Lance Armstrong, one of my heroes, has decided not to fight charges of doping leveled by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA). Bummer.
Here is the bigger bummer. There have been 15 winners of the Tour de France since 1996 that are no longer active (Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins, winners the last two years, are still racing.) Of these 15 winners, how many have been convicted of doping, admitted to doping, or have accepted the doping allegations against them? Take a guess, I’ll wait.
Of 15 previous winners, 14 have cheated at some point in their career. Only one did not–or did not get caught. Double bummer.
Sport is meant to take us away from the vagaries and confusions of life. The rules are simple, the good guys and bad guys are chosen by your rooting interest, and the winners win. It’s simpler than work rules — it’s confusing figuring out who won that confrontation in the conference room. Now, sorting out the winners is harder than trying to understand the needs of my wife. Did Barry Bonds set the home run record or not?
In some Tour de France years, seven of the top ten finishers have subsequently tested positive for doping. It’d hard to figure out how to retroactively give the yellow jersey. If you thought you finished twentieth, you may find out you won ten years later.
Finally, the lies that go around cheating are extreme. Floyd Landis raised legal defense funds from fans he had duped. Tyler Hamilton claimed that cells in his bloodstream that proved to be from another human were from his “reabsorbed fetal twin”.
I didn’t feel sorry for Jason Gatlin, the 100m runner that lost his gold medal after testing positive for drugs. In his “Up Close and Personal” exposé during this year’s Olympics, when he said “it was hard to maintain my focus during those four years. Definitely.” I didn’t feel sorry for him like some cancer victim. This wasn’t a story of overcoming adversity. It’s a story of cheating.
So I don’t feel sorry for Lance, my hero. Nope. I feel sorry for me.