"Say it ain't so, Lance!" Many fans of the famed biker -- those who aren't still delusional -- are now coming to grips with the very real probability that their hero, Mr. Lance Armstrong, didn't win those 7 Tour de France races fair and square. He cheated. He used drugs. As Nike says, the evidence is "seemingly insurmountable."
I've never been a fan of Lance. Well, not since, oh, about 3 years ago, when it became obvious that he was an arrogant liar. He deserved to be dropped by Nike and he deserves to leave the Livestrong cancer charity in shame. Lance isn't so unlikable because he drugged, but because he lied about it. Even now, he's made no public statement admitting his wrongdoing.
Drugging in cycling and other sports is a sad reality. Our young athletes enter a culture of drugging and the message is that they must do the same to win. Drug, and have a shot at winning; don't, and be mediocre (or worse -- don't even make the team). They tell themselves they're doing it to level the playing field. If everyone is drugging, it's still a fair contest. They don't want to give up their chance at winning by not doping. At the same time, they have to live with the ugly truth that they're not winning entirely on their own. They're cheating. They're lying. And yet, one can understand why these athletes do what they do. Ultimately, we've got to get doping out of sports. We owe that to the athletes. We owe it to the fans. We owe it to our children.
Lance Armstrong has had many opportunities to admit his own doping. Instead, he's arrogantly pointed fingers, ruined lives, and acted so very high and mighty. And that makes him a loser. A big, fat loser.
Lance still has a chance to come forward, admit what he's done and become part of the solution. He could do great things -- speak out about drugging in sports, help clean up the system, start an organization to train young bicyclists and teach them how to win without drugs. Lance could use this opportunity to show he is a true leader. A real winner.
But will he?
Image via AngusKingston/Flickr