The news came today. Nike had severed its ties with Lance Armstrong, previously a seven-time Tour de France Champion. Nike had insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong had deceived Nike for more than a decade, using performance enhancing drugs as part a systematic program in his bicycle racing. While they would support the Live Strong program for cancer survivors, Nike would no longer support Lance Armstrong.
Lance Armstrong was and is, a man who lived much of his life in the shadow world. His battle with WADA and USADA over his alleged drug use came to an end a few weeks ago. Lance just stopped fighting. The really sad thing is, that we will never know how good or great of an athlete Armstrong was, because of his systematic use of performance enhancing drugs.
His battle through cancer is well known. Live Strong is an amazing organization, that has done much to champion cancer survivors. The 70 million yellow bracelets around the world have become part of the garb of the cancer survivor culture. As Outside magazine has suggested, and others have also noted, one is no longer sure of groups like Susan Komen or Live Strong, if the words are enough to help in the fight against cancer, but then, that is another topic.
My feelings on Lance Armstrong? Sadness, relief, and concern. I wonder if the groups chasing Armstrong have had a real or pyrrhic victory? Have USADA and WADA become as bad as the drug cheats?
Here is how a police officer for nearly forty years, once explained it to me: Say a guy was a really bad, but he was smart enough to make sure that there was no evidence on him, so he could never be put behind bars, how would you react? Was it okay for someone to trump up evidence or set up the bad guy, without legal proof that he was bad, to get him into jail? This officer told me that, no matter how infuriating it was, it was not right to set someone up for a fall. If one did that, this officer told me, " then you were as bad as the crook." That, in a nutshell, is my concern with WADA and USADA. Did the ends justify their means? I am not sure.
Armstrong has to live his own tragic life. He probably could have won four of the seven Tours without any drugs. Armstrong was that good. He lived through cancer thanks to the drugs that he probably used to win seven Tours.
Then he lied. That was the toughest part for me. "When you believe your own bullshit, that's when you have really screwed up," I was told by a man far wiser than me. Lance Armstrong bought his own, to the use the vernacular, "bullshit".
I saw that King Lear sculpture last weekend at Gallery AD, a gallery that is run by my brother, Brian and his partner, Cherri. The sculpture is by Barron Storey, the man who did the original cover for Lord of the Flies. Storey is an amazing artist, and the life he put into the sculpture can not be captured in my photograph, but you, dear reader, get my drift.
The pathos in the face of King Lear reminded me of a worn and defeated Lance Armstrong. I can not get that picture out of my mind.
Il mio dolore. (My sorrow)