Thursday, January 17, 2013

Say it ain't so Lance

I wrote this last summer and never published it.   Well, now we know what we already knew....

"This is my body. And I can do whatever I want with it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I'm on.  What am I on? I'm on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?"~Lance Armstrong    

August 2012.

Hey Lance, what's up?

The Internet lit up last week informing the world that you were walking away from a fight. I was shocked that you forgot to check with me first.

The United States Anti Doping Agency(USADA) said they would strip you of your seven Tour De France titles. 

You said you had enough of this nonsense and you would no longer talk about it. 

This is not the Lance I knew. 

Twitter and the sports talk airwaves went wild.  What did it all mean?

Since you are no longer talking about it, we were left to come to our own conclusions. Believe me; everyone has an opinion about this.

Was this a de facto admission of guilt?

You have never backed down from a fight.  You called cancer out and gave it a beat down.  A truck would force you off the road on a training ride and you would hop back on your bike and chase the trucker down.  No quarter given, ever!  Now silence.

Is this your own version of a Nolo Contendere?  You still deny the charges, but will now accept the penalties for the crime without protest.  The penalties are steep.  Seven Tour De France titles, an Olympic bronze medal, financial penalties, loss of influence in the fight against cancer.

You once had the ear of the President.  You would ride your bike with President Bush on his ranch.   You had a bully pulpit in the war against cancer.  Are you willing to give that up too?

We live in a country where we celebrate excellence and above everything us, we celebrate winning.  You know this.  Do you have the same influence if you never won a tour?

Win a national title and the team is invited to the White house.  Win the Super Bowl and expect a call from the President.

Here in Colorado we are celebrating Missy Franklin’s, five Olympic medals.  Do we celebrate her fourth place finish where she missed medaling by .one one hundredth of a second?  No.  Most of us couldn’t even tell you what race that was.

On the bike every second mattered to you. 

I went back and watched my favorite moment of your Tour De France stage wins.  It was stage 16 of the 2004 Tour. 

Phil Liggett announced prematurely “the race has been won here by Andreas Kloden.  It’s all over.” Everyone else is riding for second.

Floyd Landis kept working, closing the gap and at the last possible second you attacked and passed Kloden at the finish line.  You stole the stage win.  

That is the Lance Armstrong I want to remember, cunning, courageous, unstoppable.

Phil Liggett asked the question, “Can anyone stop Lance Armstrong at the Tour De France?”   The answer back then was no. 

Now it appears to be the USADA. 

I am no fan of the USADA.  If they have evidence that proves you were blood doping in 1999, have they gone back and tested every rider, ever A and B urine and blood samples.  If they haven’t done that my question to Travis Tygart is why have you not done that?  If they have only applied this standard to you then it truly does look like a vendetta, “heinous acts” as you have stated.

Personally, I have been a huge fan of yours.  I have my Livestrong wrist bands, cycling jerseys, running apparel.  I have worn them proudly while I am out on the bike or at road races.  For crying out loud, my dog has a Livestrong leash.

I believed in you Lance.  I love what the manifesto of your organization stands for.  Twenty eight million people worldwide live with cancer.  You provided hope and inspiration about what could be possible for them in their lives. A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. 

I had a spirited argument on Twitter the other night about whether accepting sanctions from the USADA was an admission of guilt  and I was told “you would have to ask him.”

So here goes Lance.  If you won’t talk about this publicly anymore, you can tell me.  You can tell me what you didn’t tell Oprah Winfrey when she asked you on her show years ago.  Now is your chance to come clean once and for all.

This is what I need to know before I put my Livestrong Jersey and wristband back on, before I go walk my dog Rocky.

It is a yes or no answer.

I don’t need to hear that you are the most tested athlete in the world, that you have never failed a drug test or that you have never taken a banned substance.  That leaves the door open that you might have taken a substance.  There are rumors that you paid off the UCI (International Cycling Union) to cover up a failed drug test.

Is it true that you never took performance enhancing drugs, never took a substance of any kind? 

I need an answer that doesn’t depend on what the meaning of is, is.

No more non-denial denials.

Did you dope? 

Say it ain’t so Lance. 

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