night, I started thinking, then started to get a little emotional...and I think I know why.
I've obviously known he's been doping for years, this changes nothing and is nothing new.*Since probably 2007 I've felt nothing but mild contempt for the guy (especially as everyone realized what a jerk he can be). Most of us knew the score, regardless whether he ever got nailed. But the process has been so drawn out.*This had a feeling of finality to it, which made my mind start wandering.
It wandered back to around 4th grade, following *that 1999 tour just as I was beginnig to really get into cycling..riding around the neighborhood as fast as I could on my bright red kids bike (with the coaster brake!)
Then I remembered doing yard work all summer to save up for a trek road bike like lance had, only to be told at the bike shop that my $275 wasn't quuiiiite enough, and settling for an on sale mountain bike instead.*
But I still rode it all over while pretending I was racing, pretending that the hill up the street was a legendary alpine climb. All the while wearing a yellow t-shirt to pretend I was like Lance, winning the tour. I practiced my victory salutes at the "summit".
Every July, in 4th grade...5th grade...and on, I'd wake up early those three weeks and run down to the computer, refreshing the live text updates from that day's stage. I was always dying to see who would win, and how Lance was doing. Those names became legendary to me...Lance, Hincapie Ullrich, Beloki, Pantini, Zable, and so on.
But they all doped.
The news tonight made me think about back then. About how exciting I found all that. How inspired I was. And then, how devastated my 4th grade self would be today.
I understand the realities of doping, especially in that era, and I recognize the the motivations for athletes to do so. But last night I was reminded how beautiful and joyful the sport can be, unencumbered by the (rightful)*cynicism that accompanies it today.
Sorry for the rambling (and for any typos, smartphone keypads are unforgiving...)
Well, those guys rode the races. They put in the hard work and endured the pain. I didn't. So who really knows what kind of pressure the cycling world put on these guys to be the best? Would I have succumbed had I seen some potential to win a race? Maybe.
This won't change my mind about these guys, especially what LA was able to achieve. It was superhuman anyway you look at it. These guys are human, and as humans, we all make mistakes, but our lapses weren't so public. They weren't laid out to the whole world. Our lapses didn't cause so much wide-spread pain to so many. This is the price we pay for holding mere humans up to such a high standard, a standard that we could never really attain. So I won't knock Lance when he is down. I'll look back and remember what he gave us. He was motivation for us all...
Lance was, is, and will probably always be a dick. That's why so many are reveling at the latest news.
Though they say they think it good for cycling, what they really mean: Lance's problems are good for
them. I don't care for the guy; I believe he did dope. But this is in no way good for pro cycling.
A guy like Lance, put in that situation where it was dope or lose, he never really had any other choice.
He rode his bike, he was good at it, and he ended up stuck in middle of the dope storm that was pro cycling at the time - where winning is everything and everyone who can't is anonymous and broke. So he did the only thing he could, he played to win.
To me, you don't win 3 week stage races because you doped...you win because of the preparation, the team, the strategy and the luck. I think doping plays a negligible part in a TDF, Giro or Vuelta win.
the team: everyone in the team dopes except for Lance.
the stategy: have your doped up teammates help you through the mountains.
the luck: no-one on the team got popped during the tours.
In actuality, Lance competed on a level field. He was must better than anyone else. Had they all been clean, I think the results would have been the same. 1999 - 2005 is Lance and always will be for me.
I heard the reaction from a guy on the radio this evening: "I don't believe it! It lance was doping then they all were!"
That's what I think too.
A wise man (wiser than me, anyway) said: "There are three components to elite athletics: Physiological, psychological, and pharmacological."
He was doping, and so were the rest... anyone who had a chance to win, anyway.
I'm not a big fan of Lance Armstrong, but I do respect his accomplishment. I have my doubts, but in fact, he was and is the most tested athlete in history. How does he not have one positive test? What does that say about the governing body's ability to detect performance enhancing substances and techniques? They are comfortable ruining Armstrong based on what? Third party testimony? It doesn't seem fair or that Armstrong is getting due process. It's like he is considered guilty until proven innocent.
We'll never know if LA was doping or not, or to what extent, or to what effect, but we do know something. The process is unacceptably flawed. To have all the testing done immediately after races, and throughout the careers, and have those tests come out negative, then way down the road say there was doping is patently ridiculous (I'm not saying there wasn't).
If failing tests proves doping, then passing them should be acceptable proof of not doping, otherwise why bother with the tests in the first place. I don't care what happens to LA since whatever happens people will either believe he won those races or they won't and what USADA does won't change anything. But we should take a long hard look at USADA, and how they do business, and if they cannot get their act together, consider disbanding it and replacing it with a more clearly defined process.
my contempt for the pro-cyclists, trying to earn a living off of their bodies while they can with rules so arbitrary that the only thing keeping them from getting busted is luck (if they're "clean") or awesome chemistry (if they're not), is nothing compared to my contempt for the ADA system. Their existence is based entirely on busting people- not on how clean they make the sports. Their abuse of authority and vindictiveness is only limited by their need to keep from totally destroying the sports they claim to be "saving." The ends of cleaning up Olympic sanctioned sports do not justify WADA's means.
I totally believe that Armstrong was living better through chemistry- otherwise the French would have busted him for something stupid. I don't know if or by how far he crossed the line into doping and will never know but there is a huge difference between what I believe and what USADA can prove- and they better be able to prove their accusations and not to CAS but to Texas civil court because I very much doubt his libel threat was an idol one.
Also, Lance claimed that the USADA was not allowing due process, but a US federal judge disagreed.
*I doubt there is one top-ranked racer from the past 20 years who did not use some sort of PED. The riders at the end of the 19th century were dop0ed to the gills on cocaine and numerous other things... whatever they thought would give them an edge. I think Lance was the strongest rider on the strongest team during his wins, as they were on a level playing field.
I don't think he doped- He was tested and never came back positive. Everyone here acts like everyone in cycling takes performance enhancers. I don't think that is true. I raced USCF 14 seasons a long time ago- there's always been talk of pros doping- many have been tested and been caught. That's why they test. If he was tested again and again for stimulants and never tested positive, I don't see how ANY speculative testimony could convict him otherwise- it's all conjecture, and it could all be motivated by money or some kinds of grudge. This isn't due process, it's nonsense.
Cocaine? I did coke once before a short criterium- not to improve my performance, but because I was traveling with a girl and it was a holiday and just for partying kicks. Not a whole lot- it's EXPENSIVE. It was hot that day-in the 90's and I liked to have died- Felt REALLY BAD- not good for the heat at all- It was long before Len Bias, the basketball player who died of heart failure on coke.
I don't know much about doping these days- if they can really test for steroids. I noticed the term "Blood doping" was being bantered about in the L.A. Times- I'm not sure we're even all talking about the same thing. Back in the day 'Blood doping" was not using stimulants- that was just plain "doping" "Blood doping" was taking one's own blood before an event- and usually an event at high altitude, and, with a centrifuge, skimming off only the red cells, that carry oxygen, and then injecting that back in- the effect to carry more oxygen in the blood. I think back in the '70's it was illegal but undetectable, so there were always rumors, mostly about the Olympics and the Pros- it's a complicated thing.
Is this part of the charges? Dunno. Can't tell from the sketchy news articles, and haven't followed it for years.
I think there is something else going on here- sounds almost like extortion or blackmail, or someone wants to just make sensationalist example- which is sure a sign of these times!
It's too bad- I just hate to see due process so obviously stepped all over.
Check Page 2.