If you’ve followed along our travels you might remember that I’m a bit of a Lance Armstrong fan. See: I’m a Fan, Dear Lance and Leadville 100. The Tour de France, the race Lance dominated for seven years is happening now. Lance is there, racing again, but he is far from dominating. He might be more injured than he is letting on from crashes in the early stages, he may have miscalculated his racing strategy and lost too much weight leaving him without the muscle mass that use to power him up the Alps, or for whatever reason he just does not have it this year. Okay no biggie for me. I make sure to keep my admiration in check enough that my day is not ruined just because someone I do not know had a bad day on the bike.
There is something going on in the cycling world that is bothering me, really bothering me. Floyd Landis bothers me. A lot. Floyd “won” the tour in 2006. He promptly tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and lost the title. He then ran around for a couple years denying drug use to anyone that would listen. After a comeback attempt that never gained traction, he admitted to doping throughout much of this career and then started casting accusations at about anyone that has ever ridden a bike.
Hey Floyd, I make pretty good time getting home from the farmers’ market on my cruiser with a basket full of veggies. Better include me in your accusations.
Thanks to Floyd, a federal investigation has been initiated into the old U.S. Postal Service team that was Lance’s main sponsor in those early tour victories. As I understand it, the investigation is looking not primarily at doping but at potential fraud that may have taken place to pay for a doping program. It is a federal issue because the Postal Service was the sponsor.
However you slice it, this is simply a more round about way of trying to bring down Lance Armstrong. A whole lotta people have tried for a long time. It is going to happen. We live in a starkly black and white world and eventually if you try hard enough and stay at it long enough you can move anyone from white knight to villain.
Believing that eventually some dirt will stick to Lance doesn’t diminish him to me. I can write it off as a by product of the complex and murky world that is professional athletics.
What matters to me is the Lance Armstrong narrative, the parts that are rock solid fact: at age 25 diagnosed with testicular cancer after it had spread to brain, lungs and abdomen, survives, recovers and then for seven years wins what is arguably the most grueling sporting event on the planet. This story continues to give hope and comfort and encouragement to so many people that have suffered the effects of this horrible disease. Cancer is the greatest villain of our time. It does not simply kill people, it thoroughly tortures them first. As we run around trying to make our world safe from a few mad men, we continue to let this disease cause more terror and suffering than any war or battle or attack every has. I find it cruel to try and bring him down, cruel to all of us who have been hurt by cancer and look at him as a superhero; there is no other group more deserving to be left in peace with their white knight.
I know Lance isn’t going to personally find the cure for cancer and his ongoing dedication to fighting cancer doesn’t give him a free pass on everything else. Regardless, we need his narrative to keep it’s happy ending because his is the ending we want for everyone with a cancer diagnosis.