There is an old adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” As I reflect on the whole Lance Armstrong saga, in retrospect that old saying should have been applied but wasn’t.
The Fairy Tale story of a young athlete who almost died of cancer then came back to win the Tour de France seven times, has now been proved to be just that, a Fairy Tale.
The thing is I knew it was too good to be true; which is why now I feel pretty stupid. Not because I really bought into the Armstrong story, but because I sat safely on the fence, not having the balls to take one side or the other.
Had I taken the stand that Armstrong had doped; (Which is what I suspected.) back when I started this blog in 2005; LA was just coming off his Seventh TDF win and I probably would have made far more enemies than friends. However, I would now have the satisfaction of saying, “Told you so.”
On the other hand had I preached along the lines that Lance was the greatest cyclist ever who never took dope; I would be looking even more stupid now. So like many others I took the safe neutral ground and said nothing.
It is easy to speak out against the “Big Tex” now that everyone else is, but it brings little satisfaction. We should have all spoken up years ago. When I say “We” I mean everyone who writes about the sport of cycling.
I am just an old guy who used to be in the bike biz, with a blog that gets a couple of thousand hits a day; I am not pretending to have a huge influence on anything. But anyone who writes about cycling has a responsibility; from the independent blogger all the way up to the mainstream media.
It is usually the mainstream media who expose wrong doing; it is their duty to keep people honest. From Watergate to more recently the Catholic Church and Penn State, the media did it.
But Armstrong was different; he manipulated the media. He shut out those who asked tough questions, and silenced others by suing them. It took a government agency to bring LA down.
Those who spoke up about Lance Armstrong doping before this story broke; good for you, you are a hero. If you are a blogger or journalist who supported Armstrong over the years; it is not enough that you jump in the band wagon now and condemn him along with the rest.
There needs to be an apology to the few who did speak up but were ignored even vilified. And if like me you sat on the fence; we are not much better because we did nothing. This is by way of my apology.
This weekend Five major European newspapers – The Times, Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad and Le Soir, French title L’Equipe and Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport – have today joined to launch a ‘Manifesto for credible cycling’
This is huge; these big national newspapers have a real influence on sports, and can hold governing bodies like the UCI accountable.
If I did not speak up about Armstrong, I have always said here that the UCI has failed the sport. (Click on the UCI tag and scroll down to read previous articles.)
The nature of any sport’s governing body is that the mini-politicians who run a sport, are often former failed or at best mediocre athletes who once in office are hard to remove, and become entrenched in their own importance and power.
Pat McQuaid, the current President of UCI, and “Clown Prince” of Cycling, is a typical example. The media was split when USADA report was first released, with many coming out on Armstrong’s side. Most have since recanted, but a few stay on LA’s side.
But through all this I have not read a single article that supports McQuaid or says he is doing a good job; there are calls for his resignation from every quarter. In spite of this McQuaid refuses to step down.
This just goes to show the arrogance and ego of the man, that he would refuse to step down when there is practically a unanimous call for his resignation.
Pat McQuaid (Picture top on right.) and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen (Top left.) looked the other way as Armstrong and others doped; they cannot say they didn’t know.
Like many who have been caught in recent years doing things they shouldn’t have, those who knew they were doing wrong but did nothing are just as responsible. McQuaid and Verbruggen must resign if cycling is to move on from this.