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Imagine the unfair advantages a multi-millionaire celebrity like Lance Armstrong has over less-wealthy rivals: He can buy the best chefs, nutritionists, masseurs, physical therapists, movement specialists, physiologists, acupuncturists, chakra balancers, and ball tuggers. Lance could have a mountain chateau in Tourmalet, a climate-controlled bungalow in San Sebastian, a compound in Colorado for high-elevation training, and an oxygen-deprivation gym for cross training. He could have gadgets and gizmos to knead his sore calves when the servants retired for the evening, he could sleep in Michale Jackson’s old hyperbaric chamber (Bubbles is lonely!), he could extract the marrow of Heraclitus and spread it on toast points. With all the technology available in nutrition, medicine, components, bike frames, shoes, pointy, goofy-ass racing helmets, and every other element of cycling,everything could be deemed unfair, or unnatural!
Money is an advantage, technology is an advantage, genes are an advantage (or disadvantage, in many cases!). None of it is fair.
Here is a proposal for reform: Why not have two cycling leagues and see which one earns riders the most support from fans and sponsors? Let the market decide! TV ratings for the Tour De France doubled when Lance Armstrong was racing, and even now with wider cable distribution and a larger available audience the numbers were much smaller for the 2012 Tour than they were for Lance’s last victory in 2005. It could be like bodybuilding which has a “natural” non-juiced circuit. You could allow purists their riders who could conquer the great climbs of the world on diets of grass and coconut milk (because animal protein of any kind would be an unfair advantage). Then there would be a circuit for doping, manipulative assholes on another. Who do you think would attract a bigger crowd? A larger audience? More endorsements?
Lance Armstrong is guilty of a lot in the eyes of the UCI and USADA, two groups so profoundly mired in their mutual disdain it’s a miracle they can conjure charges and responses in between bouts of flinging feces at each other. USADA claims Lance paid UCI to cover up at least one positive drug test, and UCI claims USADA’s mama’s so big she straps buses to her feet to go roller skating. It’s that ugly. What is uglier still is the arbitrary nature with which substances and procedures are banned, wasting millions of tax dollars through USADA (which gets funding from the drug czar's office, of all places!) and the failed Department of Justice investigation against Armstrong, which should have never been launched in the first place. Policing sport is not the role of the government.
Remember your outrage and why you detest a guy who was doing the same thing his predecessors had done legally just a few years before, and that all his adversaries were doing concurrently. Save some of your bile to curse the name of Laurent Fignon, the guy who won the tour in 1983 and 1984, the years before blood doping was banned. He admitted to using amphetamines and cortisol, but no one is retroactively calling for him to give back his prize money, mostly because he is dead. Are you as angry with Laurent as you are at Lance? And if you are, how do you feel about Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour and a longtime critic of Armstrong? In the 1989 Tour, LeMond beat Fignon by a mere eight seconds(!), partly because LeMond wisely availed himself of all sorts of aerodynamically progressive equipment. Fignon, a Frenchman who disdained innovation that couldn't be shot directly into his ass, even refused to cut his ponytail, causing extra drag and precious lost seconds over the 21-stage race.
What if “science” deems blood-doping and injectables as innocuous (and generally useless) as the creams and supplements they sell at GNC? With falling viewership and global loss of interest in cycling, it’s more than likely that the powers that be will expand the list of accepted drugs and practices. If the day comes when cyclists can finally emerge from the shadows and party-hearty with their testosterone, their EPO, even an ELO mixed tape, make sure you know why you hate Lance Armstrong. It’s not because he made his former teammate and defrocked Tour winner Floyd Landis babysit a mini-fridge full of Lance blood for a long, hot, Austin summer, or because he shrunk his weenis with hormone injections, or had better oxygen-uptake than you.
No, it’s because in the end, Lance refused to admit what was as plain as the saddle sore on your butt after a 115-mile ride: that he cheated to win, and nobody did it better. No man is a hero to his former personal assistant, but Lance Armstrong was an asshole until the very end.
About 3.30 minutes. Written by Nick Gillespie and Kennedy, and produced by Meredith Bragg.
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