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Lance Armstrong: Cheating Scumbag

Lance Armstrong broke my heart. Or a tiny little bit of it, anyway.

I was a devout Lance groupie ever since reading his autobiography at university. It was the first time I had ever had any interest in the Tour de France (except when I was a kid and had a really annoying French exchange boy staying with me. He watched Le Tour on TV all day which spared us both from having to play together). Lance had cancer. He nearly died. He survived. He won the Tour de France! What a story! What a hero! What an inspiration!

Then when Lance gave Ullrich “the look” on Alpe d’Huez on 2001 I was completely smitten. Shortly after that I set off to cycle round the world. I thought of Lance often. When I was struggling up long mountain passes I’d get up out of the saddle, give my imaginary opponents “the look” and put on a sprint.

When it felt like the world was against me I thought of Lance’s “How do you like them apples?” quip, the me-against-the-world attitude that gave him such strength.

I lingered a few extra days in Vancouver just to watch and celebrate one of his Tour victories. Because for as long as I was cycling round the world, Lance was winning the Tour. At times it felt like we did it together. There I was, out on my own,”on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day” [a line from this inspirational / jaw-droppingly-bullshitting Nike Commercial]. So was Lance. Out on our bikes. Busting our ass. Us against the world. Hard work and sacrifice would get me round the world. Hard work and sacrifice won Lance seven consecutive Tour de France titles. I evangelised Lance’s story. I bought copy after copy of his book and gave them to people. I was stupidly excited when I eventually got a Livestrong yellow bracelet. I was fully signed up to the cult of Lance. He was my hero.

I arrived home at last. I began to write my story. It was a struggle. Nobody wanted to publish my book. But screw you, world, I’m going to persevere anyway. I’m going to finish this story. I sat at my desk day after day, month after month. Above my desk was a poster. It showed Lance, far from the cheering crowds and the glory of victory. He was alone, riding up a mountain in the Pyrenees in foul winter weather. The quote read,

“I rode, and I rode, and I rode. I rode like I had never ridden, punishing my body up and down every hill I could find. I rode when no one else would ride.”

Me too, Lance. Me too. I’m going to write this bloody book and it’s going to be as good as I can possibly make it. You and me against the world, Lance. Hard work will triumph in the end.

Through all the years of allegations about Lance’s drug use I defended him strongly. I secretly suspected that he might be up to something. But I hoped -I really hoped- that he was clean. That he was the inspirational figure he always loudly proclaimed himself to be. He passed hundreds of tests. I wanted to believe. So I believed. I felt sorry for all the cynics. Sorry they couldn’t believe in miracles. The Tour de France is a great event, and hard work wins it.

And that is the sentence that does it for me. For this is what Lance chose to say when handed the microphone on the podium on the Champs-Elysees.

Finally, the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics: I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe it. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I’ll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets – this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So Vive le Tour forever!

This elevates my disgust way above what I felt when Tyler Hamilton of the heroic feats with a broken collarbone (he hurt so bad, rode so hard that he ground his teeth down, for crying out loud!!), or Floyd Landis of the super-human solo breakaway both got outed as cheats. In fact, virtually everyone from those days got caught sooner or later. I feel pretty contemptuous towards all of them. But at least folk like David Millar, in his excellent book, portray a sense of self-disgust and regret at what they did.

The only regret Lance Armstrong appears to feel, since he was left with no option but to admit to having cheated in every single one of his Tour victories, is that he got caught.

Cheating was one thing. Showing no remorse is another. Being an unpleasant bully yet another. In fact I always used to defend Armstrong for “not being a nice guy”. I didn’t care about that. If you want someone nice, I always said, go read about Mother Theresa. But if you want someone inspirational, a role model for hard work and perseverance, then Lance is your man. Because not only was he a champion, he was vocal about how he raced clean, about hard work and good old-fashioned heroism.

And this is the crux of why I feel so disappointed by Armstrong. He could have just cheated and kept his head down as best he could, like all the rest. He could have stood on the podium, avoided eye contact with the world and muttered a platitude or two. (He could, if he had the wit and the humility have declared he was now going to draw the raffle tickets, as Bradley Wiggins did this year). But no, he created this wonderful, mythic hero story. Yet he was nothing of the sort. He’s a lying, cheating scumbag.

