Saturday, August 25, 2012

LiveStrong Lance

"Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wing, only character endures."- Horace Greeley

Last week, I read where Lance Armstrong had won a marathon a couple of weeks ago over a tough course in Pennsylvania. I had to say to myself "Well, good for him". And I meant it. When I began to write this post earlier this week, there seemed to be an obsession with exposing Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat. He won the Tour de France seven times...beat cancer...was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year...4-time AP Male Athlete of the Year...donates a gazillion dollars to cancer research. Of course, that has nothing to do whether he doped or not, but there seemed like there was this constant vendetta out for him. The Drug Police have been after him for more than 15 years. He has NEVER failed any of over 500 drug tests! The blood tests that USADA (The US Anti-Drug Agency) used for the latest allegation were from 2009! The results have not been released, but USADA were going to use them against him in a trial this year. Maybe he did "enhance", maybe he didn't. What the heck do I know? My knowledge of professional cycling is not extensive, but from what I've seen in professional cycling, there did seem to be a lot of that going around. Anyway, late this week, it all became mute because Lance dropped his fight against USADA, saying "Enough was enough". That ended the need for a trial and essentially meant he would be stripped of all his victories since 1998, including his 7 Tour de France victories and his Olympic Bronze medal. Also, he received a lifetime ban, though I'm not quite sure from what...biking, yes...running, don't know...fantasy football, hope not! As they say "Specifics need to be worked out".

I'm in no way condoning drug use in sports here, but it's just funny how I see myself viewing it. Last week, Melky Cabrera, a baseball player for the San Francisco Giants, was suspended for FIFTY games for drugging up. What an idiot is how I see it. I mean, after he was caught, you have to give him credit for admitting it and apologizing to his family, fans, God, the seven drawfs and all humanity. Then, this week, Bartolo Colon, another Bay Area baseball player, also was banned for 50 games for the same damned thing! But, c' has a "we-can-drug-test-you-anytime" policy, so why risk it? Just take your talent and hit the damn ball! Throw the damn ball!! And this is why it's even contradictory to me how I'm looking at this Lance thing. I love baseball, and so I hate Barry Bonds, the biggest ALLEGED drug cheat of all time. Hit the most career home runs in the history of baseball, thus tainting one the most sacred records of our National Pastime. His feigned denials were almost as big as the size of his suddenly growing head. He's not the only seems like baseball of the 90's and the early Aughts should be called the pumped up era. In the summer of '98, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire put on a Home Run battle that captured America with it's excitement. Both men broke the single season HR record, but in essence, it just turned out to be a battle of "My drugs are better that your drugs" and both men left the game in disgrace.

Then we get to running. This year, the winner of the famous Comrades Marathon, a 56 mile ultra in South Africa, was kicked out of the winner's circle when he was found to be using some super-duper nasal decongestant. And I think more than a dozen Olympians were sent packing from London, including one Gold Medal winner, for dipping into the magic potion. I think, from a scientific point of view, it's interesting that the Statute of Limitations on Drug Testing is EIGHT YEARS, so the labs now hold the drug tests of all the athletes until the testing gets better to catch least up to 8 years. Just this year, a Gold Medal Belarus Shot Putter from 2004 was stripped of his medal for failing his stored-up blood test! Man, he was so close to the eight year get-out-of-jail rule.

All of these athletes cheated (allegedly). They went outside the rules most athletes follow....the sweating, panting, build-my-own-endurance-limits. The black hole that draws the bad guys to try to get that extra edge is too tempting sometimes. Baseball, football, track or doesn't matter...they cheated and they must accept their punishment in disgrace.

Anyway, back to Lance. I understand that if he really is guilty, I will go through a short "Say it ain't so, Joe" period (obscure baseball reference) and accept that another sports icon has gone down the black hole, but here's the deal. This October, he was going to line up in Hawaii to do the Ironman Hawaii. This is the World Championships! I was sure looking forward to that because, let's face it, here you have all these clean shaven (I'm talkin' full body shaven), chisel-cut Europeans and Aussies and Canadians who have trained for Triathlons all their lives on one side, and USA's own 41 year-old Lance on the other. So, the gun goes off, they jump in the water and Lance holds his own for 2.4 miles getting back to dry land. Now, I think he probably has that bike-thing part of the race down pretty good, so he should be at or very near the lead after the 112 miles of biking (a short leg in the Tour de France). Then the marathon begins - Lance had a 2:46 PR at a time when his main focus was still biking. However, just this last May, he won a 70.3 Race (Half Ironman, but they don't like to call it that) where he finished it off with a 1:15 Half Marathon (I don't mind calling it that, but I REALLY hate when somebody calls it a "Half Mary"). Yep, this would have been one heck of an Ironman, but the Drug Police have banned him from competing. Now, we can only speculate what would have happened. I think I feel cheated from not being able to see how this would have panned out.

So, I feel cheated because Lance may have cheated. What do I BELIEVE? I believe USADA has treated Lance as guilty until he could prove himself innocent, which he chooses now not to do. How do I FEEL? I feel sorry for Lance, whatever the truth is. If he is guilty, I feel sorry that sport has sunk so low that athletes with the talent of this icon has to sink as low as the other vermin that feels they have to cheat to keep up. If he is innocent, which I want to believe, I feel sorry that he has been dragged through the mud & muck created by others. LiveStrong Lance!

And so another exciting week comes to a close. I hope you all keep your performance enhancing supplements to your morning cup of coffee. Clean, slow, and slowly recovering, I'll see you all on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

No comments: