17. January 2013 23:23
If you know me, you know that I'm a big fan of cycling. Cycling is my favourite way of getting around by far. It's my favourite exercise. It's my favourite way to enjoy a warm summer evening. It's my favourite way to put serious miles under my belt.
It's not my favourite sport. That's football to watch, curling to play. I take my football CFL, thank you very much.
So people who casually know I love cycling have been asking my opinion on Lance Armstrong. Lately it's been happening a lot. Enough for me to notice, and once I've noticed I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with it.
My interest in competitive cycling was short lived. Yeah, I loved the time trials in the Olympics. The Tour de France is really a pretty cool idea. I don't know if I'd want to do it competitively but I wouldn't mind having the time and money to do it on my own. But I'm not much of a spandex guy. And I'm not so sure I 'get' the peloton idea. Or more precisely I don't get the team peloton idea. I fully understand drafting and pushing each other forward, but I'd have a read problem riding in support to make some other guy win.
But it was those Tour guys that started really turning me off. Maybe it's back to the team peloton concept or something in their collective attitude, but somehow they just tweaked my nose the wrong way and I said to hell with them. Once doping was clearly demonstrated in 1998 I lost all interest. I've never watched anything on the Tour since then other than highlight reels on sports coverage. Precious few of those lately, too.
By the time Armstrong made his astounding comeback I had mostly lost interest anyways. However his story was compelling enough to almost make me want to believe. It was a pretty hard sell to put away my skepticism, but I tried. The more riders and their teams pulled out after sketchy drug tests the less I sought out any kind of coverage. I never fully bought into the lie, with the more I heard the less I was even willing to give the benefit of doubt.
The tipping point was when someone tried to convince me Armstrong had a superhuman metabolism. His body had some amazing power to break down lactose or process oxygen or some stupid thing. Citing a sketchy paper with questionable data, no less. Say what you want, I'm still a scientist at heart and I'm not afraid to get down and dirty in the research. I was not convinced.
So tonight I got home, let the dogs out to do their business, and opened my laptop in order to start getting on top of the things I need to get done. I opened up Google News and at the top: "UPDATE 3 - Cycling - Lance Armstrong finally admits to doping"
Rather than read anything about it, I decided to write a quick blog instead. It's worth more of my time than to read up on a cheat and a liar.
Lance Armstrong, just go away. Don't ruin anyone else's life. Go fade away. Not that I'll care, I won't be paying attention.
Change the name of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Tomorrow. Give it back to the people who cared enough to build it with genuine work and effort. I feel bad enough I let one of my kids take one of those yellow bands out of a geocache.
To organized cycling, you've lost me, forever. No amount of pissing in a cup will ever restore my faith in your sport. No gimmick will ever bring me back. I hope you accept how much harm the systemic doping did and the unwillingness to take it on. Same goes to every other sport that looks sideways at the severity of doping. CFL, don't let me down.
But I refuse to end it on a scumball. I'd much rather end this thinking of an athlete worthy of mention. If you've lost a hero today, here's an athlete worth knowing:
To Clara Hughes, I TOTALLY love you. I saw you once in person at the Olympic oval and you were a scary incredible athlete. I look up to you as a person, I admire you as an athlete and you almost brought me back to cycling. You were the last to draw me into competitive cycling and tonight I most want to remember you as a speed skater. No matter, I still find you an inspiring person. If I've done nothing but introduce one more person to someone I genuinely care about and admire, it was worth so much more than reading about someone I don't.
If you don't know Clara, go visit her or find her on facebook. Make something positive out of today.
As for me? I'm not going to read that coverage. Instead I can't wait to get out on my bike and go ride someplace unimportant.