So, on to the future. Because cycling is a wonderful sport. Its essence is pure and simple. It’s about guts and hard work. That’s why I love it. That’s why it will survive. The abscess will be lanced. The new superstars -Wiggo et al- ride clean and work hard. And, best of all, The Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire next year! The greatest bloody sporting event on Earth is passing just a couple of miles from the lanes where I learned to ride and dreamed of the adventures that a bicycle can take you on! And I shall be there, cheering on the Tour. Because I at least agree with Lance when he said,

“I’ll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live.”

Finally, because I don’t suppose I’ll want to watch these ever again, here are a few of my favourite moments from the wonderful years when I believed in the myth.

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Comments

  1. Toon Boy Posted

    Mate this is so naive. You are not an expert about professional cycling are you so why do you think you are? You cycled round the world (fair play on that one) but dont think you know anout proper sport because you dont know anything. jumping on the bandwagon. just saying…

    Reply
    • Toon Boy, what’s your personal opinion, if you don’t agree with Al’s?

      Reply
    • I have to admit I wasn’t expecting so much bias either. Like you said in the post ” I secretly suspected that he might be up to something.” I think that the reality for many of us during this whole revelation has been to have suspicions confirmed, rather than be brutally shocked by something we’d never even imagined.

      What Armstrong did was wrong, and I’m sure that very few people doubt he was a selfish, narcissistic bully. But nobody is ever removed from their circumstances and nobody, no matter how much wrong they have done, is ever solely responsible for just wrongdoing.

      One-sided arguments like this and the us of phrases like “cheating scumbag” are just a tad too black and white for me.

      Reply
      • “Virtually 100 percent of my cancer patients all feel that (Armstrong) has done far more good than any damage he’s done,” said Einhorn, who works at the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.

        Let him tell you about the mixed bag that will always be Lance Armstrong; a quandary perhaps only fully understand by those who have faced cancer. If a man helps them endure some of the darkest days of their lives, they won’t turn on him because of how he won a bicycle race.”

        Reply
      • Alastair Posted

        Normally I would agree with you. But not here, I’m afraid!
        😉

        Reply
    • Ben Hunter Posted

      Hey Toon Boy, hows it going? Bit of a chip on your solder? I am a little confused by your comment, why do you feel as though this blog was naive? At what point in the blog did Al make claim that he was a professional cyclist? I could argue and say;

      Are you a professional sports or literary commentator? Then why do you feel you have the right to comment on other peoples work?

      I will not make that point though because that would be some what naive of me.

      You said Al does not know anything about “proper sport” because all he did was cycle around the world. I’m sorry, when did cycling stop being a sport? If darts is a sport then I am pretty sure that any form of cycling can be classed as a sport. I also feel compelled to mention that it seems to me to be a rather naive view point that only people who participate in “proper sports” can comment on the Lance story. I wonder what “proper sports” you do?

      I am sure you can appreciate the way Lance and his story is far reaching, connecting with people who have suffered from cancer, people who cycle, people who compete, people who enjoy sport, people with drug issues of their own or just people who used him as a role model to name but a few. Surly all these people who were some how effected by the Lance story have just as much right to comment on it? I fail to understand why you feel only “proper sports” people can pass judgement on what has happened.

      If sharing your opinions on current events is “jumping on the band wagon” then make room for I am about to jump.

      It saddens me that the only remorse Lance appears to feel is not towards the people he has hurt or put down over the years but by the fact that his own name is now stained and he can no longer gloat in the hero image that he had built up around himself. It is disappointing that he did not win all those titles clean but not surprising. What his doping does not do however is detract from the many achievements that other people have done whilst inspired by the Lance story and that is a great legacy of personal ambition that his drugs, thankfully, can not stain.

      Reply
  2. So true and every one of your words reflect how I feel. He got me into cycling, the Tour and gave me that extra edge when i was training. Now it’s like something is missing. I used to believe in him and go out of my way to defend his cause, but now…
    Worse thing is he seems to have no remorse, he just has the same bad attitude he had before!
    But as I said once,
    “Nothing justifies cheating, drug use and lying about everything just for money. Lance Armstrong is a big disappointment and a good example of what not to do in life. Success is not about wining at all costs its about enjoying the ride!”

