|Photo originally owned by Livestrong. For illustration purposes only.|
Monday, January 14, 2013
Lance Armstrong Confesses to Cheating.
Without adding to much color to the situation, I wanted to write an article about the days events, when an anonymous source heard Lance Armstrong confess that he used performance enhancing supplements to Oprah Winfrey. What does a confession mean for the retired 7 time Tour De France champion? Is this confession genuine or the result of legal compromise and breaking a man down?
It's safe to say that with 25 eye witnesses willing to testify against him in a grand jury, this confession, whether sincere or not (only Lance knows if he truly cheated) would have come sooner or later. Hopefully, it comes at a time when he has arranged a plea deal not to be thrown in prison for perjury. As a married man with kids to look after, I would really feel for Lance if he had to go to prison. Along with the confession there will be a slew of lawsuits coming his way from different media companies and some who may have donated to his charitable organization. Lance has sued media companies in the past for libel on his accusations of doping, and some of these companies will be eager to place counter lawsuits in retaliation. I hope his charitable organization is protected to the fullest extent of the law from any prosecution, whether public violations or private lawsuits.
Lance Armstrong will have to pay the millions he earned from the tours that he won. On top of that, he will have to pay millions more in possible lawsuits. What would I have done if I were Lance Armstrong? I would have left the country two and a half years ago, as soon as I was acquitted of the first trial and set up a Swiss bank account and declared bankruptcy in the U.S. I would have stuck a fork in my cycling career and just be happy to be a middle aged man raising my kids, teaching them some foreign language. I would have eventually become a citizen of that country so as to make extradition for a second trial virtually impossible. Of course, Lance did none of that. He decided to stick around, and I admire his courage for that. That may have also become his downfall.
Readers of my blog know that I follow Lance and I am one of his biggest fans. Will I lose any sleep over this? No. Has doping tarnished my impression of Lance? Absolutely not. Is he still one of the greatest, if not the greatest athlete of all time? To the dismay of the USADA and all the other haters, absolutely yes. His name will be remembered alongside Coppi, Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, and yes, even Lemond. Some might say that is stubborn thinking. But I am more disillusioned in the way Lance was prosecuted to reach such a final outcome. I found the scare tactics used disgusting. I am also disillusioned at the world of competitive cycling. It was never my scene to begin with, but as a fairly faster than average cyclist in my peak of fitness (18-19mph average speed with a 32mph sprint, on an aluminum bike) I thought I had a chance of at least shaking up the local race classifications where I live. Knowing that even on the local level guys are probably using steroids or some other stimulant, just so they can win $200 or a T-shirt in a category 5 race, shows me how egotistical and elitist the world of competitive cycling has become. Not to mention that competitive cycling, even at an amateur level, can be a money trap of constantly upgrading your race bike. There has even been a new market that was propped up all thanks to Lance Armstrong. The high end bicycle and "sports nutrition" industries in the U.S have flourished thanks to the hopes that Lance Armstrong gave. As he goes down, he takes all these people down with him. But not cycling. The progress that the U.S has made in only the last few years to give commuting cyclists a place on the road is noticeable and should be respected. These cyclists are not Lance Armstrong. They are our new generation of cyclists. People that have left the idea behind them that go can't go anywhere without a car. These people are fathers, sons, husbands and wives. These people deserve equal treatment on the roads as well as their lives respected.
If Lance somehow escapes the dark cloud of persecution that is about to overtake him, I hope Lance devotes his free time to more strongly advocating commuting by bicycle. He needs to put on a Waltz cap, grow out his beard, ride a bike in jeans and wear a beer bottle opener on his belt buckle. He needs to come down to our level. Ditch the carbon, the Lycra, and the $10,000 bike. Just ride a little, laugh a little, have fun, and stand up for the real cyclists who are actually trying to make a difference. My heart goes out to Lance, he is still my hero, and he can still be a hero to everyone else.