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The Last Believer: Why I Like Lance Armstrong

Posted by Neil Tyra | Oct 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

So this has nothing to do with Montgomery County, the practice of law, nor the use of Apple products. OK, maybe a little bit of due process. But I am THE guy, the last believer, the lone sole in the wilderness who seems to think that Lance Armstrong is getting railroaded. Judging by everything that has been said and written about Lance and the assertion (no longer seemingly an allegation) that he cheated along the way to earning seven victories in the Tour de France, there isn't anyone other than me that stands behind him. But I can't help it. I like the guy. So perhaps my view is skewed to the point of being absurd.

What I do know is that because of Lance Armstrong, I started to really get into the TDF (that's what you call it when you are addicted) in a big way. Back when I had my mornings free I got to watch the Tour everyday in realtime when he was riding and winning. And it was mesmerizing to me. It's an acquired taste. You have to watch it for awhile to understand what you are seeing. But I devoured it. Really enjoyed it. And I have watched it pretty consistently ever since.

And what I have seen is dozens of riders subsequently disqualified for failing one drug test or another. Past winners and others against whom the system to detect performance enhancing drugs and other forms of cheating seemed to have worked as designed. The very same systems and tests that never once revealed the doping or cheating that Armstrong stands condemned for doing. Did he have better doctors and chemists that allowed him to evade detection? Maybe. Perhaps probably. But is he the only one who had the resources to avoid detection? There is really big money in Europe for riders and their teams and you are telling me that some of those teams and individuals couldn't get the same help to avoid getting caught? Apparently not because they all got caught – except Lance.

In the end, for me it comes down again to whether or not I care that elite athletes are doping or using PEDs. I get it that folks get angry when Babe Ruth's or Mickey Mantle's records in baseball get erased by someone who most likely, or in some cases admittedly, had the assistance of drugs that allowed them to achieve outrageous results. Or when a clean athlete gets beaten in the 100 meter dash by a “dirty” sprinter we all feel that that is unfair. But the line between what is legal and what is not in athletics is so razor thin that I don't really know that there is a clear distinction. For instance, Armstrong is accused of blood doping – having some of his blood removed and stored while he trains like crazy and then re-injected back into his system after his body has compensated for the original loss, thus creating more red blood cells in his system for carrying oxygen during his rides and giving him an aerobic advantage over his competitors. But is that terribly different from professional football players sucking on an oxygen tank to facilitate their recovery so they can get back out onto the field? Or is having a team doctor give you a cortisone injection so you can play with pain much different from having a doctor give you an injection of steroids in order for you to recover quicker from a hard workout?

And the tragedy of all this is now the very fine work that Lance has done through his foundation to aid in the fight against cancer is going to be compromised. He has stepped down from his leadership with the Livestrong Foundation and you can be sure that donations will dry up – if they haven't already done so. And for what? So some folks can nail Armstrong's hide on their trophy wall and say they took down this hypocritical icon. Well, jeez, thanks a lot.

Shame on Lance if he cheated. I would like to think that he did not. So I am naive. So what? I know those Tours were no piece of cake to win – with or without help. He still rode straight up these phenomenal mountains and back down at breath taking speeds. And perhaps he did so a little better than anybody else because he cheated. Perhaps. But it doesn't diminish my enjoyment or appreciation of the effort in any way. So there…

About the Author

Neil Tyra

Noel's Husband, Bernadette's Dad, Clark's Father – My Three Best Roles So who am I and what am I about? First I was Noel's husband. I'm married (38 years and counting) to a long time resident of Rockville whose family goes back three generations.


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