Written by: Patricia I. James**
I will start by saying that it would be difficult for me to care less about sports. I did , once upon a time, root for the Denver Broncos but it was basically because I had a crush on John Elway. I also, from time to time, took some interest in the winter Olympics but that is probably because I have a thing for snow. I can’t remember the last football, baseball or basketball game I watched. Same for tennis, golf and bowling, although there is some grumbling out there that the latter two aren’t even a sport.
However, I did pay attention to the career of Lance Armstrong after reading his book, “It’s Not About the Bike.” Supposedly the reasons he was able to excel at his sport were (1) his oversized heart beats extremely fast and thus pumps an extraordinarily large volume of blood and oxygen to his legs; (2) his VO2 max, which measures the maximum amount of oxygen your lungs can take in, is much higher than the average person; and (3) the low lactic production, since Lance’s muscles produce about half as much acid as the average person’s muscles do when they get fatigued, it allows him to recover much faster than other people. Made sense to me. Yep, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker. I know. How naive could I be?
When a group of people got together and claimed the Lance had used drugs, I simply wasn’t buying it. Although there were those who said that a group would not make this up, I thought it was sour grapes and they were just saying it to bring him down. Also, it reminded me of the conclusion of “Murder on the Orient Express.” If you’ve seen it, hopefully, you will make the connection. If not, watch the movie. Even if you “don’t get it”, you’ll still have watched a great movie. And this from someone who sees maybe one movie every five years.
Now, Lance has come forth in an interview with Oprah Winfrey saying that he engaged in doping. I have two very big problems with this confession.
First, he said that he did it to level the playing field. In other words, he did it because everyone else was doing it. What?! Isn’t that something a teenager tells his or her parents as justification for doing something stupid? Isn’t the usual response something like, “if everyone was jumping off a cliff, would you? What are you? A lemming?” (I know that’s a myth but it fits my purpose).
Second, he essentially said that what drove him to confess was he saw his oldest son defending him about his use of performance-enhancing drugs and he did not want to continue to lie to his children. In other words, he is saying that he felt bad about lying to his children so that was why he finally confessed. Not that he needed to do the right thing and confess to all of the people he lied to; the ones he had insulted by calling them liars; the ones he had cheated out of their trophies. No, he confessed because he wanted to make himself feel better.
Do I sound irked? Um, yeah, I am. I don’t like being duped, and I wasted my money to buy his book in…. HARDCOVER! The only thing that book is good for is to be recycled. I would burn it but that would be a waste of paper. Of course, I could always mail it to Australia. I heard that the libraries there are shelving it in the fiction section.
The one good thing that did come out of his career was Livestrong cancer foundation. I understand that it has helped many people with cancer and, unless it’s done something wrong, it should not be punished for Lance’s actions.
Other than his former sponsors, who I understand doled out a few bucks in supporting him, the ones I am thinking about are the cyclists who came in second, third and fourth. Putting aside whether they were doping or not and, just for fun, let’s think they didn’t, they were cheated out of being on that podium. Sure, they could be given a trophy now; their names put on plaques saying that they won; go through a ceremony where they would be honored. However, that is chump change. They have been forever cheated out of that moment when it could have been their time to shine rather than seeing the fool’s gold that actually got the limelight.
Since I think my two cents are worth as much as anyone else’s, I think he had his chance to come clean. Actually, he had many chances over the years to do the right thing. You can say “it’s never too late” or “better late than never.” However, I’m going for “too little, too late.”
**No portion of this Blog is intended to constitute legal advice. The views expressed are solely those of the author.