I think I would make a good lawyer. I love to find the loophole in a train of thought and I‘m pretty good at arguing both sides of an issue. It helps if you’ve been married a long time, too, because you need the same skill set. But in the case of Lance Armstrong, ex-cyclist extraordinaire, I’m at a loss for words. No, wait. I can think of one word: Why?
Professional athletes are not like the rest of us. Their careers are often very short compared to an accountant, teacher or auto mechanic. One freak injury for an athlete can mean the end of a career and the opening of another Arby’s franchise. Still, one has to admire the perseverance, conditioning and sacrifices that are made in the pursuit of glory, new world records and, of course, endorsements.
Lance Armstrong is no fool. He knew what he what getting into the first time he entertained a conversation with someone about using performance enhancing drugs. He went on to say, when allegations of doping began to surface, “that this is nothing new and permeates every category of professional sports”. The classic “everybody’s doing it” response is also what a whiny teenager might use with his parents when he wants to be persuasive.
The message that Lance Armstrong sent to many other wannabe professional cyclists, ballplayers, weight-lifters, etc., not to mention thousands of high school and college athletes, is that illegal drugs might be a way to go if you’re really driven to compete and excel. And if you get caught, deny it to the point of absurdity. When there is clear evidence and solid witnesses whose testimony cannot be disputed, continue to deny it.
But back to the ‘why’ of all of this. Perhaps Lance Armstrong was suffering from an inferiority complex and felt so unsure about his ability to compete that he had to drug up in order to win seven Tour de France titles. Or maybe he was a pawn in the pockets of mob gamblers who bet fortunes on him and, in fear of his life, he couldn’t let them down? Did he become addicted to the drugs but couldn’t get help due to the limited coverage in his health benefit plan? Nah.
Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs because it was easy and accessible to him. Like many people, he was a flawed individual who made bad choices that came back to hurt and haunt him. He denied doping allegations because he was in too deep, could go to jail and would lose millions of dollars in endorsements, in addition to his golden legacy. Plain and simple.
See, I really could argue both sides of the issue. Despite Oprah’s comment that she was ‘satisfied’ with Mr. Armstrong in her interview with him, I’m not. Does he still have a future cycling? Of course, if you want to watch someone back pedal.
It’s like we’ve all been pranked.
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