And, just what was it that I was doing my best to stay away from? Why, Cycling and Politics, of course. However, it just seems damn impossible to do in the age of Media Made While You Wait, and innuendo-turned-fact before our very eyes. For some reason, more than any other sport, we just can’t ride, read, or hear about cycling without politics being at least some part of the discussion. And, it goes something like this: Lance Armstrong and Doping, or Doping and Lance Armstrong. It is as if the two were not mutually exclusive, and have in fact for many, become Proper Nouns. And, there seems to be no shortage of people lining up to take a swing at the Armstrong piñata for their own macabre self-validation.
Here is my ire with the whole Cycling/Doping/Lance conundrum. First, cycling is supposed to be fun. Let’s keep it that way. Two, doping, i.e. looking for an advantage over another, is as old as humanity itself. And three: Armstrong is who he is, and he did what he did. Anything else, above and beyond, is just plain B.S. And, pray tell, what do I mean by this? Simple: Armstrong is being held up as the Eternal Scapegoat for all things wrong with cycling. And, there is no shortage of people in the sport piling on, including many big-name racers, as they seek to distance themselves from the situation. It is all a feeble, sleight-of-hand attempt to make it appear like the problems of the Pro Peleton were solved because Armstrong was finally busted. Dream on, sports fans.
While there are those who feel even being in the same room with Armstrong will give them a case of the heaves, I say Lance has actually done cycling a huge favor. If folks can just peel back their outright hatred of the man, they would see he can be of immense use to cycling’s future in the realm of catching past, current, and future cheats. See, if he won seven Tours all without getting caught, then who better to help the Powers-That-Be police the ranks, right? And, this is not too far-fetched of an idea.
For a prime example, just look at the Cyber-Security industry. Cyber-Security companies are not as dumb as professional cycling in terms of eating their own and recognizing the existential value of a cheat, as in their case, Hackers. While cycling pretends doping does not exist, in the high-tech world of network security, to catch hackers, they hire the biggest hacker they can get. Conversely, want to find out how riders did it, what they took, who administered the juice, and how the support system operates? Call in the best “Expert” we have – Lance Armstrong.
If Cycling can only park its sanctimonious pride, it could learn a lot from Lance Armstrong. No, it does not matter how big a dick he was/is, as there is no law on the planet against being a large, walking penis. However, there are laws against Performance Enhancing Drugs, and tragically, the top expert on the planet is being ignored because he might have hurt some people’s feelings once.
Grow up, cycling. And, for all of the myopic Lance Haters out there: Shut up and Ride!