As we all know the bottom has finally come out from under Armstrong.
Its been coming for a long time and I was pretty sure his secrets would never stay secrets forever, even way back when. But I was once a fan, of course. In 1993. And 1996. And 1999. And all the way through to around 2003. But by then I just wanted someone else to win the Tour. Simply because I was a bigger fan of the sport than I was of any one guy. So I wanted Ulrich to win. Or Beloki. Or Vino. I only switched to cheering for those guys because I like the underdog and it felt like Postal was unbeatable, a seize engine overwhelming its objective into submission, versus a race between lone riders, on the edge, trading punches, mano-a-mano.
I’ve always been pretty plugged into cycling and so it wasn’t long before my perception of LA was totally tainted. Not ’cause I thought he doped and was all up in arms about that, hell they all did, and have since the first Tour. What bugged me most about Armstrong was his lack of grace in winning, and especially his utter lack of grace in losing. It doesn’t take much digging to find out about his personality, hubris, and arrogance. Those things weren’t the characteristics of a champion. The sport was so rife with doping at that time that to expect a guy to win it without EPO would be akin to expecting him to win it without a bike. So it was easy to still see some of these guys as heroes, even knowing full well they took drugs. Only now, later on, do I understand that every guy that took drugs to win was robbing some kid, somewhere, of his or her chance at a future in the sport. And that’s the terrible thing about what happened in cycling. The ones that didn’t do it, or wouldn’t do it, that had to give up years of sacrifice and hours and hours of training, because someone else could eke out a 2% advantage over them from a syringe. Only now, after being exposed to young and talented local racers that bust their ass to get to the next level, do I really understand the profound implication of all those dopers.
I borrowed the photo above to illustrate this point. Its a photo finish of a local guy I know, Cyrus K. One of the fastest dudes from around these parts in the last ten years or so and a super nice guy to boot. He’s getting pipped at the line by a guy that was later busted for doping. So that’s it, right there. Apologists will say that all the riders were doping and that LA just won that game, too. But they’re missing the point. They’re missing the forest for the trees. This photo is the story. It’s not about the pros. It’s not about the big names. It’s not the fact that ‘everyone was doing it’. Its the fact that everyone that was doing it stole it from someone that wasn’t willing to, but that deserved it so much more because they weren’t. There’re young guys and girls in our province that are right on the cusp of that next level and it makes me twitch to think that someone could ever undermine their chance and steal their dream like that. It can’t be allowed to happen like that again.