This topic is beyond thinking or writing about, but I just can't help myself, and felt like putting down some thoughts in black and white. Heck this is my blog after all, and it's really my style to write about something that has been said a thousand times and whose topic has been completely exhausted. I've come to accept that I am mostly a day late and a dollar short...
I have always maintained Lance doped. Even when it really wasn't popular saying so. Being French didn't help when saying so. It wasn't an emotional opinion. In no way did I hate the guy. And I never condemned him for doing so either. It was to me what was just an obvious conclusion. It was how things were being done and how results were attained. He raced against people who doped so he needed to dope as well, and of course vice versa!
The simple fact was that there was no way he could be so much stronger of a cyclist while being clean compared to racers who doped. It seemed physically impossible to be able to drop the competition so dramatically when they were chemically enhanced, especially on those long climbs after several tough stages. He had to be enhanced himself.
I even had my conspiracy theory about Lance. We all know there is just too much money involved in sports at the professional level (wish some of that would trickle over to mtb!). Way to much. Cycling was not getting a big enough slice of that cash cow, especially here in the United States, and was loosing ground. It was following the route of Tennis. The sport needed a Cinderella story that the world could fall head over heels over. Cycling needed a story of overcoming based on America's favorite recipe: a story of the come- back kid, who picked himself up from the bootstraps after so many hurdles, and becomes the best. Inject that story in the world of cycling, and the cash will start pouring in. I know I am going over the deep end here by saying this, but I would not be totally surprised if, in 2033 Oprah does a follow up w/ Lance, where he come clean about never having had any cancer at all. As someones else said (and I am paraphrasing here), "you have to be totally out of your mind to mess w/ performance enhancing drug if you have just recovered from Cancer". I am not saying he faked it, but am saying I wouldn't be totally shocked either.
But this isn't about me saying I told you so.
I love the excitement Lance brought to the TDF and his no prisoner attacks (though he at odd times let others take the win). I have all the DVD's from 1999 to 2006 and they are so great to watch on the trainer. I can watch them over and over again and they get me pumped up every time I watch them.
But what I love most about Lance is what he did for Cycling in the USA. Europeans have mostly always respected cyclists and you can feel safe there sharing with traffic a narrow road. My first serious ride there was outside of Foix in France at the base the of the Pyranees mountains. I was riding a small hilly and twisty but busy road, and cars were really pilling up behind me. I tried to hug the wall as close as I could to give them space to pass, but no one tried. No one honked. No yelled for me to get on the sidewalk. Once the road was straight, which took a little while to get to, then people passed me, all giving me ample space. No one swore at me, threw empty beer cans, flipped me off, or tried to use the fenders of their pick up truck to push me into the ditch. Most smiled as I thanked them.
|Foix Castle in France|
Now of course there is a certain low IQ quotient which still refuses to sees that the road doesn't solely belong to them and that swerving out of the way is in fact not a huge burden (they probably also bitch about having to pay taxes for those roads), but the point is that in my personal experience (I haven't actually looked to see if there is data available out there - I am sure there is), I feel that many drivers are now more willing to give me a little extra space on the road. And I firmly believe Lance is to be thanked for that little extra space and respect I get on the road!
But this isn't a love Lance fest either.
Sadly in his, and other cyclist's doping accusation process, what Lance ultimately showed about himself, of the man behind the accomplishments, is that he is a giant Asshole. There is really no need to detail any of it as that has really been beaten to death, and there are plenty of great articles out there that detail how he was someone whose ego got too big and too comfortable w/ how large it had become. So I am torn about Lance. There is so much I appreciate he has done, but it's really being overshadowed by how much of dick he is. And I am someone who cares more about "how" someone is than "what" they have done.
So when he is on Oprah, what I hope he gets, what I hope he apologizes for, and attempts to make amends for, is not that he took, like all his fellow competitors, some performance enhancing drugs, but rather that he acted like a giant douche bag. I think most of the cycling community has forgiven (or never cared to begin with) about the drugs. It's the man I want to like. I love the accomplishments already, but now just want to like the guy too. And I am willing to do that if he is just willing to be sorry for being such a dick about it!