    Reply
  3. Great blog – written from the heart as he obviously had a big effect on you.
    Not sure how you could be accused of being naive, but clearly the professional athlete from the Toon is in a position to criticise.
    If there is a bandwagon, I’ll be on yours thanks

    Reply
  4. Exactly this! Lance was my first experience of The Tour, I read his book, I thought he was amazing (if very *American*) . I have also felt let down and am shocked at the difference between his behaviour and that of David Millar. The only thing I would say is that doping or not, these guys are still riding really hard. It’s no excuse and its no consolation but they are still riding their assess off!

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      I certainly agree that it is still amazing what they did. It’s just the sanctimonious stuff that grates.

      Reply
      • The sanctimony is part of his unpleasant persona. He wasn’t likeable before we knew he was a drug taker.
        For me, I don’t care. He is still a formidable, focussed athlete. He trained hard in all weathers to build the foundation that the drugs could enhance.

        Reply
  5. Not much of a difference between pro cycling and reality shows, then. We all know they’re not true but fun to look at, anyway. But in my opinion the same goes for a lot of pro sports – football, for example. There’s just too much money in it to let it going on “unsupervised”.

    Reply
  6. I’m not particularly bothered about the doping itself ” a no-brainer choice between doing what everyone else is doing or finding a new career ” but the utter arrogance of the hero myth built around it kills any remaining sympathy.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      An excellent, pithy summary.

      Reply
    • Oooooooh, a lot can be said about this argument, but I’m not sure you are right here Tom. Let’s not forget that not everyone else was doing it. No thought is given to the honest lads who at some point were given that ultimatum by the bully boys. Their whole life’s dreams and years of pain and training coming down to one moral decision. That is some serious strength to turn away under that pressure. Ruthlessly those lads are now probably working in a bike shop somewhere (not that that’s a bad thing, but you know what I mean!!). Tom, are you saying you would have chosen LA’s route?

      Regardless, the guy is an animal on the saddle. He is still someone to look up to as and when illness strikes (life or death choice, his ethos won). He is calculated, devious and so far wrapped in up in his world of lies that I am amazed he even admitted to it all. A friend of mine (a professional sportsman), actually said that he strangely admired this absurd belief that Armstrong had – a convincing belief that his life was not a lie, and ‘how dare you accuse me or I’ll sue you’. I think it is more worrying that in all walks of life, there are men like this out there.

      Lastly, if the sport is now clean (and ‘they’ say it is), the huge saga has still sewn a horrible seed of doubt that the the current crop of British pedalling animals don’t deserve.

      Great write up Al, I’m sure this one will go on a bit.

      Reply
    • No way. People who tried to tell the truth about him were, bullied, ostracised and sued. Bad person, period.

      If everyone else is cheating then the correct attitude is to speak against it, leave the sport etc.

      Reply
  7. I completely agree with everything you have written Al. My personal journey was about two feet rather than 2 wheels, but I was a total fan of Lance and believed, like you, that if he could achieve all he had on sheer hard work and determination, then I could too. So sad to have all that tarnished. I keep finding things around my flat – a DVD of his exploits, a t-shirt, a book or my Livestrong wrist band and wonder what to do with them all. Maybe keep them as a reminder not of what can be achieved, but that real achievements – whilst less spectacular – are so much more meaningful than those of a cheat.

    Reply
  8. Hi Al- Great post. It’s certainly an emotive topic.

    Being a former member of the Lance brigade, I too largely agree with the above sentiments.
    However, despite the fact that Lance’s story may now officially be considered a work of fiction, I can’t help but feel that it is a tale from which many of us unwittingly profited.

    The story encouraged many to change habits, to cycle, to compete, to train harder and to race faster. To remain defiant against adversity and, essentially, to overcome. This is no bad thing. The fact that he is now disgraced should have little impact upon individual ambitions, and, whilst I’m certainly not defending the man (who’s clearly tragically flawed), I certainly won’t be hanging up my bike. We may have been fed a dishonest cocktail of placebo and nonsense- but, for some, it was clearly a welcome dose.

    The ‘miracle’ has been disproved, but just by attempting to emulate it in our own way, surely our lives are slightly better as a result?

    Let this be a lesson in the dangers of mindless (media -driven) veneration. . .

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      There’s no doubt I profited: he taught me to work harder, to set higher standards, to demand more of myself. They are all good things and I am glad to have learned them, even from a cheating scumbag.

      Reply
  9. Alex McIntosh Posted

    Great blog, I can completely understand why you feel so strongly. Looking back on your bike trip and what kept you going must leave a bitter taste in your mouth now you realise he was lying all along.

    I always defended him based on the grounds of all the good he has done in raising the profile of cycling and inspiring other people. However the more I look at past footage of him the more I dislike him as a person.

    Reply
  10. Isn’t it amazing that personal reflections like these (great by the way) get silly comments? There is no true or false in a reflection.

    On second thought, you might want to pick up a copy of “The Missionary Position”, with regards to that Mother Teresa comment. Sorry to burst that bubble as well 😉

    Reply
  11. Kate E Smith Posted

    I will keep it short. I agree with all you said. There is no real room for cheats in my sports except where there is true regret and humility.Our up and coming next generation need to hear a fallen star apologise and promise to help others not to make the same mistakes.You don’t need to like a guy just because he’s good but you do need to believe in him.

    Living in the Yorkshire Dales I can hardly believe my luck that I live on the actual route to be taken by the Tour in 2014. My home is already full of early bookings roll on..

    Reply
  12. Oooooooh, a lot can be said about this argument, but I’m not sure you are right here Tom. Let’s not forget that not everyone else was doing it. No thought is given to the honest lads who at some point were given that ultimatum by the bully boys. Their whole life’s dreams and years of pain and training coming down to one moral decision. That is some serious strength to turn away under that pressure. Ruthlessly those lads are now probably working in a bike shop somewhere (not that that’s a bad thing, but you know what I mean!!). Tom, are you saying you would have chosen LA’s route?

    Regardless, the guy is an animal on the saddle. He is still someone to look up to as and when illness strikes (life or death choice, his ethos won). He is calculated, devious and so far wrapped in up in his world of lies that I am amazed he even admitted to it all. A friend of mine (a professional sportsman), actually said that he strangely admired this absurd belief that Armstrong had – a convincing belief that his life was not a lie, and ‘how dare you accuse me or I’ll sue you’. I think it is more worrying that in all walks of life, there are men like this out there.

    Lastly, if the sport is now clean (and ‘they’ say it is), the huge saga has still sewn a horrible seed of doubt that the the current crop of British pedalling animals don’t deserve.

    Great write up Al, I’m sure this one will go on a bit.

    Reply
  13. Totally agree with you Al. For me it is not the cheating aspect. It is the righteousness attitude he had all those years. The fact that he built his fortune one “his” commendable attitude – LiveStrong! Right!! That he did commercials on the fact that he was clean – all that for me sickens me. While Madoff robbed people of their money, Armstrong betrayed all the people he once inspired – proving that all his big talk was nothing but drugs. Indeed what a scumbag!

    Reply
  14. Funnily enough I have been waiting for you to do this post for a while, think you needed to do it. I have to take issue with your claim that the event is still the “greatest”. It’s been completely ruined for me by all the cheating. It’s amazing the naivete with which people assume it’s clean now. Yes there is some evidence of slower times and improved testing/passports (I am certainly not an expert) but as far as I am concerned it will be tained for a long time. How do we really know whether it’s clean or not anymore?

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      I hesitated to write the sentence about it still being “the greatest event.” I agree a lot with what you say.
      But I deliberately left it in because I want to forget all the bad times, to ‘forgive’ the race, and reclaim (perhaps naively) my faith in the race and the racers of today.

      Reply
      • I agree with Al, it is still the “greatest event”, the longest, hardest of any. The intensity that they ride at for 3 weeks is beyond comprehension for most of us. And this is precisely why it became so attractive to cheat.

        I read and was inspired by Lance’s books when I first started riding, but over the years realised it was probably tarnished in some way. Where the USADA report shocked me was the extent and the ruthless nature in which it was organised.

