Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fair Play: The legend is a fraud

(Taking a mini-break from footie topics this month.  Here's a column on Lance Armstrong's confession--ML)

IT'S difficult watching one of the persons you look up to get unmasked as a fraud on TV.

A bully, a jerk, a liar.

Lance Armstrong said that of himself.

But there’s a lesson to all of this, one that athletes, coaches, and even teachers—especially those involved in Department of Education-organized meets--should learn.

Drop that winning-at-all cost attitude.

Believe me, it’s a lesson that you don’t want to learn the ugly way.

It’s not the victory that matters, it’s how you get there.

And I give you Exhibit Armstrong as my strongest argument.

After surviving cancer, he won seven straight Tours de France. Such a compelling story.  Winning just one Tour, one of the athletic world’s most difficult conquest, is hard enough, but seven straight times? 

He was special. 

He was extraordinary.

He was a fraud.

He was just like those other cyclists who got caught, the only difference is that he won.

And that he had the ability to fight.

When Oprah Winfrey brought up the case of his team’s former masseusse, who exposed how his team covered up his testing positive for Cortisone, he said, “She’s one of the people that I have to apologize to, who got bullied, ran over...”

“Didn’t you sue her?”

“To be honest Oprah, we sued a lot of people...”

And those people they sued will now be suing him back for all of his worth.

How did they cover up for that Cortisone test? They had the team doctor backdate a prescription for Cortisone for Armstrong.

That easy.

Which reminds me of another former Tour de France winner who got stripped of his title, Alberto Contador, who won the tour when Lance was third in his final ride.

Contador’s reason?

He ate contaminated meat.

Imagine that.

You know, the way Lance talked about the culture of doping in the sport, you can’t help but ask—who didn’t dope during cycling’s heydays?

Was everyone on it?

It going to be an interesting few days for a lot of people, and not just for Armstrong.

What happens to all the people who had knowledge of the case but didn’t speak up?

What happens to those who had and spoke up but got vilified?  Their lives would be turned upside down.

Again.

What happens, too, to the people who stood up for him? Those who defended him from all accusations?

The guy they defended for so long just admitted he lied.

That’s going to be a hard pill to swallow.

What happens now to Livestrong?  I’m not talking about the foundation but the persona behind it, the one who survived cancer and put up a foundation to raise millions to help others survive the Big C, too.

Lance himself admitted that he was a jerk and a humanitarian, magnified a hundred times because of his fame.

The jerk is paying the price.

I just hope the humanitarian survives.

“I am flawed, deeply flawed and I’m paying the price for it.  I deserve all of this.”

The legend is flawed.

The legend was a fraud.

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