I have always respected Lance Armstrong for his charitable contributions and as a fan of cycling for recreation, exercise and health–despite my suspicion for years he was guilty of doping. This is because I have known many competitive athletes, and known many of those many to in one way or another do whatever it is they feel they have to do to come out on top. To me, this is the true nature of sports–trumping any mythology of fair play and equality by a leg of the Tour de France, if not more.
Somehow and after years of hubris in denial of doping, Armstrong ‘s passive admission of guilt comes as no surprise. Neither is Armstrong’s ‘witch-hunt’ apologist rhetoric–a convenient card the guilty often play, when deflecting blame onto others for their own misgivings and deeds.
The ‘World against Lance’ mentality, which Armstrong has effectively used for over a decade now, is something he made into a brand and foundation alike, with Livestrong.
For Armstrong’s charitable work, he should always be congratulated. Long may Livestrong exist, helping cancer survivors of all types fight the horrible disease. But the way Armstrong went about his self-promotion, with an inability to realize his own humanness in spite of his public humanity, is simply another example of an athlete who just couldn’t deal with his own mortality.
Cheat To Win, Because Everybody’s Doing It
No, Armstrong might not have been held accountable at the times doping took place, but the fact that the USADA had every one of his former teammates lined up to testify is quite telling as to his guilt.
And no, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even medical professional for that matter, to understand the larger reasoning why Armstrong doped in the first place. After all, it is common for testicular cancer survivors to undergo testosterone therapy treatment. One less testicle equals ½ as much of the male hormone it makes, which makes Armstrong’s need to supplement understandable.
However, his self-righteous assertions and deflections, while living in his glass house all these years, is just a byproduct of the sheltered lives the socially privileged among us lead. One only need remember Rafael Palermo wagging his finger at Congress over the baseball steroid scandal–only to be outed himself, as a steroid user shortly thereafter.
When someone lives in this glass bubble for long enough, they tend to take on the pseudo-insulation of fan admiration and financial security making them seemingly invincible to all harm or wrongdoing. At least, this appears to be the norm anymore with many athletes of all sports and in all walks of life.
‘Cheat to win’ has become the motto of athletes the world over. The way the United States specifically educates children to the present day; within the larger tenets of Manifest Destiny Individualism, competition and the option of self-forgiveness for wronging one’s neighbor near and far, remains the way America’s children will grow into adulthood–with said beliefs and subsequent actions firmly entrenched in them. So Lance is nothing more than a product of his environment in this regard, preaching to the choir loud and clear.
Hypocrisy and Mythology
Game players as heroes are markers of a superficial societal ideal and value system. A society valuing competition over community congruence, honesty, equality and meritocracy, rewards those who rise to the top; no matter what they have to do to get there. This is what society calls normal and acceptable behavior, so long as one does not get caught in the act that is.
Further, the need for an unequal, unfair society to either christen or chastise its game players for adherence to or subversion of otherwise mythical standards non-existent in society itself–well, this type of self-righteous, individualist delusional behavior is par for the course anymore in the sporting arena and out alike.
Therefore, what Armstrong has done by walking away from his accusers is put another nail in the coffin of the mythical ‘American Dream’; stating that those who are honest, hard workers in the end will prosper over all adversity. Sure, be contextually honest when it suits us, and take this pill or injection when it will give us a leg up–and then, when the blowback comes, just simply walk away to save face.
After all, that is what Lance did, and he is a hero because he could pedal a bike faster than anyone else who might also have been cheating to keep up with the Joneses anyway. No thanks, I will take Einstein and Buddha as my heroes, and leave the game players on the field where they belong–as entertainment rather than examples of what human beings should strive to be inside or out.