        Although the argument could be put forward that Lance did a lot of good and we (myself included) benefited from it, there are plenty of other inspirational figures from the world of cycling which haven’t had the exposure of the Lance money-making-marketing machine. European cyclists didn’t need Lance for inspiration, it is because the UK and US didn’t have such a relationship with cycling that we clung on to this “hero” so dearly in my opinion.

        We’re past it now, lets enjoy it for what it is, there will always be people willing to cheat in all walks of life, but with the blood passports etc. People will now get caught more often than not. There is also immense pressure from the public and sponsors not to.

        Reply
  15. Nice blog. Yep that about covers it.

    Reply
  16. I have to admit that I am still a great fan of Lance, despite the latest outcomings. Not that I know him personally, nor that I think that we’de become friends if I had the chance to meet him. I am a fan of him because, nevertheless he’s the reason for one of the biggest scandals we’ve seen recently, I think that he’s still a great athlete and has acchieved extraordinary on a personal level.

    Although he could have rejected the practise of enhancing his performance by use of illegal substances (couldn’t he?), what he did in my mind does not show a criminal attitude, it just shows committing to a common practice, the practice of professional sports.

    As much as I don’t like it and as much as I see the damage done to the role of sports icons in general by providing a rolemodel for many, the underlying fact that we have to accept is that professional sports is about money, big money.

    As long as there is so much money involved, athletes but even more, coaches, team managers etc. will be searching out ways and means to enhance the performance of athletes, this going back to ancient greece or even further.

    Personally I believe this should be accepted as a fact and in a further step discussed how to deal with it and which measures need to be taken to preserve the health of the athlete, his reputation/the reputation of the team and the reputation of the people who invest in them, be it financial or ideational.

    My 2 cents. Great new website design, Al, love it!

    Reply
  17. I believe firmly that the situation is not as simple as it has been made out to be by the media.
    AL Humphreys, you should give Lance Armstrong the benefit of the doubt.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Sadly, I don’t think there is anything to doubt. He has admitted cheating in all 7 of his Tour victories.

      Reply
      • That’s true, but the fact that he successfully defended himself in court several times and passed every drugs test he was subjected to for 10 years or so doesn’t go away. His confession also comes as he starts to make a move in triathlon.

        I’m probably just playing devil’s advocate. I’m not saying that he DIDN’T cheat, I just get the distinct feeling that there is a lot to this case that we the public aren’t being told.

        Reply
        • Sorry Keiran, he did fail at least one test, the corticosteroids one at the 1999 tour, a phoney backdated exemption use was used to excuse it when he hadn’t previously declared taking this. There’s giving the benefit of the doubt and then there’s buying into the (erroneous) myth.

          Reply
  18. I completely agree with the passion you feel about Armstrong. I too, along with yourself and many others were inspired by Armstrong and the 7 tour wins.
    I remember naively stating to friends and work colleagues in the months leading up to the USADA report that he hadn’t failed a test, how could he be positive. It was with initial deep sadness that I finally realised the full extent of the deceit. I too felt cheated.
    The only positive spin I can think of is that there will be countless people like you were inspired to set off round the world, and their own personal equivalent, who were able to struggle on and on when otherwise they may have stopped.
    On a personal note I wouldn’t have cycled to Istanbul from my home in Yorkshire!
    I can’t decide whether being an inspiration and obviously all of the cancer work provides any sort of justification to being a cheat and a bully. Unfortunately I believe that if it wasn’t Lance, it would be somebody else. It is simply that Lance was able to win 7 in a row precisely because he wasn’t the sort of personality to be quiet on the podium and not make eye contact. His greatest form of defence was attack.
    Interesting topic…

    Reply
  19. Al, great post and agree. Loss of belief hurts me too.

    Everyone needs to believe in something, and doing so enables us to do extraordinary things.

    Someone said a cynic is a disappointed idealist.

    I am determined not to be cynical. But have written off LA completely. He is a psychopath.

    Not sure what to do with his books though…. I feel a cleansing ritual coming on.

    Reply
  20. Hi Al, interested to know if you’ve read Tyler Hamilton’s book and if so your thoughts are on it? Seams to me it read’s with a pretty decent sense of honesty and if to be believed as accurate then pretty much close’s the debate on LA from tdf point of view.

