Will the Truth Set Us Free?
I’m spent. After so much talk, speculation, and analysis, the confession finally comes. After years of denial, lawsuits, threats and soap boxing, Lance Armstrong has finally admitted publicly that he doped. Of course for many of us, this was no revelation. Beyond the court of public opinion, he had already been found guilty and stripped of seven tour victories. And yet, he still refused to confess.
The suddenly, inexplicably, he decided to bare all to Oprah Winfrey. Of all people. Not the UCI, WADA, or USDA. Oprah. Fucking. Winfrey. As I watched the first part of the interview last night, I saw a man not defiant, but not quite contrite either. But truthfully, there would not have been much he could have said or done to erase the years of corruption and deceit and make me feel anything other than contempt. There were some shocking moments – like trying to joke about losing track of how many people he’s sued for telling the truth. And moments where you knew he was still lying. Because he is really, really good at it. He’s had lots of practice.
“I’m so sick of this.”
“They were all doing it.”
“Why are you even watching? Let it go – it’s time to move on.”
“Why do you even care?”
I’ve heard it all. Why do I care? Because as you may have figured out, I love cycling. And this was probably the biggest moment in cycling history. The stripped victories, the confession, all of it.
Why do I care? I care because he has made a mockery of the sport of love. And now it’s future is uncertain. Fifteen years of cycling history have been all but erased. If the UCI is implicated in a coverup, the International Olympic Committee could drop cycling from the Olympic program.
This confession will likely hit Armstrong where it hurts the most – his bank account. He stands to lose millions – or rather be forced to pay back the millions he has been given under false pretences, including the 17 million dollars he made from suing the people who dared to accuse him of doping. Oh, and from now on he can only race in the citizen category.
Feel bad for Lance? Don’t.
Feel bad for the riders who rode clean, who’s names nobody knows.
Feel bad for all the people who had to find out slowly, agonizingly, that their hero was a liar, a bully and a cheat.
Feel bad for my good friends Phil and Carolyn who travel to Huston every year to support the Livestrong Challenge and defended him to the end, who will now face a barrage of “I told you so’s”
Feel bad for the cancer foundations that will suffer by association from the scandal.
Feel bad for the those cyclists who’s exceptional performances – past, present and future – will always be questioned.
Yes, it’s time to move on. Yes, I still love cycling and will continue watch the Tour de France, write this blog, and ride the shit out of my bike. I will defend the sport that many now think is a joke. I will also choose my cycling heroes more carefully, and always with the slightest shadow of suspicion.
So yes, there will be a lot of talk about this over the next little while. And yes, it will be tiresome, repetitive and frustrating. But is is also very, very important – so be patient. I believe the truth will, eventually, set us free.
Photo: The Washington Post