Saturday, January 19, 2013


Lance. Waving bye bye to his credibility. 

On the day of his 'big' revelation, I feel a need to lay down some words about Lance.

Anyone who's had testicular cancer, nay any cancer, has looked to him as a figurehead, so how do I reconcile the person whose books helped show me the way with the smouldering heap his reputation has now become.

To be honest, I always thought he'd done the drugs. Maybe he protested too much, maybe it's a bit of a case of 'where there's smoke there's fire. Maybe I just did the sums and figured that if all his fellow competitors had been busted one by one over the years, it didn't really add up that he smoked them all for seven years. We always thought he was a superman, but that's just a little too super for my suspicions.

Whatever the case, I didn't care. I didn't want him to get busted. As the nets drew in around him I was sure he'd slip them, uncatchable because maybe just maybe he didn't. The world needs heroes and I don't like seeing them go down. It upsets, as he said, my belief in miracles'.

Then he got busted. Big time.

So how did I feel about it? At first, I still didn't care. I figured if the whole sport was doing it then does it really erase his legacy? He still beat all the other dopers so it's still a huge thing to have won seven times. This article changed my mind. When you make yourself such a hero from doping you make it impossible for anyone to ever be a hero without doping. And you relegate any competitor who chooses to stay strong and clean to the place of also ran at best. You make a generation into dopers.

Nonetheless, tarnished cycling legacy or not, I still liked him. He's done so much to help cancer patients that I forgave him that.

Next I read about his bully boy tactics. This rocked me a little more. So now not only was his cycling prowess built on a lie, so was his nice guy persona. Nice in front of camera, self serving away from it.  Hmm, sad but not so unusual. Tiger Woods, anyone?

And what was I left with? A not very nice drug cheat who helped raise millions for cancer, made survivorship sexy and gave me years of hope that one day I would win seven Tour de Frances.

His interview with Oprah made me hate the hatable parts even more. I felt like I was watching a narcissist try to be good but not knowing how. He doesn't get that, as the guy who gained most from cheating, he deserves the biggest penalty. He doesn't get that cheating and getting busted is one thing and smiting honest people who dared stand up to him is another. He doesn't get that he tried to be a figurehead for clean sport and that turned him into its biggest enemy. He's like a kid done wrong. He's been spanked and he doesn't quite get what what he did was bad.

But still, I say thanks. If he'd just survived what he went through with cancer and never raced again he'd be inspiring to me. To me, the fact that he used a lot of his evil gains to do good with Livestong is still worth a lot. He did bad but he used it to do good. And that good helped a lot of people and will keep helping a lot of people. He and his yellow wristbands helped keep cancer firmly in the world's psyche. That's awesome, and nothing can take away from that, even if the profile he used to do it was built on a lie.

So Lance, if you're out there, you're a jerk. You blew everyone's belief in miracles, at a time when the world needs them most. You cheated, you lied, you bullied, you deserve everything you got coming. As a cyclist, your name is mud.

But Lance the cancer survivor, I still have faith in. The things you wrote in your books about how it feels to face death and see it off, the idea that we survivors are the lucky ones. They came from a better place in you, and they stuck with me throughout treatment and beyond.

So that's for nothing and thanks for everything. And I hope the legacy you created in the fight against cancer isn't tarnished by legacy you created on the bike.

Footnote: A funny photo doing the rounds at the moment in Australia. Love a librarian with a sense of humour

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