    Reply
  21. I too was a massive fan of Lance ArseStrong (sic). My own groupie-path took me from lying in a hospital bed, not knowing if I would live through the night, through reading his book during convalescence, to cycling from Dieppe to the top of the Col du Galibier to watch him fly past in the 2003 tour, and as a way of proving to myself that I was well again.
    I still appreciate the inspiration he provided, but boy do I now feel a fool! Al, you speak very well for people like me who took the bait, hook line and sinker. In my 50 years on the planet, I have never allowed myself to fall into starry-eyed hero-worship with anyone else. It is difficult not to allow Mr A’s deceit make one think twice before viewing anyone else through rose-tinted spectacles (but, hey Al, you’re doing great – just own up now if you really didn’t cycle round the world, but got the bus! 🙂 )
    And finally … if you can find a copy of Radio5’s “Peddlers – Cycling’s Dirty Truth”, it makes for interesting listening. Why did the UCI agree to testing regimes that were so easy to dodge? As with so much these days, find out who stands to gain the most financially, and you will discover a shabby world run by the very wealthy for the benefit of their own kind.

    Reply
  22. Reuben Hutton Posted

    Great, powerful post Al – I’ve been a huge fan of your writing ever since I discovered your material, and you never fail to deliver the goods, especially when the quality of deliverance matters. For me it’s entirely understandable why someone would want, maybe even need to write a post such as this. Believing in, and in may cases, growing up whilst believing in such a cycling icon as Lance for so many years would undoubtedly make a revelation such as this angering and heart-breaking. I myself was one of his many believers, though I wouldn’t go as far to say I was one of his fans; I tend to admite people with great levels of humility (athletes such as Wiggins, or Kilian Jornet, for example), rather than great levels of achievement (although both those examples have achieved massively). Nevertheless, I choose to see the bigger picture of a disaster such as this, and would always choose to forgive and forget someone such as Lance for their wrongdoings, no matter how great. As hard as it may be for some people to do this, I believe it’s the best way to move on, with refreshed clarity and confidence that it will never happen again, at least not to this unprecedented scale. For what it’s worth, I’ve met many people like Lance during my life, and some are even family members. Seeing beneath their egos affords a great level of vision at times when its most needed. I believe there are things we can all take away from Lance’s story at the end of the day though, and one of those things is wisdom. For many he was a massive source of inspiration when he was dominating the sport, and this, like Ben said, does not detract from the gains people haven taken from him, and perhaps still benefit from today. I think in this way, growing is the one thing we cannot stop doing.

    Reply
  23. Lance gets no sympathy from me only his kids who now have to deal with the shitstorm and the knowledge that their dad is a cheat and a liar. The whole story for me now is inspiration to live an honest life for myself and for those who’s opinions matter to me!

    Reply
  24. I agree with a number of your points Al.
    Like you I was inspired by Armstrong, I have defended him many times in arguments at pub or work against the cyclist haters. That speech on the podium in Paris was also what annoyed me most, why didn’t he just keep his gob shut?
    There is no doubt he is an arrogant, ruthless person, on the other hand I do agree with him that he won those Tours on “a level playing field” Riis, Ulrich, Pantani won the 3 tours prior to Armstrong all on the same drugs, yet they all keep their titles while Armstrong loses his? Those 3 along with Basso, Zulle, Beloki and Vinokourov, etc were all taking drugs so yes they were all competing on the same level. so his 7 tours is still an incredible achievement.
    Cycling always seems to get hammered for drugs taking while other sports get away with it. At least cycling has tackled the problem and most of the riders are now clean.
    I’m sure other sports are soon to be exposed, Australia have just revealed that many of their top sportsmen have been involved in drug taking ( can’t think of many top Aussies off hand!) and The Dr Fuentes blood doping trial in Spain is very interesting, the Dr said his clients come from many sports including Athletics, Tennis and Football. The judge has said he will only hear evidence against cyclists!! Mmmm how have Spain suddenly become the worlds best football team I wonder!
    Back to Armstrong, a bully, a liar and betraying people definitely, but at the same time he has raised a vast amount of money for cancer research, How many sportsmen can say that? Finally his famous book was titled “Its not about the bike” A bit of a clue there?

