I saw some highlights from the Lance Armstrong interview with that dope, Oprah, and well all I have to say about it is: You should have quit while you were ahead Lance. One Tour victory, two maybe three if you really wanted to push it, but seven dude, you were asking for it.
Now, I’m loath to defend a man like Armstrong, but, while I have always disliked him — he was American and won too much and didn’t seem like that nice of a guy — today, I’m going to play his advocate, and I’ll even do it pro bono.
There’s very little doubt (in my mind at least) that all top cyclists, EVERY ONE OF THEM, use EPO, PEDs or steroids. If they didn’t, they would have zero chance of winning. In fact, I would be willing to bet a significant amount of money that every Tour de France winner in the last 30 years, won with the aid of drugs in one form or another. Talk of creating a level playing is pointless; it’s already level, with the winner simply being the man who is the best among the cheaters.
As Armstrong himself said in the interview, using PEDs is no different in cycling than making sure that your tire pressure is right before a race. A guy on CNN jumped all over that, saying how terrible an attitude that is and how he forced that attitude on other riders, and how he was a hero, so when he did that it meant that everyone else had to follow suit. Horseshit. Steroids and whatnot were around a long time before Armstrong came along. It was, as well, almost certainly easier to dope before Armstrong entered the game. The standards for testing for drug use have risen steadily and it’s becoming harder to cheat precisely because Armstrong won 7 Tours. Also, keep in mind, that the only reason Armstrong has finally been forced to admit his cheating is that the French and English media went to incredible lengths to out him; putting constant, vicious pressure on all his friends and colleagues. And why did the French target Armstrong? For no other reason than that he’s American. The Brits, not being particularly fond of their cousins across the sea either, followed suit.
Currently, everyone is making a big deal out of how Lance was a bully and he’s a narcissist and he’s a prick and so on. Hey, guess what, most cyclists are pricks. Have you watched or listened to or read any interviews with other top Tour guys? Not many of them could realistically be labelled “nice guys”, and none could be called humble. Perhaps it comes with the territory. Most of us cyclists (yes, I’m one too) tend to act like assholes from time to time. Maybe it’s because we take so much shit for choosing to ride instead of drive, and not having a metal cage to protect us, instead surround ourselves with a bristly cage of righteousness and better-than-thouness. Could be that Mr. Armstrong is just the naturally occurring end product of this poisonous attitude: The alpha-asshole-cyclist.
Lance Armstrong is now in disgrace (and rightfully so) because he was unlucky enough to be very good at both cycling and cheating, which led him to win too much. I hesitate to use the word scapegoat here since he deserves to be in trouble for what he did, but the bottom line is, he was caught, and others weren’t, and that’s why I wrote that he should have stopped sooner instead of continuing to win and win. He flew too close to the sun. Just remember that in any sport at the highest levels, there is cheating, and lots of it. Cycling, athletics, pro-sports; they all have various testing schedules of varying strictness for performance enhancing drugs, and in all of them some people are caught. Logic would dictate that the ones who are caught are not the only ones using these drugs; they’re just the ones who made a mistake and got caught, and unfortunately for Lance Armstrong, he can now be included in that category.