This evening, while out for a stroll, two mountain bikers passed going the other way. Decked out in the obligatory Whitefish Hammer kits, they were of course talking about Lance. A cultural phenomenon which needs no last name. USADA’s Reasoned Decision (which is well written and rather interesting reading) has been met with awe and shock by the many different communities who follow Lance. Yet be it serious cyclists, serious cycling fans, casual riders, or simple sports fans and water cooler gossip jockeys, there should only be one thing which is at all surprising: that we are surprised in the first place.

It would take a reasonably informed fan of the sport to know the many details which the report makes so explicit, but we all know Lance (I mean the icon, not the person), and can anyone really say with a straight face that they expected any less? We as a culture want our athletes to win, and Lance is one of the most singular, driven, and successful athletes of all time. How could any athlete in that position do anything else? Had Ulrich been smarter and more disciplined, he would have won more, and part of that would have included doping smarter.

There’s a lot to be sad about in this latest chapter in the story of Lance, but don’t insult anyone by being surprised at the particulars.

12 responses to “Lance”

  1. Clayton Mauritzen Avatar
    Clayton Mauritzen

    The best lies are the ones we tell ourselves.

  2. Right or wrong, it was a level playing field at the pointy end. Does the charity aspect add a degree of acceptance or forgiveness for some?

  3. nike is done with lance…

    “Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner.

    Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire and empower people affected by cancer. ”

  4. Absolutely agree that even the most casual cycling fan cannot or should not be surprised that Lance in fact was a doper (the best of the best for that matter). However I WAS taken aback by the number and prominence of those who admitted to using as well. I certainly knew that doping was rampant in cycling but this really took it to the next level. It ultimately calls into question every result from every professional race over the last 30+ years, not to mention the veracity of the UCI, WADA, ASO and USA Cycling Federation among others. And on a broader level, I really believe that this is a strong indicator as to the pervasiveness and ease in which athletes of all sports participate in doping (and avoid detection). Perhaps we should just embrace the doping and consider ourselves fortunate to have such grand entertainment without abusing our own bodies.

  5. The pervasiveness of his denials – conveyed so extensively for so long is ‘really special,’ too.

  6. Without delving into the murky gray area of the ethics of doping when everyone in your peer group is participating in the same questionable behavior(group think), all of us should ask ourselves if we are willing to spend 6 hours per day training our bodies for the level of competition pro tour riders engage in. Given an extensive doping regimen administered by professionals, I doubt that even 10% of the human population of this planet could do what Armstrong and his peers did.(my gut says it’s more like less than 2%) Now, I don’t have any hard science to back that up, but I have watched and participated in both the Boston and New York city marathons. The separation between the “contenders” and what is still considered a group of HIGHLY talented runners is amazing. There are typically 10 min. gaps with very few runners in between from the time you see the front of the pack and then the rest of the field starts trickling through. I mention running because it’s what I have personal experience with, but endurance is endurance and I can tell you that getting to the level of a Kenyan who wins the Boston Marathon requires an innate ability combined with a stroke of luck. Armstrong benefitted from both of these it appears. He is a gifted athlete and he avoided the legislative hand of cycling’s governing body for many years. Unfortunately, when luck runs out, the kangaroo court of public opinion looks for other reasons why you let them down.

    1. Agreed, especially with the last phrase.

  7. I used to follow competitive cycling quite closely, but haven’t been that interested since the end of the Big Mig era. However, I still wasn’t surprised. In fact I would have been more surprised if he hadn’t been doping. The guy had a drive to win that seemed pretty much unquenchable. However, I was never invested in the whole Armstrong myth and he was never a hero to me. I do agree that it is all rather sad.

  8. “…but don’t insult anyone by being surprised at the particulars.”

    I’d have to revise that to “don’t insult anyone.”

    Is it obvious he doped? If so, how is it obvious? What the peloton does each year in France is difficult to fathom, and I have some experience in these things. The difference between riding clean and doping is said to be ~ 1-2%. Claiming the latter to be obvious assumes perfect familiarity with the limits in clean cycling. The margins are so small…even top physiologists have been scratching their heads. Some critical, some not.

    Everyone loves a winner.

    It’s a polarizing topic in the cycling community with many an insult thrown. I’ve yet to see one produce a positive result.

    1. Between the many top peers of Armstrong outright busted or implicated, and the slower average speeds in recent tours (Science of Sport analysis from a couple years back), I think the evidence has been compelling for quite a few years.

  9. Sure, from an outsiders eye there has been enough circumstantial evidence to give pause. We both know folks that have been crying foul for at least a decade.

    That really wasn’t my point though. It’s all about us.


    Insight from a cyclist, physician, cancer survivor, coach. It’s tempting for many to say “so what, it was years ago”. Dr. Phil offers opinion why we should care.

    I know cycling is not your focus these days, but you delve deeply into social/ethical/athletic/moral issues at depth. When I saw your blog title, I expected more than “don’t insult my intelligence”. Perhaps unfair, but in the name of full transparency, that was my point.

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