Weekly BlogScan: Lance Armstrong, Icon
The trouble with being an icon, as Lance Armstrong knows from seven years of winning the Tour de France, is that, along with accolades and kudos, you also attract iconclasts. There are people whose immediate reaction to any idol is to search for the feet of clay they presume must exist.
Hence, the latest in a long series of allegations by French sports daily, L'Equipe.
Stuart Hughes points out in his blog Beyond Northern Iraq that two five-time Tour winners, Eddy Merxx and Miguel Indurain, have both come out in defence of Armstrong. Hughes, though is more concerned by Armstrong's chumming up with President Bush.
At Attytood, blogger Will Bunch also takes off from Lance's association with the President. "Why do you think they call them dopes?" couples the allegations against Lance with George W. Bush's college cocaine use and battle with alcohol. Bunch's left-eye view of the two men's meeting on Bush's ranch in Crawford is clever, but he missed a bet—no mention of Cindy Sheehan.
At Smart Guys Sports, "Bub's World" for August 25 tries to make sense of the doping allegations from a unique analogy with golf: "...if Jean Van de Velde had ripped thourgh our most sacred golf courses and won on them repeatedly, would we be accusing him of doping, [using] hot drivers or doing nasty things with the Olson Twins? ... L'Equipe and [its] parent company that runs the Tour de France are seeming to do that with Armstrong..."
Of course, there's no bias at PaveFrance! (Its subhead is The British Need More Parking.) Blogger Damien reacted to the initial report in Monday's L'Equipe with "The French are bad losers, poor sports, and boorish hosts." The follow-up post contains much more information, along with the conclusion.
During J.M. Barrie's 1904 stage play Peter Pan, audiences clapped Tinker Bell back to life. But it was only make-believe. In France a nation vainly wishes Mr. Armstrong's ruin into being. But it is only make-believe.
NetLiberty Roy posted his personal defense of Armstrong from his perspective as a student of the cyclist's winning attitude.
...one sentence from Lance in that article continues to spring me to explore my limits in ways my Type-A superachiever mindset never sprung me before. "If you ever get a second chance in life, you've got to go all the way." Lance easily could have said, "Heck, cancer has wrecked me..." ...he had a pretty good case for hanging it up. He was already a cancer survivor, so in his mind, he was already a success... But he forgave himself for all of those reasons, and gave himself a second chance—a new reason—to go for it all again. "He was a champion, and when it's time to call it a day, champions don't sneak out the back door," said his personal coach Chris Carmichael.
FatCyclist discovered in watching the 2005 Tour that his loyalties were more complex than his spouse's: "I want the underdog to win, but am not willing to stick with him once it's clear that King Kong has crushed the life out of him. In the end, my loyalties are with those who most earn my admiration." In pursuit of this thought, he wrote a "Tour de France Personality Test. Question 5 read:
What percentage of riders in the Tour de France do you think—in your heart of hearts—are cheating, either by doping, blood transfusions, or hidden tripwires to make the competition suddenly and without warning or cause fall from their bikes (see David Zabriskie for details)?
- 0% – they're all clean: I just put this here in order to be comprehensive. I don't think anybody believes they're all clean, though, so am not going to make up something about what this says about you.
- 1% – 20%: You believe, in general, that people are good and want to do the right things for the right reasons. You furthermore believed in Santa Claus a full two years after the rest of your classmates.
- 21% – 40%: You consider yourself tough but fair. Others consider you a fence-sitting nancy-boy.
- 50% – 100%: You suspect everyone of everything. You assume the worst of everyone, and think that this protects you from being taken advantage of. In reality, though, you're just being paranoid and tend to make yourself a target of practical jokes. You were the kid in school who told everyone there is no Santa Claus. Jerk.
- "Hey, you skipped 41% – 50%!": You are anal retentive and are furthermore taking this way too seriously.
Can't Stop the Bleeding's July 25th post was written about Armstrong's historic seventh win in the Tour, but has some cogent comments that bear on the latest accusations. "I read an article a few years ago in which Armstrong attended a Stone Temple Pilots concert and ate exactly three (3) Doritos from the backstage spread... I don’t know how many of you have the discipline to limit yourself to exactly 3 Doritos (nor can I vouch for Armstrong having done so without the aid of illegal substances)..." The blogger went on to propose several accomplishments that would be equivalent in difficulty to Armstrong's feat. My favorite:
Kobayashi Wins 5 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Titles
I think you could make a case for Kobayashi being the Lance of Competitive Eating. They’ve both won a signature event on foreign soil, been subjected to scurrilous doping allegations, and each have a training regimen that would kill a normal human.
Finally, David Johnsen posts in DJWriter his irritation at "The Tired, Old Lance Armstrong Question" about the cyslist and performance boosters.
When Armstrong finished third on Brasstown Bald in the Tour de Georgia, did anyone say that Tom Danielson and Levi Leipheimer beat him because they had better drugs? When Ivan Basso finished with Armstrong ahead of everyone else on two tough mountain stages at last year's  Tour, did anyone question Basso's purity? ... Other people say that Armstrong must be using some kind of incredible new drugs that no one else knows about, drugs that they can't find through testing. While I am skeptical of the pharmaceutical industry, I find it hard to believe that someone would create an undetectable superdrug just for Armstrong.
I make no secret about my own doubts over the veracity of L'Equipe where Lance Armstrong is concerned. I would suggest, though, when one swings a sledge to smash the feet of an idol, one had better make very sure not to drop the hammer on one's own clay toes.
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