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THROWING STONES IN GLASS HOUSES....The Lance Armstrong Dilemma
First of all, let me say that I am not cycling expert. In my whole life, I have probably watched about 20 minutes of the Tour De France, which is probably, at a minimum, 18 more minutes than 90% of the readers. I can't explain the intricacies of the Peloton, and I wouldn't even begin to make myself look even more foolish than I am, by comparing anything I have ever done in life, to peddling a Schwinn through the French Alps.
During his run of seven consecutive Tour championships, I was always fascinated with watching Lance, effortlessly coming down the homestretch through the streets of Paris, culminating in the victorious, raising of the arms, through the gorgeous Champs-Elysees. Not to mention, watching Lance on the victory stand, sporting the banana yellow jacket, and standing between two stunning french models .Seeing this event, year after year, was more consistent than the changing of the seasons and I can remember each one of those times , thinking," what an amazing story." The man who stared death in the eyes, after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, and after laboring through the chemo and the testicular surgery (ahem), he was able to vanquish the disgusting disease, After winning all those Tours, he has gone on to generate millions of dollars in much needed research against cancer. He has offered hope to the hopeless and his Livestrong Foundation will live long after Lance's time on Earth. He is honestly, one of the most influential athletes of the last 20 years. By now, if you are an American, over the age of 18,who doesn't live under a rock, you have heard Lance Armstrong's story. His status crosses racial, gender,religious and any other barrier you can think of. This is precisely the point, that I think is getting lost, after hearing all the anger that is being directed at him.
Like Millions of Americans, I watched the 60 Minutes interview with Armstrong's former teammate, Tyler Hamilton. In the piece, Hamilton claims that Armstrong encouraged the use of EPO ( a hormone that controls red blood cells ; it's too bad that he didn't have anemia because EPO is used in the fight against that disease, But I digress) amongst the team. He also said that Armstrong tested positive during his Tour De Suisse victory of 2001, but his handlers were able to suppress the results and keep it from going public. Meanwhile, the champion rider has never failed a drug test and former UCI President Hein Verbruggen has denied any such foolishness occurred during the 2001 race. Whether you believe Hamilton or not, ( I must admit he does come off as very credible and honest) is not really important to me.There are other points of contention in this equation that I can not seem to wrap my head around.
There are people who believe undoubtedly, the allegations set forth by Hamilton and Floyd Landis. This has led to much sports talk and water cooler chatter that has turned venomous in the fans sudden disdain of Armstrong. Just three years ago, he was one of the most loved athletes around and now the emperor is slowly losing his attire with all his flaws exposed to the world. I've heard terms thrown around today like spoiled athlete and cheater and it makes me cringe when I hear this.
First of all, let's get it straight folks; some of us need to bring it down with our sanctimonious and pious attitudes towards people of celebrity status. If you could just climb down from your cross for a second, and join the rest of us sinners with some humility and class, the world would be a much better place. Let's be clear about this; no one in this country cares about the Tour De France. That much is illustrated by the minuscule numbers that the Verses network achieves during the grueling race. If you can tell me who came in second during that seven year run, I would say you probably spent a summer in Grenoble or you're really quick on the google. We care about the story. We care because of all the great things this man has accomplished, and all the lives he has touched. We care because almost every one reading this right now, has lost someone, or knows someone who is battling this terrible disease.
All I hear is how the cycling game is the "dirtiest" sport on the planet, (Obviously these people, like most, haven't take a close look at professional football, but that's another argument for another day.) Well if it is the dirtiest of all pro sports, wouldn't you have questioned a man's ability to win year after year, in a clean fashion among all the dirty riders on the Tour.It reminds me of how much people loved the McGwire-Sosa home run race of 1996, but then a few years later proclaimed outrage at the players when the PED genie was released from the bottle. Now, the most prevalent complaint you hear about baseball is it's too slow and there's not enough action. I've learned that some people just love to complain and will never be satisfied. The ostriches need to take their heads out of the sand. The problem that I am having is determining who is the ostrich? Is it me because of my lassez-faire attitude towards steroids and other PED's? At the end of the day, I don't care about professional athletes using these performance enhancers. I really don't. With the advancements in technology and science it is only inevitable, that these things would come to past. That doesn't just apply to lovable athletes like Armstrong, but also guys whose behavior has been less than exemplary such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. I certainly don't care if Armstrong was a participant in these activities, especially since it is supposedly the dirtiest sport in the world. A sport that most Americans could give a rats behind about.
Maybe I am jaded, but I tend to side with Lance. I believe in today's media driven world, it would be near impossible for drug- testing officials to keep a lid on such a big story, I need tangible items to draw a further conclusion on the matter. Maybe a video tape or some signed documents that would prove without prejudice, the truth, Two guys, looking for book deals and a payouts, smells a little funny to me. If it turns out that these accusations are true then, it won't affect the way I look at Lance at all. After all , Why would I be upset at an athlete, in a sport that is infested with cheaters, that I don't even care about in the first place. It all seems a little bit silly to me.
Has the Tyler Hamilton interview changed your opinion of Lance Armstrong?
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