Monday, February 13, 2012

What Do I Have Against Lance?

I was told by a friend that someone asked him what I have against Lance. Maybe others have also wondered that. Before I get to that, let me comment on some other news in pro cycling.
First, you probably know that Jan Ullrich was finally sanctioned for and admitted to blood doping as a pro cyclist. VeloNation and other news outlets reported Friday that Jan has apologized for his mistake. To this I say: "Great job Jan! Way to quit living the lie!! I hope you go on to have a life filled with peace and joy!"

The VeloNation article has this interesting statement: "Ullrich’s statement will be welcomed by those who want transparency in the sport, even if it shows that he was one of many riders of that era who didn’t follow the anti-doping rules." I guess I fall into that category, one who wants transparency (and honesty) in the sport. I have to wonder: is there anyone who doesn't want transparency in cycling? I guess those who are cheating don't want it. Also, maybe those who want to believe pro cycling is clean also don't want to know their heroes are corrupted.

So this brings me to the question of what I have against Lance. Actually, I don't have anything against Lance as a person. I was his biggest fan at one point in his career before so much evidence came out that he had cheated. I love both his books but I doubt I will read them again because there is too much evidence of his doping for me to accept the lies in the books. If he were to confess and come clean, he would be a huge hero again in my book. In other words, in my view, there is no accomplishment that justifies fraud. Period.

So if I don't have anything against Lance, why do I wish the truth would come out about his doping? It is fraud and lies that I despise and truth that I love. Fraud is a lie that takes something from others. When a top athlete wins by cheating, he takes away the win from the top person who was clean. When a fraudster sells books and promotes his life and even good causes based on a lie, he continues to live the lie and is taking from others. When someone becomes a hero based on a lie, he fools others and eventually they lose a bit of respect and trust for humanity. Yes, I believe fraudsters even take a bit of respect and trust that people have in humanity. 

A fraudster in sport (or business or politics, or law or accounting, or wherever) also makes it so anyone who wants to be competitive feels pressure to cheat as well. It's fraud that I despise, not Lance per se. Here is a quote from VeloNation that discusses this perspective:
In July 2010 (Ullrich's) former mentor Rudy Pevanage said that (Ullrich) tried to race clean for some time, but was unable to match the pace of others using banned substances. 
“At T-Mobile everything stopped after 1998 and I can say that our team was really clean in the years after the Festina Affair,” he told l’Equipe. “But, slowly, looking at the results, we realised that we were lagging behind the other teams, especially the Spanish and the Italians.”
He added that he remained convinced that Ullrich was physically stronger than Lance Armstrong, but the German was unable to match the American in the Tour. He described the latter's metamorphosis after cancer as “so extraordinary.”
Given what Lance did before his "metamorphosis," it's likely he never would have won any Tour de France titles and someone else, probably Ullrich, would have won if the field was clean. Even so, I think Jan is a much bigger winner than any athlete who won seven times but was living a lie to do so. Jan has confessed the truth and I hope he is feeling much better about life than he did while living the lie. The truth about Jan is out and he isn't lying more to keep his ill gotten gains. Yes, it would have been nice if he would have confessed years ago but better late than never.

I salute Jan. I was never a fan of his but now I am definitely a fan. That one confession makes him a hero in my book. Not as much of a hero as if he would have raced his whole career and had mediocre results but stayed clean but a hero nonetheless.

Jan has freed himself from living the lie, just like Tyler and Floyd. I would salute Lance if he were to also admit to what he did. Instead, I'm guessing he will fight to ensure that the evidence collected in the government's fraud investigation is sealed and never comes out. If he really has nothing to hide, the evidence should be released. Nothing could be damning if he didn't cheat. If he has nothing to fear then let the truth come out.

