It may seem cliche to even bring this topic up at this point but what would a fitness blog be without a post about Lance Armstrong?
Admittedly, I didn’t watch his appearance on Oprah. I knew I would hear plenty about what he said in the days after it aired, which I did.
Armstrong has been publicly crucified for daring to “taint” the precious sport of cycling by taking performance enhancing drugs. Well, newsflash, cycling was already full of dopers when Lance Armstrong first jumped onto the saddle. The difference was that no one in the States actually gave a crap about cycling save for European ex-pats.
I actually don’t have any real issues with his admission that he was doping. A lot of people will disagree with me, I know, but I don’t see the difference between enhancing your body and enhancing the equipment your body uses. Some people say it excludes those who wouldn’t have the financial ability to get performance enhancing drugs, but those people also aren’t buying the top of the line bikes or the most aerodynamic, wind resistant clothes that science can create.
We’re perfectly okay with accepting when someone wears a pair of shoes, a swimsuit (if you can even call them that anymore), skinsuits, clap-skates, helmets that look like they’re straight off the ISS – all of which were developed by scientists in a lab to assist people in doing things that their body would be otherwise unable to achieve. All of those things cost an incredible amount of money. Which is why, at sporting events such as the Olympics, it’s typically the countries with more money that excel in equipment-based events while the smaller, less financially successful individuals win events that are dependent only on what the human body can achieve. There are obviously going to be exceptions to this, but I find that is typically the way.
So Lance Armstrong paired his super fast bike with his super fast tunic and his super fast helmet with a super fast body because the guy behind him, and the guy behind him, and the guy behind him… and so on… were all doing it too. The other competitors, while fighting for Armstrong to come clean, admitted that “everyone” was doping, so there was no way he wasn’t doing it too.
If everyone was doing it, how was the playing field not level?
We all have super fast bikes, super fast tunics, super fast helmets and bodies resistant to fatigue… but it’s the guy who won that cheated, of course. Fact is, he just cheated better than everyone else.
My real issue with this whole situation is not that Lance Armstrong was juiced up in a sport that’s well known for everyone being juiced up. My issue is with the lengths that he went to lie. He destroyed the reputations of his own teammates and people that were supposedly his friends by accusing them of being liars when he knew the truth all along.
No one wants to be caught in a lie, especially not in public, but he SUED people and told a judge that these teammates were tarnishing his image by spreading lies when all along they were telling the truth. You can’t come back from that.
Doing steroids doesn’t make you look cheap – lying about it does. If he had just come clean, admitted that he made a mistake and explained from the start that he had succumbed to the pressures of the sport and followed the lead of everyone else who was doing it too, he might have at least had a chance at redemption over time.
Did he still bike all those kilometres? He sure did. Did he still make an incredible comeback after battling testicular cancer? Absolutely. Did he still raise a lot of money for cancer research? Yup. Will he ever be able to look like anything more than a selfish, deceitful liar? Likely not.