The following column is reprinted, with permission of the author, Toni Reavis. Toni writes on the sport of running most of the time, but has a great understanding of our sport and it’s position in our culture.
I first met Lance Armstrong in 1991, I believe, at a Bike show with the late Ed Burke, who had coached Lance for a while and was one of our columnists in American Athletics magazine. It was nothing of consequence, but I do remember Ed and Lance speaking about training. He was a skinny bicyclist.
When I heard that Lance Armstrong had given up the battle with USADA, I was not surprised. USADA had become obsessed with Armstrong, and Armstrong obsessed with USADA. In the end, USADA comes off, in my mind, as dirty as they have alleged Lance Armstrong to be.
I have grown up in a sports culture where drugs were always an option. We have football movies that celebrate athletes who are doped up on pain killers, playing one more game with the bad knee, and always getting the girl. Lance Armstrong, Toni Reavis will remind the reader, was really in a sport where the drugs he is accused of using made him an equal among his co-horts.
In none of the cases that USADA has prosecuted has any real evidence come before a jury. That is not USADA’s fault, as drug cheating is pretty insider information. It is who you know, who knows this guy, who has you meet this guy.
Just before the Olympics, 9 athletes were caught through the IAAF blood passport program. During the Olympics, a potential gold medal cheat was caught. I applaud the catching of drug cheats by drug testing. In most cases, these are tests that stand up in court, or arbitration. If the tests are not administered correctly, or handled with care, the Arbitration group will throw them out.
I do believe that drugs are an indication of how our culture has valued winning over all else. I also believe that we are getting to an era, soon, where, rich parents and not so rich parents will be able to try and give their kid the legs of David Beckham and brains of Albert Einstein.
In the end, those people just don’t get it. David Beckham loved the sport he was gifted at playing, as do most footballers. Albert Einstein opened his mind to the wonders of math and physics while, at the age of 12, he laid in bed, sick, and was mesmerized by a watch his doting father gave him, that did not work. In the end, the powers that drugs are supposed to give one, or the powers that genetic engineering will give, can only give us the physical powers, not the powers of appreciation, or focus.
In the battle between Lance Armstrong and USADA there have not been any winners. A sport sullied for years just lost it’s seven time winner. Cancer survivors will care nothing about USADA, as they clutch one of Lance Armstrong’s books to their chest, reading favorite passages during chemotherapy.
Lance Armstrong, I believe, thought that USADA would relent. But, challenging them in public was probably not the best idea. USADA, for all of the good, still does not seem to get it. Have they with Armstrong, or will they, in the near future push or gloat so hard that any good they have done will be for naught? Something to consider.
THE ENDS AND MEANS OF LANCE
by Toni Reavis
Lance says, “Enough”
At what point do ends and means come into conflict with ones such as Lance Armstrong or his obsessive Ahab-like hunter, USADA? That question came into full relief this past week with the news that Lance Armstrong had decided to give up his legal fight against the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in light of USADA’s pending prosecution of the seven-time Tour de France champion for his use of performance-enhancing drugs. In each case, neither side has emerged as a champion.
The undeniable good that Mr. Armstrong has done for the cancer community with his Livestrong Foundation was built on the publicity generated by his seven consecutive Tour de France wins from 1999-2005. It is arguable whether the fame, and therefore fortune, behind the Livestrong movement would have been possible without those victories each summer. Yet notwithstanding USADA’s continued obsession to harpoon what had become its white whale, Mr. Armstrong’s capitulation last week could only be seen as an admission of guilt, no matter how he framed it.
But at the same time, the Armstrong-USADA fight beggars the question, has the goodwill and funding generated by his TDF titles been a worthy enough end to justify the performance-enhancing means that Armstrong has all but certainly used to attain them? Which, in this case, is the lesser of two evils, especially in a culture awash in denial and deception?
Just as we know that the Tour de France organizers will not be announcing newly named winners of those tainted Tours, because it has long been accepted that the vast majority of competitors were no different in their doping than Mr. Armstrong, what, then, are we left with as a final consequence?
Toni Reavis | August 27, 2012 at 9:59 am | Tags: Lance Armstrong, Livestrong Foundation, Tour de France, Travis Tygart, USADA | Categories: Opinion | URL: http://wp.me/p1p8ec-1bu