When you work in a bike shop, you can’t avoid getting questioned about Lance Armstrong, especially with the doping allegations, investigations, and confessions by teammates of late. It’s actually getting quite boring to have to keep repeating my thoughts on the whole deal, so I guess I’ll just write them all down for anyone and everyone to read, and refer people to my blog when asked about it. Here goes…
- I had fun rooting for Lance Armstrong throughout his career. It was fun being patriotic, watching the Texan smash the competition all over France, year after year. It was exciting. It got millions of people fired up about a sport that I was already passionate about, even before his first Tour win. Unfortunately, it’s become painfully evident that those results and experiences were obtained by using performance-enhancing drugs, as documented by multiple teammates and eyewitnesses in the latest USADA Investigation.
- Yes, I read the entire 202-page “Reasoned Decision” that was released, unlike a lot of people chiming in on the subject, along with several more affidavits from riders, staff, and witnesses. As an industry professional, enthusiast, and race fan, I have a vested interest in what the report said. If you haven’t read the decision and the facts, do yourself a favor and shut your trap. If you’re out in internet-land, saying “they have no hard physical evidence to convict Lance of anything…” last time I checked, in a court of law in the US, all you have to prove is “reasonable doubt,” of which there is a TON of it in the USADA investigations and findings.
- Based on the USADA “Reasoned Decision” on the US Postal Team and Lance Armstrong, it’s hard to deny that he doped. I wanted Lance to be clean just like most cycling fans, but the sum of all parts of the investigations and affidavits by fellow teammates, tells otherwise. As of today, most of Lance’s major sponsors throughout his career have ended their future relationships with him, in order to save face and avoid the impending storm of bad PR headed their way if they hang around.
- Fallen Heroes. I’m personally crushed with the news of the systematic doping within the US Postal Service Team organization. One of my all-time favorite cyclists, George Hincapie, came forward with his accounts of doping, personally and as a team. Although not on an extremely personal level, I’ve known George and his family for quite some time, dating back to the time I got him to attend a local cycling club meeting in South Carolina back in 2002. He’s always been a class-act, and I respect him and the other “Posties” for their decision to come forward, whether it was just to save their own skin or not. We’re all human, and all make mistakes. Some are more high-profile than others, and in their case, the fall is more visible. It’s hard seeing your heroes fall from grace. I’m still planning on attending the Hincapie GranFondo next weekend in Greenville, SC, regardless of this mess, to support George, Rich, Ricardo, and the family, and thank them for what they’ve all done over the years. Good things don’t always make it right, but hopefully, redemption for these riders can be found in this situation through efforts to clean up the sport for future riders.
- Because of dopers, a lot of potential heroes missed their chance to shine. When the sanctions got passed down by USADA as part of the agreement to turn evidence and affidavits against Lance Armstrong, many years of results were negated. As a result of their doping, clean riders were awarded titles that that should have been theirs to begin with. They missed the podium, didn’t get the kisses, didn’t get to spray the champagne, didn’t get the photo-ops, the extended contracts, the bonuses for winning a national championship event, a better opportunity for the following season, because a doper took it from them. That aspect of doping, I cannot forgive.
- The system is corrupt. It’s public knowledge that Lance “donated” money to the UCI for “anti-doping” purposes. If anyone can’t see that something like that is a HUGE conflict of interests, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona that you need to snatch up… There’s some major corruption with the UCI, and there needs to be a serious re-shuffle, from the top, down. The international governing body of cycling is more worried about 3-1 ratios on aero equipment than they are of blatant, systematic doping that has been going on for decades.
- LIVESTRONG. When I found out my mom had breast cancer, around 3 years ago, I instantly got a little, yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet, dropped it in the mail with a card, and next-day mailed it to her. I gave it to her to let her know that she could be strong in her fight against this deadly disease, and by wearing that little band, it helped give me hope and support for her, as well. There’s no doubt that the LIVESTRONG organization has done a lot of great things for people with cancer, their families, and for cancer research. There’s a lot of confusion among followers of the LIVESTRONG movement and how the organization works, financially and charitably. There’s definitely some scrutiny that the organization(s) will fall under because of the doping scandal fallout… I just hope that it doesn’t hinder cancer research and support for those who find their hope in the power of a little yellow band.
- The best thing that can happen now, is for Lance to come clean and lay it all out there, in order to help change the system for the future. It’s over. It happened. We’re all tired of hearing about it. We all just want it to go away and get started cleaning up cycling. Lance is going to have to pay a lot of folks a lot of money. He will be sued by many parties for defamation, fraud, and the like. It’s a sad ending for our former hero. Although this is a huge scar on the sport of cycling, and very sad times for all involved, Lance coming clean and implicating the bosses at the UCI that have been turning a blind eye to this doping culture for so long. That is THE ONLY way that Lance can save face now.
- The sport IS cleaning up, and the new regime of younger riders are our new hope. Young US cyclists like Taylor Phinney, Timmy Duggan, and Ben King are the new hope for cycling. These guys are starting their careers on the tail end of this drug-riddled era, but starting it clean. The training technology available to our athletes today, along with improved drug testing (hopefully) throughout the domestic and international pelotons, should bolster a clean system for these riders to prosper in. Support these guys, along with all the other champions of clean cycling like Adam Myerson, Steve Tilford, Tim Johnson, Scott Zwizanski (now the new 2009 USPRO Time Trial Champion, as a result of this…), and others by letting them know your feelings about doping. It’s been a hard fight for these guys, to constantly get destroyed by cyclists that they know are doping, but they have been resilient, trained their butts off, and hung in there, regardless… Shoot them an e-mail, Tweet, or Facebook message and let them know what you think of them.
- Get on your bikes and ride. I had a customer ask me about my thoughts on cycling yesterday. It was obvious he was prying about the “Lance situation.” I told him that cycling has its demons, but it’s still the most pure sport I’ve found. He scoffed at the “purity” comment, but I explained it to him. When you’re out on your bike on a vicious climb, when it’s just you pushing yourself to your limits, and you conquer the climb, look out at the mountain overlook and see the amazing scenic view that you’ve earned the right to see… there’s nothing more pure than that. When a group ride has a good flow and consistency to it, the pacelining works like it’s supposed to, and you and the guys roll back down and have a post-ride beer… that’s good cycling. When you take off on a cool fall morning and realize that you nailed your clothing selection… that’s good stuff. Most of us will never be professional cyclists, but we are all cyclists. Enjoy yourselves, ride your bike, and have fun. Keep it real, guys and gals.
I could probably go on for a while about this, but that’s all that I feel I have the need to address. Feel free to comment, either here on the blog, or on my PROBIKEWRENCH.COM Facebook Page. Good talk… see you out there.