Why didn’t you choose otherwise Lance?

Nick Inatey Roar Guru

By Nick Inatey, Nick Inatey is a Roar Guru

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    The Lance Armstrong story is tragic. If you had asked me four years ago what I remember of Armstrong, I would tell you of his unbelievable climb up the Alpe d’Huez in a time trial.

    Then there were his epic duels with Jan Ullrich and his climb to Chamrousse in 2001 that arguably elevated him from champion to invincible.

    Unfortunately, I now resign myself to the fact Armstrong was not invincible. He is not a champion and, no matter how much he does for his Livestrong charity, he will never be a champion.

    Armstrong is a cold and calculating cheat. Nothing more. USADA exposed him in a manner as cold and as brutal as Armstrong was in dictating his shocking regime. There is some irony there.

    His career, reputation, dignity and livelihood are in ruins. Armstrong faces the real chance of being tied up in civil cases for the rest of his life as companies and organisations demand he return his ill-gotten paychecks, with interest, and with him having to pay court costs to really rub it in. Livestrong may crumble.

    Is this what he wanted? Losing everything simply to perpetuate a lie?

    My memory bank now has a series of giant asterisks scattered throughout. I can’t forget those memories I have of Armstrong, but they are now forever tainted. It makes me bitter. And it makes me wonder whether he could have salvaged these memories somewhat.

    Would my memories and the memories of many others (including, it must be said, Phil Liggett) of Armstrong be so tainted if he simply confessed years ago? Probably not.

    But he perpetuated and exacerbated the lie for years. Upon the lie he squared the lie, then cubed it and so on and so on. His decision to do this was catastrophic.

    Cycling fans, sporting fans and the general public are so horrified by his actions because they have been aired out in the open for us to read. Armstrong, quite simply, has no defence and nowhere to hide.

    But if Armstrong had swallowed what must be a biblical amount of pride and confessed four or so years ago, would USADA have pursued the investigation to the same degree as we have seen? It’s a tricky one to answer, but I would tend to think that USADA would have let it go.

    No one really wanted this and by confessing early, Armstrong could possibly have cut a deal with USADA and the UCI. He probably would have lost his yellow jerseys but he undoubtedly would have been spared his dignity and most of his reputation. He could have hidden and buried all of his shame behind a series of confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure statements.

    The general public need not have known about his astounding cheating regime. Who knows, he may even have been able to somehow have his name on the all the record books, if only with a footnote like other sportsman occasionally have against their name.

    But no, he threw his last chance card in the bin with his used syringes.

    He could have spared his reputation as a charity crusader and against-all-odds cancer comeback star, something he cherished so dearly. Despite all his failings and cheatings, getting back on the bike after cancer takes more than doping, and for that – at one time in his life – he deserved applaud. But he’s now lost that too.

    No one can possibly think of anything nice to say about him now. No one, including myself, will ever be able to think anything but anger that the once good memories put in our minds were created by a horribly corrupted individual.

    I, and many others, would honestly have preferred to have thought of Lance Armstrong as an occasional doper who slipped every now and again, not the current (and sadly quite accurate) portrayal of a man who injected more than a prison junkie almost every time he went out to race.

    I don’t want to feel angry. I would rather be left in the ignorant bliss of knowing that although he cheated, there was some good in him. Gone. He has moved into the ‘Ben Johnson’ hall of drug cheats now.

    UCI President Pat McQuaid says Armstrong is a man who deserves to be forgotten. As true as this may sound, and as much as we would like to do so, the simple fact is Armstrong cannot be forgotten.

    The races he ‘won’ were very real. The people he ‘beat’ were very real. The memories I have are very real.

    If anything, because of the scale of his cheating, these memories may now stay in our minds longer than if he had somehow found a way to avoid being caught. Armstrong, sadly, can’t be forgotten.

    But surely he knew this day would come? For outsiders like us, we can retrospectively say it was coming for years. But, as an insider, he must have known that one day he would arrive at the cross roads, where the only favourable outcome would be to lose his titles but save his dignity?

    He was given his chances. He had the chance to, perhaps for the only time in his life, be noble and confess to his shame. He didn’t, he’s lost it all, and his reputation and dignity is now at the mercy of anyone but him.

    To paraphrase an Indiana Jones movie: He chose poorly.

    A shame.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • Roar Guru

      October 24th 2012 @ 7:31am
      Rabbitz said | October 24th 2012 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      You lost me in the first paragraph.

      Tragic? Really?

      An adult made a decision to systemically cheat in a sport. That is a tragedy? C’mon, a blight on the sport, sure but a tragrdy?

      Who died? Who was maimed for life? What act of genocide did it cause?

      Armstrong cheated, in a sport where cheating is apparently the norm. It is nothing more than a sports story that is not worthy of the press it has received. It is in no way tragic or even awful, it is just overblown.

      • October 24th 2012 @ 11:52am
        jameswm said | October 24th 2012 @ 11:52am | ! Report

        A very public and massive fall from grace can be considered a tragedy. So can the discovery that a man who inspired millions was a sociopathic fraud. That’s tragic.