    Reply
  25. Every time I see the LiveStrong foundation advertising I cant help but feel torn in two. One one hand they are doing a fantastic job raising money for charity and gave so many people so much help but how bad must the staff be feeling knowing that they gave so much of their time for such a headless cause. The only saving grace is that the corruption stopped at the top and the vast majority of the oganisation is wholly committed to the cause.

    Reply
  26. William combs Posted

    Nice judgemental opinion.
    Lance played the game the same way all his competitors played. The majority of his competitors have either been busted or admitted PED use. Where’s your story on that? Oh, I guess that’s not the popular topic these days.
    The ironic thing about this article is that it makes you out to be an even bigger “scumbag” the villain you make Lance out as.
    Sad excuse for responsible journalism.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Hi William,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I did acknowledge in my piece that others were doping too. Here’s why Armstrong particularly riles me… When he said:

      Finally, the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics: I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe it. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I’ll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets – this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So Vive le Tour forever!

      This elevates my disgust way above what I felt when Tyler Hamilton of the heroic feats with a broken collarbone (he hurt so bad, rode so hard that he ground his teeth down, for crying out loud!!), or Floyd Landis of the super-human solo breakaway both got outed as cheats. In fact, virtually everyone from those days got caught sooner or later. I feel pretty contemptuous towards all of them. But at least folk like David Millar, in his excellent book, portray a sense of self-disgust and regret at what they did.

      The only regret Lance Armstrong appears to feel, since he was left with no option but to admit to having cheated in every single one of his Tour victories, is that he got caught.

      Cheating was one thing. Showing no remorse is another. Being an unpleasant bully yet another. In fact I always used to defend Armstrong for “not being a nice guy”. I didn’t care about that. If you want someone nice, I always said, go read about Mother Theresa. But if you want someone inspirational, a role model for hard work and perseverance, then Lance is your man. Because not only was he a champion, he was vocal about how he raced clean, about hard work and good old-fashioned heroism.

      And this is the crux of why I feel so disappointed by Armstrong. He could have just cheated and kept his head down as best he could, like all the rest. Finally, the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the sceptics: I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe it. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I’ll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets – this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So Vive le Tour forever!

      This elevates my disgust way above what I felt when Tyler Hamilton of the heroic feats with a broken collarbone (he hurt so bad, rode so hard that he ground his teeth down, for crying out loud!!), or Floyd Landis of the super-human solo breakaway both got outed as cheats. In fact, virtually everyone from those days got caught sooner or later. I feel pretty contemptuous towards all of them. But at least folk like David Millar, in his excellent book, portray a sense of self-disgust and regret at what they did.

      The only regret Lance Armstrong appears to feel, since he was left with no option but to admit to having cheated in every single one of his Tour victories, is that he got caught.

      Cheating was one thing. Showing no remorse is another. Being an unpleasant bully yet another. In fact I always used to defend Armstrong for “not being a nice guy”. I didn’t care about that. If you want someone nice, I always said, go read about Mother Theresa. But if you want someone inspirational, a role model for hard work and perseverance, then Lance is your man. Because not only was he a champion, he was vocal about how he raced clean, about hard work and good old-fashioned heroism.

      And this is the crux of why I feel so disappointed by Armstrong. He could have just cheated and kept his head down as best he could, like all the rest.

      Reply
  27. Richard Hamer Posted

    Here’s what I wrote about Lance when he confessed to Oprah http://www.richardhamer.co.uk/crisis-management-vs-lance-armstrong-vs-oprah-winfrey/

    Reply
  28. I never believed the allegations at first, I just didn’t think someone could live with this lie for so long. It seemed as though he had convinced himself that it was ok because other people did it too. I was utterly gobsmacked when he admitted it.

    Reply
  29. I can remember watching the interview with Oprah and he showed absolutely no remorse. Very, very disappointing after everything he had gone through and achieved. I’ve used his story as motivation over the years. Even though it was Lance that cheated, I feel cheated myself. Great post Alastair.

    Reply
  30. Bill Combs Posted

    Alastair – You are nothing but an altruistic scum. A saying about stones and glass houses comes to mind, but I am sure that wouldn’t apply to you; now would it?

    Reply

 
 

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