The Lance Effect

Lance and Johan after another Tour win.
Lance and Johan after another Tour win.

Like most of the world, I watched Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong last night. As much as I wanted to record it, go to bed and watch it this morning, I felt like I needed to watch it along with everyone else. And, like a few other people I know, I was wearing my Livestrong bracelet. And my Livestrong pull-over, too, for that matter. I watched the interview on TV, and during commercial breaks (which happened after every question it seemed) I was on my phone, switching between Twitter and Facebook. I wanted to see what others were saying, if they felt the same as I did, and the consensus was yes.

I noticed that on Twitter the mood was more, eff you Lance, here’s something funny. On Facebook there was more disbelief and shock. I guess that’s the nature of friends and those I follow.

The Look. Lance and Jans Ullrich.
The Look. Lance and Jans Ullrich.

As I said in June, I knew he doped. How could you not? His ‘perfect story’ was perfect to me when he was racing and I remember being in awe while watching the Tour. This is long before I was anything like a serious cyclist, and knew just how hard it was to compete in the sport at any level. After watching Lance win time after time I thought he was unstoppable. I fretted during the ’03 tour when it looked like his win wasn’t assured. I remember “The Look,” the crash with the spectator, the having to jump off the bike and run through a field. I remember thinking Jan Ulrich was a jerk, France was full of idiots and dopers could never be forgiven.

For my 16th birthday I got my first new road bike, the Trek, and have a sticker on it commemorating Lance’s 6th win. I had, which now my sister has, a USPS thermal kit, and I still have team cards from the 2000 USPS team, most of which have been caught doping. I’ve been to three Livestrong Challenges where Lance spoke, and had Ryan get pictures of him as he rode past. There’s a picture of me on Facebook with Chris Carmichael, Lance’s longtime coach.

Lance puts his 'cross skills to use.
Lance puts his ‘cross skills to use.

All those memories aren’t lies. I still remember them, and how I felt when they took place, but that ‘perfect story’ was a lie. Yes, he came back from cancer to resume his place as a professional cyclist, and that would have been remarkable enough, but like Barney Stinson he went just a bit too far. Ok, a lot too far. I’ve been slowly realizing since ’06 that Lance didn’t compete clean. He was using everything he was able to, and more than likely the rest of the cyclists I followed had, too.

According to what I was reading last night a lot of my friends had tried to believe for so long that everyone else was lying, he had been clean. When he finally admitted it, they felt betrayed and sick, and rightly so.

Tomorrow’s interview looks like it’ll deal with his family, sponsors and Livestrong Foundation. I will be out of the state, sans computer and without control over the TV, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch it, but I will definitely watch a recording.

What’s next for Lance? I personally think, as I said in my previous post, that he should open up completely and tell us, or at least USADA and WADA everything. How he did it, who else did it and who facilitated it. We already know that Johan is screwed and Ferrari is banned, but there’s others out there who helped.

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2 Responses to The Lance Effect

  1. Hey Ashley. People (non-cyclists, I must add) have been asking me how I feel about the “Lance Armstrong” thing — like it makes a difference to me somehow — as if riding a bike makes us all related. I guess on many levels I knew he was doping, but I chose not to believe it. I’m a Pollyanna that way. It’s a character fault. Lance denied the accusations of doping and without evidence proving otherwise, I thought he deserved the benefit of the doubt — an innocent until proven guilty kinda thing — though I guess I really knew the truth all along and just chose to ignore it. Sad really.

  2. Let’s say that sport governing bodies insist that athletes warrant that all of their endorsement contracts contain a poison pill clause, in which the athlete is contractually bound to refund in full all monies paid shoud it be determined that the athlete used performance enhancing drugs before or during the term of said contract. Doping is over if that was instituted, IMHO.