    • October 24th 2012 @ 8:07am
      Bobo said | October 24th 2012 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Once he perjured himself in 2005 in order to get a $7.5million payment from SCA he was in a bind. If he confesses, he goes to gaol. And then there’s the RICO suit. He made his bed, now he has to lie on it.

      • October 24th 2012 @ 11:33am
        Hansie said | October 24th 2012 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        Surely this story ends with Armstrong in jail? Given the number of law suits involving Armstrong and the investigations by USADA, Armstrong must surely have lied under oath at various times which, Marion Jones style, means that Armstrong spends jail time for his lies.

        • October 24th 2012 @ 11:52am
          jameswm said | October 24th 2012 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          Only that once in fact. I saw an interview with the one lawyer who forced Armstrong to give sworn testimony.

          • October 24th 2012 @ 12:08pm
            sittingbison said | October 24th 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

            Jameswm and Hansie, yup the SCA deposition is the only instance of him lying under oath. Numerous times, the SCA lawyer knew what he was doing. He is extremely exposed to the possibility of going to jail for perjury.

            But for your information he faces possible criminal prosecution from an unlikely direction. Britain of all places lol. Because when he sued the Sunday Times for publishing extracts of LA Confidential, he committed a fraud.

            Then there are RICO, the FDA fraud investigation, and the qui tam trial that is sitting in the background like Smaug the Dragon.

            • October 24th 2012 @ 6:32pm
              Hansie said | October 24th 2012 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

              Thank you for the background. This saga will continue for a long time.

    • October 24th 2012 @ 9:36am
      mwm said | October 24th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      In a twisted way I believe Armstrong needs to be remembered in cycling not forgotten. Remembered for the cheat he was and that no matter how big you get, the truth will find its way. He should serve as a beacon to all those thinking of doping and used as a reference point by the cycling community of how you can lose everything you worked for if you cheat.

    • Columnist

      October 25th 2012 @ 10:07am
      Kate Smart said | October 25th 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      mwm – I think you hit the nail on the head. Forgetting Armstrong is probably the worst thing that cycling can do. He needs to be held up as a reminder to the dark days of cycling and why they should never be forgotten. To forget Armstrong is to allow this to happen all over again.

    • Roar Guru

      October 25th 2012 @ 11:37am
      sixo_clock said | October 25th 2012 @ 11:37am | ! Report

      What I don’t believe most have contemplated is the fallout of this witch-hunt. If they take Lance’s titles away who do they give it to? The blokes who did come second, third fourth… were probably all using some thing or some process to enable them to get close to the podium. The problem has always been one of mismanagement, deliberate blindness by the organisers seeking to raise the bar and the ratings. Without their complicity he, and all the others would have had to do it without the artificial aids.

      Lance would have probably won the clean version too, he was damn good.

      What I am arguing is that dangerous and stupid as the drugs are, it was a level playing field and the best rider was decided. But in a twisted politically correct world the truth always takes a back seat to the illusion.

      • October 25th 2012 @ 3:27pm
        sittingbison said | October 25th 2012 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

        jeepers creepers sixo_clock, have you not read a single post on here the last two months?

        Witch hunt? lol where have I heard that before? OK, what about the other five people named in the conspiracy.

        They all did it? For a good show? Lets accuse Bassons, Moncoutie and ermmmm Evans? of being dopers while we are at it.

        Lance would have won anyway, he was damn good? Again, never heard that one before lol. He never displayed ANY ability to perform in a multi stage race. Even his room mate Phil Anderson admits as much. Couldnt climb, coulnt time trail. Want to watch Big Mig blow right past him in 1994 putting six minutes on him? Probably not its so laughable.

        Level playing field? hehe why stop there, you forgot the never tested positive and 500 tests. A team based systematic doping program sponsored by US Government funding employing several doctors and renowned Ferrari on personal duty, with access to the complete range of PEDS EPO, testosterone, steroids, insulin and growth hormone as opposed to the poor bloke from younameitistan, sticking a dirty used needle in his thigh because he cant afford better?

        You are correct though in who they should award it to, probably why they have decided to make no awards.

        • Roar Guru

          October 26th 2012 @ 11:43am
          sixo_clock said | October 26th 2012 @ 11:43am | ! Report

          Sorry SB,

          World is too black and white for you to have any credibility, nor does it allow you the ability to follow another argument that conflicts with your beliefs. Despite having a contrary opinion to ‘all’ the other posters does not mean I have to follow sheep fashion down the same blind corridors.

          LA did win time trials, did win multi-stage races. He had strengths and weaknesses as we all do and covered his ass to make sure his strengths carried him through. He was good, damn good, and his ‘playing field’ main opposition was not from backofbourkeistan, it was from the other european powerhouses who all had ‘assistance programmes’.

          Enjoy my cycling, and the tour, wish it was absoluely clean, but if the ICF deliberately mislead us (actually there is no ‘if’ about it) then vilify them, those managers, not Lance nor Contador and the others you mentioned. They did what they did with implicit permission so to heap all the blame on the riders is both logically and morally wrong. Give him back his titles and put an asterisk next to them with a footnote that the organisation was poorly managed and doping was rife during this perod. Could even go back quite a few years too.

          Was Cadel clean? I hope so, very much, but we can never be 100% sure can we and that is in the hands of the organisers as it is with every sport.

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