The Tour de France is over for another year, although professional bike racing continues.  When it’s Tour time, the subject of Lance Armstrong is never far away, at least for now, in these years close to his tumble from grace.  I have some random thoughts about Lance.

If you believed he wasn’t doping, you were living in cloud cuckoo land.  If the next best riders in the world were having wins taken from them for doping, there’s no way Lance could have been that much better just naturally.  But therein lies my title.  He WAS the best.

He was the best at doping and winning, the best at doping and not being found out.

He was the best at bringing the sport to prominence…before he was the best at bringing it down in the eyes of many.

He was ultimately the best, but not the only, to steal the joy of winning from others.  It doesn’t feel the same to win the Tour de France, or any other race, when the person in first is disqualified.  Sadly, the ultimate winner was often someone far down the list, as doping was quite prevalent.

He was the best at not only despising but crushing people, big and small, and at destroying lives while pushing himself up on the pyres of those lives.  He’s still the best at not apologizing for it.  Maybe he’s the best at defining the word “amoral.”

In sport where cheating has ranged from, in the old, quaint days, taking a bus or train rather than riding, to sophisticated blood doping, he is unique in combining so many negative things.  He did start LiveStrong which I hope will survive and has done so much for people with cancer.  But one right doesn’t mitigate a lifetime of wrong and, in many cases, what I would be tempted to call evil, at least in his personal dealings.

But perhaps Lance might, totally inadvertently, be the best thing that’s happened to cycling for a long time.  Last year, the winner of the Tour, Chris Froome, stated that he, his team and many other riders were vowing to ride clean and so far, nothing has disproved that.  This year’s winner, Vincenzo Nibali, viewed as a clean rider, said,

Steps have been taken and great progress has been made, and with it so my results have arrived.
and
I have to thank them (doping controllers) because without these iron controls maybe I wouldn’t be here today.

I know that as long as there are sports, there will be those seeking an illegal way to be better than others.  But in the world of professional cycling, maybe the best cheater will turn out to be the best thing for a sport where doping was getting out of control.

Comments
  1. For me Lance is a winner he won the fight for his life and the moment he was back in 1998 was one of the most touching moments in tour-history :o)

    • I agree that his comeback from cancer was exciting and touching. While I’m happy he came back from cancer, most of what he accomplished was predicated on doping and the fact that he destroyed the lives of so many is almost unforgivable, even had he ever admitted he was wrong. Even bad people sometimes do good things. :-/

      janet

  2. brainsnorts says:

    your title sure had me fooled. i came here expecting a debate. now what am i supposed to do?

  3. wmqcolby says:

    Nice article, Janet! It just goes to show you that the true greatness of a person is not measured in fantastic accomplishments, but in solid integrity. He reaped what he sowed. But, yeah, without him, the Tour de France wouldn’t have had the publicity puff that he gave it. Ironic … true, but ironic.

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