You might ask "How can I be so sure Lance doped?" It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to see through this one. He's had four teammates who said they know he doped. Not to mention his closest friend, George Hincapie, is reported to have said he doped. He's had drug experts say there is no question he doped. He's beaten all the top racers who have been shown to have doped and most of his teammates have also been implicated in doping. I could go on but in the end some might say: "But there is a chance he is telling the truth." I agree. However, it's about the same chance that Bernie Madoff was lying when he finally admitted to running a Ponzi scheme. It's roughly equal to 1 over infinity. Not something to bet on in Vegas...

Unfortunately and tragically for Lance, I don't believe he will ever come clean. He will likely go to his grave living one of the greatest sporting lies in history. He is counting on the likelihood that his fans will stay in the dark and live in denial because they don't want the truth to come out. Eventually this lie will catch up with Lance. If it isn't destroying any remaining character he has in his soul, it eventually will. That's sad. It's sad to see any soul live a lie. It reminds me of Gollum in Lord of the Rings. Everyone living a lie is like Gollum until they confess. A sad and pitiful sight...

I guess it's more fun for some to believe in Santa Claus than it is to acknowledge he is a fairy tale...not for me. I despise lies and fraud and feel like this world has way too much of both. The liars and fraudsters are fighting hard to take from others, I think we need more people fighting for truth. That is the passion that makes me applaud people like Jan Ullrich, David Millar, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Frankie Andreau and the many other cyclists who have quit living the lie.

At the heart of my attitude toward fraud is that fraud comes from the father of lies. On the other hand, when someone quits living a lie and confesses, they are following The Truth. There is no better reason for fraudsters to come clean than that. When they do, they will get all my admiration. I hold nothing against them as a person only what they are doing to others and themselves as they live their lies.

Go Jan and all the others who are free from living the lies of the past! The Truth does indeed make us free!


  1. As a CPA, former forensic accountant, former computer forensics guy, and current owner of a cycling tour company I can't agree more with the above comments. I'd love for the purge of past cycling generations' ills to be completed now. With the risk of an Armstrong disintegration high I don't want to suffer from the pain of public backlash because of prolonged negative press of pro cycling. It is not good for cycling and certainly not good for my business. The cleansing of the sport is fantastic, but the cancer (pun intended) in remission is still a threat.

    I look forward to showing my clients a clean Tour de France this summer. I just hope they aren't distracted by non-sporting events. A true and complete fresh break from the past is needed.

    Jamie Gilpin
    Outfitter Bicycle Tours

  2. Love this blog. I too am asked why I "dislike" L.A. I will just point them to this post, as it eloquently states what I've been feeling all along. Keep up the great work guys!

  3. I really must say I am utterly astounded at what is written here. The language used, as we all live in never-never land. Their “heroes are corrupted”? I mean who do you think you are exactly? They lose a bit of trust and respect for humanity? How do you even come up with such talk? You come off as this holier than thou type person who is perfectly happy to skewer someone based on your own set of morals and perspective. You obviously need heroes, as long as they live by your moral ethos. It’s as if you are so very naïve in the ways of the world that you actually believe what you say. I do not advocate bending the rules but I am not so sanctimonious to say that I can sit in judgment of any other person, clearly you feel you have both the vantage point and the right to do so. I am sure that makes you feel very good about yourself, you know the truth and all, or as you call it The Truth.

  4. @choare For someone who gets so upset about supposed sanctimonious judgment, you sure come off as a sanctimonious judge... I suppose you like your heroes to be at least a little bit corrupt? Perhaps trust and honesty have little value in your mind? Mark supports his arguments with reason and logic--logic that resonates with most people who value honesty. Your rant, in contrast, comes off as an emotional outburst (and quite a confusing one at that). If you would like to debate Mark's arguments, please feel free to explain how, logically, you disagree. If you can't do anything but spout off incoherent personal attacks, please take your trolling elsewhere.

  5. Minnesota Public Radio says "little of LiveStrong dollars go to cancer research."

  6. I never thought Livestrong money went to cancer research. I thought it went to support people with cancer .... counseling, medical costs, hospice care etc ....