Saturday, August 25, 2012

Armstrong Says Uncle

Lance Armstrong blinked.

After so many years of fighting charges of doping, he decided he's had enough, and dropped his argument against doping charges by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

As a cycling fan, and someone who watched Lance win so many grueling Tour de Frances, it's heartbreaking. But the only surprise is that he blinked first.

I always wanted to believe him when he claimed his innocence, even in a roundabout way, akin to "I've never been tested positive." And yet I have a feeling that pretty much anyone who contended for the yellow jersey had to keep up with the Joneses, basically do what every other top competitor was doing. The high number of winners who've tested positive is pretty good proof of that. And to bolster the idea of how prevalent it has been, the better the rider, the better the resources, lowering the odds of getting caught. And yet they have been caught.

There's so much heroic about competitive road cycling. It's more about an individual's body type, training, heart, ability to endure pain, than about the equipment or weather or whatever. There's so much sacrifice—personal, in the amount of training that's required, and from the families involved; and from one's teammates, each playing a designated role in order to further the top contender's chances.

Cycling will go on, as it has since Armstrong retired from it. Has it been as interesting? No. But as I've mentioned before, if the Tour de France—the sport's pinnacle—is so difficult that it essentially requires performance enhancing methods, perhaps it should be rethought. Sacrilege, for sure. But if it abets fairness and improves the health of the riders, who ostensibly are treating the instruments of their livelihood like lab experiments, then it should be considered before no more heroes are left.

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