Lance Armstrong

You have probably heard or read about Lance Armstrong’s latest troubles.  If you haven’t, here’s the story: he is now accused, on the basis of very credible evidence (including the testimony of his teammates), of using illegal methods to win his various championships. He still denies it. Since the publication of the report a few days ago, however, even more acquaintances and teammates have come forward to corroborate the report’s conclusion.

All right, I’m giggling a little bit. Lance has always seemed a little smug to me, and a little too good to be true. I remember seeing a TV program in which they tested the physical endurance of normal human beings, and then gave Lance the same test; his results were off the scale. He just wasn’t human. And he just smiled secretly and allowed us to admire him.

I’m not crazy about self-promoting athletes: Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, Peyton Manning. I like a little modesty. (I make an exception for Tom Brady, because he’s adorable, and we’re all New England Patriots fans up in here.) I remember fondly seeing an boxer named Barry McGuigan on Irish TV back in 2007; he was on the Irish version of “Celebrity Iron Chef,” and he made no bones about not being able to cook, but he could mash the hell out of those potatoes, and he ended up winning the show. (Also he was sort of adorable, in an Irish featherweight boxer kind of way.) He seemed modest.

Most likely Lance was doing something called blood doping. This entails taking a drug called erythropoietin, which makes your body produce more red blood cells than normal; you then drain some of your blood off, have it processed and frozen, and reinject yourself with your own blood cells when you need some extra energy. “I don’t see that as doping,” Partner said. “You’re using your own cells. Why not?”

This is an excellent point. Why not indeed? It’s like saying that a weight lifter can’t lift weights between meets, because he might build extra muscle, and that wouldn’t be fair.

Except that the rules of cycling forbade it. Lance knew this, but broke the rules anyway. And then he lied about it.

He might have come out as a brave proponent of blood doping, pointing out – very fairly – that using one’s own blood cells isn’t the same as using a drug. He might well have won the argument, and the exception might have been made in the rules.

(Of course, then everyone would have been using the stuff, and Lance wouldn’t have been Superman anymore.)

There have been a few supporters jumping up and down to defend Lance. He’s a cancer survivor! they say. He’s done so much for charity!

Oh well, ho hum, and Stalin was very good to his momma. (No, seriously, he was.)

Lance used illicit methods to get to the top of his métier, and then he profited from it.

If he gave a little back to charity, well, that’s terrific.

But he cheated to do it.

So let’s just not talk about him anymore.

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