Armstrong remains both a liar and an inspiration

Phil Bird Roar Guru

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    Lance Armstrong's legacy may be to rip world cycling apart as he continues to ignore doping allegations made by former US Postal teammates and staff (Image: AFP)

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    Lance Armstrong’s admission to Oprah Winfrey he is a drug cheat, while avoiding the less comfortable accusations of bribery, defamation and coercion, doesn’t mean his achievements should be any less inspiring to cancer sufferers, their families and cycling fans the world over.

    So why did he do it?

    In his own words, he is, “A guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome.”

    And he certainly attempted to control the interview, offering the occasional justification which came across more petulant than convincing.

    He laboured on his disease, “Before my diagnosis I would say I was a competitor, but I wasn’t a fierce competitor, and in an odd way, that process turned me into a person that was truly win at all costs.

    “When I was diagnosed and I was being treated I said I will do anything to survive… that ruthless and relentless and win at all costs attitude, and put it right into cycling”

    The justification sat awkwardly, like a racial slur.

    When questioned on the governing body’s inability to nail him for drug use throughout his career, Armstrong noted that his United States Postal Service team “was definitely professional and it was definitely smart”, yet the scale of this particular achievement is tempered by the proven incompetence at the UCI and ASADA.

    In Armstrong’s own words, “There was no testing out of competition for most of my career so you’re not going to get caught [as] we were clean at the races.”

    Taking drugs in elite cycling was, “As common as putting air in your tyres, as putting water in your bottles.”

    He then went on to say it was not possible to win the Tour de France in his generation without the use of drugs, implying the widespread nature of drugs in the sport.

    So can anything actually be done for the sport?

    At one point Armstrong offers, “If there was a truth and reconciliation commission… I’d be the first man on the door.”

    Yet in this viciously competitive environment, such that cycling is, asking every man to put their drugs away is like asking soldiers to shoot with paintballs in the hope the enemy also complies.

    For Armstrong, his key achievement in this interview was in jumping on the grenade and not taking down his co-conspirators in the process.

    And for this he wins many points.

    Yes, detractors will claim that if mud is being slung it will stick to Armstrong the most, and therefore has every reason not to bring others into the dog-fight.

    Yet there’s something honourable about a man falling on his sword, like the captain who goes down with the ship; whether he has a say in the matter or not, there is a certain dignity in it.

    Armstrong is still an inspiration, through his achievements, not his words.

    He still beat cancer. He then came out in an elite sport where drugs are the norm, an even playing field, and won the Tour de France seven times.

    He remains a true champion, and hopefully can continue to inspire people affected by cancer the world over. Keep the wrist bands on.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • January 19th 2013 @ 9:48am
      Andrew said | January 19th 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      What an absurd article. Is Phil Bird on some sort of juice himself?

    • January 19th 2013 @ 10:34am
      Bearfax said | January 19th 2013 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      There are no pristine heroes. Only people who strive to the best of their ability…and often cross the line to get there

      • January 19th 2013 @ 11:54am
        Spencer said | January 19th 2013 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Well said.

      • January 19th 2013 @ 1:36pm
        Steve said | January 19th 2013 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        This would almost make sense if Lance had doped and left it at that, but if you think his campaign of destroying honest people and profiting from/hiding behind cancer makes him merely a ‘less than pristine hero’, then I’d hate to see what a villain looks like in your book.

    • January 19th 2013 @ 12:26pm
      Farmerj said | January 19th 2013 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

      A man who bullied, tormented and ruined the lives of good honest people, a man who was responsible for Bassons having his cycling career untenable and a man who took great personal profit from championing the cause of cancer is a champion?

      I just hope that whoever Phil Bird is in real life doesnt ever cross paths with young people wanting to forge a sporting career

    • January 19th 2013 @ 1:32pm
      Steve said | January 19th 2013 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

      Well, there is something noble about a captain going down with his ship, but it’s a little different with Armstrong:

      he’s the captain who sank the ship, fled in the only lifeboat, machine-gunned survivors, got back on land, blamed everyone else, never stopped drawing attention to the sunken ship, attached his name to a lifeboat charity, emblazoned his name on every lifeboat, set up a profit making company of the same name as his charity to make BILLIONS which he then spent destroying honest people who tried to uncover the truth etc…

      Now he’s visiting the wreck in scuba gear saying, ‘everyone sinks boats right?’

    • January 20th 2013 @ 11:43am
      smc said | January 20th 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

      Well said Phil Bird. To get back on a bike at all was inspirational and he has achieved a lot more in his life that still inspires. His confession and reasoning will never be good enough for a lot of people, but it is good enough for me.

    • Roar Guru

      January 20th 2013 @ 12:29pm
      Phil Bird said | January 20th 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      Andrew, I wish I was on the juice. Might have made me a half decent athlete. Unfortunately I’m not and I’m not.

      Jonesy, fair comment, although the article was less about cycling than about Armstrong.

      Steve, that’s a pretty good comment, enjoyed it.

      SMC, cheers

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