Let me start by saying I don’t know the truth about this whole Lance Armstrong thing. I suspect only Lance, and a select few of his crew, know the actual truth, but like everyone else I’m not going to let that stop me from spouting my opinion on the matter.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Lance Armstrong was stripped, yesterday, of his seven Tour de France victories.
By attempting to enter the Tour de France, once more, he reopened the statute of limitations in his drug inquiry and faced more investigation and court time.
He decided it was not worth the battle and quit, saying he would not fight the inquiry and thereby forfeited his victories.
Since then there’s been quite the buzz, both from fans and critics. This morning I woke to a Facebook post expressing dismay and eight subsequent comments voicing their support for Lance and ire against the evil sports establishment. Here was my reply:
“Really guys? If he was clean he would still be fighting this. Face it, professional sports at this level demands some form of doping. It’s the great hypocrisy of sport. I don’t blame him so much for doping (even though I think it’s cheating) as I do the soap box and outright lying to the public.”
Over the years I’ve had the chance to meet and work with athletes from a variety of sports at a variety of levels. Steroid use, doping and other forms of enhancement inevitably find their way into conversation.
I know athletes who use, some who did and now don’t, and others who say they never have and never will. What’s of general consensus is, it works. What’s of debate — whether or not they should be used.
The “hypocrisy of sport” is as spectators we expect our athletes to perform at levels that demand enhancement. We didn’t start doping, competition and the desire to win at all costs own that, but like any junky, once we got a taste, we wanted more.
Like modern day gladiators our athletes know that while their sport may be the vehicle of their success, pleasing the crowd is how they maintain it. Many are willing to do that to the detriment of their own health. Those who are not, we don’t even know about any more.
I don’t think Lance is a bad person. LiveStrong has been a highly beneficial charity and I commend Lance for the work he’s done, the inspiration he’s provided to cancer sufferers. I don’t blame him for doping. Personally, I think it’s cheating, but I understand the realities of sport that demand it.
But, what about us? What’s our need to build someone else up, to place them so high on a pedestal they can’t help but fall.
How would our lives be different if we became our own heroes? Rather than waiting for someone else to come along and do amazing things, why not take initiative and be amazing ourselves?