Saturday, May 21, 2011

the endgame begins...

Great piece of writing on Cyclesport Mag by Lionel Birnie on the unravelling of the Armstrong storey:
"The Lance Armstrong story is so convoluted, so conflicted. It’s like a tightly knotted piece of string. Myth at one end, truth at the other."
I grew up with cycling watching first Greg Lemond, then Lance win the Tour. I was a fan of both, complete with posters of them on my bedroom walls. I admired Greg for being one of the pioneers bringing North Americans to the front of the traditionally European dominated peloton, and for his innovation in technology from training and racing with an SRM, to aerobars, and aerodynamics. It was a thrill to meet Greg a few years ago when in Minneapolis for the lifetime fitness race. I admired Lance for his approach to racing, the meticulous preparation, including the impressive psychological game ('TSTWKM', etc). I found the later Lance years of the Tour formulaic and too predictable, and as a result stopped following the Tour until recently.

The latest allegations against Armstrong don't change anything for those who have been following the sport since the pre-Lance era. Cycling has been rife with doping for a long time. It's been very impressive that everything has held together for Armstrong for so long. It illustrates how powerful the culture of silence has been within the sport. I'm hopeful that this culture is gradually changing, but not naive to elite sport and the desire to win at all costs, and associated financial incentives. For the sake of young talents like Taylor Phinney, etc, let's hope they can be successful without pharmacological support. It'll be interesting to see if the UCI's recently proposal to ban dopers from team management goes anywhere but if it's not retroactive, it would take a long time to have any chance of affecting cycling culture given the number of former riders who are currently involved with teams, not to mention those staff behind the scenes who play a large role in the implementation of doping programmes.
"Let’s prevent one generation of blatant cheats from becoming the encouragers and enablers of tomorrow."

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