Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't cross the Line (Part 2)

The man who almost fooled the world: Lance Armstrong was disqualified from all his Tour de France results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs and was banned from professional cycling for life. Source: AFP Picture from herald Sun article

David commented on the journey and the toll it took.:

To say the last few years were stressful would be an understatement. The financial uncertainties were a stress I had to deal with. At times, I was at a complete loss at how to balance pushing for the truth yet trying to maintain my place in cycling.
BUT right now, in this cafe off the M25, I feel no joy at Pat McQuaid's volte-face over USADA and Armstrong.
Somebody once said that fate is the thing you meet on the road you took to avoid fate. Oddly, today should have been the 30th birthday of our son John, killed on his bicycle 17 years ago.
The thing about the Armstrong scandal was that, even in 1999, the year of his first victory, you didn't need to be Woodward or Bernstein to get it. On the afternoon the American delivered his first great performance in the Alps, the stage to Sestriere, many journalists in the salle de presse laughed at the ease with which Armstrong ascended.
He climbed with the nonchalance of the well doped.
And now on this day, as I sit in this cafe, Armstrong has finally gone down: 22 October, John's birthday.
I ring Betsy, in whose slipstream I have travelled for almost 10 years.
I tell her it's John's birthday and, though she's far away in Michigan,
I can feel her sadness. "It's his birthday," she says in a whisper. "This is his little gift to you."
It's a nice thought.
The story does not end as Lance is about to give Oprah an interview and there are civil actions on the horizon to claw back some of the monies he has received including the bonuses paid by the insurance company SCA ( SCA Promotions demands that Armstrong return $12 million in bonus earnings )

There is sympathy for Lance who many regard the best cyclist in the world .But for all his prowess on the bike and for that matter as a great Triathlete,  I don't think you can be great if you cheated even if the excuse is everyone else did it. That is unfortunately where character in the pressured world of professional sports determines what we are all made of. It is similar to breaching the 12 metre drafting rule because everyone  does it. Can we be true to the sport and the rules .Well for an amateur it probably is easier .There is no money or livelihood at stake.But even in the amateur world of triathlon there is some doubt . The need , the desire to win drives some to cut corners. Sadly EPO and steroids use has it dangers . There have been several deaths in the past 20 years in cycling linked to EPO and steroid use. Is it worth it . In the cold stark light of day , obviously not.

What the book reveals , there were many who did question and did stand up and make a stand . Walsh speaks of  Christophe Bason , a professional cyclist in 1999 who spoke about doping in cycling and who was shunned by his own team mates and attacked by Lance .Walsh thought how could you be anti Bason and anti doping at the same time ...that was the defining moment for Walsh on Lance.

I came across an article written by Jonathan Veulters , Lances team mate on the US Postal Team and Garmin team manager ....Crossing the Line and written in 1999 and republished recently on Cycle Sport online. It now all makes sense. we all cross the line but maybe if there is anything to be learnt in sport , is we really shouldn't and there is and never should be a blurring of the line.