Lance Armstrong: Fall From Grace, Doping & Scheming, A Final Cycling Lap Down Memory Lane . . . & Now Tarnished by Drugs?
It’s eerily similar to what happened to legendary coach Joe Paterno – with some twists. Bicycle wheels, not the gridiron.
One day Joe Paterno is the royalty, on top of the college football mountain, then he is -suddenly – riding a fast fall to Nothing, a destructive force courtesy of convicted predator Jerry Sandusky. Paterno wept. And died – as much from cancer as from a broken heart. Is Lance Armstrong weeping?
Almost overnight Lance Armstrong too has had his sudden, meteoric crash.
But both, Paterno and Armstrong, gambled for a good.
Whereas Paterno may have extended his career too long – a man on a mission to seemingly cement himself into history, all the while ignoring serious criminal activity – Lance Armstrong may have exceeded even this, wanting more than just sports history.
Allegedly, he may have tried all sorts of doping schemes, committing wrongdoing while cycling, while being an icon in a sports arena not often appreciated in the U.S.
And this may be the single, biggest slow-to-fast fall from grace in the sports arena -ironically in a sport (allegedly) regularly scrutinized for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) usage – more than professional baseball and football combined. And millions of dollars are swirling – trophy money, etc. – to be collected, as compensation by many parties.
To be fair, the whistle blowers in international cycling are sometimes “over the top,” a part of a cycling culture mostly unknown to us – a culture partly conceived by national or team pride, and part by competitive reality. NASCAR should be included, its rough culture of win-or-lose sometimes similar.
Now Lance Armstrong joins the short list. Once king of the Tour de France mountain, literally – Who can forget his mountain “attacks”? – now he is banned for life from competitive cycling. As far as the international cycling community is concerned, everything he has won is forfeit.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) report is a sledgehammer: Doping, collusion, scheming, aggressive influence of witnesses, intentional lying before a legally-formed arbitration panel . . . and the list goes on.
At this point it seems no criminal lawyer or criminal defense will work . . . or is necessary. One day the tumble-down reality, the facts, will show up. Armstrong has stepped down from Livestrong. All his sponsors have cut ties with him. His image and camp are a mess.
At best, Lance Armstrong seems like a Robin Hood on a bike. His goal: Livestrong and the continuity of a charity vigorously fighting cancer and enabling/empowering victims. And, apparently, despite whatever the means.
As said before in earlier expressions, do the means justify the ends? An awkward contrast: On the one hand, Joe Paterno – with a hall-of-fame legacy – was undermined by Jerry Sandusky and predatory sexual abuse. He seems guilty of knowledge, hubris, vanity, and finally, of passive acceptance.
Lance Armstrong? To a prosecutor, his pride and alleged guilt may be active intent. Now it appears to be: He won through an alleged, sophisticated scheme of doping and transfusions, of deceit and misdirection. A means to an end?
In this day and age . . . of smart phones, of instant texting, of “What have you done for me lately (today)”, it is sad: Joe Paterno wanted to create a future (and did) for Penn State – but also saw his legacy torn to shreds.
80 million yellow Livestrong wristbands have been distributed, and are worn. Did Lance Armstrong knowingly sacrifice himself – that his worldwide charity will continue, to fight cancer and enable individuals to cope?
Robin Hood? Or a selfwilled doper? It continues to be a gray, slippery slope. A balance of justice to be addressed.