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  • A totally speculative look inside the head of Lance Armstrong

       July 25, 2010

    I've been watching Versus' coverage of the Tour de France at times with my mouth agape. Their adoring coverage of Lance Armstrong is frankly shocking and offensive. It's as if they have no idea that he's likely going to be exposed as the biggest fraud in the history of sport. I understand that they say what the network and the sponsors want them to say, but I would expect a little bit of realism or at least a few mentions of the news swirling around Armstrong. But no.

    With the risk of sounding like I love cancer, I should confess that I can't stand Lance Armstrong. Even if he really was clean as the driven snow, he's still a dick.

    Dick.

    Anyway, I've thought about what's the psyche behind the Armstrong myth. Here's my take.

    1. In the mid-90s, Armstrong was a great one-day racer. The type of guy that'd be a favorite in classics and things like the Olympic road race. Then, all of sudden, guys on r-EPO started winning. r-EPO was undetectable, so Armstrong, like other cyclists were faced with a big moral dilemma. To dope or not to dope. I have some sympathy for Armstrong at this point. If he didn't dope, he'd likely lose his livelihood. It's easy to understand why so many riders chose to dope and just makes those who didn't all the more admirable.

    2. Armstrong got cancer. The interesting thing is that his level of beta-hCG (the indicator of testicular cancer) should have been detected in routine doping tests months earlier. I'd imagine Armstrong felt two things: a) the cycling authorities weren't serious about catching dopers, so they were tacitly approving the practice and b) it was partially their fault that he almost died. If Armstrong had any moral doubts about doping, it's easy to see how they could have been erased. The UCI didn't care about doping and furthermore, they owed it to Armstrong.

    3. So Armstrong went on to dominate the Tour de France rest assured that he wasn't a cheater because a) he had the moral high ground given his cancer and b) everyone else was cheating too. That attitude helps explain his issues with Christophe Bassons. Bassons' clean riding picked away at that moral high ground. Everyone wasn't cheating. Armstrong wasn't really an innocent victim of a dirty sport - he was part of the problem. Bassons mere existence must have irked him.

    4. Armstrong kept winning the Tour. He got rich and famous and had a fabulous image that opened lots of doors with sponsors, celebrities and even politicians. That image had to be protected at all costs. Hence his attack of Filippo Simeoni, his feud with Greg Lemond, and his attempt to portray himself as a victim of the nefarious French.

    5. At some point, I think Armstrong started to believe his own lies, kind of like O.J. Simpson. How could react with his typical level of indignation if he didn't? I think Armstrong thinks he's owed something because of Livestrong. It's a get-out-of-cheating-free card. If all else fails, he could fall back on cancer.

    Eventually, I suspect Armstrong will have to deal with confession, contrition and rehabilitation. It's not pretty to imagine how a man like Armstrong is going to deal with his coming fall from grace. If he's running down innocent pedestrians now, just imagine who he could take down with him in the coming months.


    Posted by kris at July 25, 2010 11:27 AM

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    Comments

    #  July 25th, 2010 5:06 PM      james
    i think you have lance armstrong derangement syndrome.  
     
    #  July 25th, 2010 6:29 PM      kris
    oh please, I haven't once compared the guy to Hitler. Although, let's see now:

    • like Hitler, he has a close relationship with his Mom and no relationship with his father
    • he is a living embodiment of the Big Lie
    • he's a beer drinker
    • he likes blondes
    • he's successfully invaded France
    • he tried to invade Russia (i.e. the Kazakhstan Team Astana) while simultaneously invading the West and failed


    If only this were a German Shepherd  
     
    #  July 26th, 2010 6:29 PM      kris
    So a Cycling News forum picked up on this post and they think I'm making Armstrong sound like a borderline psychopath, but that that's probably accurate. Yikes. I'd expect people there to have more knowledge of the guy. I'm just here trying to put pieces of a puzzle together.  
     
    #  July 26th, 2010 7:26 PM      BVBigBro
    I view doping in cycling no differently than I view the supposed and obligatory "shock" that all the baseball pundits expressed when it became obvious how juiced baseball players were. They are all eating off the same gravy train and anything and anyone that threatens it is brushed under the rug. Eventually, of course, to keep the next generation of gravy train feeders going the last generations' dopers are offered up as a sacrifice to maintain the facade of cleanliness.

    My suggestion still stands: if you want to see how doped the peloton is, raise the allowable hematocrit to 60 and watch how the riders testing at 48 today magically test at 58 next year.  
     
    #  July 26th, 2010 7:56 PM      kris
    On the other hand, the peloton would clean up dramatically if the UCI was serious about stopping doping. That's the hope with this latest investigation isn't it? That if Lance & US Postal go down they'll take the current heads of the sport with them.  
     
    #  July 26th, 2010 8:53 PM      BVBigBro
    The UCI and peloton are the same thing. The UCI represents the riders and teams. It isn't some independent organization that owns the races.  
     

     

     


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