Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Mimisms ~ Lance Armstrong: The Ride Is Over

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? 
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.


Ferd said...

Yes, as a long-time cyclist, I am a bit disappointed, but not at all surprised. That is the sad game of competitive cycling at that level. I'm not saying it's right, not at all. But I am saying I suspect they all do it. I suspect that using blood doping, testosterone, EPO, etc doesn't give these guys an edge, it just lets them keep up. I love watching the Tour de France every July, but this story is why I never really had Lance on a pedestal. Much of professional sports is crooked.

Charles Gramlich said...

I no longer admire any public figure. Not ever. I may say I admire a particular action, but not the person. It is inevitable one will be disappointed.

Elizabeth said...

I don't understand: "I am old enough to know better than to believe everything I see and read. ", yet, just based on 60 minutes, on an interview with someone who has questionable integrity (how many times has he lied about doping, himself, down through the years?) you are ready to believe? Lance has been tested hundreds of times during his career and always turned up negative. Until I see definitive proof, not merely someone who might even have an axe to grind, I'm not going to believe or disbelieve. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until it's incontrovertible. I've also read recently that someone who was going to be interviewed on 60 minutes showed up with their own film crew (to run simultaneously with the 60 minutes film crew) in an effort to avoid selective editing. 60 minutes chose to cancel the interview - never aired. That says something.

Finding Pam said...

We all grew up in a time where atheletes were respected role models for everyone. Perhaps,the real truth was omitted. Their public image was protected.

I still believe in the atheletes of our home towns and grandkids, but not professional ones. I am so naive.

I still want to reserve my judgement until all avenues of truth have been explored. Why did that guy wait so long to come forward?

I never wanted to believe that I could be so deceived. It broke my heart when I admired someone like OJ as a little kid, and he turned out to be a murderer. Smae with baseball, golf, swimming, and other sports.

Since then, I don't really believe in them. It is easier to believe in the tooth fairy.

Red Shoes said...

You are exactly right on all accounts... To me, it's not an accomplishment that Barry Bonds, or Mark Maguire, or Sammy Sosa hit all of those home runs in baseball while being juiced. A colleague says, 'but he still had to hit the ball...' to which I agree... but then maybe these yokels would have led the majors in doubles... or triples.. or fly outs.

Politicians aren't any better. They basically espouse, "do as I say, not as I do..." Then they are so sorry when they get caught... blah.

I find people that are not in the national spot light to idolize.

My Mom and Dad are a great place to start!


Karen Wallace said...

Thank you for this. Well written. Warmly, Karen

Travis Cody said...

Allegations are not proof. I don't know if Lance Armstrong doped or not. I don't know if he found a way to cheat and never test positive. I'm aware that he was one of the most, if not the most, tested cyclists on the professional circuit.

I know that many of his accusers are proven drug cheats; proven so by multiple positive drug tests.

Allegations are not proof.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

Travis beat me here.

Seems like everyone wants to write a book or tell a story and it always begins "well, lance did it also". If he did, then he is a magician to have passed all those tests.

Until there is total proof, then I can't make a decision either way

Mimi Lenox said...

Ferd - Much of professional sports is crooked.

That is the sad truth.

Mimi Lenox said...

Charles - I would seem so these days.

Elizabeth - The 60 Minutes interview is not the only consideration for me. It was the final nail, so to speak, after hearing other rumors as well. No, it is not substantiated proof...but I'm skeptical.

Thanks for telling me the 60 Minutes film crew story. Interesting..

Mimi Lenox said...

Pam - Why did that guy wait so long to come forward?

Good question...which he did answer on the show but still, I found him to be very nervous. I find it hard to believe that all those around him on the team were using the substances and hiding it from Lance. Just not plausible to me.

Mimi Lenox said...

Red - What a nice tribute to your parents! I know how much they mean to you.

Karen - Thank you. I was in quite an emotional mood when I wrote it.

Travis - No, allegations are not truth but it doesn't look good for him. And I hope it ISN'T true. I would love to see proof that it isn't.

Vinny - I don't think you have to be a magician to pass all those tests. Dopers are given instructions on just how much to take and how to get away with it.
There is much more to this story.
I am hoping against hope that it isn't true.
If so, I will recant.

That still wouldn't make me feel better about all the others doping and winning around him to help him win... and in other sports.

I just don't want his name attached to this. I hope it's not true.

Travis Cody said...

But the accused doesn't have to prove innocence. Accusers have to prove guilt. Armstrong is doing what the accused do...his lawyers are calling into question the integrity of the accusers and the allegations, deflecting and denying. They don't have to prove Armstrong didn't take anything. They just have to discredit the testimony of those who claim he did.

If there is proof of guilt, then Armstrong will ultimately be in front of the Feds having to answer truthfully the question, did you take any banned performance enhancing substance. More importantly, he'll have to answer to whether he committed fraud and interstate trafficking of illegal substances.

You don't lie to the Feds.

Without actual proof, it's all allegation and speculation. And it's a sad state of affairs.

The Gal Herself said...

Today is Wednesday and I just read about John Edwards and his upcoming indictment -- he may have (most likely) used *campaign money* to pay his baby mama to keep quiet about the precious daughter he was denying. The man is a millionaire and yet he was using CAMPAIGN FUNDS? Guess it was the only way to keep the news from his cancer stricken wife. Pardon me while I puke.

While I never looked up to Lance Armstrong, I admired his good works and am saddened by how tarnished its all become.

And as I review all this, I realize that my first hero, from when I was 6 years old, is the only one who really hasn't disappointed me. Sir Paul McCartney has given us almost 50 years of joy, raised his kids successfully and stayed out of rehab himself, and has lived with patriotism and integrity. I'll cling to that. (Yeah, I know he was arrested for pot in Japan but somehow now that seems pretty insignificant.)

Anonymous said...

it's television and professional sports - the two areas where integrity vanished long ago to be replaced by lust for the dollar. I don't believe anything that comes out of the tube because everything, let me repeat this part of the rant, EVERYTHING that comes out of the tube is spin designed to sell you something. And professional sports...well that's so obvious it's frightening, and what's more frightening is that the stadiums keep selling out game after game. It's our own damn fault.

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