Lance. Lance, Lance, Lance. @lancearmstrong What is there to even say? At first, and until fairly recently, I have always believed in you, and even defended you. I believed your body structure/makeup/whatever was different as advertised, I believed you were actually able to do what you did without breaking the rules, and I certainly believed you were being falsely accused all that time based on how vehemently and consistently you protested over the years, and how you were never, ever actually caught for anything. I believed the claims that you were being harassed, unfairly targeted, etc. Then, recently, as more and more people piled on with their accusations, it became unreasonable to keep believing, but my feelings were still mixed, I still wanted to believe. But once I read a detailed article about the actual content of the testimony against you from all of these different, legitimate people, my heart sank. The idea of a mass conspiracy against you just wasn’t plausible anymore. So, upon hearing what you apparently have said to Oprah I’m not going to be shocked. No one is.
The fact that you cheated in a sport full of cheaters sucks and is wrong, but by no means did it need to be the end of the world. It’s not the only sport where many (most?) of the best cheat in some fashion or another, and if you were all cheating then at least it was something of a level playing field. In that sense you still proved yourself to be the best of the best under those unfortunate but marginally equivalent conditions. That I could totally get past, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Where I’m dismayed is much more so in the denial and the criticizing (on the verge of harassing) others who threw out the what-turned-out-to-be-true accusations against you, which were fully deserved. As a parent, don’t you tell your kids that lying about doing something wrong is way worse than merely doing something wrong? What kind of person is so harsh, threatening, and mean to someone whose own conscience couldn’t sit on such a wrong anymore? That is truly disheartening. No one is perfect, but it takes a different kind person to treat people that way in the name of defending glory/money/whatever.
My memories of you can be tarnished, but they still can’t be erased. I feel like I’ve bonded with you twice over the years. I’ve never had firsthand cancer experience, thankfully, but it had always seemed like this spectre of a death sentence for people that was always out there, lurking, a scary component of life to be feared. When I read your first book, “It’s Not About the Bike”, I felt like I got to know you as a person, and it was one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read, hands down. Cancer didn’t need to be a death sentence, no matter how bad it was when it was discovered. People had a fighting chance. But in fact, the inspiration you provided far transcended cancer, - and made it seem like in life anything could be possible to overcome/achieve. That’s powerful stuff.
My second bonding with you was in the summer of 2005. I was on bedrest with my son for several weeks while you were out there winning your 7th Tour de France. Day after day, I looked forward to having something so enthralling, so impressive, so exciting to watch that took my mind to a wonderful place for several hours a day as I lay there, waiting for a new life to change mine. I will always be grateful for that joyful diversion.
Despite not being able to forgive you as a person, the fact remains that you are still one of the most exciting athletes on the planet to watch. I think I would still like to see you compete in Ironman and other stuff. I think. I just can’t hold you up as a role model anymore, which sucks, ’cause you made a pretty good one once upon a time. And as much as I have supported and still respect the LiveSTRONG brand and its purpose, I’ll feel like a real idiot if I ever publically don my yellow bracelet, socks, logo hat, logo shirt, or any of the other gear I’ve accumulated over the years. I figure you owe me a couple hundred bucks for all that uselessness. Insert sad face emoticon here.