Competitive Cycling & The Tour De France: Drug-Driven . . . Or is Lance Armstrong Riding for a Bigger Purpose?
Lance Armstrong. Was he just cycling for a personal, previously-unattained, plateau? Was it the seven unprecedented Tour De France victories? Was it putting his stamp on the international world of the sport? Was he pedalling (Who can forget his storied mountain climbs?) just for the sake of this: A yellow jersey, bouquets of flowers, big gold medals, and all the ribbon awards?
This is an iffy “No/Yes” question – and an extremely awkward legal and social balance. Maybe, if his U.S. Postal teammates are right, alleged doping did fuel his victories.
But it cannot be denied: The money, the trophies, the accolades, and the commercials all go to one end – the ultimate defeat of cancer. This much is undeniable.
Let’s just forget the drug jokes and supposed “candid” observations. Mr. Armstrong is driven by a sheer strength of inner will: Find a cure for a dreaded disease. His eyes, sharp-focused daggers, pinpoint this goal. And his own successful battle against testicular cancer only reaffirms this.
His criminal defense attorney insists the accusations against Mr. Armstrong are a “hatchet job.” As Mr. Armstrong repeatedly cycled to Tour De France glory – in a sport already strongly-drenched with doping issues – was he actually being chased by two-wheeled resentment?
A number of co-riders, some former teammates and some competitors, have suddenly become instant critics. In an oily, unforgiving sport, this is to be expected. It is a part of the professional cycling landscape.
Maybe Mr. Armstrong, a Texas native, allegedly did cheat. Through a very sophisticated, exotic scheme of drugs and blood transfusions, supposedly concocted by an Italian doctor, he rode on to international triumph. Some say it was the most undetected, then-undiscovered scheme ever to be uncovered.
So he rode – hard – on drugs alone? Not likely. His strenuous training speaks miles – of roadwork and perseverance. And just maybe, he is also some modern-day Robin Hood . . . as a cycling superstar.
Mr. Armstrong’s intent has always been good – as is the heart of our country. His goal, to defeat cancer, is not in question. It never has been.
But as any criminal defense attorney might show . . . Whatever the intent, how one gets to the goal – to that record-breaking tape – does matter. A good drug defense lawyer could also speak to this: Good intent, in this case, sometimes outweighs bad, malicious press – and should be applied to Lance Armstrong.
Given this, what is the greater good for all of us? Just to focus on a gaudy array of trophies we can all mumble about? Or maybe to stand up and crow about the defeat of a devastating disease that touches almost all of us?