I’m still not really over the fact that Lance Armstrong cheated his way to the top of cycling. I was such a fan! For seven consecutive years, Armstrong made America look unbeatable. He had the ultimate get- knocked-down-and-get-back-on-top story, he was an inspiration to countless people to get into the sport of cycling, he was a huge force behind raising funds for cancer research and awareness. CHEESE AND CRACKERS DOSH GARN IT (as my old coach and former Devon Yacht Club boss, Coach McKee, used to say), Armstrong simply made you feel like it was possible to do anything.
It is, apparently, but you have to be on drugs.
The story behind the Lance Armstrong drug scandal is so remarkably sophisticated, brazen and saddening, you just can’t simply shake your head in disgust and move on. Armstrong has been banned from the sport that he made famous here in the USA, he’s lost major sponsorships and contracts—he’s even resigned from Livestrong, the yellow-braceleted foundation he founded and embodied for years. People continue to be in shock.
But are we being a bit naive? Have we been all along? Maybe. I think that my bologna meter should have gone immediately to RED when I heard about a guy who beat cancer and then went on to win the toughest race in the world seven years in a row. We all should have thought that, but we didn’t.
Cheating runs rampant in sports—not just cycling—and everybody knows it. Performance-enhancing drugs are such a part of everyday life for many of these guys, it’s simply unavoidable. We cheer as we watch athletes like Mark McGuire, who walked out on the field looking like a steroid advertisement and bashed home runs in record numbers, then we all come down on them hard when the truth is revealed.
The fact of the matter is that bending the rules is a part of life at the top—even for the guys who make the rules—and it’s being exposed more often than ever before.
Is this a good thing? It depends on how you look at it. It’s good to know the truth, to uphold the rules. But in many ways, it was a good thing for everybody in the sport of cycling when Lance Armstrong was winning. He had a dream name for marketers, and big-time American dollars were being pumped into a sport that nobody gave two sips about before he came along (that last line is another shout-out Coach McKee. CHEESE AND CRACKERS DOSH GARN IT!) It was a good thing that people stricken with cancer had a role model to look up to, somebody who could inspire them to fight and show them that the disease can be beaten.
But we should have known. And we shouldn’t think Armstrong was alone. I choose to believe that any guy who’s been in the running to win the Tour de France was on illegal drugs. Have you seen what these guys do on a bike? It’s insane! CHEESE AND CRACKERS!!!!!
Let me tell you folks something. It might read kind of strange, but that’s a great expression. I’m already starting to feel better. Coach McKee, if there is one thing you taught me, it’s how to curse properly.
Read David Lion Rattiner’s blog every day at danshamptons.com