I watched the Lance Armstrong story on 60 Minutes tonight along with the rest of the world. Scott Pelley conducted a candid interview with Tyler Hamilton, a fellow cyclist and former friend of Armstrong's, has testified and admitted to federal authorities that the seven time Tour de France champion cyclist has used performance enhancing drugs. Tyler, who admitted using EPO himself, seemed extremely nervous and even dodgy at times but still, as much as I would like these reports to be untrue, it would appear that they are well substantiated by CBS News. It just smacks of true.
It seems he had more than one good reason to keep looking over his shoulder.
I know we shouldn't be quick to judge. I know this.
But what are we supposed to tell our children and our grandchildren - what are we supposed to tell ourselves - when public heroes who've previously been an inspiration fall flat on their faces in front of the world?
I am not naive.
I am old enough to know better than to believe everything I see and read. I do not stand shocked at this news. I do stand disappointed. I know there have been and always will be scandals of this sort, but somehow, I never expected to hear this news from this athlete.
Yeah yeah I know. NO sport will ever be entirely clean. But why not? Seriously. Why not?
Do I care that Lance Armstrong injected EPO?
Yes. I care.Because I thought he was one of the last remaining athletes with some integrity. He had become a role model for many young kids, an inspiration for those battling cancer, a celebrity we assumed had risen above deceit and cheat at all costs. An iron man. The poster child for grit and determination, hope and triumph.
I care because there are young future athletes Olympic hopefuls sitting in front of their television sets who dream of gold medals because they believed in Lance Armstrong. I care because they will look to adults they trust to answer the whys. How many more trusted role models have to fall on their faces in public before children stop believing in ALL of us?
Our kids don't want to hear it anymore. I don't blame them. Neither do I.
Some will say "He was and still is a great athlete and should be respected for those accomplishments."
There is no doubt he is a strong athlete with a competitive edge. Wait. What did I just say? See...therein lies the problem. That "edge" was not hard won with hard work and natural born skills but with illegal blood transfusions, testosterone oil, EPO and other substances that put him and his team far above any other honest competitor on the track.
I no longer see a gifted athlete. I see a gifted con man.
It is the same as if we'd learned that Maria Callas or Beverly Sills used a ventriloquist to sing for them -
that it really wasn't their voice at all.
So will he pull a Schwarzenegger and readily confess to his sins when asked? Does it matter?
"I apologize to all my fans, my bicycle, my mother, my father, my family, my wife, my ex-wives, my adoring children, my dog and my cat. Please accept my most sincere regret for hurting all those who believed in me, encouraged their children to believe in me, encouraged MY children to believe in me, read my inspirational books, donated to my charities, and otherwise supported my million dollar cycling behind for all these many years.
Oops. My bad."
I don't want to hear it.
IF this is true - and the allegations thus far are hard to disbelieve - I just want him to hush.
I don't want to read an apology.
I don't want to suffer through a media frenzy.
I don't want to know if his exes saw drugs, used drugs, sold drugs.
I don't want to hear 'you have no proof' ever again.
I don't even want to hear a confession.
I just want him to ride off into the Alps somewhere and hide behind a mountain for awhile.
Oh, Mimi, aren't you being a bit over-dramatic?
No.It doesn't matter to me that he didn't perpetuate this deceit all by himself. I know he had help and assistance. But we didn't know most of their names. They weren't front and center in the winner's circle. They did not become an international symbol of inspiration for a generation of young athletes and....yes...even me.
And while I'm at it, let us ponder: What is the difference in Arnold's cheating and Armstrong's cheating? ('cause I know that's what some of you are thinking)
Schwarzenegger deceived his family on a highly personal level. He made a mess of their lives. To them and them alone he must make amends. I don't want to know about it. I wish I didn't know about it. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not owe me an apology any more than I owe him an apology for my personal transgressions. Just because his are more public shouldn't mean the price of his fame and public service to the state of California should be a public hanging and a scarlet letter. I am not invested in his marriage.
His cheating is none of my business.
Lance, on the other hand, cheated every young girl and boy who put him on a pedestal.
Every young person who ever believed in Armstrong's character, athletic ability and greatness just learned
1. Lie but don't get caught
2. Cheat but don't get caught
3. Cover up for as long as the ride will allow
4. "Everyone is doing it" is a valid excuse
5. The team that deceives together sticks together
6. Goal-setting, focus, and old-fashioned hard work will get you nowhere
and the most heartbreaking lesson of all?
Don't believe in yourself....because you aren't enough.