You missed the point!
I think many of you missed the point. It isn’t a question of if something shady or unethical took place, I think we all agree that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. My point is, do you think anything will really come of this? I have met Greg LeMond, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis. As to my impression of them personally, if I were asked to rank them in order of honesty and integrity, I would say hands down Greg LeMond strikes me as the most honest and genuine of the bunch, followed distantly by Landis with Armstrong taking up the rear. Armstrong has a carefully crafted persona that is managed by high priced lawyers on retainer, and friends in high places with deep pockets and mutual interest to protect.
So What? Let’s be realistic about this. We can’t change the past. If we try, where will it end? So who among us is qualified to undertake the task of “revisionist history” of the Tour De France and put things right? How far back do we go with our bottle of whiteout and corrective pen? Do we start with Riis? What about Ullrich or Pantani? If Johan Bruynel is the architect of Armstrong’s 7 victories, do we go back even further to his racing days, his victories, his teams and teammates? Do we use guilt by association as the criterion for which to start our crusade? If so, anyone associated with an admitted or convicted doper should have their palmares erased or at the very least include an asterisk.
Say goodbye to Contador – associated with Bruynel; goodbye to Sastre and the Schleck Bros. – they worked for admitted doper Riis. The list goes on and on. Do your homework, look back to the Tour podium since ’96 and tell me, who can you hand the title to without fear of recrimination? How far down on the GC will we need to go? A director once said doping can’t make a race horse out of a mule. That’s true, there needed to be a load of talent and sacrifice; it not just the drugs. As distressing as it is to admit, it can be argued that all the top riders of that generation doped. So, the disturbing reality is that they all operated on a level playing field – albeit a chemically fueled playing field. The winner was the best of the doped-up competitors.
So, back to my original argument. What’s the point? Does anyone really believe we will ever get to the bottom of this? Will anyone be prosecuted? And for that matter, does anyone really deserve jail time if found guilty? We Americans have difficulty seeing sports for what it really is – entertainment! Sports and athletic events are diversions – not life or death. Athletes are no different than entertainers or movie stars. Do you think A-list actors or actresses hesitate for a second to undergo expensive and life-threatening surgeries or ingest dubious herbs and drugs with the promised payoff being a bigger paycheck and longer career? Remember, we’re talking millions of dollars here. Is this any different? Is it natural to look like your 30 when your actually 60? No, it isn’t! Can someone, through some artificial means, do so? The answer is, obviously yes! Should we denounce someone for taking this path and praise others for resisting? Well, that’s up to you. We can waste time wondering who has had what done, to where and if those are real or not, or we can accept them as entertainers and appreciate the entertainment value of what they do, and move on. It’s part of their culture. Just like doping was, and perhaps still is, the culture of cycling. Should actors and rock stars be held to the same standards as professional athletes? Should they be sent to jail for using steroids, HGH, etc. in their quest to be forever young and gain an edge on their competition?
The statue of limitations on most of what Armstrong and his cohorts are accused of doing has already expired or will expire soon. Don’t forget, as Armstrong and so many of his cronies are quick to point out, he never failed a drug test. So like it or not, I submit that that has to be the sole, overriding criteria in deciding who gets burned or not. We can’t rewrite the history books with hearsay and supposition. One needs indisputable proof.
It’s unfortunate that many talented riders either never got their chance to compete at the highest level, or had their careers cut short because they took the moral high road and refused to dope. I have great empathy for them. But, to again draw a parallel to the entertainment industry, how many actors, every bit as talented and handsome as Brad Pitt, or whoever you choose, are waiting tables or selling slurpies at the local convenience store. Or have you ever bumped into someone, who used to be someone and now they are real estate agents in some resort town out west? That’s life, as Sinatra would say, “…riding high in September, shot down in May!” It isn’t fair, but life rarely is. Time has a way of exposing people for who they really are – especially athletes. Let time and the court of public opinion do what no prosecutor or senate hearing has ever done -- put things right. Let’s stop the waste of time and taxpayer dollars. We’re on a train to nowhere!