OK, so: St. Lance.
Let’s get my prejudices on the table right up front. I have always thought Lance Armstrong was dirty, at least since I learned how dirty cycling is, which was sometime after his first Tour de France win, and before his last one. I can’t say there was any crushing moment when this dawned on me — I don’t idolize sports figures as a rule — but more of a cynical oh well there goes that one moment.
It always boiled down to this, for me: The sport is dirty, top to bottom, and has been for years. One by one, the titans of the sport have gone from deny-deny-deny to a mumbling OK-yeah-I-did-it-too. And we’re supposed to believe this one guy, this cancer survivor who won seven years in a row, wasn’t? I’ll grant you: None of this is based on hard evidence. I’ll grant you: He never had a positive test. I’ll grant you all of that. I only offer in return: So much smoke, and this guy isn’t on fire?
So I spent much of the weekend reading this and that. Liked this. Liked that. Liked this other thing. Came away thinking mostly the same thing: He was dirty, but the whole sport was dirty. He did what it took to win, and that’s what it took.
He always seemed like something of a jerk. Left his wife and kids, had a couple of kids with a girlfriend, the latest girlfriend. But who cares? Is he running for pope? No. He seems to believe fiercely in the idea that a cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence. This is good. He seems to be one of those guys who thinks that exercise will stave off the Grim Reaper more or less forever. He’s half-right, but he’ll learn the other half soon enough. In the meantime, I guess what I’m wondering is, why did we decide people could only be one thing? Good, or bad? He was the best dirty rider in a dirty sport for a very long time, and now this means no one can admire him? Who decided that?
But I don’t admire him. At the same time, I know that if he’s being railroaded, it’s entirely plausible this is the way to do it.
Which hardly counts as any sort of revelation, but we’re talking about a cyclist here. So let’s give it what it’s worth.
Ohio State fans? Some of you people — I just don’t know what to say.
I’ve been trying to watch the convention, but I just can’t. Someone bring me up to date, eh?
And happy Wednesday.