Friday, 24 August 2012

O how the Mighty are fallen!

I would like to begin this article with an apology: please excuse me for publishing an article that has nothing to do with the subject matter of this blog, but this is an issue that I could not let pass. Also, I would like to make it quite clear that the following words constitute my own personal opinion and engage no other responsibility than my own. If they lead me into trouble then so be it: I shall stand by them and accept whatever effects – negative or otherwise – that saying them publicly might bring upon me.

I have long been a fan of competitive cycling. On a human level it is a tough sport, perhaps the toughest sport of all, particularly in its ultimate expression, the stage road race: for the best part of a month, pushing those pedals over vast distances, day in and day out, in all kinds of climate conditions, falling off and getting back on again…

Undoubtedly the most renowned of these multi-stage road races is the Tour de France, with its “Maillot Jaune” that echoes Jason’s Golden Fleece. And this morning, whilst sipping my coffee, I have learned that its aura and reputation have once more been sullied and dragged in the mud. To add insult to injury, it has been besmirched by a man who has achieved mythical and almost demi-godlike status, Lance Armstrong. Seven times he went out to conquer cycling’s Golden Fleece, and seven times he prevailed. Seven victories that were deemed even more laudable because the victor had successfully overcome cancer after a particularly tough medical therapy. [...]

However, Lance Armstrong has decided not to continue fighting doping charges brought against him by the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency). He will therefore be stripped of his seven Tour de France victories and banned for life from participating in any competitive sport that adheres to the WADA’s (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code of Conduct. This therefore means that those seven victories are worthless. Going further, it also means that the seven Tours held between 1999 and 2005 are transformed into worthless farces, making a mockery of the hard work, pain and suffering of the other competitors in the peloton. And all because one man decided to cheat in order to cross the finishing line in Paris. Seven times. And during that time he took on the role of “Monsieur Propre” (Mr Clean), as the French would say, hoodwinking the Tour’s organisers, the UCI and fans in the process.

At this point, as a cycling enthusiast, I would like to address Lance Armstrong directly:

Mr Armstrong, I despise you. You are a cheat and a liar: seven times you cheated and lied and debased cycling's greatest event, the Tour de France. You are a hypocrite: whilst cheating and lying your way to seven victories in the Tour de France, you had the gall to adopt the moral high ground and condemn doping and those who engaged in it and/or provided banned substances. You are a traitor: you have betrayed the trust and adulation of thousands of people around the world, cyclists and non-cyclists, young and old, men and women, who admired you for your exploits. You do not have the courage of your own convictions: if you did, if you had an ounce - nay, a gram - of common decency and self-respect as a man, you would have fought the accusations to the very end. But you have thrown in the towel. Why? Because you know that you would have been weighed and found wanting. Because you know that you cheated. Shame on you, Lance Armstrong, shame on you.

This turn of events will undoubtedly do great harm to the reputation of the Tour de France and to that of cycling in general, greater harm perhaps than all of the other doping scandals that have hit that event and the sport in recent years. What a shame and what a disgrace.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Marc. My biggest complaint is that by not admitting the truth, Armstrong is tacitly encouraging people to doubt and/or ignore science and truth. Had he not used drugs he might have been in the top 10, and perhaps even won a few tours. The youth of today have Usain Bolt to look up to, I am happy to say. Not all our heroes turn out to be cheats.