Oh Lance – where art thou

Is it a psychologists’ dream to expose the mind of a man who must have been on a knife edge for over a decade…awaiting the impending doom and collapse of his kingdom built upon a fragile pack of lies?

Lance’s exposé has certainly caused an intriguing debate on moral attitudes to his actions which have polarised around two camps; the first and earlier position by the cycling media and social networks was of continued support for the man who has undoubtedly done the most to raise funds and awareness of cancer.  This position appears to be based on the moral philosophy of, all things being equal, he has done more good in the world than harm.

Of late however, we now see that the campaign by former professional cyclists against Nike’s continued support for Lance has undone this (certainly from a media reporting perspective) and Lance is to be set-adrift by all (Nike, Sram, Livestrong et al) and sundry.  Sponsors aside, it is certainly understandable that the people who have had their livelihoods curtailed by Lance’s indiscretions should campaign against the former more forgiving approach.

Is this fair?  Fair to whom…as with all things in life there is rarely a straightforward answer and this is particularly so in this moral maze.  Lance was a product of his life and times and he was certainly not the only person to have circumnavigated the rules.  He has done a great deal to fight cancer and one could argue he has saved lives by giving cancer victims hope and funding cancer research. He has also massively raised the number of people getting on their bikes around the globe.

Equally so, we can see the negatives to his actions which are systemic in the professional cycling peleton and the fall out could be the reason for long-time sponsor Rabobank’s recent announcement to leave.

Is amnesty or zero-tolerance the correct approach to all the other riders who have been implicated in doping infractions in cycling’s recent history? Cycling News is shying away from taking a strong editorial line and is instead prodding the UCI to take a definitive stance.  With their Radio Millar article we can see the problem, some former dopers are reformed citizens, whereas others will just do it again and again and this is not to mention the Soigners, Team Doctors and Direct Sportifs who are qually complicit.  How is the governing body to be fair to everyone?  Time will tell.

One response to “Oh Lance – where art thou

  1. After a couple of weeks where our sport has dragged itself through it’s own muddy cesspit, I thought I would share an experience which I had this weekend which restored my faith in human effort and reminded what why I am still involved and in love with this sport. Over the past 2 days I had the pleasure to be assisting in the Western Australian Ride to Conquer Cancer ( http://www.conquercancer.org.au/) A 2 day, 200km mass bike ride with over 1200 riders of all ability levels. Working as part of a team of roving mechanics driving round the course fixing punctures and any other problems that riders had along the way. A bit like Race service but more pleasant, as people were generally glad to see you, you didn’t get sworn at for slow wheel changes or have a commissaire screaming down the radio because you were out of position etc, etc…. instead people chatted away to you and were genuinely thankful for any help you could give be it mechanical, food, advice or just encouragement. As the nature of such events most of our action was concentrated at the rear of the event. The fastest riders completed each day’s 100km in around 3 hours but the real heroes were at the other end of the event. As the cool of a 7 am start became the 30 degrees of a WA afternoon they just kept plodding along. Many totally unprepared and under trained, they each had their individual reasons for completing the ride, many in tribute to family members or friends who had passed away from cancer or as a gesture of thanks for good news stories. There were people of all shapes and sizes riding bikes that were too small or big heavy or light, one guy even rode the 200km on a Raleigh Chopper ( turned out he was from Paisley). One guy who summed the whole thing up was “John”. We first came upon him at only 15kms on the first day, standing doubled over his bike with agonising back spasms. After sorting his position as best we could and giving some advice, he continued. The second time we saw John his knees were all bandaged after he had fallen. We kept seeing John throughout the day and giving him food and encouragement, he was determined to finish. We eventually Pulled him out with about 10km to go as he was becoming dangerously fatigued, we only persuaded him by telling hime he would be saving some energy for the second day. John was no ordinary bloke. He was carrying some fairly obvious disabilites, he had motor problems and a wasting problem that meant he had the appearance of being just skin and bone. I did not fell it my place to ask John about his problems, all I could do was marvel at his guts and determination to finish this for whatever his personal reasons were. I next came across John on day 2 at one of the pit stops set up along the way, he was brought in by one of the other service cars with a broken rear deraileur hanger ( old style braze -on) which unfortunately we could not fix. John’s distraught at not being able to finish had the whole pit crew in tears along with him. There were many other heroes (I do not use the word flippantly) who plodded through it, some taking up to 10 hours to complete the second day after taking up to 7 hours the day before, all in the afternoon heat. On the Sat. night I grabbed some free time and picked up my cycling mag which I had just bought the day before. The first article was about ‘That Texan bloke’ but after reading the first 2 lines I thought “After what I’ve seen today, I can’t by arsed reading about this XXXX anymore”. At the end of the weekend I realised that I had rediscovered why I love cycling. It to allows ordinary people to perform extraordinary tasks. It’s not about some highly paid “cheats”, it is about empowering ordinary the man and woman in the street to achieve what seemed unachievable. I will ride my bike with a lot more humility now (If you know me you will know that is quite a feat) and think about those Heroes who I had the pleasure of working for this weekend. Well done to all of them.

    Vive Le Velo

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